It’s that time of year again- the traditional exchange of gifts and spending time with loved ones, including cosplayers. But along with the joy and fun of visiting and gift-giving comes the stress of finding that perfect gift for someone you love. Cosplay is an interesting hobby, and for many non-costumers it can be difficult and even confusing trying to figure out what your cosplayer could want as a gift. So, here’s a small list of gift options any costumer would love to have.
- Gift Cards and Gift Certificates
The vast majority of cosplayers are very specific as to what products and items they need for any given costume. Gift cards anywhere are always a welcome gift and one that will never go to waste.
Gift cards or certificates to wig websites such as Arda Wigs and Epic Cosplay, crafting stores like Michael’s, Pat Catan’s, etc. and fabric stores such as JoAnn are all great options. However, cosplayers also frequent other stores for cosplay-related goods that one might not initially consider. Hardware stores such as The Home Depot and Lowe’s, make up stores such as Sephora, and beauty shops like Sally Beauty Supply are a few more shops that cosplayers frequent and would love to have a gift card to spend there. Online shopping stores like Amazon and Ebay are also great options for a gift card because you can get a little bit of everything there.
Some consider giving cash as a gift to be too informal or generic, but it’s a gift that no cosplayer will ever view as thoughtless. Cash, like gift certificates and cards, allow cosplayers to get whatever it is they need for their hobby. Though unlike gift cards, cash can be used for anything- including hotel and badge cost, food for a convention weekend, gas to get there and any other on-the-side expenses cosplayers have.
At first glance, cosplay seems like a lot of sewing. For some costumes, it is. All cosplayers need a good sewing machine at their disposal. However, a lot of cosplayers lacking a sewing machine have their eye on a specific model. If you’re looking to be extremely generous and pick up a sewing machine for your cosplayer, make sure you know which model they want.
For myself, I have a basic Singer Stylist. It’s a great budget sewing machine, costing less than $200 and offering 100 stitches, easy-swap sewing feet and it’s very user-friendly. I’ve had mine for years and have yet to have an issue with it. My only complaint with the Stylist really is that it’s not a serger. A serger sewing machine can take any project from good-quality to professional-tier. Fortunately, Singer is once again budget-friendly with their Stylist II Serger costing just $200. So, if your cosplayer is undecided on a sewing machine, or they just don’t care about brand, either of these Singer machines are great choices.
Sewing can be a big part of cosplay, but some costumes don’t require a single stitch. For these costumes, cosplayers rely on an arsenal of other tools and extensions to get the job done. Dremel tools are a cosplayers best friend- having one is just as necessary as a good sewing machine.
Other tools cosplayers frequently use are screwdrivers, pliers, drills, hot glue guns, and heat guns. All cosplayers want at least a basic kit of screwdrivers, pliers, and drills. If you’re looking to get a tool kit of any kind for your cosplayer, know that it will be used. As for the hot glue gun and heat guns, both are relatively cheap but vital investments for any costumer.
For myself, I own a basic kit of about twenty screwdrivers (including a set of pocket screwdrivers), a set of a dozen pliers, and about thirty drill bits. Hot glue gun brands aren’t anything special- I own two that cost only $3 and are great for travel and quick hotel-room repairs. But, when I have the choice I prefer using my $10 glue gun that has bigger glue sticks, a higher heat setting, and an on/off switch (it’s a bigger deal than you think). As for my heat gun, it was purchased in the paint section at The Home Depot and cost about $40. However, there are cheaper heat guns, with the cheapest being about $15. The cheap ones work nicely, but I chose the more expensive one because you can control the temperature more closely. As for my Dremel- I own one of their rotary tools. These are the best and most diverse tools from the Dremel line for cosplay and crafting purposes. Dremel Rotary Tools can be purchased at a variety of stores, from Target and Wal Mart to The Home Depot and Lowe’s.
- Reference Material
Cosplayers tend to be extremely anal about every detail of their costume. This means we need plenty of reference shots from all possible angles, and sometimes even the best Google Image search won’t bring the results we need. Because of this, art books and highly detailed figures of the character we are bringing to life are indispensable resources for reference materials. When a static front/back image or figure aren’t options, the next best thing is to grab screenshots. In this case, DVDs can be extremely helpful. The ability to grab screenshots on our own time and on as big a screen as we have access to makes collecting references much easier.
- Miscellaneous Supplies
With all of the tools and basic supplies a cosplayer uses, we end up needing many little things, too. Hot glue sticks, sewing feet for a sewing machine, Dremel bits, bobby pins, and freeze spray are just a few examples. However, like everything else on this list, miscellaneous supplies typically need to be specific. Hot glue sticks and sewing feet are usually specific to a certain make and model. Freeze spray brand and bobby pin size are two of the more picky specificities most cosplayers have. We will use anything given to us, but it’s nice to have our favorite brand of product, extra Dremel bits, or the right sewing foot.
- Character-specific Items
If you like giving your loved ones tangible items rather than cash or gift cards, buying them a costume-specific item is a good way to go. However, as I have said before, cosplayers tend to be extremely picky with their costumes. For example, they may need a pair of knee-high black boots, but have a specific retailer and brand in mind. The same goes for wigs, fabric, and even make-up. Any costume-related gift to a cosplayer will be received with extreme appreciation, so don’t be afraid to ask specifics to ensure you get just what they want.
If you decide to get something other than costuming goods for your cosplayer, geeky merchandise is a fantastic way to go. All cosplayers need casual/lazy clothes for late nights at conventions, but we also love wearing our geek pride out to the grocery store, gas station, and movies. Shirts, pins, hats, leggings, car decals, pens etc. are all great options for fun and useful gifts.
Fortunately, in recent years geeky media has grown in popularity. As a result, geeky merchandise has become much easier to find. There are a multitude of brick and mortar and online stores that either specialize in selling geeky merchandise, or have a specific section for it. Hot Topic, Barnes and Noble, and local comic book stores are popular brick and mortar stores that sell geeky merchandise. Her Universe, ThinkGeek, Dork Side Toys, and Gentle Giant Ltd. are four very popular online shops that sell great quality geeky merchandise.
Hopefully this list gives you a better idea on how to shop for your cosplayer. We really appreciate any and all gifts given to us with our beloved hobby in mind. Even if we end up with something we don’t think we can initially use, cosplay always has a way of finding a use for everything we have at our disposal.
May the Force and this wish list be with you in your shopping adventures this holiday season, and always.