May 11, 2016

[Sponsored] CosplaySky review: Touken Ranbu Tsurumaru Kuninaga cosplay costume!

Hello there all awesome geeks and cosplay fans! ヽ(*´∀`)ノ゙

I have some exciting news to share! An online cosplay shop called CosplaySky contacted me a while ago and asked if I was interested in reviewing one of their costumes. I was super excited!
I've been oogling their site for over a year now and some of my friends had bought from them before so yeah, I had gotten prior non-biased knowledge that they were a trustable and good quality online shop! Needless to say that I was so so happy when they wanted to sponsor me a costume for review purposes!

For those that do not know – CosplaySky is a big, established and well-known online costume store that has been around for a while and is selling mainly cosplay costumes, but also props and wigs for affordable prices. They sport a handsome collection of costumes ranging from TV-series to movies and all the way to anime, Vocaloids and even video games!

My reviews are always 100% my genuine opinion, no matter if the items were sponsored or bought with my own money. I never compromise my honesty and true thoughts to my readers. 

With all of that said I want to welcome you to a really detailed, full and honest review of CosplaySky! I hope you will find it helpful and feel free to leave a comment if you have any questions after you're done reading! ^_^ Let's go ~

I also want to sincerely apologize for how horribly late this review is posted; I've been super busy with school, hospital visits etc. I've also had a lot of issues with getting good weather when a photographer actually was available (to get the fullbody photos). ;-; I hope you can understand.

~ "Forewords" ~ 

I feel like I should mention that personally I am very picky when I browse online cosplay costume shops – I have a habit of always scrutinizing even the smallest details (I'm a perfectionist!) and comparing them with official reference photos to see how accurate they really are. I do often try to find the most accurately made costume possible but I also keep realistic expectations in mind – you can't get something that's 100% accurate, well-made and with high-end quality fabrics for cheap. The simple and often true saying of "you get what you pay for" is something that I always keep in mind. :)
Most cosplayers do agree on that quality goes before price, meaning that they are willing to pay more for a nicer costume and yes, I am one of those too. I do believe though that CosplaySky has a fair price versus quality standard, meaning that considering the price you pay you do get some surprisingly solid and good-looking costumes! There might be a few flaws but it's really nothing that detracts from the costume as a whole.

~ Contact, packaging and shipping ~

Okay so, CosplaySky contacted me on 25th December last year and asked for my interest to review a costume from them – my answer you know already because I'm writing this post, haha. I took a look at their online store and I must say that it was really hard to decide on what costume to pick! So many tempting ones! *A* In the end I decided to give in to my current swordboy craze and so I chose the Tsurumaru Kuninaga cosplay costume from the popular Touken Ranbu online browser game.

I don't know when exactly they began the making of the costume but it would make sense if the dates set on my costume information sheet, that came with the package, were the start and end dates; I can't say for sure since I can't read Chinese/kanji but yeah, it would mean that the costume was started on 31st December and finished on 7th January – that's pretty dang fast!
Regarding shipping I got a slower option than the default one on the site (which is crazy fast, by the way) but it didn't really matter for me since I wasn't in a super hurry. CosplaySky said that shipping would take a couple weeks and that held true; it arrived in my country on the 28th January, if I recall correctly.
I went to pick up the package on 30th January and I must say that I had severely underestimated the size of the package. xD I went to pick it up with the thought that it would fit into my shoulder bag (it's one of those that fits a laptop and all your school stuff) but lolnope, when I saw the huge cardboard box it was obvious that my bag would need to triple in size to fit it, lol!

I walked home with the huge cardboard box – I felt like a kid on Christmas Eve! (╯✧∇✧)╯ I opened the box and was met by... another box. The second cardboard box was a lot flatter and smaller though and it was obvious that the armors were inside it, for protection. Good choice!
The costume itself was in one of those nice-looking costume bags (one side clear plastic and other side some kind of rough fabric with small holes) with a plastic zipper to open it. The actual costume was nicely folded inside the bag. With the costume also came the aforementioned costume information paper sheet that had a stock photo of the chosen costume, my included custom measurements with their modification scribbles added on top (very handy!) and identification barcodes, along with my country and other information in Chinese that I can't make out. I still can't read Chinese.

Shows the costume bag and the cardboard
box that the armors came in.

~ Costume thoughts, fabrics and sewing quality ~

My first thought when I pulled out the costume from the bag was that the fabric felt pretty okay. On the store it says that the fabric is "uniform cloth" (which is a very common term used in costume online shops) but it feels like a medium to lightweight synthetic fabric, likely polyester or a polycotton blend maybe polyester twill. The fabric is smooth and matte but it seems to be of the kind that, once wrinkled, the wrinkles will be there until you iron them away. There is no stretch/elasticity to the fabric, save for the gloves which are made of some kind of tricot fabric.
Regarding the sewing it seems to be sturdy and I don't feel like it will rip or that a seam will tear when I wear the costume and do those daily things that humans do. The stitching is straight, neat and doesn't do any weird jumps and the threads used are always of a matching color etc. There were some loose threads poking out of some seams but those were super easy to just cut off.
One thing that I noticed early though, that just made me confused as of why anyone would ever skip such an important part of sewing, was that seemingly all seams that are hidden by lining are left completely raw and untreated?! I was shocked when I saw it. ∑(;°Д°) I honestly didn't expect it at all!
I understand wanting to cut corners out of laziness (or lack of time) because it's being covered and thus won't show on the outside but hey, it's important for the long-term durability as well. Sealing the raw edges really shouldn't be skipped, no matter what.
I just don't understand since I was taught from a very early age that it's an essential and very important thing to seal the edges, unless of course you're sewing some kind of fabric that simply can't fray like leather, for example.

I'll admit though that I might not have noticed it at all if I had picked a costume that wasn't mostly white but yeah, the thing is that with white fabrics the "inside" easily shines through (especially on thinner fabrics) and you don't even necessarily need to hold the clothing piece next to a light source to reveal it; I actually noticed it completely by random chance because I saw a lone loose thread in a place that wasn't close to any seams and then I decided to check the actual seams and was met with an untamed jungle of fraying threads. It's unprofessional and it just makes me wonder why a big established business would do such a thing? ლ(´Д`ლ)
Good thing at least is that the fraying edges don't show when the costume is worn but yeah, it doesn't magically make the problem disappear either I know that they are there and it bothers me. :/
I also worry that if I wear the costume a lot then the edges might fray enough that I will eventually have to take off the lining and correct what was left undone. Then again, most times you don't wear a costume as often as everyday clothing so yeah, it might not even get to that point for many...

"Hidden" non-treated fraying edges.
I'd feel like I was lying if I kept quiet because I can't pretend that I didn't notice the raw edges early on and, besides, I think this is important enough to mention and I hope CosplaySky would change their ways (although I can't assume that they always skip this part of sewing) ignoring to treat the raw edges is unforgivable and is a blow to the overall quality, sadly. :/ It's such a quick, basic and important part of sewing that there really is no reason not to do it; it's crucial for the durability of the costume, general neatness and to uphold a professional image. I seriously hope they don't purposely add the lining just to skip treating the raw edges but, if that's the case, then I'd take the costume without the lining any day. Even things that don't show on the outside do count.

I honestly feel a bit bad for bringing this up since this is a sponsored costume review but yeah, it's very very important for me to tell the truth in my reviews, in both good as well as in less good. I always thought that those flawless "everything's perfect 5/5 love it!" sponsored reviews some others do seemed overly fake and thus were not actually trustable nor helpful so yeah, I don't want to be one of them; I value honesty the most when reviewing.

What is included:
• White kimono top (incl. blue collar)
• Hakama-style pants
• Belt
• Hooded cloak
• Embroidered emblem "brooch"
• Chain necklace
• Gloves
• Armors

What is NOT included:
• Sword 
•  Wig (sold separately here: [link])
• Shoes (sold separately here: [link] or [link])

~ Detailed description of costume parts ~

Additional information: I am someone knowledgeabe about authentic traditional Japanese clothes and their basic construction, since I collect and wear wafuku as a hobby and have a great passion for them you can check my kimono blog for proof. I am very aware that it's probably close to impossible to find an online costume store selling kimono, hakama, haori etc that is sewn traditionally and/or "correctly". I have browsed countless costume stores and never saw a cosplay kimono with an okumi panel and no shoulder seams, for example. With this said I want to mention that CosplaySky is no different, but it's all okay since their stock photos show the costumes very accurately you can see in advance what you will get. :)

Note: All detail photos below show the clothing pieces in their original condition, aka before I did any modifications. Some costume parts I needed to modify slightly (pants, belt, gloves, necklace) for a better fit. 
Kimono-style top: I say styled because while it looks the part it's not constructed as an authentic kimono should be, as mentioned above – aka it has shoulder seams, no okumi panel and no back seam. This piece of clothing is actually fairly similar to a keikogi on some points though, so yeah, if you ever did martial arts like kendo or karate you know what I mean. :) Basically this is a short (hip length) wrap-around kimono-styled top with roomy "western sleeves" (non-square sleeves with fully open arm opening) and with a silk tie to keep it closed at the lower waist. The top is fully lined too. Oh and yeah, the sleeves are actually supposed to be shaped like that (aka non-traditional), surprisingly enough. Another thing is that because the top is lined it's very slippery so you might want to use an additional sash to keep the lower half in place (since the silk tie doesn't do much) and, more importantly, you will very likely need to use either a safety pin or double-sided tape to keep both collars where they should be – they seriously move around a lot.

Silk tie to keep it closed. (I tied a ribbon knot for demonstration)
The blue collar is sewn on to the white collar, to give the illusion of a second layer, but I personally would have wished for it to be a bit longer, aka run down the whole length of the white collar. It's actually very short and, while this is not a problem for Tsurumaru because of how he's (properly) dressed, it doesn't give you any option to wear the collars crossed lower down since the blue collar is too short to accomodate it. So yeah, basically saying that if you want to do fanservice photos then you're screwed, lol. 

Showing the blue collar that is attached to the inside.
The ends are left unattached! (it's a good thing, see text below)
A good thing with the blue collar is that approximately 5 centimeters on each end is left unattached so that you can cross them in a way so that the blue collar is hidden under the white collar properly and not suddenly, you know, ending on top of it.
One thing to note is that what is supposed to be the "inner blue sleeves" are actually just a blue fabric sewn to the ends of the white sleeves, aka it looks the same as what you see on all those online Bleach shinigami costumes with a white trim running along the sleeve's mouth/opening and then there's black inside the sleeve. Personally I would much have preferred that there would have been an actual fake layer beneath, in the sense that there would have been a blue sleeve attached together where the white sleeve is attached to the body to give a 2-in-1 sleeve look I hope I make sense!
But yeah, I was 95% expecting it to be just a "blue trim" so it's not like I'm disappointed or anything. :D

Hakama-style pants: Again I'm using the "-styled" addition as a way to make a difference that, while these look like hakama on a first glance when worn, they are not constructed like one at all. This is basically a pair of very wide pleated pants with a zipper in the middle (it's hidden once the belt goes on) and a low crotch. All the signature traits that makes a hakama a, well, hakama, are missing: side openings, long ties (himo) and the backboard (koshiita). These hakama-like pants basically look like what would be the outcome if your western pants and your hakama had a child, haha!

Showing the top and the hidden zipper.
The pants when worn, with belt on top.
(excuse my nerdy Angry Birds slippers)
They look pretty cool when worn and I definitely appreciate that the white parts aren't just flaps that you velcro in place at the top (I've seen that on other online Tsurumaru costumes and it bothers me). The white parts aren't actually attached to the gray part though it's like, imagine that the white parts are like two rectangular capes hanging over each leg of the gray inner "hakama". That's how it is and yes, it's only attached at the top which means that the rest hangs freely. 
A small mention about the "hakama" fabric is that while the white parts are lined the gray insides are not; this basically means that the gray fabric feels thinner (even though it's the same thickness) and because the pleats are not starched or stitched in place they will likely disappear after prolonged wear, unless ironed regularly. 
I, by the way, tried to wear the "hakama" so that I'd tuck the pant legs into my split-toe (tabi) socks but it didn't work out for me, mainly because the tube part of my shoes are too narrow so that I couldn't close the zipper after all the extra fabric was there.
I had to modify the pants slightly by adding elastics to the top and bottom so that they would gather below my knees and fit me a bit better.

Belt: The belt that comes with the costume is an one-piece with an easy velcro closure at the back. All the details including the cross tie are sewn on. As a side-note I want to mention that the cross tie might look complicated and fancy but it's actually possible to tie in real life it's worn with hakama for a formal look. I don't know if I just got a more carelessly sewn than usual version but it bothers me slightly that the tie ends are all sewn on in a way so that none of them are the same length; it's a small thing, yes, but I would have hoped for it to be symmetrical since I know that it's worn in real life for high-end looks and thus should be neat and as perfect as possible.
I did take in the belt some centimeters because it was a bit too big for me, I also centered the knot while I was at it. The knot on the belt actually consists of several short separate pieces that are just sewn, on top of each other, in the right positions.

Belt, unmodified.
Hooded cloak: This thing is seriously so so beautiful – it's exactly what I hoped for! It's by far the highlight of the whole costume and I love it so much that I'd want to wear it everyday. ヽ(´ω`○)ノ.+゚*。:゚+
It's fully lined with really long wide square sleeves and golden chains that make a lovely soft rustling sound when I move! I love it loads. ♥ The hood is great too and that little fluffy ball on the right breast is very soft and attached securely.
Oh and yeah, the chains are attached by a little string of white thread that is tied on the cloak's body this means that, if needed, you can easily move and relocate the chains by just cutting the string that holds them in place and hand-sewing on a new string on another location; I actually cut off the string holding the chain on the back because it has been revealed in the art book (and the Tsurumaru figure) that the chain hangs freely on his back.

Original positioning of the chains on the cloak. View from backside.
As an extra tip, for those interested, I can say that if you want to be reaaaaally accurate you can modify the square sleeves so that they have the right shape, as shown in the art book to be a really pointy elongated triangle something like this: .

Embroidered emblem "brooch": Even though this is a detail of the cloak I'm listing it separately since it wasn't attached to the cloak by default. It's basically an embroidered patch with Tsurumaru's signature emblem (kamon) on it. There's a safety pin in the back to attach it to the cloak but I need to mention though that the tiny metallic cap that keeps the pin closed came off when I accidentally, very lightly, brushed my hand against it when I moved stuff around. Luckily it was easy to put back in place but yeah, seems like the safety pin is not of the best quality since I honestly barely touched the pin and it came off and I hadn't even used it yet. Then again, it shouldn't be a problem to repair/replace so it's nothing to fret about, really.
The embroidery is nicely made, it looks clean and has no loose threads etc. :) The only thing I would have wished for would have been that the patch itself had something under it a supporting layer, sort of so that it would be a bit more sturdy, aka less soft and floppy. It's no big deal though.

Embroidered emblem, front and back.
Chain necklace: At first I didn't realize that the necklace was a separate part because it came attached to the safety pin of the emblem; I originally thought that it belonged to the emblem. Derp. The necklace consists of a golden chain that's smaller than those that are on the cloak. It has two additional short hanging ends in the front. It's really simple but it looks fine.
The only problem is that there is no way to open it (there's no locking system like on normal necklaces!) so yeah, unless your head circumference is ridiculously small then there's no way to put it on – and by small I mean that your head would need to be smaller than 45 cm in circumference. I have a bigger head than average, sizing in at approximately 60 cm around so yeah, there was no way that I'd be able to put it on over my head without having to get some tools, open the ring link and either add a proper closure system in the back (so that I can put it on directly at neck level) or do some other quick-fix solution, like adding an elastic thread. I don't understand though why there was no closure system whatsoever because really, who has a head that small? :S

Tsurumaru's necklace.
Gloves: The gloves are made of some kind of fairly thin, soft elastic material that is likely some kind of tricot, I think. The gloves consist of two parts – the glove itself and an accompanying "wrist band" of the same fabric. They look like they should, except that the wrist bands are missing the thin white border on the other end, but that's a really minor detail and I'd be nitpicking if I put much weight on it. Actually, I didn't even know about it myself until I checked my reference photos closely, lol.
I did modify the gloves a little (after the photo was taken of course) to have a more precise fit for me since I have small hands for a man and, well, I forgot to specify that. That's probably my fault, haha.

Gloves and "wrist bands". (before modification)
Armors: I'll be honest – the armors don't look like I expected them to, based on the stock photos. While you can still obviously tell that they are Tsurumaru's they are made differently and of different materials than what the costume image suggests on CosplaySky's site. On the images of the store it looks really nicely made and the material seems to look like some kind of sturdier plastic, I don't know? The armors that I received –while they look okay from a distance– they don't quite hold up to a closer check. The blue base seems to be some kind of really stiff and durable cardboard-like material (I seriously don't know what it actually is, forgive me) but the details are definitely white craft foam that has been painted gold and, quite frankly, give a cheap impression when looked at closer. :/
These are not that bad (they are definitely usable) but I just want to say that the thing is that I wouldn't have been as disappointed if the stock photo had shown the actual product. It's just that my expectations weren't met. ^^" I would have appreciated these a lot more if the stock photo hadn't been misleading because it showed something that looked to be of better quality.

Armors. The white strings are so that you can attach them
to the belt, for example.
The armors consist of several pieces layered together, as they should, but I did notice that they break really easily; I actually broke one of them before I even got out of my apartment with the costume on! D: I accidentally bumped my side into the bed and the blue parts just cracked off clean from the top golden part. The thing is that it was a smaller hit it can be compared to the same impact you'd get if you were standing in a crowd and someone pushes you enough so that you lose your balance but not enough to make you fall. Yeaaaah. But luckily, because it broke off so cleanly, it was super easy to just hot glue back in place without a trace that it had ever broken. Needless to say you need to be very careful with these because they are not very sturdy/durable at all, sadly. Avoid crammed places and yeah, if you trip or something you can be pretty sure that at least one of them will suffer some damage. I also want to note that, once when I was outside, I actually heard a loud creaking noise from the armors simply because the wind was toying with them. Please note though that the wind was blowing at 8 meters per second at most so yeah, the wind alone could technically have broken them off, if I had not held them tightly flat against my legs during all of the sudden gusts...
What drops the grade as well is that the chains hanging from the ends are just simple craft foam cut-outs. On the stock photos the chains look like the same golden chains that are on the cloak (which are seriously amazing) and I was really expecting the chains on the armors to match. But hey, nothing stops you from buying some golden chains yourself and replacing them; there is already a little string that you can attach the chains to!
Another small thing is that those little square dots are craft foam too, even though they should in reality be some kind of lacing and they do look like lacing on the stock photos.
Oh and yeah, these armors are heavy enough that you need to wear a support belt (I used a normal leather belt) under the costume's belt-piece to hold them in place, otherwise they will drag down the costume belt and it won't look good.

The armors are the only part of the whole costume that actually differs from the stock photo examples on the site, which means that I'd grade the "RECEIVED COSTUME VS. STOCK PHOTO ACCURACY" to be a HIGHLY RESPECTABLE 90%!! The 10% drop is for the armors only everything else looks just like advertised. 
You can buy with confidence from CosplaySky – what you see is very close to what you will get, at least based on my experiences!

All photos of me wearing the full cosplay below shows the modified costume.
Photos taken by Frozen Angel.

Front view.
Side view.
Back view.
Are you interested in getting your own Tsurumaru Kuninaga cosplay?

Link to CosplaySky main page: CosplaySky Online Cosplay Store

If you'd rather be on the dark side wear black then you can also find the fancy black version of his outfit right here: Touken Ranbu Tsurumaru Kuninaga Cosplay Costume (Black Version)

PLEASE NOTE that the reason why the prices appear to be expensive is because the default currency option on the site is set to AUD, Australian Dollars, and NOT American dollars!!  
You can change the currency display settings at the top right upper corner of the site to USD, EUR or GBP on the drop-down box. :)

CosplaySky store & Tsurumaru Kuninaga costume rundown Pros and cons:

+ Decent fabrics
+ Very accurate to store's stock photos
+ Mostly accurate to character*
+ Sewing quality is mostly good and consistent
+ Quick processing & making time
+ Shipping time as promised
+ Safe and good packaging
+ Professional and kind customer service
+ Affordable prices

+/- Some costume parts were too big (note: custom size)

- Fabric edges that are hidden by the lining are raw/untreated
- Armor is different from stock photos
- Necklace is way too small to fit over head (no closure system)

* = there are some minor differences, especially if you own the Touken Ranbu art book that shows Tsurumaru's outfit(s) in angles that were previously unseen. The main differences are the shape of the cloak's sleeves, how the chain goes in the back, some small details in general and the backside of the belt.

~ Sizing ~

I want to mention it separately that my costume was made in custom size, which costs a bit extra. What I want to say with this is that while most of the costume had a good fit there were a couple clothing items that I needed to take in a bit it's nothing big though. The reason I put it as both a plus and a minus is because although some pieces were too big (except for the necklace which was too small) I would any day rather have a costume that is too big than one that is too small; it's easy to make a big costume smaller but it's really hard to make a small costume bigger. ;)
I also want to say that CosplaySky does add additional centimeters to your provided measurements (it even shows how much on the paper sheet that came with!) so yeah, you should NOT add extra centimeters to your actual measurements!
My measures might have changed a bit since I wrote them down but yeah, I mainly made the belt a bit smaller since originally it was so big that I could drop it over my head and it would fall to the floor with no resistance, lol. I also added an elastic ribbon to the top of the pants so that they'd fit me on the waist rather than really low on my hips; I added elastics to the bottom of each pant leg too, to gather the fabric below my knees. The gloves I also did some small alterations on so that they'd be more flattering. The necklace I just decided to open up with pliers and I added a small elastic ribbon to the back for closing. The cloak and kimono-style top fit me perfectly as is.

Tsurumaru Kuninaga reference image.

~ Conclusion and final thoughts ~

Okay, so to conclude this review I want to make it clear that, contrary to what it perhaps might seem, I am indeed very happy with the costume that I received and I'm overall super pleased with CosplaySky!! ♡ I really enjoyed this collaboration with them and I'd definitely feel safe ordering from their store in the future!

Almost all of the cons that I bring up are, in fact, mostly minor and/or easily fixable if you just have a sewing machine and some basic tools so yeah, even though there were quite some stuff to modify I was expecting it and it was nothing hard to do either. (*^ω^*) The only bigger issues is that the armors aren't really durable, nor identical, with the stock photos and that the seams that are hidden by the lining are not treated to avoid fraying at all. But, if we look past those two weaker performances, what we have at hand is a solid cosplay costume store that has been around for years and that delivers fair quality costumes that are mostly highly accurate to their photos for a reasonable and competitive price and fast turnaround time. Just be aware that you'll likely need to do some smaller modifications and/or repairs yourself, for a perfect fit. Oh and yeah, their costumes can also serve as good 'bases' for those who like to buy premade stuff and then modify it to their hearts content!

I'd definitely feel safe recommending CosplaySky to all my cosplaying friends who are looking for a reputable online costume store with decent quality and good value! They are also really fast so yeah, if you ever need a costume in a rush then this store is a very good candidate to consider for your needs. They even take rush orders for a small extra charge!

Final Grade (from A-F): B-
Recommend to others: Yes

I think that's about all that I had to say! See you in my next blog post and thank you for reading! I hope this was helpful ~

Also, don't forget to check out CosplaySky if you want to buy a costume or know someone else who does! ^_^ A separate Tsurumaru photoshoot post is coming up soon so stay tuned!

A biiiiig thank you goes out to CosplaySky for making this possible!
Shiro Samurai says sayonara.


Anonymous said...

Thanks a lot for this review! It's actually really helpful and detailed and I appreciate your honesty. I definitely think their quality is on the better side and I'll keep Cosplaysky in mind for future online costume purchases because honestly, I can't sew to save my life. xD

Anonymous said...

Thank you for such a honest and detailed review, I appreciate the effort you put into this. Thanks for informing the cosplay community!