Hot glue guns at the ready for this year's GAMMA.CON
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Hot glue guns at the ready for this year's GAMMA.CON

Somewhere in the back streets of Dunlop, evil Star Wars character Kylo Ren (grandson of Darth Vader) eats his Nutri-Grain while Princess Leia watches re-runs of her favourite television show, Sugar Rush.

Jedi fighter Rey packs school lunches in the background.

All three characters from the Star Wars empire are actually members of Canberra's Khokhar family, and they're not the only Canberrans obsessed with cosplay; the practice of dressing up as a character from a film, television series, comic, book or video game.

Cosplayers (from left) Isabella Hurst (as Venusaur), Alysha Khokhar (as Rey), Sophie Khokhar (as Princess Leia) and Elijah Khokhar as Kylo Ren.

Cosplayers (from left) Isabella Hurst (as Venusaur), Alysha Khokhar (as Rey), Sophie Khokhar (as Princess Leia) and Elijah Khokhar as Kylo Ren.Credit:Dion Georgopoulos

In Chisholm, Bec and Andrew Grayson's garage is dedicated exclusively to the creation of costumes like Harry Potter and Hermione Granger, while in Queanbeyan, Isabella Hurst has a wardrobe packed full of Pokemon outfits to choose from.

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The capital's annual mecca for cosplayers - pop culture festival GAMMA.CON - is on again this weekend, and thousands are deep in suburban Canberra at this very moment preparing incredible outfits in a frenzy of foam, feathers, pleather and hot glue gunning.

This year's GAMMA.CON theme is 'Retro gaming' and organisers are expecting a 7000-strong crowd that includes more than a few Marios, Luigis, Pac-mans and gorillas from Donkey Kong.

Comic, gaming and movie obsessives from right across the world now attend GAMMA.CON, which started out as a 24-person quiz style event at the ANU's Manning Clark Centre. This year, expecting a record crowd, organisers are spreading the event over three pavilions at Exhibition Park.

Prepping their costumes: Cosplayers Isabella Hurst, and Sophie, Alysha and Elijah Khokhar.

Prepping their costumes: Cosplayers Isabella Hurst, and Sophie, Alysha and Elijah Khokhar.Credit:Dion Georgopoulos

The GAMMA.CON cosplay competition has tripled in size this year, with categories including best prop, best first-timer, best skit and fan favourite.

For Alysha, Sophie and Elijah Khokar, our Star Wars trio from Dunlop, GAMMA.CON has been a long time coming.

Both kids have grown their hair for the event; seven-year-old Sophie so she could wear those famous Carrie Fisher braided buns and four-year-old Elijah so he looked as much like Kylo Ren as possible.

Sophie and Elijah's grandparents are even flying in from Queensland for the event, dressed in Star Wars costumes of their own.

Andrew and Bec Grayson and baby girl Aurora at home in their Harry Potter cosplay outfits.

Andrew and Bec Grayson and baby girl Aurora at home in their Harry Potter cosplay outfits.Credit:Rohan Thomson

"It's just fun, I like transforming into someone different, someone new," Alysha says.

"And the kids love dressing up as well, it's just a whole lot of fun for them. Although I have set their costuming standards a little high, especially when it comes to Book Week."

Cosplay can be expensive, Alysha says, but the most frustrating part is finding costume details for little feet and hands. The part-time public servant spends a lot of time on eBay looking for kids boots and gloves and yet somehow found time to make her own Rey staff - from a stick, some foam and some electrical wire.

It took her a month to finish it, but she's never been prouder.

"The sense of achievement once you've made a costume is fantastic," Alysha says.

Highlights of GAMMA.CON include a lightsaber battle workshop, a Saturday morning cartoon quiz show, a panel session on the history of queer characters in video gaming and a masterclass on how to build a cosplay brand.

All ages nightclub Niko Nation, featuring women dressed as cats and serving sushi, will be operating during the festival.

GAMMA.CON Canberra, 4-5 August, Exhbition Park in Canberra. For more details and tickets head to www.gammacon.org.au