One of the costumes people couldn’t stop talking about at CoreCon IX was Hagrid. He was massive and even had a magical pink umbrella! Kevin Ruddy won Fan Favorite and Best in Show during the costume contest, so we asked him to tell us about what it was like to become Hagrid.
Guest Writer: Kevin Ruddy
Hello, everyone! This is my story of leaping into the world of cosplay and transforming into Hagrid. It’s still sort of a blur to me and almost doesn’t seem real. I love cosplay but had never done anything with costuming before outside of Halloween and the Renaissance Festival. For me personally, cosplay has always been something that sounds awesome but rails my emotions and anxiety. For instance, I love Star Wars but could never see myself being Darth Vader because I would be “fat” Darth Vader, and I fear judgments from others. This is just a personal thing that I’ve had to deal with in trying out cosplay. There are a lot of eyes on you.
Hagrid was an easy “Yes.” He fits my body type, and I love the character. But becoming Hagrid was not my idea. All the wonderful folks that brought CoreCon the Hogwarts Teachers’ Lounge came to me at the end of CoreCon 2016 and asked if I was willing to be Hagrid for their fansuite.
Instantly, ideas were bouncing all around about things I could do. “Go big or go home” was my motto for this whole endeavor. Literally. Someone remarked about how I was already tall, so being Hagrid would be easy. I smiled and said, “Oh, I’m doing stilts.” It’s Hagrid! You can’t be short! How would you feel with a six-foot-tall Hagrid walking in the room? You might not even know who he is!
The stilts would far and away be the biggest undertaking of this costume. We had to work out a design for them, and believe it or not, finding stilts for a person as big as I am is not a simple matter. Fact is: You have to make them. I worked out a design and then went to my friend Todd, a decorated member of the 501st, to help me. This never would have happened without him.
For CoreCon, we literally strapped the stilts to my feet and legs using belts. I barely made it through CoreCon before they fell apart. Tyler Schara later found me a pair of snowboard bindings, and they were a game changer. Now I can wear the costume to other conventions without issues.
Once we figured out the stilts, we had to plan the clothing. I had an idea of what I wanted to do and worked with Terry Beierle to create the rest of the costume. She is an amazing lady; she’s so busy and yet takes time to help people at every turn. [Editor’s Note: You can check out Terry’s other costumes or contact her for help with your own via her Facebook page.]
The cosplay turned out perfect. Well actually, “perfect” is a relative term. You learn with cosplay that there is always work to be done, something to change, something to tweak. But then people started asking the big question: Are you going to do the costume contest?
Um… I… Well… Should I? This was something even more daunting than just cosplaying. Anxiety is a huge problem for me, and I’m not a fan of crowds. However, I decided to give it a go.
The costume contest was actually a lot more involved than I thought it would be. To anyone who hasn’t been in a costume contest, it may come as a shock to you to find out it takes up most of the day. You start off with workmanship judging which is where you bring all of your kit/gear and talk to them about the process for making your cosplay. Later, there is a dress rehearsal. And then even later, you have the actual event with the big show everyone comes to see.
I still can’t believe it to this day, but I walked out there… and then I won. Not just the Best in Show but also the Fan Favorite.
Walking around as Hagrid is like walking around as a Disney character. There were so many smiles and so much love. I had such a good time being Hagrid that I took the show on the road and decided to try out a costume contest in another area. I won the Judge’s Choice Award at CONvergence in the Twin Cities.
This experience was so amazing that I thought I would turn right around and do another costume to compete again. However, as of right now, I have plans but nothing that will be completed in time to continue on the costume contest journey. I assure you that I will be back eventually. It’s a pretty amazing experience, and the people are just wonderful to work with at the cons.
I encourage anyone and everyone to find something that works for you. Dress up, let yourself go, and have a great time. Cosplay doesn’t have to be a competition. Actually, I would say that most of the best cosplays I’ve seen have never been in a costume contest; they are just people who enjoy the characters and want to bring them to life. We brought Hagrid to life, and I could have never done it without the help of several people. I hope it brings a smile to everyone’s face when they see their vision come to life.
You will be seeing Hagrid again!