original series star trek fans, cosplayers

Article by Luiz Vazquez
Photo credit Ram Hernz

It is an indication of the love of sci-fi conventions such as Winter Con 2016 that a group of cosplayers would spend an inordinate amount of time posing for photographers outside of the Resorts World Casino New York City in windy conditions that resembled something you would expect on the Planet Hoth.

Yes, that is a Star Wars reference and Episode Five: The Empire Strikes Back to be exact. This was quite appropriate because the theme for this year’s con was Star Wars based as several B-players from original trilogy Star Wars films joined Peter Mayhew (Chewbacca) as the lead celebrities for this event among many others.

During one of the panel gatherings, Mayhew was joined by Mike Quinn, Garrick Hagan, and Jack Klaff who all played pilots in the films. Mayhew told his stories about his roles in the Star Wars franchise but the best line probably came from Hagan who shared a story about how he was confused for Mayhew. “I was told when they called you Chewbacca, you should have responded ‘No, I’m not Chewy, I’m crunchy.”

Amy Chrzanowski, Saber Guild Empire Temple of New York

But the most touching moment had to be between Mayhew and the Saber Guild Empire Temple of New York, who also happen to be the preferred lightsaber choreography group of Lucas Film Ltd. The guild bestowed honorary membership to Peter Mayhew and together with the members of the Rebel Legion also presented Peter with a Battle of Yavin Medal of Bravery. “As an non-profit organization, we have been humbled by Peter’s work,” said Amy Chrzanowski, the Assistant Local Director of the guild, “Not only as the galaxy’s most famous Wookie, Chewbacca-but for his work in starting the Peter Mayhew Foundation to bring awareness and much needed aid to charities near and dear to his, and his fan’s hearts.” Amy also pointed out on stage that they owed him a life debt for his generosity and kindness to the fans of Star Wars.

As we continue to move around the facility here are more highlights from the mouths of vendors, cosplayers and celebrities, many of whom had their day in the sun, some who are still active, but all who basked in the light again through the adoration of fans who followed them as children but never forgot their work.

cosplayer from suicide squad

Karyn Parsons, better known as Hilary from the Fresh Prince of Bel Air, is an actress and mother but did you know that she is a historian and author who founded her non-profit.” “The mission of Sweet Blackberry is little known stories about African-Americans for kids,” Karyn explained, “We do it through films, writing storybooks that come to life. We have Queen Latifah (Garrett’s Gift), and Alfre Woodard (Henry Box Brown) as narrators. It’s on Netflix now.”

Parsons, whose mother was a librarian, often brought little known African-American figures to her attention, planting a seed in Karyn’s mind that is now blooming into activity geared for the next generation. “We are writing those stories trying to bring them to the classrooms for the kids.” You can follow her progress on

Mad Max Two was where Bruce Spence is discovered. The man who has had a very impressive body of work will be appearing in the new “Pirates of the Caribbean.” He was here for the 35th anniversary of “Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior” which is the work he’s most proud of. “I feel Max is going to feature well in the future,” Spence said at the Mad Max 2 panel. Bruce shared the backstory of his debut in the film and his interaction with the film’s star Mel Gibson.

“The first scene where I’m coming out of the sand when you begin a movie like that you’re still finding your character,” Spence explained, “It’s gradually through that scene that my character was primed and it’s where the relationship between Mel and myself is being established. It’s very much like a western, the world in which I started finding myself.”

Bruce Spence, Mad Max 2

Behind the curtain was the gang form Coney Island, The Warriors, who were celebrating their 27TH year. Micheal Beck and James Remar are the enduring stars from that cast. Remar theorized that the film still resonates today possibly because they were all stage actors that acted from that perspective.

He also compared the film to the costumed cognoscenti. “Cosplay has become something of a phenomenon. It’s exciting, it’s fun, it’s enjoyable, its people’s passion.” Remar explained, “The Warrior’s is basically a cosplay film. If you look at the opening sequence with all the guys in their different outfits, it was the signature of the movie. It gives people the chance to express themselves and experience being part of the movie through these outfits.”

Remar got it right. Cosplayers are living the dream. They were in force but a couple stood out. One such person who I ranked in my top three costumes is Luisa Ruiz, better known this day by her handle Eeon Ride. She was the bubblehead nurse from the movie and game “Silent Hill.” Though many cosplayers today are afforded nice payouts to pursue this art, some like Eeon Ride must do with her imagination and she was pleasantly surprised by the responses. “Who knew a $30 budget cosplay would make such waves like this,” Eeon told me among many admirers.

Another model took hers from Anime characters which are always extremely popular and in demand. Shoko Tamai is a dancer from Japan who made the rounds on this day as Princess Mononoke-hime, warrior, mother nature which reflects her personal affinity for all things nature and spiritual. Shoko tells why such cosplayers are a winner.

“It’s because we love Anime and it’s in our blood and culture,” Shoko pointed out, “Also we get paid to do what we love and express.” It’s always a plus to be able to do both but it’s often not about the dollars but the common interests among cosplayers. “The best moment that day was meeting my cosplay friends that I have not seen since the last Winter Con,” Shoko also added.

The business of collectible toys whose exquisite craftsmanship draws a large number of interested buyers was well represented at Winter Con 2016. One such company was Asmus Collectible US, based in Taiwan but who recently opened up a branch in the United States. They had an impressive display of several well-known characters while Lisa Liu, Director of Business development, discussed it briefly with us.”

“We have set up 1/6th collectibles and we have Lord of the Rings and Hateful Eight which is in production. We have the possibility of getting Skyrim of the Elder Scrolls. They are 1/6th collectibles and most of them have interchangeable hands, there for articulates and we have artists that sculpt these and get a good likeness.” The favorite one from their collection differs between the game players and connoisseurs of collections. “The most popular is the Lord of the Rings but for gaming people they like Double McCray,” Liu explained”.

Nichelle Nichols, original Uhura, Star Trek

In closing you had the cosplay competitions and photoshoots which are always crowded with a lot of interaction between fans and models but of all the videos that we shot on that day it was not Peter Mayhew, Spence, Parsons, or the Sabre Guild that drew the most numbers but a random moment in the bathroom with a Jedi Cosplayer and a paper dispenser which as off the time this was written stood at nearly 5,000 views.

The video featured a Jedi Cosplayer Harold B. Gibson who was filmed by this reporter heading to dry his hands. The paper dispenser did not respond. He followed by using his force powers to command the paper to dispense. It obeyed and he was able to dry his hands. I could not think of anything that symbolized the spirit of cosplay more than that moment at the biggest sci-fi convention in New York City. It makes one want to look at the twin moons over our respective deserts contemplating what is beyond.

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