Masquerade Rules


  1. Eligibility
    All participants must have a Phoenix Comicon member badge (this includes Media, Exhibitor, and other specialty badges). Members of the Phoenix Comicon staff\volunteers directly affiliated with the Masquerade are ineligible to compete in the Masquerade Costume Contest.
  2. Registration and Pre-Judging
    There will be an online registration for the contest. Prejudging will take place Saturday, June 4th from 11:00am - 5:00pm in room 126B of the North Building at the Phoenix Convention Center.  Pre-registered contestants will be assigned appointed times that they will be seen by the judges. Once registered, please keep track of your assigned pre-judging time and location. Be punctual and courteous of the judges’ as well as your fellow contestant's time.

If you do not register online prior to the cut off time, you can sign up before and during pre-judging on site, but there will be no guarantee that you will be able to compete in the contest, nor does it guarantee you a specific time slot to be prejudged. Assigned times for prejudging are reserved for online registrations, or if there are time slots available during the convention, they will be assigned on a 'first come, first served' basis.

Tardiness will result in missing your opportunity to be prejudged, which will result in disqualification from the contest itself.  Preregistered contestants MUST show up at least 30 minutes before their assigned prejudging time.

Allotted time with the Judges for prejudging is as follows:

  1. Solo or Duo - 4 minutes prejudging time
  2. Group (3 or more contestants) - 9 minutes prejudging time
  3. Categories
    Entries will be separated into four categories:
    1. Youth - Contestants under 12 years of age. Costumes must be made, not store-bought. They can be made by a family member, but modeled by the contestant.
    2. Novice - First time contestants who have never entered a costume contest or contestants who have entered, but not won an award at any convention.
    3. Journeyman - Contestants who have entered two or more costume contests or masquerade/cosplay events but have not yet won any major awards.
    4. Master - Contestants who have won two or more major cosplay/costume contests.
  4. Groups
    Groups may be allowed to enter the contest and will be judged as if the entire group were one person entering. The group’s category will be determined by the participant with the most cosplay/costume awards. For example, a group with three participants enters. Two participants have never entered a competition before (Novices), but the remaining member has entered two major contests, the group will be placed in the Journeyman category.
  5. Previously Used Costumes
    Costumes that have won any major awards at any convention may be entered into the 2016 Masquerade Costume Contest into the Master category.
  6. Awards
    There are both ranked and unranked awards given at the Masquerade. Ranked awards include, but are not limited to, the following: Best in Show, Best in Category, First Place, Second Place, etc. Unranked awards include, but are not limited to the following: Best in Show, Best in Category, Judges’ Award, Honorable Mention, etc. Unranked awards are not considered major awards for the purposes of this contest.
  7. Pictures
    Pictures will be taken during the Performance portion of the judging process. These pictures may be used by Phoenix Comicon for promotion of future events and contests.
  8. Genres
    This is an open genre costume contest. Genres include, but are not limited to: Sci-Fi, Anime/Animation Comics/Manga, Fantasy, Novels, Steampunk, TV, Film, and Games.
  9. Costume and Weapons Policy
    All costumes must abide by the rules of the convention dress code and weapons policy. If a policy violation is discovered by any of the Phoenix Comicon Staff or the judges panel, that entry will be disqualified.
  10. Prohibited Items
    No glitter, confetti, pyrotechnics, live flame, or smoke generators of any kind are allowed in the convention center.
  11. Power
    No electrical power connections will be provided. If your costume requires power, it must be part of your costume.
  12. Prohibited Participants
    The Master of Ceremonies (MC) and/or other members of the Masquerade Costume Contest Staff cannot be used as part of your presentation in any way. Any people part of your presentation must be supplied by the participants. This includes moving any props or set pieces on stage for you. If you require assistance onto the stage due to costume restraints, staff will be on hand to help you up and down the stairs. Contestants' assistants/crew do not count towards the onstage time allotment, however.
  13. Hand-Made Costumes Only
    Purchased costumes are prohibited from entering the contest. However, exceptions can be made for costumes that contain pieces that are modified from their original design or purpose. Although this may affect the total craftsmanship score of the participant, it is not meant to discourage participants from entering the contest. Costumes that are considered "kits" are allowed so long as kit was assembled by the participant. All participants should be prepared to briefly explain the process through which their costume was created, altered, or modified. Costume(s) should be 70% hand-made.
  14. Reference Material
    All entries are strongly encouraged to bring reference material for their costume(s). While we will not turn away entries that do not bring reference material, the absence of reference could affect your final score. Not all judges know all characters and creatures, so it's in everyone's best interest to bring a color photo (or several). If a costume is an original design, reference images of inspiration or in cases of characters from novels, a printed description from the literary work will be most helpful. Digital devices may be used to present reference photos to the judging panel, but hard-copy printouts would be best for future reference by the judges.
  15. One Costume per Participant
    Each contestant may present or wear one and only one costume, or in cases of group entries, each member may wear one costume per person or may wear one costume together (i.e. large costumes that require several people inside to move). The costume shown to the judges during pre-judging MUST be the costume you are wearing in the contest itself.
  16. Designer Entry
    Should a participant decide to enter but chose not to model their costume, or rather have it be presented by a model, the designer must be present at pre-judging and be prepared to explain how the costume had been created.
  17. Contest Performance Portion
    1. Your costume must allow you the freedom of movement so that you can go up steps. Should assistance be needed, you may have up to two assistants help you but they will not be provided by the Phoenix Comicon Staff.
    2. You must remain in the green room before your stage appearance, and in the main ballroom for the entirety of the contest. Please arrive 30 minutes early before the contest starts. You will have designated areas for waiting pre and post judging during the performance phase of the contest. Listen to the directions given by the Masquerade Staff/Phoenix Comicon volunteers and be respectful to your fellow contestants. If you have special needs, please let the judges' panel be aware at the pre-judging portion of the contest.
    3. Each single participant will have 60 seconds of time to perform on stage. This is your time to shine so make the best of it.
    4. In cases of groups, for each additional person, you are granted an additional 30 seconds, not to exceed 3 minutes, or 180 seconds. For example two participants will be granted 90 seconds, a three person group is granted 120 seconds and so forth.
  18. Microphones
    No microphone will be available for contestant’s use during the Masquerade Costume Contest. This includes the Emcee's podium microphone. Only the use of prerecorded audio is allowed.
  19. Providing Audio
    1. Entrants are allowed and encouraged to provide their own music or audio for their presentation. Audio must be edited to the allowed performance time (60 seconds for a single participant, 90 seconds for two participants, 120 seconds for 3, up to 180 seconds or 3 minutes). 
    2. If an entrant wishes to provide their own audio (music, dialogue with music and sound effects, etc.), it MUST be in MP3 format and emailed to the event coordinator ( no later than Wednesday, June 1st, 2016 and use the following format:
    3. For all pre-recorded audio: The Masquerade Costume Contest is open to all ages and there will be children in the contest and the audience. We work very hard to present an event that is family friendly. The audio will be screened to ensure that it adheres to the following rules. The tech crew has been instructed to immediately cut off sound and lights if any of the following happens:
      1. Any obscenity or swearing.
      2. Any derogatory references to other contestants.
      3. Any innuendos or off-color jokes.
      4. Anything that sounds like it could be offensive based on (but not limited to) race, gender, orientation, religion, etc.
  20. Prizes
    Prizes will be presented to “Best In Show” and the first, second and third place winners in the following categories:
    1. Youth
    2. Novice
    3. Journeyman
    4. Master
  21. Rule Updates and Changes
    While no changes to these rules are foreseen, certain circumstances may require the rules or times be changed. Any changes will be noted in bold and all capitalization. A copy of these rules will be posted at the information booth.
  22. Questions and Contact
    If you have any questions, please feel free to contact the event coordinator, Kevin G. O’Connor (TD-0013) at