Oh cosplay malfunction; it’s a part of the cosplay life that’s happened to all of us.

Have you ever had your cosplay sword or prop break right in the middle of a photoshoot? Or your cosplay pants ripping while walking down the convention lobby? Or have a strap break off while reaching for something? Well, you’re certainly not alone!

In this post, we’re going to talk about all the crazy cosplay malfunction that’s happened to many cosplayers. And I’ll discuss how to do our best to prevent it. Here we go!

What is cosplay malfunction?

For those who are fortunate enough and never experienced a cosplay malfunction, it’s basically when parts of your costume (e.g. clothing, prop) starts falling apart. Think of a wardrobe malfunction but with cosplay costumes and items.

Usually a cosplay malfunction occurs during a cosplay convention; we’re always running around and posing for photos at a con, and that tends to put a lot of strain on our costume and props.

Types of Cosplay Malfunction

I asked a bunch of my cosplayer friends and my in CHG group all the different types of cosplay malfunction they’ve experienced. Here are the 3 main ones:

#1: The pants

Raven Cosplay
Cosplaying Raven can be hard, especially when things don’t want to stay in place! Cosplayer: banannaphan.cosplay. Photo by vampiriaphotography_cosplay.

My pants ripped open on the crotch about 15 minutes before we were to do the masquerade. Some blessing of a miraculous Ladybug cosplayer sewed my pants shut while I was wearing them! We were able to go on, but they ripped later on a second time when we were doing a photoshoot. Now I know not to buy men’s cosplays because they NOT fit women’s hits/butts. (especially pleather pants).

I’ve mentioned in the past on the blog that I really don’t like cosplay pants. More so because they usually never come with pockets, so you have nowhere to put your wallet or phone (or you’re forced to put it inside your cosplay bag, which is risky IMO). But cosplay pants suck because they tend to be made very poorly. I got quite a few replies regarding broken cosplay pants, including:


Kingdom Hearts Ventus; waist armor broke off as soon as I got to the con, ended up duct-taping it, couldn’t pee at all

Talim from Soul Caliber 4; one of my leg rings completely broke off my foot right before the videogames photoshoot at AN. I had to make a mad dash for the (new that year) cosplay booth to hot glue myself back together! An hour later I had a tear in my leg seam near my crotch of the same cosplay! I sat in the grassy area hand-sewing myself up while still in the pants. People passing seemed to find it funny! Haha

#2: The top

Straps can easily break off, so be sure to reinforce them to prevent a cosplay malfunction! Image by Victoria_rt from Pixabay.

The breastplate of my Odogaron Armor slid down in the middle of a shoot” – Banana Phan

I was surprised to see a lot of cosplay malfunction involving the top part of the costume. Either the top fell off or the strap for the top broke off. I myself have no experience with this, so it’s hard to say why this happens more often than we think.

I would assume that straps for tank tops are fairly unique and when it’s made for regular clothing, it’s been made to stay on. But when creating a costume yourself, it can be difficult to make a strap that stays on for an entire convention. Even putting Worbla armor for my Marth cosplay was difficult. So I can only imagine the pain for other cosplayers who’ve been through the same.

Wearing my Diane cosplay from The Seven Deadly Sins and have the snaps open when I squat down

While taking pics at Anime Expo, my top fell completely down and no one told me…”

Every time I have made Asuna the breastplate of has malfunctioned. The second breastplate also managed to get horribly squashed because I put it away at Fan Expo after changing costumes and one of the items in my bag crushed it :’)”

#3: The props

It only took a few swings for my Fire Emblem Marth Falchion sword to break apart. Fortunately, I ended up fixing it!

I made my own wand for my Star Butterfly cosplay last year at Fanexpo. I was SO PROUD! About half an hour into the con, every piece that was glued on began to snap off… one by one until, an hour later, I had just pieces and tears… didn’t use strong enough glue or enough hot glue. I got a couple of photos with it before it fully fell apart. When just a wing fell off, I would just hold it in place a little during the photo. Now it just sits in a box cause I’m too defeated to fix it. One day…”

And we come to cosplay props; these damn things break all the time! They may look as sturdy as a steel sword and armor. But in reality, a lot of them are as fragile as glass. Why do cosplay props malfunction often? I feel it’s because of 2 main reasons:

Cheap material. Sometimes cosplayers will spend tons of money on expensive material like Worbla to make their props/armor look real awesome. But there are also lots of budget-conscious cosplayers who will use cheaper materials to make props. Sometimes these materials won’t hold up too well, and of course they end up malfunctioning at the worst times (e.g. photoshoots).

Wear and tear at a convention. When we’re walking and running around with a prop, swinging it around, placing it on the ground and so forth, it’s causing some wear and tear on the cosplay prop. Not to mention if you’re outside, you’re exposing the prop to the elements. Eventually the material will give and start to malfunction. Just like how my Marth Falchion broke off when I let someone swing around the sword.

Here are some unfortunate cosplay malfunction stories involving props:

The gems on my starfire gloves fell off :’) also the chii ears I made of foam ripped off and flew away into the wind lmao”

The paper flowers on my cosplay started falling off and flying away because we ran during a shoot

“I was Shigaraki one year at Anime North and when people stopped for photos, hands started falling off. So I had to sit in the hallway with a glue gun and glue hands to myself. … Painful but memorable experience…” ~Ty Shin

I also did Star Butterfly one year and had to change for the Friday Night Skit Contest. When I went to change back, I had squashed and broken my wand. Thankfully our hero Toronto Cosplay Medic was there to save the day!

How To Prevent And Manage A Cosplay Malfunction

Having a bag full of cosplay emergency supplies like thread will go a long way in managing cosplay malfunction!

First and foremost: don’t blame or put yourself down for a cosplay malfunction! Don’t beat yourself up if and think a cosplay malfunction is because of your cosplay-making skills or choice of cosplay store. Cosplay malfunctions happen all the time and part of the cosplaying experience! Yeah it sucks because they usually happen at the worst moments. But it’s okay; you’ll eventually fix it or get it replaced.

With that said, here are some tips to prevent and manage a cosplay malfunction from happening. It’s never a guarantee, but it’ll improve your chances of a cosplay accident-free convention experience:

Bring a cosplay emergency supply kit with you to the con. Instead of hoping for your cosplay not to break down, why not have supplies ready to fix a malfunction if it does happen? That way, you won’t have to worry if things break down. Having some safety pins, straps, glue, scissors, and threads that match the colour of your outfit will be very handy in case a cosplay accident occurs! Check out this great video for more details on what to put in your cosplay bag kit.

“My Riddler cane broke once but (The) Cosplay Medic fixed it”

Check if there’s a cosplay repair station at the convention. Before the pandemic put a stop to cons, a lot of conventions were operating cosplay repair stations. These areas had handy tools such as super glue and scissors to fix your cosplays if they experienced a malfunction during the con. I myself have used them a few times and they saved my cosplays from falling apart.

You can also try finding a cosplay medic like The Toronto Cosplay Medic! However they may not always be available, so I recommend either having a cosplay repair station or bringing your own emergency supplies just in case.

Do a cosplay test inside your home. Because we’re all so busy, some of us don’t have the time to really cosplay test our costumes and props at home. But even doing a quick walk around the cosplay in your home for a few minutes to make sure things are working, will go a long way. Maybe after walking, you’ll notice that some part of the costume start to fall off. This is important to know, and you can fix these things at home, which will be much easier than fixing it at the con.

Use high quality materials and buy from reputable cosplay stores. I know this one is difficult for those on a tight budget. But you really get what you pay for! It’s always a gamble when you buy a super cheap wig or costume on eBay or Taobao. It could be high quality or it can fall apart very quickly at a con. I know it’s easier said than done, but try to buy from reputable cosplay stores who sell quality costumes with durable material (easier said than done for poor cosplayers but it helps). Resist the urge to always shop on Taobao!

Treat your cosplay props like fragile objects. Because in reality, they really are fragile.

Reinforce the delicate parts of your costume. This is in regards to the tank top issue that a lot of cosplayers are having. So now we know how easy they break. The best thing to do is reinforce the straps by sewing over the existing stitches or by adding more stitches so that they have double stitches.

Bonus tips!

The legendary Anime North Bridge…where all costumes and wigs come to break off and fall apart.
  • Don’t cosplay Star Butterfly! (/joking)
  • Stay away from windy bridges (e.g. Anime North)

And there you have it; cosplay malfunction stories and what you can do to prevent them! Do you have any crazy cosplay accidents you want to share? Leave them in the comments!

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