In this post, I will discuss how you can easily figure out how much does cosplay cost?
This is Part II of the Cosplay Budget series. In Part I, I discuss how to afford cosplaying without going broke. Here they are if you’re looking for them:
Now that you got your finances sorted out and have a financially-sustainable method to afford the hobby of cosplaying, it’s finally time to start spending money on this hobby! Now you’re probably wondering, “How much does cosplay cost?“
In general, cosplays can be as low as $50 or even less, especially with sports Anime costumes. Or they can be as expensive as hundreds or even thousands of dollars (e.g. full Worbla armor costumes that are custom-made). With that said, I find most cosplayers spend between $100-$300 per cosplay.
As mentioned in the previous post, cosplaying can be very expensive. For newcomers, they may be intimidated by some of the expenses involved. But it doesn’t have to be expensive; with a few strategies, you can afford to continually produce or buy cosplays without hurting ourselves financially!
Today we are going to focus on mainly on how much does a cosplay cost. I won’t focus on the costs of Anime conventions because I already made a previous post about it.
I will cover:
- How to figure out the exact costs of a cosplay, so there will be no hidden costs
- Knowing what makes a cheap cosplay OR expensive
- An effective method to always have money for cosplaying
1. Figuring out how much a cosplay will cost IN TOTAL
Before you decide on cosplaying a certain character, you’ll want to know how much everything will cost in total. Notice how I said “in total.” I don’t know about you, but when I’m planning to buy a new cosplay, I tend to focus on just the cost of the clothing itself. I end up forgetting about other costs such as accessories (e.g. shoes, props), the wig and commission costs if it’s not from a wholesale website. Without factoring these things in mind, the total cost of a cosplay can REALLY add up! Which is why I recommend getting creative with how you get your cosplay materials.
How do we figure out the cost of everything? The best method in my opinion is to use a photo and label each material. That way, you have a pretty solid idea of how much you’ll need to spend.
For example, let’s start with one of my cheap cosplay I ever did: Hyuuga!
Example 1: Kuro No Baske (Hyuuga)
Jersey and shorts from Aliexpress: $25
Cheap glasses: $10
Running shoes from thrift store: $15
TOTAL = Around $55
$55 is not bad in terms of cosplay cost! Note that I used my real hair for this costume; if I used a wig, the costume would probably be closer to $60-$70. Still, that’s very affordable, and why sports Anime cosplays are great options if you’re tight on money.
Here’s a more expensive example.
Example 2: Fire Emblem cosplay (Marth)
Costume (Armors + Cape (two colours and emblem graphic on the back) + Top + Belt + Gloves + Red Button = $400
Tiara = $25
Wig from Arda = $30
Sword = $80 (while this was a great deal, it has broken on me several times. I’ve probably spent over $100 fixing the Falchion several times)
Boots = $2! (No joke, I found boots that are perfect for cosplay for only $2 at Goodwill. It’s probably my biggest cosplay accessory steal of all time. :))
TOTAL = Over $500
For this costume, I got it commissioned at Cosplay Station, so I cannot break down the individual pricing of everything. But while it was expensive, I totally love it and have been cosplaying Marth for years because it’s lasted so long. Sometimes when you fork out a lot of money, you definitely get your money’s worth. And I feel that way with my Marth costume. Whatever the cosplay cost, it was worth it!
Here’s another example with my cosplay friend, Shuda Cosplay. This is a good example showing you can save on cosplay cost by using materials from fabric and thrift stores.
Example 3: Final Fantasy VIII (Squall Leonhart)
- Shoes and jeans: $25
- Belts: $20
- Gloves: $5
- Wig: $30
- Gunblade (the cool-looking weapon in his hand): $100
- Necklaces x2 = $15
- Pleather Jacket: $25
- Fur from Fabricland = under $10
- Contacts = $30
TOTAL = $260
As you can see, the cosplay cost can vary per costume. Which leads to the next question…
2. What is a generally cheap cosplay? What are expensive cosplays?
In terms of price, here’s what I define a cheap cosplay or an expensive cosplay:
Low: Less than $100
Upper Middle: $300-$500
High: More than $500
While the cosplay cost won’t always be exact, there are some materials that could make your cosplay super cheap or very expensive. Here’s a general guideline…
Generally, speaking a cheap cosplay utilize clothes you can pull out of your own closet, or costumes that are generally based on regular clothes. Or a popular cosplay mass-produced on a wholesale site to lower costs (e.g. Naruto, One Piece). The wig is very basic and simple, or you’re using your real hair for the costume.
Good for: I find low-end cosplays are done by all sorts of people: newcomers to the cosplay scene who don’t want to invest a lot of money into a costume, younger cosplayers who don’t have the money to buy or make an expensive one. Or experienced cosplayers who just want to wear something comfortable or casual to a cosplay event.
Examples: Love Live! (basically a school outfit), Naruto cosplays on eBay (because Naruto is one of the most popular series and mass-produced), any sports Anime like Kuruko No Baske or Haikyuu! (because they’re based on cheap regular clothes), Android 17/18 (all you need is regular clothes/shoes and a wig for it), Dva bodysuit (very popular character and the bodysuit isn’t made of expensive material)
If it involves building materials from scratch or involves some crafting, then likely the cosplay cost will be in the mid-range price. You’re still using cheaper materials like foam or cloths. The wig is likely longer than most, or the styling is a bit more unique.
Good for: I find most cosplayers will fall into this category; they’re willing to spend a bit more on a costume that looks beautiful and unique, but not to the point where they need to spend a fortune to do so. $100-$300 can get you an amazing-looking cosplay and unless you’re super broke, it’s affordable for most.
Examples: Fire Emblem (because while some characters use cheaper material you still have to build to their unique style), many Final Fantasy characters (while they have unique costumes, most of the material doesn’t involve expensive ones)
Upper Middle-cost Cosplays
Almost the same as middle-cost, but involving more complicated work and involving a bit of armour work, which is why it’s more expensive. Also driven up by a prop if a character needs one. For the wig, it’s either very long or a very specialized wig that requires extensive styling.
Examples: More complicated Fire Emblem cosplays like this one (Sasha David)
Good for: Everyone but not something I’d recommend doing for every cosplay.
Very High-cost Cosplays
Almost always involves armoured cosplays, or cosplays that require very specific patterns or designs, such as a fur suit. Using expensive material like Worbla or very special equipment like LED lighting… It also includes making cosplays entirely from scratch.
Examples: Superhero cosplays with armour, mech cosplays, anything involving lighting
Good for: In terms of being economical, I do NOT recommend going for cosplays in the Very High range unless
-you have a LOT of money sitting around
-you make a high enough income to do so
If you don’t meet those two criteria, stick to a cheap cosplay; the cosplay cost will be too much for you.
Accessories and props can easily add up the cosplay cost, pushing the costume from low range to mid-range or upper middle range. For example, the gunblade for Squall Leonhart was $100, which was almost more than the actual costume itself. Same thing if you were cosplaying Sora from Kingdom Hearts; the costume might be cheap but making a Keyblade could be expensive, depending what kind of material you use. I’d say it’s worth the money because it makes your cosplays so much cooler!
3. How to save up for cosplaying properly
Now that you know how to figure out the costs of a cosplay, how do you go about saving up for one? For some, it’s easier said than done.
One reader messaged me, telling me that while she had no problem saving up money, she ended up using it really fast. And what ends up happening is because her money goes so fast, she doesn’t have any money left for cosplaying!
How do we prevent ourselves from doing this? Here’s what you should do:
i) Once you paid off all your essentials and bills (like I mentioned in my previous post), then put the rest of your money into a “spending account.”
ii) Save up your money, but don’t spend any of it yet.
iii) List ALL the things you want to buy with that spending money. And number them in priority in how bad you want them. For example, perhaps for me it would be:
- Trip to Anime North, including costs for hotel and registration
- Roy Mustang cosplay
- Nintendo Switch
- Tickets to see the Toronto Raptors (NBA Team)
- New external hard drive for my computer
I’d imagine for a lot of people, they don’t have the money to attend an Anime convention or have a cosplay ready in time because they don’t make that their priority. Let’s say for me, I decide to buy a Nintendo Switch, bought tickets to an expensive basketball game and bought a hard drive I didn’t need right away. If I spend all that money by the time Anime North rolls around, I would be broke and couldn’t afford to go.
However, if I number them in priority, I’ll make sure to set aside enough money for Anime North and buy that Roy Mustang costume BEFORE anything else. That way, I’ll be ready to go before Anime North rolls around. As for the other items, either I wait till I have enough spending money for them, or cancel them. For example, maybe I’ll just watch the basketball game at home. Or I’ll keep playing my Nintendo 64 instead of buying a brand new video game console. These are ways not only to afford cosplay, but to save on money as well…by not making financially impulsive decisions.
Cosplay Budget = Buckets?
Think of your spending money like letting the tap water run in the sink (water = your spending money). Instead of letting that money disappear on the first thing you decide to spend it on, put the water in buckets. The buckets represent the things you want to buy. So you have that “cosplay” bucket, and you fill up that bucket until it’s full. Then you move onto the next bucket until the tap water stops running. Once the tap comes back on (more spending money), continue to fill the bucket and move onto the next bucket. And so forth.
This is probably the most effective way to not only afford cosplaying, but to also not dig into the money you need for essentials in your life. If you want to be really serious about it, you could open a separate savings account just for cosplay-related spending. Once you paid off your bills and essentials, you can throw the rest of your money/income into the cosplay savings account.
Summary of Part II
There you have it. As you can see, you don’t have to fork out your life savings for a costume :). You could easily just go cosplays on the cheap end and be content with it. But again, I find most cosplayers enjoy doing costumes in the middle range because they look nice and unique. Very rarely do cosplayers dig deep for a costume in the very high range and if they do, they either spend months or years saving for one, or they make a high income to do so.
So the next time you watch a Marvel film in the theatre and decide you want to cosplay Thanos, you might want to think twice about how expensive it would be to do so. Maybe Spiderman is more affordable for you. Or stick to Anime characters; you’re a weeb anyway. 😉 (joking)
That’s Part II of my financial blog series. In Part III, I discuss 10 ways you can save money on cosplaying.
P.S. I had one of my followers send me this photo of their VERY expensive cosplay. Can you guess how much it was? 🙂