One of the best moments in my career as a cosplay photog was getting selected to be a judge for the contest. The staff felt that my experience with seeing cosplay up close, looking for the details that that make an outfit great, would be a great benefit so I took the job while I was shooting. My lovely fiance took notes for me on each contestant while I did the photo work by the stage side. I did get to meet with every contestant behind the curtain before the start to do some prejudge work. My judge's award went to this pair of Halo troopers. I am not a Halo fan personally but the attention to detail and the time they took making the armor looking battle worn impressed me.
"OMG! But.. you can SOOOO get blue prints to build Halo armor from the Interwebz!"
Almost EVERY cosplay starts with a pattern. This is no different. The effort was still there in every piece they had to mold, rough up and paint along with all the electric wiring that had to be done to light up their visors. So yes, they deserved the reward for their hard work.
Taken at MechaCon VI in New Orleans, LA.