Whenever a pop culture convention rolls around, it doesn’t take very long for fancy dress enthusiasts to find a Black Widow costume or a Batman get-up while perusing the cosplay tag on social media. But there are some cosplayers who aren’t satisfied with imitating this current heroes; heroes that are seen so often on both television and cinema screens these days. These cosplayers tend to look for inspiration elsewhere; in classic titles such as ThunderCats, Transformers and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. After all, the ’80s was a great decade when it came to delivering memorable animated series, wasn’t it?
What’s so great about these choices of fancy dress, is that the cosplayer tends to be a little more inventive, as they attempt to create a look that both resembles their chosen cartoon figure and works in the real world too. Whether they’re simply harking back to their childhood, or being swept away by ’80s — an era which seems to be more popular than ever, thanks to Glow, Stranger Things and “San Junipero”, the now award-winning episode of Black Mirror — one thing’s for certain, the outcomes always look… totally awesome. So here, CBR takes a look at some of the best ’80s-inspired cartoon cosplays the internet has to offer.
Almost all of characters in the animated series He-Man: Masters of the Universe famously wore very little clothing, so those who imitate their looks in the name of cosplay are likely to be pretty confident in their physique. It’s no surprise then that Jonathan Carroll, an actor who dressed as the titular hero at DragonCon 2017, is also a bodybuilder.
With his tanned skin, bulging muscles and a wonderful costume made by Blue Whale Studios and Catherine Jones, he looks exactly how we’d imagine a real-life He-Man looks. For those of you who are wondering why he’s donning a red cape and a leather Gladiator-style skirt when He-Man’s original look was slightly different, Carroll and his costumers took inspiration from the Sideshow Collectibles version of the character. Carroll dressed as the figure for a documentary called Quest of the Muscle Nerd while the above photograph was taken by brilanimagery.
14. BARONESS AND SNAKE EYES
G.I. Joe was a popular series that was inspired by Hasbro’s military-themed toyline that went by the same name. The action figures went on to become the basis for two television shows, two comic book series, a video game and of course, two movies starring Channing Tatum and Dwayne Johnson. Whether you’re a man or a woman, there’s a character for everyone within the franchise; Katy DeCobray and Dan S chose to become Baroness and Snake Eyes.
In Albert Ng‘s photo, the duo both were black body-suits; DeCobray’s more streamlined and made out of a latex-like fabric while Dan’s is more robust. While their pose might make them seem friendly, G.I. Joe fanatics will know that the characters are actually rivals with Baroness being an associate of villain Cobra and Snake Eyes being a member of the Joes.
ThunderCats, an American/Japanese show based on catlike humanoid aliens, aired between 1985 and 1989 and acted as the basis for Drefan‘s cosplay costume. In this photo by Garion, you can see the athlete chose Lion-O to embody and he absolutely nailed the look. Talking cosplay with Geek Lyfe a few years ago, Drefan confessed to immersing himself in the community after a serious injury meant that he had to quit competitive sports.
“[I]was looking for that… spark of life somewhere” he explained. “Bringing a character to life and getting all excited with fellow geeks! It feels like the ultimate tribute that any fan could give.” When he’s not dressing up as classic cartoon characters, Drefan tends to stick to video game figures including Braum from League of Legends and Street Fighter V‘s Ryu. He’s also tackled a few superhero looks, having appeared as Thor and Superman too.
12. OPTIMUS PRIME
The biggest challenge when fans choose to cosplay as classic Transformers these days is actually achieving a look that resembles something out of the original animated series, rather than being influenced by Michael Bay’s cinematic take on the shape-shifting robots in disguise. Fortunately, the cartoon-like Autobots and Decepticons aren’t that difficult [nor expensive] to recreate, according to cosplayer Danny Eurena and his instructions on how to turn yourself into Optimus Prime.
In the article, Eurena confesses to only spending no more than $50 to make his costume, as he found that he already had most of the materials that he needed lying around the house. What you will require, however, is patience as Eurena also stated that he spent endless nights constructing his outfit as well as suffering from several hot glue gun burns. Luckily, the outcome was totally worth it.
Having made its television debut in 1985, She-Ra: Princess of Power was actually a spin-off from He-Man: Masters of the Universe and was aimed primarily at a young female audience as opposed to its predecessor which — at the time — appeared to mostly appeal to boys. Since then however, it’s proved popular with both genders.
Canadian cosplayer and professional makeup artist Jessie D L dressed as the eponymous hero for Fan Expo Canada in September 2017 and the outcome is awesome. While she models the outfit brilliantly, the credit for her get-up should actually go to artist Dustin Kiska, who Jessie thanks on Instagram for making her costume and sword. The image above was taken by Santiago Photography and we appreciate the powerful way Jessie is posing in it — it really finishes the look off!
10. LEONARDO AND SPLINTER
It takes a very talented individual to cosplay as a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle due to the characters looking nothing like humans. But it’s probably even harder to turn yourself into TMNT character Splinter… well, due to all that body hair! Here, in a image taken by Bill Brown, we’re doubly impressed as not only are fans treated to a look at Jay Bosworth‘s Leonardo, we also get to see the wonder that is Baback Moussavi‘s Splinter costume.
While Bosworth’s outfit was crafted by Daniel Bravo, Moussavi made his himself, having tirelessly molded the anthropomorphic rat’s hands and feet as well as his ragged clothes and cane. What’s most impressive though, is the furry mask and torso piece that actually makes it look as if Moussavi is furry underneath his gi!
Despite what you might think reading this list, not every ’80s animated series revolved around heroic-type characters. Some classics, such as The Smurfs, Alvin and the Chipmunks and Snorks, were a little cuter than that. DuckTales was a similar kind of show, that centered on Scrooge McDuck and his nephews and he traveled the world in search of more ways to improve on his billions.
And for WonderCon 2016, cosplayers Courtoon, Elyse and Brandi dressed as McDuck’s relatives Huey, Dewey and Louie respectively, paying homage to the beloved Disney show. Now, it’s hard to make yourself look like a duck, so what we love most about the trio’s outfits are that they’ve simplified them without compromising what makes the characters recognizable. In the above photo by David Ngo, they wear yellow leggings to create the illusion of duck legs, color-coded tops and white wigs to create their looks.
As all Masters of the Universe fans know, Skeletor is He-Man’s arch-nemesis and it’s safe to say, he looks pretty menacing — he is the most evil being on Eternia, after all. His body is blue and muscular, while his face is just a yellow skull with burning red eyes; a look that would prove a challenge to achieve by even the most seasoned of cosplayers.
So when we came across Lance Jaze‘s costume, we were understandably blown away. In the above photo, taken by Tony Julius Photography, he looks the spitting image of the animated antagonist but what we love most about his take is that he’s almost given it a realistic-looking makeover, adding dimension and shading to his muscles and skull face. His fantastic costume, combined with the digital effects edits by Jaze Cosplay Studios, confirm it as one of the best Skeletor cosplays we’ve ever seen.
When compared to the likes of He-Man: Masters of the Universe and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Silverhawks is arguably a less iconic series from our chosen decade but that’s not to say it wasn’t still incredibly popular! It aired 65 episodes in 1986 and was actually created as the space-bound equivalent of Pacific Animation Corporation’s ThunderCats…it was also where William Smith got his inspiration from for his DragonCon 2013 costume.
Smith chose to fancy dress as Stargazer — the Commander of the SilverHawks — and his costume is perfect, from the white shirt and red braces to the loose, brown tie and gold armor. The character’s telescoping lens eye gives him advanced vision and we love how detailed Smith’s replica of it is too. While you can’t see it in the above photo taken by Bryan Humphrey, Smith also carried a Tally-Hawk prop, finishing his costume off brilliantly.
Instructables allows creative types to share their creative processes for all manner of things. It’s a godsend for cosplayers and a great way to check out what awesome creations people have made over the years! While on our hunt for impressive cosplays inspired by ’80s cartoons, we stumbled across this faultless Soundwave costume, made by a Transformers fan known only as Incrxtc online.
Talking about how he decided on the character, he wrote: “I wanted to making a really sick costume. I’m an artist and I wanted to push myself. I also didn’t want to spend a lot of money on it either. After days of pondering what I wanted to be, I decided on Soundwave — not the latest crumpled soda can Soundwave from the Bay movies, the original toy/cartoon one. Hands down he was my favorite toy. He had a rocket launcher and came with his own army of minions.”
In regards to cosplay material, G.I Joe: A Real American Hero — an animated television series that began in 1985 — offers up several characters worthy of dressing up as. When Dan Bowen attended East Bay Comic Con in May 2017, he chose to cosplay as Flint, the G.I. Joe Team’s Chief Warrant Officer. While his costume is fantastic, we really love Bowen’s cosplay because there’s a cause behind it too. Bowen is actually a member of Cobra 1st Legion, a G.I. Joe-themed costuming charity group that conduct photoshoots and attend conventions in and participate in charity events throughout the year.
In the past, they have donated $16,000 worth of toys to the Children’s Hospital of Oakland, conducted beach clean-ups that have removed over a ton of trash, donated over a ton of food to community food banks and sent over 600 books to Service Members through Operation Paperback.
4. EGON SPENGLER
Considering you only have to throw on a beige-colored jumpsuit to resemble any of its titular characters, Ghostbusters is, without question, one of the most popular franchises when it comes to cosplay. However, what we love about Josh Long’s costume here is that he recreated Egon Spengler’s look from animated series The Real Ghostbusters rather than later versions of the character that perhaps might have been a bit easier to fancy dress as.
In the animation, Spengler has fair hair so Long appropriately donned a blonde wig which thankfully boasted the character’s iconic curled fringe. He teamed the locks with a pastel blue and pink jumpsuit, red glasses and an inquisitive expression; one that Spengler often wore himself due to being the brainiest of the bunch. The above photograph — which shows off Long’s outfit — was taken by Cosplay Cousins.
Voltron: Defender of the Universe was an American animated series that aired between 1984 and 1985 and centered on a group of astronauts, who fight evil using a giant robot. It turned out to be hugely popular and spawned not only two follow-up shows but several comic book series and a one-hour special too.
In the above image taken by Manuel Moggio Photography, Italian cosplayers Alessandro, Cheer Ho and Fragolo are emulating characters Keith, Shiro and Lance respectively. While the trio did actually find the inspiration for their costumes in the more recent series Voltron: Legendary Defender — evidenced by the shock-of-white in Fragolo’s hair and their streamline suits — since the newer show is based on the original… it can still count, right? They’re just so good, we can’t bear to leave them out.
Despite them talking, standing and acting like us, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles don’t resemble humans in the slightest when it comes to their visual appearance, which is why they’re arguably some of the hardest characters to cosplay as. But due to their widespread fandom and instantly recognizable looks, it’s hardly shocking that some dedicated cosplayers fancy dress as them rather frequently.
Daniel Bravo is one of those brave costume makers, who has painstakingly hand-crafted full body-suits, half-shells and over-the-head masks for each color-coded turtle over the last decade, using molds, paint and sculpting methods. Above is an up-close look at his own Raphael cosplay, which is undeniably brilliant. So good in fact, that it was actually featured in Ted 2! Bravo doesn’t just stick to the titular heroes either. In the past, he has created costumes for the anthropomorphic rabbit Miyamoto Usagi and rhino-like character Murakami Gennosuke.
Alongside Lion-O, Cheetara is undoubtedly one of ThunderCats’ most popular characters, so it’s no surprise that people often like to cosplay as the catlike humanoid alien. Here, it’s model Nico who’s doing the fancy-dressing, with their costume showcased in the above snapshot by Kenji Ono.
What we particularly love about Nico’s take on the character, is that they kept it simple but also made it look realistic rather than cartoon-like. The cheetah spots on their right shoulder — the same as Cheetara’s — are a nice touch too. Based in La, Nico tends to favor Japanese-style cosplay looks. In the past, they have become the Great Fairy from The Legend of Zelda, Eli Ayase and Rin Hoshizora from Love Life! and Misa Amane from Death Note.
Which of these ’80s cartoons cosplays is your favorite? Let us know in the comments!
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