Costumed Force returns to IconiCon

Published 9:51 pm Monday, April 1, 2019

IconiCon 2019 from Suffolk News-Herald on Vimeo.

Wizards, superheroes and Stormtroopers flooded the halls of North Suffolk Library on Saturday for another exciting IconiCon.


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The Suffolk Public Library’s fourth annual multi-fandom convention drew roughly 1,000 fans on Saturday. They came for all the different vendors and activities while they enjoyed good company and great cosplay.

“It’s really a day for people who have any interest in a fandom to come together,” said Angie Sumner, Suffolk Public Library’s marketing and community relations coordinator, dressed as Jyn Erso from “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.” “People who like comic books, superheroes, science fiction like ‘Star Wars,’ fantasy, ‘Harry Potter,’ anime. All of those things.”

Vendors’ tables were loaded with original artwork of fan-favorite characters, hand-crafted jewelry and other eye-catching items. Attendees also enjoyed confections served by One Girl Desserts and Pastries, plus lunch at the “Got Fish?” food truck in the parking lot.

Children brought out their inner Bruce Lee, Iron Man and other favorites in costume during a demonstration conducted by the students of Master Hill’s Red Dragon Martial Arts, based in Chesapeake. Tyrone Hill and his wife, Monique, showcased their students’ talents in playful sparring matches, with Tyrone in character as Black Panther and Monique conducting the matches in her Captain Marvel outfit.

The Tidewater Alliance conducted a “lightsaber academy” for children to learn how to properly use the tools of the Jedi. They learned posture and poise before they squared off in carefully conducted bouts with their plastic lightsabers at the library’s outdoor pavilion.

Cheri Hinshelwood’s son Owen, 11, had fun dueling mom in his Deadpool costume. His mother also had a big smile on her face to go with the toy lightsaber in her hand.

“It was a lot of fun. I wasn’t paying attention to the training, and he obviously was, so I felt a little disadvantaged,” Hinshelwood said and laughed.

Inside the library, there were voice workshops held by The Actors’ Place Inc. that showed fans how to sound like their favorite characters from film and television. Young gamers competed in a “Super Smash Bros.” tournament, and other young children enjoyed making masks and other crafts in the “Superhero Training Academy” course.

Tiny fans also enjoyed a Mario Kart-style course for remote-controlled Sphero robots, and a themed storytime session with the one and only Darth Vader.

Vader was there with the 501st Legion — an international, fan-based organization of cosplayers that build screen-accurate replicas of armor and outfits worn by Star Wars villains. The Rebel Legion fan organization also attended and in doing so brought balance to the Force.

“Doctor Who” fans got photos with a larger-than-life TARDIS provided by the Tidewater Cosplay Association. They also heard screeches of “exterminate” from full-scale replicas of the series’ menacing Daleks.

These mobile, detailed Daleks were made by the Old Dominion Daleks organization. The Dalek builders have made three full-scale models of the Doctor Who villains and are in the process of building a fourth one that’s slightly smaller and easier to fit through doors, said Richard Siebigteroth of Old Dominion Daleks.

Siebigteroth said the labor of love that rolled around with a moveable eye stalk and “gunstick” took a year and a half to make, using everyday materials like cardstock and paper mache.

“We started 3D-printing parts,” he said. “The gun stock, craft wire and the little discs in the middle are 3D-printed now. The bumps on the Dalek are Christmas ornaments painted on the inside.”

Cosplayers of all ages and in all sorts of costumes admired one another’s handiwork during the event, and one of the day’s panels featured a Q&A that discussed different aspects of the cosplay experience.

“So really there’s something for everybody at IconiCon,” said Sumner — or Jyn Erso, as she looked with the character’s jacket and blaster. “It’s just a wonderful place to make connections to other people. Maybe meet a new friend, someone who shares interests with them, and also see what the library has to offer to explore those interests beyond this day.”

The library also offered a fan art contest that featured more than 150 submissions from a wide range of ages. Cosplayers also got the chance to walk the red carpet in the cosplay contest at the convention’s end on Saturday afternoon.

Noah Fisher won for best showmanship in the contest with his homemade Spider-Man costume.

Ellieahna Hamlin, 4, placed first for the “Novice” category for participants up to age 12 dressed as Moana of Motunui, while Colby took second dressed as Scooby-Doo.

“Journeyman” winners ages 13 to 17 were Kyra Mosiello, 17, in first as Bakugo, Alina Johnston, 15, in second as Brigitte from the “Overwatch” videogame and Michaela D’Amato, 15, in third as Hatsune Miku.

Laura Rockswold, 29, took first in “Master” for ages 18 and older as Starscream from the Transformers franchise. Second place was Brittany Hamlin as Jester Lavorre — a tiefling cleric of “the Traveler” and member of the Mighty Nein in the web series “Critical Role” — and third place was Norman Warren as X-Men’s Nightcrawler.

The whole convention was a nice gift for Rockswold, who also celebrated her birthday on Saturday. She spent eight months putting together her Starscream costume after a friend showed her the “Transformers: Prime” series.

“Just thinking about how to make the costume, I (thought) I could do that convincingly,” she said. “I just thought it would be a cool costume to make (and) a fun challenge.”

The winged suit was made with craft foam and painted metallic. She also put on a spandex shirt underneath the foam parts.

“I have a microphone here so I can talk. Otherwise you wouldn’t be able to hear me during this interview,” she said and laughed in a modulated voice.

She’s been cosplaying her favorite characters since 2013. She described herself as an artistic person and said that she enjoys the challenge of cosplaying, where “art becomes a science.”

“Not only do you design the costume, but you have to fit inside it when it’s done. That’s a fun challenge, and then to see if you can be characters that people like from different TV shows or books or whatever,” she said. “When I go to these (events) they don’t see me, they see my character. Sometimes I’m their hero or their enemy, and I think it’s a lot of fun (for) the people that come to these things.”