Wednesday, 21 January 2015

The Comprehensive Guide to Cheap Ass Cosplay

Cosplay is notorious for being an expensive hobby so what if you're on a budget? Should that exclude you from taking part in something so widely enjoyed by many? Absolutely not! Here I've compiled a list of simple ways to still enjoy cosplaying even whilst on a poor university student budget.

Presenting the "Comprehensive Guide to Cheap Ass Cosplay":

Time is money so plan ahead!
As they say, time is money. Try not to leave your cosplay last minute because it's likely last minute bits and pieces are going to cost more and give you less time to shop around for bargains and make things. Mark your calendar with the important deadlines and try planning at least a month or two in advance of the convention or party you plan to cosplay at. It will not only stop you from stressing out, it will give you more time to plan things out so you're not stuck with the costly options e.g buying a commission costume which costs hundreds when it would have been cheaper to make your own or not have to pay extra for the person you commission to have to hurry. One good way to start planning in advance is keeping a scrapbook/folio which lists all your cosplay ideas alongside all the materials you'll need and a rough timescale.

eBay is your friend for wigs!
Wigs generally aren't cheap! Thankfully eBay often has them on bids for crazy low prices sometimes even under $10USD. Crazy right!? Well there is one catch: Generally these more cheapy priced wigs only pop up if you type in keywords like "short black wig" as opposed to something like, say, "Black Butler anime wig" and since they're usually from Hong Kong the shipping might take a while so, also alluding back to my last point, planning in advance is crucial if you're looking at saving money on your costume.
Note: Whilst going to a $2 shop (or your country's equivalent) or a costume store for a cheap wig may seem like a good idea, usually the wigs you find in these places are of questionable quality and best avoided.

Thermoplastics such as Worbla are all the rage in the cosplay scene when it comes to things like making armour but, again, this may not suit everyone's budget. Cheaper alternatives to look into are papier-mâché, cardboard, and foam. The same materials are also some of the cheaper ways to make props and weapons for your costumes.

Get to know your local fabric/craft stores! (but be careful when shopping to only buy what you need!)
Familiarising yourself with the local fabric and craft shops is a good way to save money by learning when all the important sales are and if there's any good money saving deals you can get for all the bits and bobs for your costume. However, do be careful to only buy what you need and make a list of exactly how much fabric/materials you'll need or else you'll find yourself making a lot of regrettable impulse purchases!
Side note: A lot of such stores also offer workshops to improve your skills in areas such as sewing and painting and more so they're also a good way to brush up on areas where you feel you need improvement.

Thrift store shopping!
Sometimes you can find some pretty surprising and interesting things for bargain price in second hand stores so it's always good to shop around at a few to see if you can find something you could use in your cosplay. Particularly if the character's outfit is more a day-to-day outfit as opposed to a heavy suit of armour, thrift stores can sometimes have what you're looking for in a decent condition and at less than half the price as it's sold anywhere else. I myself found a pair of nice purple knee-high boots second hand for $40 and later found out they were originally a designer pair worth $400!

See? Cosplay doesn't have to cost an arm and a leg! Hopefully these tips have been helpful and if you think I missed something or would like to share your own money-saving cosplay tips feel free to let me know in the comments section below :)

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