GREAT FALLS - During this time of the year, trick-or-treaters across the state are preparing their costumes to celebrate Halloween. However, for fans of cosplay, or costume play, getting into character means a whole lot more.

"It's a confidence booster. It's something that I never thought I would be able to do," said Katie Rhodes, wearing a steampunk inspired Star Wars costume she made entirely from scratch. For her and many others, conventions like the Great Falls Gaming Rendezvous gives them a chance to flex their creative muscles and express themselves through clothes based on works of fiction, like movies, books and video games.  

Rhodes, who’s from Missoula, said she’s been cosplaying for over 20 years, since the initial release of the Star Wars prequels during the late 1990s and early 2000s.  

"[It] kind of [gave] me an excuse to wear my Jedi robes to school," said Katie. "Cosplay lets me be someone else, it lets me create something else."

As a hobby, how one person views cosplay can be entirely different from another’s.

"It's a chance for people to be who they are," said Michael Kilbey, who also suited up in a hand-crafted costume based off the designs of Star Wars’ clone troopers. He manages GFGR’s emergency cosplay repair station, in case costume wearers face any last minute costume malfunction. 

"It's fun to see 'Oh, let's look at this other person's costume and see how they made it," said Harvey Fulbright, who’s cosplayed for roughly six years with his brother Cody. Both decided to attend GFGR in full costumes based on video games, with Harvey in a Heartless costume from the Kingdom Hearts, and Cody in one based on the Assassin’s Creed series of games.

If you're looking to try out cosplay crafting for yourself, GFGR hosts a few educational panels, like the one on prop building, for anyone to get a taste of the experience.

"Those in attendance will actually be working with foam and adhesives and learning the basics. So any little tips or tricks that I can share, go a long way," said Jacob Firman, a GFGR panelist who taught guests Friday on how to create foam-based weapons and armor in his foamsmithing workshop,

While many choose to make their cosplays from scratch, there’s no standard for how any one costume should be. You can buy/commission them online, or it can be as simple as wearing anything that’s readily available in your closet. It really depends on you. 

If you’re curious and want to try the hobby, Kilbey said it’s important to always remember, “It's your dream, it's your fantasy it's your character. Live it to its absolute fullest. Enjoy it while you can."

GFGR started Thursday, and will go on through to Sunday evening at Holiday Inn Great Falls.


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