Finding Community Through Cosplay
Starting off 2019 right, we’d like to introduce you to Toni Skiles, the creator of TNT Cosplay Supply. TNT Cosplay Supply was started as a tribute to Toni Skiles’ son, Chris Skiles, who passed away in February 2014. Toni described Chris as an avid cosplayer and decided she wanted to help the cosplay community after his passing. The cosplay community wrapped their arms around Toni and her family after the loss of her son and she wanted to pay them back for helping her family get through the rough times.
Her main goal of starting TNT Cosplay Supply was to provide quality cosplay supplies to cosplayers. Toni explains, “We found that most cosplayers were re-purposing items and trying to make these items fit into their designs. We believed that we could provide cosplayer with products specifically for them.”
Toni describes the success of TNT Cosplay Supply as thriving from a quality product that reduces the amount of time a cosplayer must spend on their builds and keeping their thumb on the heartbeat of the community and sourcing products that achieve our vision. On the TNT Cosplay Supply website, Toni wrote, “From our own experiences and the experiences of others we talked with, we came to the conclusion that the biggest deficiency in availability and quality was with EVA foam. Our search lead us to a manufacturer of extremely good foam at a very competitive price. Thus, we have made EVA foam our launching product. As our business grows, with your help, we will continue to search for other products that will benefit you, our customers.”
TNT Cosplay Supply’s primary product is Ethylene-Vinyl Acetate (EVA) foam, which is mostly found in exercise mats and sports equipment. EVA foam can be shaped with heat and glued to other materials, so the costumes most often built with EVA foam are armor and weapons. EVA foam is beneficial for cosplay costumes, because it provides a light weight costume/prop that is both heat and water resistant, unlike some thermoplastics that can be affected by extreme temperatures. Toni further explains on the company website, “We visited with several cosplayers who fabricated costumes with EVA foam and watched numerous DIY videos and read the comments from the viewers. We also asked the cosplayers what they liked and didn’t like about the EVA foam products that were currently available. The cosplayers wanted a product with a smooth surface on both sides, did not require a lot of priming before painting, a stronger, reliable product with larger pieces of foam so there were less seams.”
Customers mostly enjoy that TNT Cosplay Supply is part of the cosplay community and that they understand the needs of the community. Toni describes her favorite thing about the cosplay industry is that cosplayers are inclusive and understanding of everyone. They like to expand their cosplay community by regularly attending comic book and anime shows every month. The next time you can find TNT Cosplay Supply is at the All-Con 2019 in Addison, Texas from March 14-17, 2019.