Cosplay, or “costume play” for you Wikipedians out there, is the art of dressing like a fictional person from pop culture for fun, or to attract the opposite sex. Some people take it very seriously, spending hundreds or even thousands of dollars to perfectly emulate their favorite character. This list isn’t here to celebrate those people however; this list is here to celebrate people who made costumes on a shoestring budget, and failed so magnificently that they achieved something awesome in the progress.*
*Where possible, Tinyeye was used to to find the original source of each image, to give them proper credit. However, for some reason, some of the people in these photos are hard to identify. If the correct source was found, it’s included.
10. This Samus Aran Costume
Samus Aran is a bounty hunter from the Metroid series of games, and is also very, very female. Thus is probably why most of the people who dress as her just so happen to be incredibly attractive blonde women.
However, the original game went out of its way to hide Samus’s gender, which makes this costume probably one of the finest ever seen. You don’t know if it’s a man or a women in there; sure, that crotch bulge makes it look like a guy, but that could just as easily be a shadow. In addition, any semblance of a chest is covered up by that awesome cardboard arm cannon. It keeps you guessing, just like the original game did. Also it looks kind of terrible, albeit in a good way.
9. This Iron Man Costume
Where do I start? Everything about this is perfect. I don’t even know what to point out first: the amount of tape that makes him look like a hastily-wrapped Christmas present for a child molester, the STAND BACK OR I WILL IRON MAN YOU TO DEATH hand gesture, or the suspicious shape on the inner thigh of his right leg. Individually, each piece of the outfit screams “this guy will lick your chair after you stand up,” but combined, it’s…it’s just…wow. Dude, we’d say you have balls for dressing like this, but everyone can already see that you totally do.
8. This Naked Snake Costume
Naked Snake, of the Metal Gear series of games, is a popular costume choice. And his ever-present cardboard box is a thing many fans have tried to emulate over the years, though they normally go the whole hog and make it look like the ones actually found in the game.
Which is what makes this costume so genius; if someone just so happened to be cosplaying as one of the enemies of the Metal Gear series, they’d totally recognize a box from the game. But a random and kinda-ragged box that says Not Snake? Clearly, there’s no Snake here; time to move on. Ironically, this guy was thinking outside the box. Kudos.
7. These Avengers Costumes
The Avengers dominated the Cosplay scene this year, but all of the pretenders can now bow down to their new Gods. At first glance, it just seems like a lazy group costume, but there are hidden details that make this one amazing. For one thing, Iron Man, a struggling alcoholic in the comics, is wearing a costume made of nothing but beer boxes. But even that bit of genius pales in comparison to the Hulk’s face which, once seen, can never, ever be unseen.
He feeds only on screams.
6. This Bubbles Costume
Although the Powerpuff Girls is a title that sounds like a SEO nuclear bomb for a site aimed at small girls, it’s seen a lot of appreciation from older fans, with one critic noting it can just as easily be enjoyed by adults.
This costume is the ultimate representation of that. It’s not a creepy guy in a child’s costume; it’s a man showing that he enjoys a TV show marketed toward little girls, that people openly accept contains material adults can enjoy. Suck it, everyone else!
5. This Gundam Costume
Unlike most of the other photos on this list, we know the full story on this one; the guy in the costume is Paul M. Palgen. When he was stuck without a costume for a convention, his sister jokingly suggested he wear a cardboard box and tell everyone that he was a giant fighting robot called a Gundam. So of course he took the joke completely seriously and did just that.
Captivated by his ingenuity, intense gaze, and muscular forearms, Palgen became an internet meme, all while he himself was serving in the Navy, completely unaware that people around the world were literally idolizing his image. Upon realization, Palgen was far from weirded out, nor did he try to claim some sort of remuneration for the people making money on his image. He instead vowed to dig out the original costume, and return to the convention for the 10th anniversary to say hi.
So to summarize, he’s a dork, has a great sense of humor about himself, and can snap your neck simply by looking at you in a certain way. If he were actually a robot, it would be a downgrade.
4. This Wolverine Costume
When life gives you lemons, you make lemonade. When life gives you a crappy Wolverine costume, then start rocking sideburns, make claws out of a Menorah, stick the Star of David on your chest and presto! Instant awesome.
This is exactly what Matt Selman, of Simpsons fame, did for Halloween, as he details in this Time article. For added hilarity, he dubbed the costume “Jewverine.” How dope is that?
3. These Star Wars Guys
One of the worst parts of being a cosplayer is how you’re forced to wear an often-impractical costume that’s either uncomfortable, or difficult to move around in. Which is why we insist you direct your attention to these guys’ shoes. These guys have all the comfort of street clothes while still being able to say they tried. That’s not stupid, that’s freaking genius. Sure, the guy wearing sleek, movie-worthy Stormtrooper armor is going to have more photos taken with him, but let’s see that guy use the toilet or check his Facebook on his phone.
2. This Pikachu Costume
Pikachu costumes are almost impossible for men to do without them looking stupid, which is why an image search for them leads only to dozens of pictures of women wearing yellow bunny ears.
This guy, though, is taking back Pikachu. He’s standing up for every man that saw a woman wear a pair of animal ears with lingerie and lazily call it a costume. He’s also subtly bragging about either being awesome at drawing, or having the world’s biggest printer.
1. Tron Guy
If you’ve been on the Internet for any length of time, you’ve seen Jay Maynard and his Tron costume. Jay turned a reasonably-OK fan costume into a career, to the point where he’s now universally known as “Tron Guy.”
Tron Guy, we wish we could have a nickname that cool. He’s been on TV shows, music videos, and even America’s Got Talent. Not bad for a guy wearing something he slapped together in his spare time. Meanwhile, the best we could ever muster was a picture or two on the fridge. At least Mom was proud of us.