Hall Costume Contest Rules

Please read this carefully as one or two things have changed from last year! (Changes are in Bold)

  1. All participants must have an Otakon member badge (this includes Associate, Dealer, Press, and other specialty badges). Members of Otakon staff are ineligible to compete in the Hall Costume Contest.
  2. There will be an online registration for the 2024 contest with a few changes due to the massive response we’ve had in recent years.  Online registration begins July 1 and will remain open for 1 week, closing on July 7. Contestants who register online will be randomly selected and assigned a time slot for judging. **Please Note that completing a registration form does not guarantee acceptance.  We would LOVE to take everyone, but we only have 2 days of judging available!!**
    1. A limited number of time slots will be available as at-con registrations at 10am  on Friday and Saturday at the Hall costume Contest Office (Room 159A).
    2. At-Con registration is for same-day only!  You can only register for Friday times on Friday and Saturday times on Saturday.     
  3. Groups from the same series are welcome to enter. Groups must be kept within a theme (i.e., Villains group or various Final Fantasies), however, random characters from different series are discouraged.
  4. Entries will be separated into FIVE categories:
    • Youth - individual or group consisting primarily of children 15 years of age and under, as well as their parents, guardians, or other individuals deemed appropriate by the Hall Costume Contest Coordinator. The designer and the primary constructor of the costume must be 15 years of age or younger, as well as any model, unless otherwise approved by the Hall Costume Contest Coordinator. Parents are required to accompany children 15 years of age and younger during the Hall Costume Contest.
    • Beginner - This category is reserved for those who are new to cosplay creation and craftsmanship competition (Zero to 2 years experience with NO awards of any kind). Beginners and Novices will be judged together, and Beginners winning awards will be promoted to Novice division.
    • Novice - Over 2 years of Cosplay experience and/or Zero to Three Craftsmanship awards (this does not include Judge’s Awards or Honorable Mentions)
    • Journeyman - Four to Six Craftsmanship awards.
    • Craftsman - Seven or more Craftsmanship awards. 
  5. Costumes that have won any major awards at any convention may not be entered in the Hall Costume Contest unless major (%50 or more) work has been improved or worked over with photographic proof of the changes.  Please state at time of registering for the contest if you have won an award before.
  6. Professionals (Those who make 75% or more of their income by working a full-time job involving building or fabricating costumes) may enter but are not eligible to win major prizes. If you are a casual Cosplay Costume seller (You make costumes or pieces and sell them on Ebay or do a few commissions a year), then you are eligible to compete. If you are curious if you are eligible or not, please send us an inquiry and ask.
  7. Each entry's appropriate category will be determined by its participant with the highest number of cosplay awards won out of the group. For example, an entry consisting of 3 participants with zero major awards won and 1 participant with 4 major awards won will be placed in the Journeyman category.
  8. Children 15 years and younger will be judged separately in the Youth category.
  9. Pictures will be taken during judging of all participants. These pictures will be used for record and judging purposes. Additional pictures will also be taken during the Hall Costume Contest Fashion Show and Hall Costume Contest Awards at the Masquerade.
  10. All participants will be required to sign a permission/release/waiver form to participate in the contest. Minors under 18 years of age may participate in the Hall Costume Contests only if a permission/release form signed by the minor's legal guardian is provided. Forms are available at the contest registration desk and will be made available on the Otakon website.
  11.        All costumes must pertain in some way to a character, object, or otherwise, that is depicted in Japanese/Korean/Chinese anime, manga, anime-style video games, or some other facet of Japanese culture. Original costumes will not be permitted, as the accuracy of the costume is impossible to judge unless it is an interpretation that strongly references the game - for example "Halloween Town Rikku" from Kingdom Hearts and "Steampunk Link" with design elements from the game are acceptable. Character “mash-up” entries may be accepted at the discretion of Hall Costume Contest coordinator and staff  **PLEASE NOTE: We now accept the following entries: Blizzard Games (including: Overwatch, World of Warcraft, Heroes of the Storm, and Starcraft), as well as League of Legends characters that have Asian-inspired designs. Acceptance of these cosplays is subject to the discretion of the Hall Costume Contest coordinator and staff**
  12. No glitter, confetti, pyrotechnics, live flame, or smoke generators of any kind are allowed in the Convention Center or Event space.
  13. Altering of skin pigmentation to match a real-world culture to which the contestant does not belong is not permitted and will result in immediate disqualification.
  14. Purchased, professionally made, or rented costumes are prohibited. Costumes consisting mostly or entirely of store-bought items are also ineligible. All costumes must be at least 85% handmade. Participants should be prepared to briefly explain the process through which their costume was created.
  15. No electrical power connections will be provided. If your costume requires power, it must be part of your costume design.
  16. Costumes will be judged on a variety of criteria, including craftsmanship and overall effect. The winners will be announced during the Masquerade Awards Ceremony Saturday evening.
  17. All entries are REQUIRED to bring Work in Progress and reference material for their costume(s). Not all judges know all characters, so it is in everyone's best interest to bring a color picture (or several). The reference should depict the details of the costume you are presenting.  You will not have the ability to print your materials at the con. (It will be possible to submit Work-in-progress photos via Discord or Google Drive)
  18. Hall Costume Contest judging is not open to the public. Only entrants, designers, those for support/anxiety, a handler for larger/bulky costumes, and parents or children will be allowed inside the judging room. NO photography other than official Otakon Photography is permitted within the judging or staging room.
  19. All Hall Costume Contest participants will have the option to take part in the Hall Costume Contest Catwalk during the Masquerade. Our staff will provide more information to you during your judging appointment, so please let us know if you would like to participate at that time.
  20. Each contestant may only enter one costume into the Hall Costume Contest. One or more designers may design and construct costumes for an individual or for a group who serve as model/models. The group will be considered as one entry. The designer(s) must be present at the judging to explain the construction techniques used. If this is a group presentation, the designer(s) may also wear a costume.

Any participant who will be participating in the Hall Costume Contest Catwalk at the beginning of Masquerade must adhere to additional rules:

  1. Your costume must allow you freedom of movement so that you can go up and down NARROW steps. Make certain your costume allows you to do this unassisted. 
  2. We will reserve audience seating for the Hall Costume Contest at the Masquerade. When being seated, please listen to the instructions of the Otakon staff and sit only where you are assigned. If you have any special needs, please inform Otakon staff at check-in.
  3. Parents/legal guardians are required to accompany children 15 years and younger during the Hall Costume Contest Catwalk. 

All decisions of the Hall Costume Contest Coordinator are final.

A complete set of current rules will be posted at the Hall Costume Contest check-in tables at all times on Friday and Saturday.