The Ten Coolest Cosplays at Animate! Miami

This past weekend, cosplayers far and wide descended upon the Miami Airport Convention Center to take part in Animate! Miami. With SyFy's hit reality show Heroes of Cosplay filming all three days -- and with show star Yaya Han as one of the main competition's judges -- the scene really brought it. We'll hopefully get to see a whole bunch of it when the episode airs.

Until then, check out a few of our favorites:

See also: More photos from Animate! Miami 2014

10. Loonette the Clown

I'm just happy to see a nice childhood throwback. Loonette and Molly, her dolly, were friendly faces in a sea of cosplays from animes I didn't recognize. I didn't ask if she'd done her clock rug stretch for the day, though.

9. Oogie Boogie

Sometimes the simplest cosplays, well-executed, can be quite impactful. Andrew took burlap and bubble wrap and turned it into a welcome nightmare (before Christmas). Even better was his showmanship on the main stage, where he sang the Oogie Boogie song acapella to the delight of the audience.

8. All the Elsas from Disney's Frozen.

She was quite the popular character this year. I counted at least three in the main cosplay competition alone, with others wandering the halls. Missing in all the action was a rousing rendition of "Let It Go," but I'll settle for the makes-absolute-perfect-sense fan pairings of Elsa and Jack Frost from Rise of the Guardians.

7. Belle

Magda's first project took her all summer to create. She made her own tulle, sewed the dress (using elastic to create the ruching effect), and brought her own dimples. The icing on the cake was the showmanship she brought to Saturday night's competition, where she walked onto the stage, in character, engrossed in a book. I hope we can see more of her at future shows!

6. Iron Patriot

There may have been a few garden-variety Iron Man suits walking around, but not as many Iron Patriots. The hands, chest, and eyes light up, and the suit actually makes a noise resembling metal footsteps when he walks. Even better, he whipped the crowd into a frenzy at the main competition, waving the flag on stage to a deafening chant of "USA! USA!"

5. Princess Peach. A BADASS Princess Peach.

I would love nothing more than to play an alternate-universe Mario franchise with her as the lead: cutting down koopas, tearing through goombas, giving Bowser the Game of Thrones treatment. Get on it, Nintendo.

4. Pyramid Head

Silent Hill characters are a huge draw for cosplayers, and there was no shortage of attempts at nurses and other creatures, but this Pyramid Head stands alone, high above the rest. Because stilts. It's one thing to create the costume, but it's another to make it to scale and deal with the consequences of having to walk in it. It's all worth it to see the look on con-goers faces when this silent sentinel sneaks up on them.

3. General Cross Marian with Grave of Maria

Jonathan Stryker, of course, is no stranger to the South Florida cosplay scene. I had to see what he would come up with for this weekend's main competition, and he did not disappoint. The costume was so tall, he had to walk in front of the stage to show it off rather than risk taking out an entire lighting rig. The outfit took only 11 days to put together, including the Grave of Maria. And it's not a purchased mannequin. Jonathan made the figure using a body cast of a friend of his.

2. The Nightmare Before Christmas Group

The costumes looked great--the gender-bend Jack is my favorite of the bunch--but the small details are superb. The clay lollipops looked delectable, and I wanted to take a huge bite of the candy apple. The hardest part of the construction, according to group member Yuki, was just finding a way to coordinate the whole group and play to each person's particular skill set, since they had such varied levels of experience. It all came together to form a pretty cohesive and stunning group.

1. Warhammer 40k Space Marine

This guy took the prize for Best in Show at the main competition. The big hand (which can totally move, by the way) was 3D printed, showcasing the cutting edge of cosplay techniques. The judges pored over every inch and could not find a flaw---and it's no wonder. It took about 400 hours (roughly 7 months) to turn the tiny tabletop game figurine into a full-sized replica. The rare cosplay that is both impressive from afar and delicate and beautiful up close, this space marine set the bar pretty damned high.

Honorable Mention: Pope Hialeah.

Because El Guade needs all the blessings he can get.

We can't wait to see what our local heroes of cosplay have in store for the rest of the year!

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Elisa Melendez