Like several superhero price their cape, cosplayer Stephanie Vander Heyden leads an intriguing double life.
By day, she is a private coach in Melbourne’s western suburbs, and by night time (effectively, after work and on weekends) she is champion cosplayer AltF4.
For the uninitiated, cosplay includes dressing up as characters from movies, books and video video games – though that appears a prosaic definition of a pastime that could be a portal to an underground neighborhood, if not an alternate universe.
Her current creations embody Holga Kilgore from Dungeons and Dragons, Chandra from Magic: The Gathering, and the Crystal Maiden from Dota 2.
If these characters are unfamiliar, suffice to say it might be harmful to mess with them.
AltF4 might be exhibiting off her cosplay at Oz Comedian-Con in Melbourne this weekend.
The 32-year-old is totally self-taught and, it virtually goes with out saying, initially learnt her expertise watching YouTube.
Making cosplay outfit requires an in depth array of expertise. There’s stitching, patterning, 3D modelling and printing, sanding, airbrushing, hairdressing and make-up, even EVA foam development.
“I learnt easy methods to do 15 or 16 completely different strategies of crafting simply to make one costume,” Vander Heyden informed AAP.
“It is a psychological interest as a result of there’s numerous little hobbies inside one large one.”
She found the Melbourne cosplay scene virtually 10 years in the past and was hooked after profitable the primary competitors she entered.
In 2022 AltF4 received the Australian leg of the annual world competitors, the Cosplay Central Crown Championships, and went on to symbolize her nation on the finals in Chicago.
Nonetheless, AltF4 wasn’t in inexperienced and gold, she was dressed as Vertigo Valorplate from the online game Godfall – a creature resembling an insect with massive bug eyes, and wings protruding from her helmet.
(AltF4 prefers cosplay with helmets, as a result of though they limit imaginative and prescient, there’s much less hassle placing on make-up.)
Cosplay remains to be a small motion in Australia in contrast with international locations such because the US and Japan, however native opponents are holding their very own internationally, in accordance with AltF4.
And the Australian scene is rising, pushed by gaming and comedian conventions.
“You may have a meet-up with an enormous group photograph of 300 Spider-Mans – it is actually exploded,” Vander Heyden stated.
Whereas there’s the occasional gig with gaming firms, there’s nonetheless not a lot cash in cosplay, and Vander Heyden is nervous that turning her ardour right into a job would possibly imply she will not take pleasure in it as a lot.
For now, AltF4’s cosplay is a approach to present appreciation of the characters she loves most.
“It is like an open love letter to one thing meaning one thing to me,” she stated.
Oz Comedian-Con is being held in Melbourne on Saturday and Sunday, earlier than travelling to Canberra, Brisbane, Sydney and Perth.
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