This weekend marked an exciting first for the Magic community - the first ever Planeswalker Summit. A collection of cosplayers convened on Grand Prix Portland, bright blue body paint, lavish coats, and LED light boards in tow, to create a unique and amazing spectacle in the halls of the Portland convention center.
Cosplayer MJ Scott (@moxymtg on Twitter) organized the Summit, which started as a small group of friends cosplaying at a hometown GP and quickly grew from there.
“I've met so many cool people from cosplay, but they're all over the country - all over the world, really,” MJ said. “I just thought, what would be a good excuse to get together and also what would be a really cool and epic spectacle, something people hadn't seen before?”
MJ put out the call to other cosplayers on Twitter, and the replies flooded in. Organizing the summit wasn't as easy as that, however.
“It's really hard to get a lot of cosplayers together, that old cliche of herding cats applies,” MJ said.
Luckily, the cosplayers' excitement and willingness to cooperate helped to iron out some of the details.
“I was pleasantly surprised that so many people were enthusiastic and that they wanted to come and they wanted to take on different Planeswalkers,” MJ said. “I thought people might all be fighting for the new ones - that everyone might want to do Nahiri or Sorin or Liliana - but really everyone seemed to gravitate towards different people and they were really happy to take on different challenges and different builds.”
Courtney, from Purple Rogue Cosplay, came as Kiora, the Crashing Wave, blue body paint on and bident in hand. For Courtney, the appeal in cosplaying Kiora lies in the difference between the fickle Planeswalker and herself.
“I get to goof off, I get to play tricks on people and just be silly and about me, which I'm not really at all,” Courtney said. “So it's fun and different.”
Courtney crafted a blue bodysuit to limit the amount of paint she had to apply for the Summit, giving her Kiora a little more longevity than she might otherwise have.
For Audrey, her appearance as Nahiri was a choice stemming from her long-held love and admiration for the vengeful lithomancer.
“I chose this character - Nahiri, the Harbinger, though I could call it Nahiri, the Lithomancer too, because that's how long I've wanted to be Nahiri - because she was the first commander that I ever played,” Audrey said. “She's been my favorite character since. I was really, really excited when she finally made an appearance again.”
Matt, from Jackal Costuming, chose Jace because of their shared affinity for blue. Matt and his partner Gin chose to tackle the most recent incarnation of Jace, Unraveler of Secrets, amazing coat and all.
“The most challenging part and the most difficult part is absolutely this coat,” Matt said. “This was done by my partner Gin. It's all heavy-duty faux leather and in some places it has four layers on it. We actually had had to buy a specially machine specifically to handle this.”
Justin Ricks is used to frequenting Magic tournaments as a Level 2 judge, but seeing the incredible work that other cosplayers were doing with shaped and painted foam made him want to try out a new way of participating in the Grand Prix. Sorin is his first foray into cosplay, and the opportunity to meet other cosplayers drew him to Portland all the way from Florida.
“I chose Sorin because I hadn't really seen Sorin done yet and I thought it would be cool,” Justin said. “I liked the look of it and I thought it would be fun, I wanted to play with the foam and see what I could do.
For Mel, the Planeswalker Summit at GP Portland offered the opportunity to refine one of her favorite elements of costuming - lights! Koth combined both this passion for innovative design and Mel's love of playing red.
“I'm working with a new lighting and power system,” she said. “It's all really compact. It's a bunch of LEDs, and I have a little controller board and I have a little lithium battery and I'm really excited because it's all much lighter and more modular than it used to be.”
With the excitement it generated amongst cosplayers and the community at large, this hopefully won't be the last Planeswalker Summit we see. If MJ's thrill over a successful meeting of the Planeswalker Pantheon is any indication, I think there's another sometime in our future.
“I feel really lucky this weekend because I got to meet so many people I know from the online Magic community,” MJ said, “but in real life and in amazing, epic costumes.”