For me, one of the highlights of comic book/fantasy/sci-fi conventions is the costuming. Some of the attendees are cosplayers (costumed players) who create amazing costumes of characters from all fantasy genres, and some of the work is truly spectacular. The Syfy Channel has taken on this world with their series Heroes of Cosplay, looking at the folks who are professional cosplayers -- or who are trying to be.
Each episode of this series looks at several different cosplayers as they prepare to compete in the cosplay competitions at America's biggest fantasy conventions. Some are longtime cosplayers, some are new (the second episode had someone with an online cosplay program who wanted to experience the world firsthand), some want to make a profession from it (like Jesse -- the show's only male competitor so far) and others want to make their living winning the grand prizes. Then there's Yaya Han, a former competitor who became so famous she retired from competiting and works as a judge at cosplay competitions. She also feels the need to keep creating amazing costumes to maintain her reputation -- and to keep getting the judging jobs, presumably.
While Heroes of Cosplay does a good job of showing how these people put their costumes together (with lots of help from friends, family, and significant others) and approach competition, the show is maddeningly vague in other areas. Are these people geeky in other aspects of their lives, or just when it comes to costuming? How much money can they actually make from competing, and are their other folks besides Yaya who sustain themselves solely through cosplay? How do they balance their friendships (lots of the cosplayers meet for dinner at the conventions the night before the competition) with the fact that they're competing with each other? And what is it like when the conventions end and the real world returns?
Heroes of Cosplay is less manipulative than other reality tv shows and makes less fun of the fantasy world than other shows (such as King of the Nerds), but it still could have gotten a little more in-depth with both the world of cosplay and the lives of these uber-competitors. It's a decent look at the costuming side of conventions, but there should be a bit more. Overall grade: B- Reviewed by James Lynch

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