2022 Planet Comicon Kansas City Cosplay Contest

One of the most entertaining events at Planet Comicon Kansas City (PCKC) s the annual Cosplay Contest. Fun?! Passion?! Prizes?! Whatever drives you, we’ve got the contest for you! PCKC’s cosplay contest is an awesome opportunity  to showcase the skills from both local and visiting cosplayers based on craftsmanship and character portrayal. It is a spirited contest that is inclusive of all mediums and skill levels, so everyone can have a chance to have their work appreciated by judges and audience members.  The contest is free to attend with your valid convention admission credentials.

Specifics regarding the 2022 Cosplay Contest will be available in early January.

Overview of the Mainstage Contest
PCKC will accept up to 55 entries to compete in the main stage cosplay contest. The contest is divided up by class and category. Class delineations are Novice, Journeyman, and  Master. Within each of these classes, entrants may choose their costume category of Needlework, Foamwork,  Mixed Media and Group. All contestants will be judged on craftsmanship and stage performance with a heavy emphasis on craftsmanship. Be sure to read all of these rules to learn more about the contest and how to register. Most of your questions will be answered by a simple reading of this document!

If you need to drop out of the contest for any reason, please let the cosplay contest directors know in advance, as we will also offer those spots through our waitlist process. Failure to communicate that you are dropping out may disqualify you from future contests! Please read the rules, important times, and glossary items carefully.

General Rules

  • All contestants, models and their handlers must have valid tickets for PCKC for the day of the contest.
  • All contestants will be required to adhere to any and all COVID-19 policies and guidelines enforced by PCKC. Information about those guidelines will be released when it becomes available. Please check the PCKC social media channels and website for updates.
  • A single entry can be an individual or a duo. If your team has three (3) to five (5) individuals, you must enter in the group category.
  • Contestants are only allowed one entry, and may only enter their costume in one category.  (e.g. you may not enter one costume in the foamwork category and enter the same or a different costume in the needlework category). 
  • Convention staff and volunteers may not enter the Cosplay Contest. Headlining and invited cosplay guests are also not eligible to enter the costume contest.
  • All contestants must bring reference photos of their costumes. These photos must be printed copies and bound in some way (e.g. in a folder, or a notebook). No digital (e.g. cell phone pictures) will be accepted.
  • PCKC is a craftsmanship centric contest. The required percentage of handmade elements of your costume is determined by your class. No fully purchased costumes are allowed. For clarification on the definition of “made” vs. “altered,” please refer to the glossary section.
  • Cosplays must be recreations or fanart of licensed characters to be eligible for Best in Show. Original characters are eligible for other awards, however. 
  • Only entrants 15 years of age and up may enter the Mainstage Cosplay Contest. Children 14 and under are not eligible to enter the mainstage contest unless they are part of a duo or group entry with at least one member who is at least 15 years old. Children 14 and under may enter the Young Fans Cosplay Showcase held on Sunday.
  • You can have someone model your costume, but you, the crafter, must register for the Costume Contest and be present for prejudging to answer the judges’ questions. If the costume receives an award, the award recipient will be the crafter, not the model.
  • No nudity, profanity, anything deemed racially or culturally offensive will be allowed. No politically charged or discriminatory cosplays or props will be allowed. When in doubt, ask!
  • No liquids, messy substances, glitter, confetti or anything that may pose a danger is allowed on stage.
  • No pyrotechnics, fireworks or open flames. No fog machines.
  • All electronics must be self-contained. There are no electrical outlets onstage.
  • No glitter/ confetti or anything smaller than 3 square inches may be used as part of your stage walk. 
  • No weapons that violate PCKC’s Weapons Policy or Bartle Hall’s weapons policy or local laws, including but not limited to: realistic-looking firearms without an orange muzzle cap; live steel; projectiles of any kind; unsheathing of bladed weapons without clearance from the cosplay contest directors. Due to safety concerns, minors may not perform combat simulations. (See Weapons Policy)
  • Stage walk time is limited, so please make sure to consider what you will do before showtime. Single and duo entrants will have up to 1 minute  of stage time, and groups will have up to 2 minutes.
  • No throwing things into the audience, including yourself. Contestants will not be allowed to leave the stage as part of their performance.
  • Background music requests are not available. All background music will be provided by PCKC staff.
  • Contestants agree to allow video recording and photography of their costumes for future promotions of PCKC.
  • Contestants understand that the published contest awards may be adjusted, changed or withheld pending complaint resolution or for any reason deemed appropriate by the contest administrators. 
  • Show integrity and the spirit of competition are important!
    • This contest is about balancing fun with true competition.  For the integrity of the contest, you may be placed into the appropriate category/class at the discretion of the  cosplay contest directors without prior notice. 
    • This has been a difficult year for cosplay builders, and we are supportive  of the levity that a host of online contests have brought to the community. As such, for this year’s contest, you may enter a costume that has won a major award in a previous online contest as long as that award was not granted at a former PCKC contest or a Best in Show or equivalent title.
    • You may not enter a costume that has previously won Best in Show or a major award at an in-person PCKC or another in-person cosplay contest. 
    • This is largely a craftsmanship contest, where craftsmanship will make up the majority of your score. All entrants must have made a percentage of their costumes to be eligible for entry. Please see class divisions for your required “handmade” percentage, and the Glossary for clarification on “handmade” vs. “altered” cosplays. 

Violating these rules will disqualify you, and possibly result in escort off the premises.


You must enter at the class of the individual who has the highest class in your entry (e.g. if you are in a duo and one person is a master and the other is a novice, you must enter in the master class).

Novice (20 spots)
If this is your first time entering a costume contest, or you’ve never won a major award before at any other convention, this is the major for you! 50% of your costume must be handmade by you.

Journeyman (15 spots)
If you’ve won 1-2 major awards at any convention, this is your major. 60% of your costume must be handmade by you.

Master (15 spots)
If you have won 3 or more major awards in a cosplay contest, if you have taken best in show at any cosplay contest of similar or larger size to PCKC, or if you make or sell cosplay costumes professionally, please enter this area. 75% of the costume must be handmade by the contestant.


Category delineations allow for recognition of  all mediums used in cosplay. Contestants may enter one of four different categories.

Needlework: For costumes created predominantly by sewing, embroidery, and fabricraft. Sewn leather costumes may enter this category as well.

Foamwork: For costumes created predominantly from foam products, such as eva foam, rigid foam, expanding foam, etc.  Worbla-covered-EVA foam cosplays would also fall in this category. 

Mixed Media: For cosplays that feature animatronics, prosthetics, special effects, or a variety of materials such as plastic, PVC, metal, latex or a variety of mediums that aren’t exclusively needlework or foamwork (e.g. if your costume incorporates formwork and needlework equally), this is the class for you.

Group: Show us your team chemistry and costume making skills! The Group category has 5 slots. This category is for groups of 3-6 cosplayers and at least 50% of each costume must be handmade by at least one member of the group. Craftsmanship of the group costumes will be judged based on the highest classed individual in the group (e.g., a group with 1 master and 2 novices will be judged on craftsmanship at the Master level).

Unfortunately, mics will not be available for groups  as they have been in years past.

 NOTE: You may select the category and class you wish to compete in, however the cosplay contest directors reserve the right to move your entry to another category or class if it is deemed appropriate for the sake of the integrity of the contest.


The contest is divided into two parts: Craftsmanship judging and stage judging. 

Craftsmanship judging: For craftsmanship, contestants will arrive at the designated time and location for their class and meet with the judges to discuss how their costume was made. Be prepared for judges to check your seams, paint job, wig work and other elements. They will ask you about how you created the piece. You will be judged on technique, finish, how well stays together, and overall impression. Entries of 1-2 people will have 5 minutes with the judges and groups of 3-5 will have up to 7 minutes to talk about their work. This is to ensure we can get everyone judged in a reasonable amount of time and everyone can enjoy as much of the convention as possible. With that in mind, please do not be late to your judging time slot, or you may be disqualified from the contest. To assist with social distancing, please do not arrive any more than 5 minutes early to your designated time slot.

  • Contestants will be judged on fidelity to reference images. Factors that will NOT will not count against fidelity include the cosplayer’s race, age, ethnicity, height, size, use of mobility items, corrective vision or lack thereof, socioeconomic status, and other health, cultural or religious identities that the cosplayer has that may differ between the cosplayer and the character. See Glossary for complete “fidelity” definition. 
  • Each class will have a designated judging timeslot and craftsmanship percentage requirement (see class requirements for details on required percentage).
  • Please note that if you are entering any of the categories with more than one person, each of you will be judged on craftsmanship/participation individually, and the scores will be averaged. You will be judged at the class level of the person in your entry with the highest class.
  • You are required to bring reference images of your source material, as well as 3-5 work In progress photos in hard copy form (no digital copies or photos on your phone allowed). Volunteers will be standing by to help line you up, and handle your photos if needed. When the contest concludes, you may pick up your progress photos in the Green room. 
  • Judges will be closely examining your work and may ask you to hold up or move parts of your cosplay for them to see. If this makes you uncomfortable, please let the cosplay contest directors know and we will assist with finding an alternative arrangement.

All entries are free to enjoy the convention after judging, but must be back for Green Room prior to showtime.


Contest registration information will be coming soon.


Thanks for signing-up! We are thrilled to have your entry  in the contest this year! 

Cosplay Contest Registration Checklist:

  • Carefully read all the rules and ask the cosplay contest directors if you have any questions.
  • Sign up during the designated registration period.
  • Keep an eye on your inbox for your entry status, and a later email regarding your judging time slot and confirmation of details.
  • Make sure your costume adheres to the rules.
  • Create your hard-copy work in progress book and bring it with you to judging.
  • Make note of all mandatory time slots: Judging, green room and showtime, and double check these times at the convention in case there are last minute changes.

Cosplay Etiquette

In General: Cosplay is not consent. This means:

  • Do not touch a cosplayer, their costume, or their props without permission.
  • Do not take photos of a cosplayer without asking permission and allowing them to pose first.
  • Do not use the zoom feature to highlight only aspects of a cosplayer without their consent. If you would like them to do a specific pose or do a closeup of a certain aspect, ask them!
  • Do not make any lewd or suggestive comments to a cosplayer because of what they are wearing. Unwanted criticism/critique or comments directed at cosplayers may be treated as harassment. This includes but is not limited to:
    • Criticizing someone because of their race, gender, body, etc. 
    • Making snide remarks about skill level.
    • “I could do that better” statements.
    • Unwelcomed critiques of their cosplay. Unless a cosplayer specifically asks for feedback about how to do something better, do not give it.
    • In short: if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.

Etiquette for Photographers: 

  • Please do not use flash or auto-focus assist lights during the cosplay contest! It makes it difficult for cosplayers to see when they are walking across the stage. 
  • Do not ask to take photos with only one cosplayer out of a group from the same series/clearly in a group cosplay. Take a picture of the group, and if you’d like an individual shot of your favorite character, ask later.
  • Please be mindful of your equipment that may block walkways, entryways, or other general traffic.
  • Only Planet Comicon Kansas City approved press will be allowed in the Green Room. 

Etiquette For Cosplayers:

  • Be fully aware when in a large costume or in a costume with protruding elements (like wings, tails, etc.). If you cannot see well, make sure you have a friend help make sure your pathways are clear.
  • If asked for a photo, move out of the flow of traffic, against a wall, or to a less common area. 
  • If you are wearing extensive makeup or body paint, seal it properly. You don’t want to be in a situation where you cause damage to something (e.g., the pool, hotel or convention center decorations, etc.).
  • Do not use being “in character” as an excuse to be a jerk, make lewd or suggestive comments, or physically or verbally bother someone. The harassment policy still applies to you, regardless of who you are dressed as.
  • You may not, under any circumstances, Black/Brownface, or wear any costumes that are offensive or disrespectful to any group of existing, living cultures and people. This includes darkening your skin to match that of an existing race, wearing Nazi regalia, etc.
  • Do not use accessible stalls or other designated accessibility areas to change or store props unless you would otherwise need that space. Doing so can result in removal from the cosplay contest.
  • If you are not a cosplay handler or cosplayer, please do not hang out in the green room.
  • There may be photographers in the green room. You are welcome to politely refuse photography if you do not wish to be photographed.
  • Please remember that Green Room is a collective space with a lot of nervous energy. When in the Green Room, please be mindful of your noise level, how much space you are taking up, as well as the content of your conversations.


  • Accuracy: This term is in reference to how closely your costume and/or stage presence matches your character and/or reference images in terms of color, choices and overall character essence. If you deviated from the reference, is the deviation sensible? Areas NOT considered for accuracy include: race, age, ethnicity, height, size, use of mobility items, corrective vision or lack thereof, socioeconomic status, and other health, cultural or religious identities that the cosplayer has that may differ between yourself and the character. 
  • Category Award: This is an award that has won a first place class or category award at Planet Comicon Kansas City, such as Best Novicer Needlework, Best Journeyman Foamwork, Best Master Mixed Media, Best in Show, etc. This does not include a Judge’s Choice award or a runner up award.
  • Class: Your rank within a contest based on the number of awards you have received: Novice, Journeyman and Masters. Each contest and convention has different ratings, so please make sure you read the information carefully. 
  • Entry: Participant(s) registered in any of the cosplay contests. May include more than one person.
  • Fanart: Cosplays that have characterization rooted in existing, licensed characters, but have been reworked artistically. This includes reworks of licensed characters and licensed character interpretations (e.g., Pokemon gijinka, your interpretation of a podcast character etc.) Fanart also includes mashups of licensed characters (e.g., Deadpool Sailor Moon).
  • Green Room: Pre-show meeting and stage queue. This is usually an hour before your actual stage walk. This is an opportunity to make sure everyone is present, organized and ready to go. 
  •  Made Cosplays: “Made” refers to elements of your cosplays that have been fabricated from raw materials and count toward your craftsmanship points and required craftsmanship percentage (See class level for details). Please note that this is different from “altered” items, which are elements of your cosplay that have been purchased or fabricated by someone other than the contestant and modified in some way, such as painted or embellished. If you are altering a piece of your costume, only the portions of the item that have been altered count toward your craftsmanship points and required craftsmanship percentage. It is also important to note that a costume that is comprised only of alterations does not meet any minimum required craftsmanship percentage.
  • Main Stage Cosplay Contest: This is the main cosplay attraction at Planet Comicon Kansas City on Saturday of the Convention and includes a craftsmanship pre-judging element, and a stage walk. 
  • Minor Award: Awards that are not category specific, or first place awards in those categories. Examples would include a Judge’s Choice award, a runner up award, best prop award, etc.
  • Offensive Cosplays: “Offense” is a somewhat subjective term, but we are functioning with the following definition: cosplays that incite violence, racism, sexism, homophobia, ableism, transphobia, ageism, and bigotry. This includes race-facing (e.g. Blackface/Brownface) as well as costumes that replicate historic or current international or national tragedies. The goal is to make sure our attendees feel safe, included, and appreciated, so cosplays should reflect this intent.
  • Original Characters: Characters that are not licensed characters. Original characters may be submitted but they are not eligible for Best in Show.
  • PG Rating: No nudity or coarse language will be permitted on stage. Simulated violence and thematic situations are okay. 
  • Progress and Reference photos: Progress photos are images that document the elements of your costume that you made and highlight anything particularly interesting/difficult about your costume. Reference images are images of the character you are personifying. These images bust be presented in a hard copy form (i.e. “Progress book) and bound in some way (e.g. in a binder, a folder, stapled together etc.) No digital copies or photos on your phone allowed. 
  • Sandbagging: Sandbagging has two meanings in the cosplay community, and both may disqualify you from the contest and bar you from competing in the Contest at Planet Comicon Kansas City in future years: 
    • Intentionally placing your costume in a skill class lower than yours to increase your chances of an “easy win.” For the integrity of the contest, you may be placed into the appropriate class at the discretion of the judges and cosplay contest directors without prior notice.
    • re-entering a cosplay for which you have already won a category award.