Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Chicago TARDIS 2013

This Thanksgiving weekend, as all Thanksgiving weekends, was Chicago TARDIS.  This is my second-favorite convention, and this year was one of the best cons yet.

Matt and I were cosplaying as the Doctor and Clara from the 2012 Christmas Special The Snowmen.  We both spent months trying to find the correct fabric, so we both started construction on our costumes pretty late.  This week we were both staying up way too late trying to get them done.  We'd switched around our Thanksgiving plans so that we could participate in the Cavalcade on Friday night, but due to Matt catching a cold earlier in the week and being unable to work as quickly as he'd wanted to, he hadn't finished his coat, and hadn't even started his vest.  Consequently, I ended up spending all day Friday making the vest, which ended up being a lot more complex than I'd originally thought!  Since we weren't done yet, we were unable to go to the con on Friday night, but I did run in and grab our badges.  (We live literally four miles from Chicago TARDIS, which is a FAR cry from Dragon Con!)

On Saturday, we arrived at the Westin around noon, and managed to just sneak into the Masquerade signup.  We met up with @booksavvy and @freckledcrafts and a few others and hung out for a while.  Our group included a Jenny and a Vastra, and because they also appeared in The Snowmen, we were absolutely mobbed for photos!

Vastra, Jenny, Clara, Doctor
I also met several mini-Claras!  It was great to meet young cosplayers!  And I just want to put this out here - I do NOT want to hear any of you saying how your costume isn't as good as someone else's!  All cosplayers have different levels of skill, different amounts of time and money they can spend, different amounts of resources available to them, and different levels of insanity.  As long as you put effort into your costume, then please realize that there are no bad cosplays.  As long as you're having fun, that's all that matters.  This is something that I myself forget quite often in regards to my own costumes.  I'm obsessed, and I'm a perfectionist.  It's not necessarily a good or healthy thing, and I sometimes get extremely upset with myself.  Because of this, I admit that I used to sometimes think about other costumes, "oh, that's not the best cosplay."  (And I doubt that there are any cosplayers who have never thought that about a costume.)  THAT WAS WRONG, but the nice thing about being a human is that we're allowed to make mistakes and grow and become better people.  That's what I hope young cosplayers can do - realize that they don't have to be perfect, that ALL cosplayers can find at least a dozen things wrong with every costume they make, and that the best part of cosplaying is to get into character and have a good time.

I give very good advice, but I very seldom follow it.

This is also a good time to mention that I don't want to hear ANYONE saying that this version of a costume is better than that version of a costume, for the same reasons as above.

Moving on!

I sat on the "So You Want to Cosplay" panel at 2pm on Saturday, and according to my friends in the audience, we did a pretty good job! (For more information on how to get started with cosplay, please view the post from my 2011 costuming basics panel.)

Courtesy of www.facebook.com/chicagotardis

After the panel, we went to the Masquerade meeting and then home for lunch.  When we got back, the rest of our friends had found Strax!  We were again mobbed ...

Jenny, Vastra, Strax, Clara, Doctor

We also ran into a terrifying Snowman!

Soon after, it was time to meet in the green room for the Masquerade.  We got to talk with a ton of super-talented cosplayers.  Honestly, I had no idea how the judges were going to make a decision, because every costume represented in the Masquerade was fantastic.  I didn't think we had a chance at winning anything in our Journeyman category.

And, oh look, the scary Snowman has an equally-terrifying sister, who was dressed as a Peg Doll from Night Terrors.  They both absolutely delighted in standing and staring at me.  Matt says, "now you know how everyone else feels when you're dressed like the Clockwork Droid."

We also met ANOTHER scary Snowman.  Sheesh, kids these days.

We spent most of the evening chatting with a Seventh Doctor cosplayer, and I am absolutely kicking myself for not getting his photo, and because I was so sleep-deprived, I forgot his first name*.  He had a lovely dog, too!  So, if you're reading this, hope we see you next year!
*His name is Daniel, and I found him on Facebook, so we're all good.

Here's his hat, though, next to Matt's!

Then it was on to the stage where we were supposed to hit the orange "X", but I totally didn't see it and I felt like I didn't spend enough time onstage because the Master was still speaking as we left ... but oh well.

Courtesy of www.facebook.com/chicagotardis

The Masquerade was set up a bit differently this year.  Because the con attracted twice the crowd as last year, they had no seats in Main Programming for us to sit in after leaving the stage.  Therefore, after our appearance, we went back to the green room.  We waited in there while the judges deliberated, then all had to file back out into the hallway and wait for the results.  We couldn't hear what categories were announced, so someone would come back and yell out the winning entry's number -  "FIFTEEN!  NUMBER FIFTEEN!" - and the appropriate entry would have to go running onstage.

Well, entry after entry was called, but we weren't.  We had no idea who was in what level (Novice, Journeyman, Master), so we couldn't even guess where they were in the announcements.  Then we heard the crowd shouting, so we assumed that it was over, and all the winners were being cheered.  There wasn't so much disappointment as there was confusion.

And then, the director came running back and shouted, "TWENTY-NINE!"  That was us!  We ran onstage and accepted our ribbon and a packet of ... something ... and moved over on the stage for the next winner.  I was vaguely aware of the audience going mad.  I nudged the person standing next to me and whispered, "Do you know what we won?"  She said, "You won Best in Show!"  Matt and I stared at her in shock, and suddenly my legs started shaking and I thought I was going to fall over.  Since I'd thought it was too much to hope for a Workmanship award, I had never in a million years even considered winning Best in Show!

After the Masquerade, we ran into the most mini of Dalek Claras (she must have been about five), who seemed pretty nervous to have her photo taken with me.  Her mother told me that mini-Clara was mad because she'd wanted to wear the Barmaid costume, but her mom thought it was too complex.  Haha!  She was a cutie, and I wish I had a photo with her, but Matt had run to the car.

We then attended the Brit Rock party for a bit.  We didn't stay too long because Matt was starting to feel pretty tired, but we did manage to have fun with some glow sticks!

On Sunday, we got there around 10:30 so that I could get a Virtual Queue autograph ticket for Freema Agyeman.  We sat in on some panels, wandered around and got some photos, and then we got to sit INSIDE A DALEK!  AAAAHHHH!

Matt is looking at the video monitor so he knows how to steer!

I am not a Dalek!

Then I went to the autograph waiting area while Matt went to listen to the Bears game in the car.

When it was my turn to get an autograph, Freema said, "I love your costume!  It must be difficult to go to the toilet in that!"  I responded that I just try not to drink too much water.  I didn't know what else to say!  No celebrity has asked me about going to the bathroom before ... She was lovely!

As I left the autograph room, I got a text from Matt that he had drained the car battery.  You've GOT to be kidding me, right?  I went out to the parking garage, assessed the situation, and texted our friend PlayItGrand from Space Gypsies to see if she'd be able to give us a jump.  As I was texting, someone came up to us and asked for our photo.  We said we'd do the photo if she gave us a jump!  She very graciously agreed, and after figuring out how to jump a car with her Hybrid (the battery is in the trunk), our car came back to life!  I'm sorry that I didn't get her name, but whomever you are, thank you for saving the Doctor and Clara!

After lunch, we went to the Freema panel, then separated again.  I recorded the Typecasting the Doctor panel for the Space Gypsies website, and Matt stayed for the Main Programming.  We then attended the Three Doctors panel, which was pretty cool, even though we haven't seen their episodes yet!  Peter Davison and Colin Baker are hilarious and play off of each other.  You can tell they really get along, that it's not just an act.  Paul McGann was pretty quiet, but he could hold his own.  However, I am so bloody tired of people asking for hugs or telling their life story before asking their question.  That's what getting an autograph is for.

We left after that because we were both exhausted.  It's perfect that Chicago TARDIS is held on Thanksgiving weekend, because I think all of us Doctor Who fans are extremely thankful that we have a great place to hang out with other people who share the same level of obsession.  I'm so grateful for all the con friends that I have now.   I'm sure that most of us were the kids in high school who were totally geeky and unpopular, and were even ostracized by others.  We're the ones who never thought we'd fit in.  And now, thanks to cons and even social media, we can connect in a way that we never thought possible.  I know that we're having more fun now than the kids who DID fit in during high school.  I am so hopeful for the next generation of fans, because they won't feel like they have to hide their enthusiasm for a fandom.

It was a fantastic con, and I can't wait for next year!


  1. I was so happy to run across you blog so Helen (first mini-Clara photo) can share! Thank you for including her in your blog! She did have a blast dressed as Clara - I did surprise myself at the costume (first time I had ever attempted anything like that. Helen was scheming on the way home to Wisconsin how she can go ALL THREE DAYS next year - eek!! We are thinking of checking out CONsole room up in MSP. Kathy Peterson

  2. Thanks for commenting! Helen's costume was fantastic, and I was so excited to meet several young cosplayers. Hopefully we'll see you next year!

  3. How thrilled to see my niece posted in your blog. She certainly made a darling Clara. My SIL, Kathy did a magnificent job creating the costume. I know she, Helen and Helen's dad (major Dr. Who follower) really had a good time at the convention. Way to go Helen & Kathy!

  4. I was thrilled to meet her! I'm glad everyone had a good time - Chicago TARDIS is always fun!