(PHOTO CAPTION: Michael (Knightmage) Wilson in costume.)
HOT SPRINGS NATIONAL PARK, Arkansas — Cosplay competition judged by four well-known cosplay performers has been added to the jam-packed menu of features for Spa-Con V, the comics and pop culture convention scheduled September 24 – 26 at the Hot Springs Convention Center.
Cosplay is the practice of dressing up as a character from a movie, book or video game.
“The contest on Saturday, September 25, is part of Spa-Con’s Cosplay Club, one of the most popular features of our annual convention,” said Bill Solleder, marketing director for Visit Hot Springs and one of the founders of Spa-Con.
“Any Spa-Con pass holder is eligible to compete in the Cosplay Contest,” Solleder said. “To enter, just show up in full cosplay at the pre-judging at 5 p.m. September 25. Rules, regulations and more information can be found at Spa-Con.org.
“Cosplay Club is one of the favorite Spa-Con traditions; every year on Saturday night, convention goers gather in Horner Hall to dance and watch the final round of the Cosplay Contest. The contest is presented by Hot Springs Beauty College .”
Judges for this year’s contest will be:
• Michael "Knightmage" Wilson, who was born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio, and now resides in Youngstown, Ohio. A current decorated 21-year veteran deputy sheriff for the Mahoning County Sheriff's Office, Wilson has been cosplaying since 2012. He is an award-winning cosplayer, with many of his creations being praised and displayed on numerous platforms in print and online. He was an alternate for the 2006 reality show "Who Wants to Be a Superhero" hosted by Stan Lee. He has worked on and has been featured in several fan films and productions such as "Flash Fall" by Together Brother Productions and the popular YouTube series "Man at Arms: Reforged." He has created various costumes for World Wrestling Entertainment superstars.
• MCubed is a Dallas-area content creator, cosplayer and model. She is most widely known for her movie accurate Slave Leia and Rey. She has been involved with cosplay and modeling for five years. She has a musical theatre and a marketing degree from Texas Christian University. Her love of nerd culture started at a young age when her father introduced her to “Star Wars.”
• Gregory Harris has been a cosplayer since 2016. During this time, he has performed twice in the international cosplay contest, Crown Championships of Cosplay in Chicago and performed twice in the Masquerade at San Diego Comic Con . He has been interviewed “Good Morning America,” Netflix and FXM (Fox Movie Channel). He uses special effects, including a floating Cloak of Levitation and hologram projector to cast spells (Dr. Strange) and long extended flex arms (Reed Richards)
• Crafty Fox began cosplaying in 2015 after visiting her first convention with her family. Since then, she has been making costumes from a variety of genres including video games, Dungeons & Dragons, Disney, and anime and manga. Born and raised in Arkansas, Crafty Fox is a full-time college student majoring in physics. Most of Crafty Fox's experience is self-taught and through trial and error. She enjoys posting tutorials and progress photos to inspire and help others with their own creations. Crafty Fox won the Spa-Con Cosplay Contest in 2019.
The schedule for the 2021 Cosplay Contest on Saturday, September 25:
• Pre-judging starts: 5 p.m. in Room 208 (Time allotted for each cosplay is one minute.)
• Pre-judging ends: 6:30 p.m.
• Cosplay Club opens: 7 p.m. in Horner Hall.
• Final Round starts: 7:30 p.m. (Time allotted per cosplay is one minute)
• Final Round ends: 8:30 p.m.
The cosplay divisions will include: Best Overall Cosplay 18 and up; Best Overall Cosplay 17 and under; Best Group Cosplay; Best Couple Cosplay.
Awards also will be given for Most Original; Throwback Award (given to a cosplay the judges deem represent a character or icon from the past); Best Makeup/Hair; Best Craftsmanship.
Other cosplay-related activities at Spa-Con will include:
Saturday, September 25
10 a.m. - Mask Sculpting Workshop with Tony Buck FX , Room 202
1 p.m. - Costuming on a Budget with MCubed, Room 205
Sunday, September 26
1 p.m. - Cosplay Make-up Workshop w/Knightmage, Room 202
2 p.m. - Kids Cosplay Showcase, Spa-Con Theater Room 208
Previously announced Spa-Con V features include a competitive video game tournament with cash prizes on Saturday, September 25. Spa-Con Showdown 2021 will be a competitive Super Smash Bros. Ultimate video game featuring talent from across the state and beyond.
Spa-Con V originally was to have been held in September 2020 but was postponed because of the pandemic.
Solleder said registration for the video game tournament must be completed via a link hosted at smash.gg/tournament/spa-con-showdown-2021/register.
The tournament is limited to 96 players, and the deadline to register is noon on Thursday, September 23. Spa-Con Showdown is presented by the Garland County Library and Visit Hot Springs. For more information contact Paul Kagebein firstname.lastname@example.org
Other previously announced features of Spa-Con V include an appearance by Rodger Bumpass, the voice of Squidward on Spongebob Squarepants, and celebrity guest Lori Petty, known to comics fans for her portrayal of Tank Girl in the movie of the same name and for her starring role more recently in the hit TV show, Orange Is The New Black. Also on hand will be 12 internationally known comics artists who will give talks and greet fans during the convention.
Solleder said VIP passes, at $100, and weekend passes, at $35, are available on Spa-Con’s website: www.spa-con.org.
“Our celebration of pop culture and comics brings together a diverse audience that loves everything from Batman to ‘Stranger Things,’ Pac-Man to Mario Smash Bros, Dungeons and Dragons to Pokemon and everything in between,” he said, adding, “Spa-Con provides possibly the best people-watching fun in the state. It has hosted celebrities from ‘Star Trek,’ ‘Twin Peaks,’ ‘Battlestar Galactica,’ and ‘Stranger Things,’ not to mention, NASA scientists and 12-foot-tall robots.”
For more information call Bill Solleder at 501-321-2027.