NärCon Stockholm 2014 and Cosplay-SM 2014
NärCon:Stockholm is NärCon’s new convention and took place at the same time and in the same expo-halls as MY2014. NärCon had some marketing problems; at first no one really knew that this new event was. Was it a convention? Was it a booth? What was it? And it was also too close in time to NärCon:Winter. And this was noticeable during the convention; there were too few people for the size of the halls. I heard that they sold over 1700 tickets (including day-passes); it’s more than expected, but not nearly enough to make the convention not feel empty.
The convention itself also felt quite boring. It might just be me getting old, but there were practically nothing going on.
I did however like that NärCon Stockholm was a part of MY2014; this gave "normal" people some insight into conventions and cosplay. And to see cosplayers among "normal" people was quite fun.
Cosplay-SM 2014 from the inside
I can’t tell you much about Cosplay-SM (Swedish Cosplay Championship) from the average visitor perspective since I worked as a judge for the championship this year.
When I first decided to go to NärCon Stockholm, my only plan was to look at Cosplay-SM, that was the only thing that made me buy a ticket in the first place. Then, about a week before the con, I was contacted by Cosplay-SM and asked to be a judge.
To be a judge in SM was really fun, but man it was hard and mentally tiring. You always hear the judges say that everyone was great, but we really meant it; everyone was so skilled we had to search for faults.
The judging itself took place over two days (day two and three of the con). During day two we had interviews with every contestant and inspected the craftsmanship. We had 15 minutes with every contestant to ask them about how they made their costumes, and to inspect everything. We looked at everything. I focused mainly on armour, props, functionality, electronics, and leatherwork. After we had had 15 minutes with every contestant we had to discuss for another 2 hours or so before we could decide on a preliminary ranking. This was definitely the hardest part of the judging.
During day three the actual show took place. We knew that the judges were going to be presented on stage, but I didn’t know that the host was going to ask us questions. The show itself was great; a lot of amazing performances. Apparently "Axel the Stage Cleaner" became a thing; it was a completely improvised act after the stage had become unexpectedly filled with confetti. The contestant with the confetti intended to shot it into the audience, but missed and hit the stage. After all the performances we were taken into an empty room backstage where we had ten minutes to decide on the top three winners. It went unexpectedly fast.
After the show I didn’t want to go backstage, and I didn’t want to go to the VIP room, out of fear that any of the contestants would be mad at us. So I went and had a long shower. Then our job was done.
There are only two small things that I felt could have been done better (from a judge point of view); A heads up warning about that the host was going to ask us questions on stage, and what those questions might be. And printed reference pictures (I had printed some for personal use, but there were no printed references provided by SM).
To be a judge, and to up-close see what it takes to become a Swedish Cosplay Champion has truly inspired me to make better cosplays for myself.
This has been a quite unusual convention experience for me, and I’ve loved every bit of it. This experience has been more grown up than any other convention experience I’ve had. Working with the championship every day, and some kind of social VIP party every night. I got to know so many new and amazing people.
To work with the championship has been really fun and I would love to work with it more, or (god forbid) to be a contestant when my skills are on their level. I feel that Cosplay-SM is very important for the Swedish cosplay community, and I would love to see it evolve into something even greater. I have great confidence that Kim and Debbie (the main organizers for the championship) can take it there. If this was the only time I worked with the championship, then I’m proud to have been part of it, but I won’t deny it: I would love to get more involved.