As well as signings, panel talks, meet and greets, and spending way too much money on collectibles, integral to any great convention is the cosplay. As conventions have steadily increased in size, frequency and amount, it seems that cosplayers' care, attention, and creativity have also exponentially grown to match -- resulting in weirder and wilder character/franchise mash-ups every year. As unlikely as it seems, cosplay has existed for over a century in the West now, with the earliest known examples dating back to the early 1900s (they go back to the 17th Century in China!) One of the first American "Cosplay Masquerades" was held in 1908 at a skating rink in Cincinnati, Ohio, with participants mainly dressed as A.D Condo's "Mr. Skygack," the titular Martian character from what is thought to be the very first sci-fi comic strip.
Cosplayers didn't graduate from skating rinks to conventions halls until 1939's "World Science Fiction Fair" (which would become "Worldcon") and since then, the activity has become a globally-recognized, essential element of geek culture. Today, cosplayers devote crazy amounts of time, money, and blisters into crafting not only the most accurate replica costumes of their favorite fictional characters but also reinventing them in witty and ingenious ways. Here are some of the craziest cosplay mash-ups from recent years.
15 IRON TIN MAN
Two metal men in one, what's not to love? This Wizard of Oz/Iron Man mash-up was spotted at DragonCon, Atlanta in 2013, and snapped by FirstPerson Shooter for NerdCaliber. Other than the two characters being associated with metals (one a lot more intimately than the other) the other nice parallel that links to the two are affairs of the heart.
The Tin Woodman was famously missing one when he encounters Dorothy Gale along the Yellow Brick Road in The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, but after wishing for a replacement from the Wizard, all he's able to get is an artificial stand-in made from velvet and sawdust. Similarly, when Tony Stark's suffers severe chest injuries, he has to use his technological wizardry to keep his heart beating.
14 SUPER GHOSTBUSTER BROS.
There's something about Mario and Luigi as Ghostbusters that just really works, isn't there? Maybe it's the ties between the workmen-style costumes that those in the fictional plumbing and 'busting line of work seem to favor. Maybe it's the 1980s origins that the two franchises share. Or maybe it's their similar vibe of campy and ridiculous, comic-action that the Italian brothers and Venkman and company get so right in their respective adventures.
Whatever it is, these two cosplayers definitely captured it in this great shot by photographer Angelwing for NerdCaliber in 2013. The kookiness of the whole thing is emphasized by their fantastically expressive poses. The color-coded proton packs are also a great extra touch, and who doesn't look fantastic with a big, bushy mustache?
13 TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TROOPER
This crazy cosplay mash-up taken at Ottawa Comic Con in 2013 by cmbdphotography. It allows us to imagine a world in which the Empire's evil reach through the universe extended to the version of Earth that is home to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles -- and seemingly recruits Donatello to the cause!
Maybe the Troopers arrived when the Turtles were just little nippers yet to be guided down the path of heroics by Master Splinter and brainwashed their developing minds early. Were the other Turtles also recruited? If so, a safe bet would surely be on Raphael secretly being the angry FN-2199 "Traitor" Stormtrooper from The Force Awakens. The use of the backpack in place of Donny's shell is also a clever design shortcut on this one.
12 IRON WOLVERINE
You know when you just can't decide between two outfits? Well, that seems to be what happened to this cosplayer. Known (hilariously) as "Dadpool" online due to his obvious preference for dressing up as the Merc With The Mouth for most of his con appearances and photoshoots. He broke with his namesake inspiration for Australia's Supanova Pop Culture Expo in 2015, choosing to amalgamate two of his other incredible Marvel cosplays instead.
This photo, taken by NBV Projects, showcases not only his talent for incredibly detailed prop and costume-making but his creativity, too. What would be the origin story for this? Tony Stark passing the Iron Man mantle onto his fellow Avenger? Or an alternate world in which James Howlett was raised by the Starks but still carried his mutant gene?
11 SNOWBA FETT
...Or Boba White? Whatever you call it, this super-impressive mash-up has been worn by seasoned cosplayed Amber Arden at several convention appearances over the last couple of years, including her guest appearance at Star Wars Celebration in 2017. The Evil Queen would no doubt think twice about trying to poison her stepdaughter if she had as fearsome a reputation as the Star Wars bounty hunter.
Amber is known primarily as a Disney and Star Wars cosplayer, so this unusual combination of Snow White and Boba Fett makes total sense for her to do, and it's also not the only time she's crossed the two worlds over. She's also mashed together Princess Leia and Snow White -- Disney's acquisition of Star Wars qualifying the former technically as another Disney Princess -- accompanied by Chewbacca. This shot was taken by photographer Estrada.
10 IMPERATOR PEACHIOSA
Films don't come much crazier than Mad Max: Fury Road, so a crazy cosplay mash-up inspired by it seems more than appropriate. Cosplayer "Seelix" (aka Emily) had this exact thought after watching the movie, as she explains on the Mad Art Lab blog in 2015. "I needed to be her [Furiosa] [...] However, I was equally sure that everyone else was going to do a Furiosa cosplay this year. There isn't anything wrong with doing a really popular cosplay, but it adds a little more pressure to do it perfectly."
She settled on a Princess Peach mash-up after seeing a parody video crossing over Mad Max with Mario Kart -- which is a video game crossover that definitely needs to happen. The resulting photos taken by Matthew Sperzel at DragonCon in 2015 really show off the best parts of this insane design, from the Pirahna plant arm to the barest hint of peach on her dress.
9 MUPPET TROOPERS
It's time to play the music, it's time to light the lights, it's time to conquer the galaxy on the Muppet Show tonight! Some cosplay mash-ups make complete sense, some are serious feats of design and craftsmanship... and then there are ones like this that revel in silliness. Though it seems like there's little to link the two on a canonical or even visual level, the industry links between The Muppets and Star Wars are numerous.
Both are Disney-owned, and both creator Jim Henson and puppeteer Frank Oz helped create and bring to life Jedi Master Yoda. George Lucas also returned the favor by producing Henson's Labyrinth. The connections are strong with these two! Despite its absurdity, a lot of effort and attention to detail clearly went into this Muppet Trooper squad, captured by The Real Ginger Prince at Orlando's Star Wars Celebration in 2012.
8 POKE RANGERS
Gotta Morph 'em all! Take two beloved Japanese franchises, mix 'em up, and this is the result. When cosplayer "eikyuu" posted an album of their group Pokemon/Power Rangers mash-up from 2015's Otakon to Reddit, the photos were met with nothing but delight from Pokefans.
To match the strength of a Ranger, the group chose some of the most powerful Pokemon ever -- Mega Garchomp, Mega Scizor, Mega Charizard X, Mega Rayquaza, and... um, Magikarp(?) and matched their color schemes with Blue, Red, Black, Green and Gold Rangers respectively. Not only do the campy poses in the photos taken by "@iamtangy" perfectly suit the tone of Power Rangers, but the costumes are well-crafted, too -- despite eikyuu admitting on Reddit that they were finished "last minute."
7 FELLOWSHIP OF THE APES
Get your stinking paws off me, you damn, dirty Hobbit! This inspired Lord of the Rings/Planet of the Apes from New York Comic Con in 2013, snapped by Michael Tapp, melds one of the best-known fantasy franchises with one of the best-known sci-fi ones. It paints the picture of a Middle Earth that suffered the same dystopian fate that our version of Earth did in the Apes series, with apes apparently taking the places of Frodo and Gandalf.
This truly "out there" concept is enhanced by its superb execution -- particularly the ape masks, which are almost scarily realistic. The only thing that would improve this would be the addition of the rest of the Ape-ified Fellowship, not to mention an ape version of Gollum stalking them around the convention hall.
6 MALEFICENTPOOL & JAFARPOOL
Any seasoned convention-goer will know that Deadpool cosplays are a dime a dozen. That's not to slight any 'Pool cosplayers, but the simplicity of his costume combined with his obvious popularity make him a common sight at most Comic Cons these days. Because of this, a lot of Deadpool cosplayers have felt the need to step their game up, coming up with more and more unique and creative spins on the character to make their costume stand out.
Though an entire list on its own could be devoted purely to this subcategory of cosplay mash-ups alone, this Disney villain "couples" edition taken by Hands In The Air's Jason at San Diego Comic Con in 2015 is one of the strangest (and coolest) yet. And who knows, with Marvel being under the Disney umbrella, maybe Wade could start getting into the musical villain business...
Otherwise known as "Tardimus Prime" or "Optimus Time" (you decide which sounds catchier) this amazing Autobot/Tardis cosplay crossover was captured on camera at Vancouver's Anime Revolution in 2014. The Transformers are of course robotic aliens famous for being "robots in disguise," able to blend into human society by hiding in plain sight as ordinary vehicles, planes or other mechanical and transporting objects.
So, mixing them with another sci-fi creation famous for hiding its true appearance out in the open actually makes sense. Granted, these days the Tardis' look is outdated on Earth by some decades, ironically making it stick out like a sore thumb, but it's still less conspicuous than your standard alien spaceship. Plus, "Tardimus Prime" could double up as the Tardis and the Doctor's new assistant.
4 BEAUTY AND THE WOOKIE
As well as Amber Arden, cosplayer celebrity Elizabeth Rage also tried (and excelled at) a Disney/Star Wars mash-up of Chewie and Princess Leia, this time choosing Belle instead of Snow White (Amber's pick). Though both were pulled off with the kind of breathtaking attention to detail and craftsmanship you'd expect from such famous cosplayers, Elizabeth's choice of Princess works especially well as it draws on the clear parallel between two loveable bestial heroes and their accompanying princesses.
This stunning shot was taken by photographer "York In A Box," with cosplayer Dan Young as "Beast Chewie," who also deserves praise for his amazing costume -- plus, props for the amount of sweat he probably had to endure while wearing it. The best part of the ensemble -- the candlestick light saber prop -- was custom-made by Itoycreations.
3 DARTH HELLMAUL
One is a horned, red-and-black-skinned Sith apprentice and the other is a horned, red-skinned, demon spawn. It works so well! Also known as "Sithboy," this mash-up of The Phantom Menace's Darth Maul with Mike Mignola's Hellboy is the creative creation of Luis Linares, with these gorgeous photos taken by cosplay photographer, J. Rulison. The obvious visual similarities were probably what drew the connection in Luis' head between the two characters, and the blend is certainly a smooth one.
It's not often that cosplay mash-ups manage to include facial blurring between two characters to the incredible level that Luis has managed, with Hellboy's distinctive facial size and features perfectly melding with Darth Maul's yellow eyes and skin pattern. Plus, it's just really cool to imagine Hellboy wielding a double-lightsaber, right?
2 HOMERGETA, PRINCE OF ALL DONUTS
The level of awesome for this cosplay mash-up is surely... OVER 9,000! Shameless uses of Dragon Ball references aside, this really is a crazily awesome mash-up idea, snapped by Geeks Of Doom at SDCC in 2012. Sure, the links tying The Simpsons to an anime franchise revolving around super-powered aliens blasting each other with energy beams are pretty scant -- but that just ramps up the weirdness of it.
If you wanted to find a link, you could argue that earlier versions of Homer's character suffered from similar rage issues as Vegeta. They're also both arguably not going to win "World's Greatest Dad" anytime soon (though both certainly have their redeeming moments). The strangeness of this cosplay is matched only by its outstanding design -- especially the electronically-powered, Ki-blasting donut.
1 PLAYBOY ADMIRAL ACKBUNNY
Depending on how normal/weird your tastes are, you'll either want to wish you could un-see this, or bookmark it forever. Grossed out or turned on (or both) you can't deny that this Playboy Bunny version of Star Wars' Admiral Ackbar isn't both ingenious and amazingly well put together. It was worn by Jenny Newman to 2015's Star Wars Celebration and the photo was taken by her boyfriend, Grant Imahara of Mythbusters fame.
Though there were (for some weird reason...) many other Star Wars Bunnies roaming the convention hall that day -- including Han Solo Bunny, Yoda Bunny, and R2D2 Bunny -- Admiral AckBunny was the one to "break the Internet." It's easy to see why -- not only is the execution of it flawless but Jenny's decision to don a full, fishy Ackbar mask makes the hilariousness of the whole thing reach galactic levels.
What are your favorite cosplay mash-ups? Sharing is caring (in the comments section)!