I was 8 years old. Wearing my Strawberry Shortcake plastic apron and hot-as-heck mask with the elastic bands and barely-there mouth hole (children of the 70s/80s... you KNOW what I'm talking about), but I wasn't simply wearing a costume. I WAS Strawberry Shortcake. For a few short hours on Halloween night, my pretend world became real, and I was her. It was the ultimate expression of what I loved and who I really wanted to be.
As I grew older, and it became less acceptable to play in the pretend world, my toys and dolls were regulated to their shelves. Stuffed animals stayed on my bed a bit longer, but even they eventually got put away. I still decorated my notebooks with Hello Kitty stickers (because that form of expression was still "okay"), but most of the land of make-believe got left behind.
But I still looked forward to Halloween each year, because only then could I dress up and PLAY like I used to when I was a kid.
Last weekend I took a trip to the Anaheim Convention Center, although for all intents and purposes I might as well have been on another planet.
Surrounded my space aliens, superheroes and cartoon characters alike, it was definitely a geek's paradise. And I loved every moment of it.
These are my people...
Welcome to WonderCon. For those of you who haven't ever heard of WonderCon before, don't worry. You're not alone.
WonderCon is like the kid sister of Comic-Con (which is the mother-ship of all geekdom). Here's the scoop: Comic-Con is a 4-day spectacle of everything comic, cartoon and pop-culture, including panels of actor interviews, sneak peeks at upcoming movies and tv shows, and a humongous tradeshow. But tickets are known to sell out within 15 minutes (no joke), so not everyone gets to play. So the people who operate Comic-Con did something pretty brilliant... offer smaller versions of the event at various locations throughout different times of the year.
Enter WonderCon. Now in it's second year at the Anaheim Convention Center, there are talks of making this a permanent annual event. (woohoo!) Yes, the tradeshow is nice, and some of the panels are pretty spectacular (Joss Whedon was there this year), but my favorite part of it all are the costumes!
It's like Halloween. On crack.
No, you don't have to dress up, but it's definitely encouraged. And applauded. The world of cosplay is pretty amazing like that.
So, this is me. As a steampunk version of Iron Man. (Costume designed by my husband and created by my mother-in-law. Yeah... they kinda rock like that.)
My husband (Tony) also got into the fun, dressed as Jack Sparrow from Pirates of the Caribbean. (Most of this costume was also created from scratch by his mother.)
And then... we PLAYED. Tony and I met up with friends of ours (also in Marvel-universe steampunk costumes) and simply wandered the lobby area, enjoying the spectacle. (And many, many thanks to Tony, for tag-teaming the camera with me... to ensure that I actually ended up IN some photos for a change...ha!)
(Deadpool, Iron Man, Lady Deathstrike, another Deadpool and Wolverine)
(And Jack Sparrow, of course...)
There were plenty of pirates to go around.
And I found other members of my Avengers team... and nemesis Loki, as well.
There were also lots of other people there in Iron Man costumes, as well.
But none as cute as THIS kid, dressed as Tony Stark!
I headed back outside just in time to capture this fantastic photo-op... sooooo many costumed characters from the DC Universe posing all together. The rows of photographers lined up to get these shots were 10 people deep, so rather than wait behind them all for a glance at the scene, I wedged into the sidelines and shot from where I was.
But I got lucky. The person running the show spotted me in costume with my camera, and waved me over to the FRONT of the group of photographers, and gave me a dead-center position!!! Which is how I got this shot below, as well as the first one in this blog post.
Words cannot express how much FUN this day was. So I'll let my photos do the talking for a bit...
Captain Hammer, Dr. Horrible and a person from the Bad Horse Chorus (Dr. Horrible's Sing Along Blog)
Plenty of players from the Star Wars universe
Cosplayers from the Batman world
And, of course, lots of Disney characters. How CUTE is this father/daughter dressed as Wreck-It-Ralph and Penelope Von Schweetz???
And a few personal favorites of mine... My Little Pony characters.
Wolverine and Wolverine. Too, too adorable!!!
Note to parents: this is a kid-friendly place, and makes for fantastic entertainment at a low-low cost. Meaning, it's FREE. While tickets to actually get into the tradeshow and panel area do cost a little bit (and are known to sell out ahead of time, as I learned the hard way), the front and lobby area of the Anaheim Convention Center are open to the public for free. And this is where the people in costume spend most of their time.
I highly recommend putting this on your radar for next year.
I know I'll be there... dressed and ready to PLAY.
Click here to see even MORE pictures from the day.