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by strych9

If you know anything about the fandom that surrounds comics and sci-fi, you’re aware that there are massive gatherings of devotees, many of whom spend enormous amounts of time and money on elaborate costumes that turn the wearer into a character from a favorite movie, TV show or comic book.

While people dressed as an imperial storm trooper or Boba Fett are nothing new, the phenomenon is wider and deeper than just Star Wars fandom. It stretches from major movies’ esoteric characters to Disney to niche fantasy characters to Furries (to infinity) and beyond.

Due to the enormous attention to detail that many people put into their costumes to fully recreate a character, I went to ComicCon 2017 in Denver to research the weapons of ComicCon, get some cool pictures and talk to people about how they made or what they paid for their E-11 Blaster Rifle.

However, due to some unforeseen changes made to the Con this year, things didn’t go quite as as I’d planned….

Before we get into it, some housekeeping. Mad thanks to Jessica (pictured above) from Alter-Ego Productions  for guiding me through the perplexing maze of rules, areas, tickets, booths, security and general craziness that is a ComicCon. This event is massive. Without her assistance I would’ve either gotten lost or ended up ogling the Fallout Pipboys (see below) that were for sale. And not getting anything done.

This guy is a member of the Umbrella Biohazard Countermeasure Service from Resident Evil. Notice anything wrong with his costume?

I did and I found it very odd. I couldn’t much talk to this gentleman, though, as he was part of a rather elaborate display, a portion of which you can see in the background. And his gas mask combined with the crowd noise limited us to hand signals.

Walking around I noted quite a few different characters from Star Wars and few of them were “armed.” Those who were armed were characters that would be armed solely with a lightsaber. But some of them weren’t carrying their Jedi weaponry. What exactly was going on here?

These people put a lot of time and energy (and a fair amount of money) into some of these costumes and at this event many are strangely incomplete.

The answer: a combination of confusion about new “family friendly” rule changes for this year’s Con and what I can only describe as a completely uneven application of those rules (which you can read here.)

Listed in the prohibited props section are items that include “Firearms of any kind — this includes BB guns, cap guns, paintball and pellet guns… Replica firearms of any kind… bladed metal or wooden weapons…” While the rules, as written, would seem to be a hindrance to, say, someone who wanted to go as G.I Joe, does a blaster really constitute a “firearm”?

This is Alex E. in his Ghostbuster costume with proton pack complete with a neutrona wand. Alex is part of a volunteer group that does charity work with groups like Toys 4 Tots and Tiny Tots Halloween. He was able to get his “weapon” into the Con, and not only was it damn cool, it was also built at home for about $20.

This is exactly the kind of thing I wanted to see at this year’s Con. Unfortunately many people left their weapons in the car or didn’t bring them at all because they feared being turned away by security. With one exception, a guy who was dressed as Han Solo and got his DL-44 blaster into the Con but wouldn’t talk to me once he found out I was writing for for The Truth About Guns. Everyone I talked to about this expressed displeasure about the rules to some degree or another.

Andrew S., a member of the Rebel Alliance, has an empty holster because he didn’t think he could get his DH-17 blaster pistol into the Con. That holster is a custom job made just for that blaster and was made locally in Colorado. I’m no expert on leatherwork but I’m guessing that wasn’t cheap. Alex has been going to the Denver Con since 2011 and carrying his blaster without incident until this year. He said he was “annoyed” by the new rules and I can’t say I blame him.

Eric T. and Josh G. left their weapons in the car, too. And they weren’t happy about it. It was plainly obvious they’d have loved to have shown them to me, but that would have required leaving and returning to the Con which is a long involved process and that wasn’t going to happen. These costumes, except for the helmets, are home made and very detailed. Again, note the empty holster (lower left of picture).

The uneven application of rules meant that some people were able to bring elaborate “weapons” into the Con, but these were generally melee type weapons. Jordan J. made this giant mallet at home out of PVC Pipe and a water jug. Perhaps I’m just not artistically inclined but the level of craftsmanship and attention to detail of something like this mallet or the previously pictured Neutrona Wand is mind-blowing to me. These folks have some real talent and obviously truly enjoy what they do.

Note the yellow band near the top of the mallet and the band on Jordan’s right wrist. That signifies that she has “peace bonded” the prop.

At events like a Renaissance Festival it generally means swords and daggers, which are usually real, and have been zip-tied into a sheath so that they can’t be drawn. At ComicCon it’s more of a seal of approval and an agreement by the person bringing the prop in that they won’t menace anyone with it or otherwise break the rules. You can see above that Alex E. got his Neutrona wand peace bonded, too.

U.B.C.S. members weren’t the only ones missing their weapons. Even the Lone Ranger was armed with nothing more than tree fruit. I didn’t get this gentleman’s name because he was in a hurry, but he had time for a picture and to tell me that the reason he was carrying bananas was because to carry a facsimile weapon would have required him to make them out of foam.

Another gentleman, dressed as Star Lord, declined to have his photo taken or provide a name, but was willing to let me photograph his homemade PVC and EVA foam prop rifle that appears in the opening credits for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2. Note that this prop isn’t peace bonded which leads to questions as to how well event security was being run.

Some weapons are a mix between store-bought items and home made customization. Jessica had a sword (also not peace bonded) that started life as a store-bought item which she then painted and sanded to get the look she wanted.

Most events like this feature vendors and ComicCon is no exception. However, while you could spend $600 on a StormTrooper helmet, the weapons selection, which I’m told is usually pretty good, was reduced to this:

Don’t get me wrong, some of that stuff is cool, especially that HALO Type 1 Energy Sword but where does an aspiring Han Solo get his mitts on a modified DL-44 heavy blaster?

Just to give you an idea of the detail and thought people put into relatively minor props, check out this Pipboy and the Nuka-Cola bottle (from the Fallout franchise) that were for sale.

That’s the level of detail some of these people get into and it would have been really cool to be able to see how people worked their magic on the appropriate weaponry rather than being reduced to carrying fruit. Or nothing at all. Those weapons are often an integral part of a costume and the rules this year put a damper of the event.

Numerous people I talked to expressed significant displeasure about the rule changes for this year. Vendors, costumed Con-goers and just people who wanted to see some cool costumes all expressed annoyance.

Then there’s this: while (some) fake costume weaponry was explicitly banned, concealed carry of real firearms wasn’t. And the security was lax enough that the “bag check” — which I endured twice — was perfunctory at best. I unzipped my pack and the security person glanced at (not in) it before telling me I was good to go. They had no idea what was in that pack and didn’t really seem to care.

In short, ComiCon was a lot of fun (and I apologize to the Furry whose tail I stepped on). But I was disappointed that I didn’t get to see as many cool homemade prop weapons as I’d hoped and the rules clearly disappointed many fans who’ve been dedicated Con-goers for years. The unclear and unevenly applied rules put a damper on the Con for a goodly number of people.

Far be it from be to decide what’s “kid friendly,” but based on the people I talked to, it seems the organizers went too far and seriously annoyed a fair number of their adult fans/customers who are the ones with the money and the real dedication to this event.

Courtesy Amanda Hobbs  Instagram @photobyhobbs|

When people spend this amount of time and effort on the details like that scar above, telling them a major part of their costume isn’t allowed because it’s not “kid friendly” isn’t going to please your customer base.


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  1. I thought “it’s for the children” was the magic phrase that made any rule or law right and palatable?

    • Any time that you are at a specific gathering for ANYTHING…Star Wars Fans, Corvette Club, and yes…even gun shows, you’re guaranteed to be around a large percentage of weirdos. That’s just how people (who are at the enthusiast level) are. Its a combination of having not much of a life, and being strongly OCD.

  2. That sucks for anyone there for the fallout themed stuff alone. Half of that franchise is the awesome post apocalyptic weaponry. Speaking of that, there’s this absolutely insane place out west somewhere called “wasteland”, where people obsessed with MadMax and Fallout have a joint get together and display all kinds of modded vehicles, real weapons, and acting out scenes from the movies and games.

      • The Phoenix Comicon is where they took down a guy who had “an arsenal” and was there to kill the Green Power Ranger. After that incident they wouldn’t allow any weapons, even cardboard ones(!) and they even kicked out a vendor who was selling high-end lightsabers because the vendor objected being told that they had to put their products into “trash bags” when they were purchased.

      • You’re thinking of Wasteland Weekend, in California City. Try the End of Days (EOD) in AZ, they allow real weapons. They even have shooting competitions at their events.

    • There’s a group around here that dress like bikers but aren’t they build all kinds of stuff like that.

      As soon as I want to type their name I can’t remember them though.

    • I’d love to see someone cobble up a radium rifle. One with the long ported barrel and marksman stock would be a real treat to see.

  3. ComiCon(s) are way too commercial for me. I’ve never been to one, nor would I want to go to one. I have attended a volunteer-run anime convention in Tulsa, OK for about seven years but I don’t know if I’ll be going this year.

    • I am on the Board of Directors for a small and exclusive convention of Asian fantasy; and sci-fi writers, actors, and roleplayers. You wouldn’t like our con.

      • I wouldn’t be so sure about that if I were you. You don’t know my particular tastes in literature or pop culture. Your con may be right up my alley. In your short and vague description of your con you’ve ticked off a number of my interests. If you’d be so kind as to name the event so I can peruse its website, I could tell you if I’d be interested in attending the event, if I were able to do so.

        What I do detest are events designed solely to divest the attendees of as much of their available cash as possible. The first ComiCon held here in Tulsa had a menu larger (in both choices and costs) that many fine restaurants. The base admission fee pretty much allowed you to only wander around and gawk at the high rollers. The anime convention I’ve been to didn’t charge you extra for the opportunity to get celebrity autographs, for example. The only reason I’ve decided not to attend this year is they are not offering any panel discussions that I am interested in attending.

    • That guy and his wife had a BADASS Han and Leia costume set. They both REALLY nailed the characters. I wish I could have gotten pictures of them.

      I was disappointed but what happened was this: the guy questioned me on what the website was and my “angle” before declining to talk further stating that he was “uncomfortable” with the prospect of furthering a business venture that had anything to do with firearms.

      Odd, but hey, 99% of the people I talked to were super open and friendly and just having a good time, dampened as it was at times by the lack of their props. Still, a really, really cool crowd for the most part.

    • If I was doing it, I wouldn’t tell anyone I was from TTAG. Its irrelevant to the purpose of the article.

      • A few things on that:

        1) Honesty in media is something we currently lack in this country, and not ever having been trained to do this I err on the side of honesty. Not just because I think that’s the right thing to do but also because this website goes out of it’s way to be honest, so if they’re gonna pick me up as a correspondent then I’m going to do the same. I edit and re-edit all my articles to try to get the utmost honesty and fairness in them.

        2) This is Denver, dangerously close to Boulder. As I’ve told him, I’m not trying to get RF sued. It doesn’t have to be a suit with merit to be a serious PITA. Put some hippie anti’s face on here and they might get ticked.

        3) When you say “a website” people tend to ask which one. It’s easier to just get that out of the way rather than interview someone only to find out later, when they ask, that they don’t like your “angle” because they don’t like actual firearms.

  4. When I saw Jessica’s picture I thought that Tinkerbelle had changed, but then realized that Jessica Rabbit wasn’t really bad, she was just drawn that way.

  5. I went to anime expo 4 years in a row several years ago. The amount of detail and work a lot of the cosplayers put into the costumes was really the highlight of the experience. As far as weapons went, if I remember correctly firearms could not look too realistic and all props were supposed to be inspected, although the place to have them inspected was not by the major entrances so if you didn’t want to get them inspected it would have been easy to avoid.
    As far as security at the convention, it was very light. I’d say that of all the places I’ve ever been it would be among the most likely to be the target of a mass shooting. I was not armed when I went (didn’t have my permit at the time) and that made me a bit uncomfortable. If I were to go again I’d definitely carry, since the convention center’s no guns policy doesn’t carry the weight of law.

  6. Lord help me…I bought comic books from 1964-1967. Then got into muscles,sports-and girls. This bizarre obsession with dressing up has me perplexed. I’d prefer these losers be unarmed…?

    • One of my best friends is in her mid 20s, attained her Masters Degree (4.0GPA) in medical related field, has worked on the Nika virus with the CDC, and is responsible for the safety procedures for a hospital to prevent things like MRSA, and has been published in medical journals. She also has enjoyed creative endeavors like cooking and developing an original costume for Comi-con. Like people of the gun, you can’t paint everyone with the same brush.

    • Hate to bust your bubble, but this loser as you describe me is a US Army Armor Officer, a college graduate, a CCW holder, a Star Trek fan, sci-fi geek, comics nerd, and cosplay enthusiast. Sorry if it aint your cup of tea, but who do you think you are to describe your fellow POTG as losers wothout even knowing who you’re talking about?

      • You are absolutely correct in this; gun owns come in all shapes and sizes, including those who like fantasy, cosplay, and comic cons.
        I’m a 46 year old professional who is a college graduate, veteran, and collegiate strength coach. I’m a musician who listens to jazz and classical music and lifts heavy weights to hard core hip-hop, who listens to country and conservative talk radio while I’m driving.
        I’m a conservative and a staunch supporter of the Second Amendment, who is an amateur USPSA and IPSC competitor, and who loves all things gun.
        I also happen to be a Trekkie, a huge fantasy (think Game of Thrones and Eye of The World) and sci-fi reader. I also read military fiction, military history, and military fantasy, and I’d love to spend some time at a good comic con.

        When Former Water Walker labels people who attend Comic Cons, and are into cosplay, as losers, he’s painting with a mighty broad brush. He just maybe labeling some of the most ardent People Of The Gun as losers just because of what they like to do as recreation.

        People of The Gun come in all shapes and sizes, from all walks of life, and are into all different types of activities. Just because you don’t understand it, don’t knock those who enjoy it. It seems to me that there are far worst things than dressing up like a Klingon that people can be into.

        • Former Window Washer, thanks for illustrating what it looks like for other TTAG posters to tear someone a new asshole. Hope it heals quickly. ?

    • I too like muscly girls who play sports, but that doesn’t mean I don’t still like the occasional comic book.

    • Walker:

      This was supposed to be basically a photo essay on the weapons. I will tell you flat out that the easiest photo essay/article I could have done would have been something like The Inappropriately Skimpy Outfits of ComicCon (NSFW or your wife): featuring ladies 18-50.

      I saw a darn fit older year old lady as Enchantress. It was… scandalous. Some hot Trekkies too.

      There’s a lot of hot nerdy girls out there.

    • Losers, eh?

      Well, I guess we have to have that one old fart who complains about the kids with their rock music and worshipping satan.

  7. “Then there’s this: while (some) fake costume weaponry was explicitly banned, concealed carry of real firearms wasn’t. ”

    THAT was the real kicker as far as I’m concerned. Terminally Stupid Agency level of fail. Security Theater purely for the press releases.

    Some enterprising person is hopefully going to set-up a rival Con and run the other guys out of business.

    • I sort of wonder if the rules weren’t, in some small way, influenced by Denver’s OC laws. While I can’t imagine a cop actually arresting someone for OCing a fantasy prop weapon, I can see DPD harassing them over it.

  8. Been a comic book nerd for almost 45 years and it is sad to say but most of the crowd have gone full blown SJW. The irony, hypocrisy, and downright stupidity of a group of people whose “hobby”, or interest, is predicated on VIOLENCE being against fake weapons is… well, beyond stupid.

    • The most hardcore SJWs among them are not really part of the community, just there as leeches to ruin everything for everybody. I’ve had disagreements with antigun weeb friends but I can sometimes get them to make some concessions. OTOH, people who run events like this don’t get that they exhibit the incompetence of the Gotham and Metropolis PDs.

      • You make a good point and it made me think of something. Loser SJW’s infiltrate and ruin almost any group or activity out there like hipsters at a dive bar… other than gun owning… wonder why they could be..,

  9. The “kid friendly” ban on guns is actually a symptom of a much bigger problem. When I growing up, kids were not afraid of guns. Today, schools indoctrinate them to think guns are a bad thing, so it is understandable that they would be frightened by them.

    Next, Cons will have to ensure that there is a representation of diversity among the exhibitors and visitors.

    • I don’t think they need a diversity board or anything of the type.

      It was interesting to see Furries, Stormtroopers and a Lego Man all take their heads off, sit at the same table and eat sandwiches while talking.

      While the main floor with vendors was hot, crowded and people were a bit testy, in generally all the people there were really rather accepting of everyone else’s interests.

      • Yeah, everybody knows that furries are secretly Nazis as well, so naturally they would get along well with Stormtroopers.

        • They all seemed to get along quite well with the Quidditch team too.

          I wonder what those wizards are hiding.

      • …generally all the people there were really rather accepting of everyone else’s interests.

        I’d hope so. Walking around a public venue dressed like the Martian Manhunter isn’t the best time to be looking askance at the people around you.

  10. There are different ComicCon promoters. The event I attended in Chicago last summer permitted replica weapons. And yes many were impressive. They also had a wide righty of edged weapons for sale.

    The event was in Illinois. So my rights were restricted by the state of Illinois not the promoter.

    Had a blast bonding with my daughter- BlackWidow armed with an air-soft Glock. Accompanied her as a S.H.I.E.LD agent, Airsoft Beretta 92 in a leather pancake holster under my suit jacket.

    A little pricy – but well worth it to cosplay with my college age kid.

  11. Gone to a few SF and later Anime Cons with my daughter and the quality of the weapons has trended down a bunch. Of course it would be tough to match the Han Solo blaster one guy made with a 7.65 Broomhandle Mauser. He told me he shot it after his conversion, but the only 7.65 ammo he could find was pretty low quality and two in ten primers were dead.

  12. Boycott these liberal dirt bags. If you take your money elsewhere maybe they might reconsider. The only thing more important to them than their politics, is the almighty dollar.

  13. You stepped on a furry’s tail!?!?
    Food for thought, Some fur suits cost in excess of $2,000 depending on the quality.

    Give them hugs, they will be recharged and good to go.

    -a fur.

  14. Private organisations can, of course, have any rules they want.

    And I, of course, am free to tell them to fuck themselves with their Fascism.

  15. I guess this has to do with that nut who decided to bring in a couple (real, loaded) shotguns in a bid to do some killing a few months ago?

    Or maybe not. Might just be embracing the hollywood ethos of “We make all our money by idolizing men with guns but we will be damned if we’ll admit it or stand to be around anyone who is drawn by the allure we created…”

  16. I’d venture a guess that the cosplay weapons prohibitions were probably due more to insurance requirements than politics or SJW concerns. It is similar to VA gun shows, where insurance rules prohibit us from carrying loaded firearms into the venue. We must get them tied. As to ammo, there is a prohibition to bringing in any ammunition at all. But once in the show we can buy multiple guns or all the ammo we want (or can afford).

  17. Smart people will take their toys elsewhere for 2018 to a city that has no restrictions on dummy firearms of Earth or Alien design,

    • At a Rennisance Festival people generally carry real knives and swords. In that situation the weapon has to be zip tied into it’s sheath so that it can’t be drawn inside the festival.

      For ComicCon it means that your “weapon” was inspected, conforms to the rules linked in the article, and that you, by getting a band on the item and on your wrist are agreeing to abide by the Con’s rules on not using the item “inappropriately”. So, you can draw your weapon for photos and stuff but you can’t menace people or something.

      • I don’t know what you’re talking about. I felt totally scared with all the produce pointing!! *Sob* This year was just bananas but what if next year they allow zucchinis!! And you’re complaining that people couldn’t bring in dangerous things like replica guns!! I’m going to my safe space now.

  18. i like the original premise, and i’m glad there were at least a few weapons to fotograf.
    declining interaction due to your affiliation with this blog reveals something about “that guy’s” workings. not sure what, though.
    too bad there was no way to sneak in a gun bunny image. i suspect you snatched some, and assume you were tempted.
    focus, lucky. focus (time and place, etc.).

  19. I attended a Star Trek convention way back in I think, 1988, in Hawaii. It was great fun. But the costumes of today are so detailed. People have access to makeup that was not available to the general public back then. As far as guns go, not having a blaster, ray gun, or a six gun cap shooter is just wrong. A character without a weapon is not really that character.

    The Outdoor Show in Pennsylvania went out of business, lost all vendors and customers when they banned AR-15’s. The NRA came in and now runs an even better Outdoor Show. Maybe the NRA can have its own comic convention and tell everyone all “weapons” are welcome.
    I think Comic-con Inc. needs some competition.

  20. OFFS, you could have security in the form of actual armed SWAT members at the Cons and everyone would just think they were Cosplayers!

  21. Denver. Part of the dysfunctional Colorado mess which is part of the California migration mess.
    The guy with the banana was lucky they allowed that.

  22. The last time I went to something like this I dressed as Walter Sopchak at a showing of The Big Lebowski. I didn’t have a 1911 at the time, but they probably wouldn’t have allowed it anyway. Still, had a good time with all the White Russians being served.

  23. Hello I’m Jessica the Timkerbell or as some of you have badged a “loser” Please explain how someone who is part of a fantasy football league and shouts at their television every Sunday is cooler than a person who reads comics or is into cosplay? Hmmmm? Let’s face it everyone is into different shit I might not like what you are into but I won’t belittle you and call you a loser because you like something that would just make me a dick. As a side note comics though some are for kids are mainly graphic novels with mature content intended for adults. Not only was there a weapon ban but also a ban on how much skin your costume could show. Ex: no booty shorts ? My kids can see more at my community pool than was supposed to be allowed at comic con. The rules were all for show and the great irony my boyfriend was able to cc his fire arm into the con no problem and I saw more ass and side boob than was supposed to be allowed. I am all for the NRA putting on a con where replica and real weapons are allowed and of course booty shorts! Because let’s face it we live in a world where if someone is going to try and hurt people they will find a way to do it sad but true. Ex: Arianna Grande concert, going to midnight batman movie premier, or just getting on an airplane. Bullshit rules give us a false sense of security and don’t protect people from anything. Because in short someone crazy enough to do that doesn’t care about rules,laws, or human life.

    • Some people are just morons. I don’t like comic books, graphic novels, or any form of sportsball, but I don’t see any (legitimate)* justification for looking down on someone who does.

      *Football can be framed to sound pretty gay.

  24. I would also like to state that my boyfriend is a detective with our local police department received the medal of valor for saving a persons life. I would hardly call someone who puts his life on the line a weirdo, a loser, etc just because he enjoys comics and cosplay. But hey you internet trolls know everything right? Cheers to the people with actual positive and constructive comments worth reading.

    • I normally detest the work of Winston Rowntree, but this strip is a pretty good rebuttal to people who pass judgment on “weirdos”:

      I also love how so many of them act as though “normal” hobbies like sports are both superior to and mutually exclusive from geeky interests. Guess what, “normal” people? If you own the memorabilia, can quote the stats, wear the jersey, paint your face, and cheer for your team during games, then you have no business whatsoever looking down on the guy in the Starfleet uniform. Why? Because you’re both exactly the same! The only objective difference is that Budweiser and Doritos don’t spend millions of dollars every Super Bowl convincing him that he’s awesome just for liking Star Trek.

  25. One of the reasons I stopped going to Anime-Expo in LA (2007 was my last one) was because the weapon rules were getting absurd, and a lot of the costumes were incomplete because the requisite weapon prop was either not allowed, or the cosplayer did not view it as an important enough detail to put up with the regs. As for security and peace-bonding… the only time it was strictly enforced was if security even noticed you had a weapon prop (with the sheer amount of people and smaller props, it can be difficult to spot them all) and then bothered to confront you (basically if you were compliant enough to walk over to them).

  26. Just a thought for those making disparaging remarks about ComicCon attenees and those who presume to know their politics by their interests.

    Many ComicCon attendes are just an invite to a gun range away from becoming interested in real fire arms or becoming gun owners. Invite someone to the range – perhaps someone who does not share your interests.

  27. Love the comcon stuff…Im a scifi fan…Love all the cool getups…And the hot nerdy girls! This replica weapon prohibition is nothing more than “Zero Tolerance” run amok among the administrators,employers local, state, and federal government….Those that are wrongfully trying to disarm the citizenry, and make its programming commonplace that only law enforcement, and security officers can be armed, or have weapons…More Orwellian Big Bro social engineering projects by the Left-wing….


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