I went into the third episode of Cosplay Melee with admittedly a small amount of bias, and much excitement. The theme of Angels and Demons, along with the fact that contestants in this round would be making wings was something I knew I was going to be glued to my TV for.
My bias came from the fact that I already had someone competing that I would be rooting for: Marty. I’ve been following her cosplay and other adventures since stumbling across her manga series Bizenghast back in 2007, and more recently her adventures and book about being a party entertainer (Party Princess Handbook) as well as her creations for the Toyetica line. Admittedly, I wasn’t very familiar with most of the other contestants work from this episode other than Lisa, but from the previews I was eager to see what each of them would do.
For the first challenge, each contestant pulled a feather blindly to determine if they would be making angelic (white) or demonic (black) wings. Each entrant had eight hours to create their wings, and their stories behind them, and mount them onto mannequins to present to the judges. Marty was given an angelic feather in white, and chose to create a set of wings that were made out of book pages, with the nearly hollowed out book serving as the cover to where the wings joined in the back. Lisa chose a demon feather, and made her wings those of a minion of the Four Horsemen, spreading pestilence and plague, with a mixture of foam, glitter and actual feathers. Jesse’s character was an angel who gave up her wings to protect the world, an the humans who saw her sacrifice then fashioned her a set of wings from stone. Finally, Garrick was also given a demon, and modeled his wings after the statues found at the Hoover Dam, covering the joints with foam pieces and a gold metallic spandex, which he then aged with acrylic paint. While each set of wings was unique with an excellent back story, of course one contestant had to be eliminated.
The judges critiques seemed to be quite on target, pointing out things like lack of shading or detailing on Marty’s wings, which, while they did look nice from a distance, were large and had no texture to show they were wings other than their shape. Lisa’s wings were also impressive–although I was not a huge fan of how the green glitter looked on some of the feather tips–however, the color itself created a nice contrast to the black. Garrick’s wings were innovative in their starkness, having used a metallic tape to create the wing blades which he had then textured with sandpaper. Unfortunately Jesse’s wings felt and looked a bit off to me. Made out of pink insulation foam, they were thankfully lightweight, but it can be very difficult to work with the foam as a material. Many times, common paints will tend to “eat” or dissolve the foam, leaving a poor texture or exposed portions. Jesse did not have time to complete the painting of her wings, and it seemed as though the actual feathers that she stuck on there were haphazardly placed, rather than giving any real thought to how feathers look on wings or even how they’re positioned on statues when carved out of stone. Unfortunately for Jesse, she was the eliminated contestant for this episode and was sent home, while Lisa was determined as the winner by two of the judges – Leanna Vamp bowed out of judging her because they are friends outside of the show, and she didn’t want to create a potential conflict.
For the second challenge, the contestants were given devices to make their wings move. Lisa chose springs for hers, since as the winner of the previous challenge she was given first pick. Garrick and Marty both chose hydraulic style devices, and brainstormed together to try and figure out how to make them work. Lisa chose to attach her springs to the very tip of her wings, making a very small portion of the ends lift and lower, while Marty expanded her impressive wingspan and her wings opened and closed as she walked down the runway. Unfortunately for Garrick, his device was very slow to open and close, and he was unable to speed it up, leaving his walk down the runway underwhelming. Lisa’s entire costume was dcked out in more feathers, and featured bone-like pieces made out of foam, with a large skirt with mixed colors of black, deep purple and the lime green, representing pestilence. She even added a style of boot cover to her shoes, making them into something resembling bird feet rather than normal shoes, by covering eva foam (commonly known as anti-fatigue floor mats) with fabric.
Marty’s angel costume was impressive, having started as a simple worbla male chest piece, which she had then covered with resin pieces and foam decorations and painting it gold, giving a very ornate feel. Unfortunately though, the bottom half of her costume was very plain and there was no detailing on her pants or boots to draw it together to suit the wings and chest piece. Garrick’s costume felt lackluster as well, with minimal detailing on his armor, and weathering on the cloth portions, and ill fitting shin armor and boots. Ultimately, the winner of the Angels and Demons contest was Lisa, who wowed the judges with her attention to detail from her headpiece to her feet.