AN EXPANDED program for this year's Bendi-Con will see costumed fans take over the Bendigo Exhibition Centre this Sunday.
Organiser Peter Pascoe said he hopes to attract more than 2000 people to the event which features cosplayers, comic book artists, authors and - for the first time - actors.
Actors Vince Gil and Dale Bensch featured in the original Mad Max movie and will present Tales of the Road at noon on Sunday.
"The program is a bit broader and includes movie stars, which was the next jump," Mr Pascoe said. "We had opportunity to get a couple movie guests in and give them stage time."
"They will give us window in an iconic movie that launched Mel Gibson. To have insights from actors that were there will be interesting."
Local cosplayer Sarah Anne will host panels on competing in cosplay and how to get started in cosplay.
Ms Anne, 19, has been cosplaying since 2016 with this year being her third convention hosting cosplay panels.
"Everyone gets more and more talented every year," she said. "My first con was Bendi-Con and I cosplayed at the first competition but didn't enter. Since then I have every year, entered the competition many times.
"Overall it's about a love for pop culture. Lots of people cosplay some of their favourite characters, which stems from watching movies and TV shows or reading comics and wanting to be those characters.
"You don't have to necessarily look like the character. You just have to love it. When I started I had no confidence at all and was so nervous. I wasn't comfortable in my skin.
"So my number one tip is to pick a character you love. Even if it's a terrible costume, if you love the character, it's best place to start."
Since the first cosplay contest at Bendigo, Ms Anne has sen numbers grow bigger each year.
"It's crazy. The first year I hosted (a panel) there were maybe 30 people in cosplay. Last year there was more than 50," she said.
"There was maybe 15 people (in costume) for the first competition, so it is seems to be getting bigger.
"We also have the Bendigo Cosplay Society, which is a volunteer group that go to hospitals and charity events.
"It's amazing to see the amount of cosplayers in Bendigo. Our society is kind of small but we're pushing that this year and trying to get new volunteers.
"We will have a table for people to come see us and sign up. Come and say hi, we will be excited to answer your questions.
"Just remember cosplay is about consent. People put in a lot of work but they love to show it off, so just ask if you want a photo or to touch a costume."
In three years as a cosplayer Ms Anne (also known as Little Monsters Cosplay) has lost count of the amount of costumes she has put together.
"I have so many costumes at home that I haven't actually worn - maybe 30 or 40 that take up so much room," she said.
"It definitely can be a very pricey (hobby). I personally go to op shops and find things to alter them, so it can be fairly cheap but you're still looking at $100 on each cosplay.
"You can get Spider-Man suits for just over $200 but when you venture into the princesses territory it gets more expensive. The same with armour builds - the foam and paints can be quite pricey."
"Between 60 and 70 percent of my costumes I have made or made alterations to make them unique and more my style. (Some costumes) I spent four months on and I have pumped one out in a week."
With so many costumes to choose from, it is hard for Ms Anne to pick a favourite.
"They are kind of categorised," she said. "My favourite to wear for how it looks is Tinkerbell. I love the giant wings and being a fairy. I love playfulness of Harley Quinn - everyone does. But Gwen Stacy (or Spider-Gwen) is my most comfortable costume."
Last year Mr Pascoe split the pop culture and comic side of the Bendigo Record Comic and Toy Fair away from the record aspect which has its own event.
"People have now realised they are two separate events and (this year) is a bit of a test in terms of people coming through door," he said. "We have had a lot of interest from vendors and artists and hopefully cosplayers and fan groups will be turning up.
"This is the biggest year we have had and it sounds like there is a lot of buzz around town. Hopefully that translates through the door and into us having our best years yet."
Bendigo-Con is on at the Bendigo Exhibition Centre at Prince of Wales Showgrounds from 10am this Sunday.
Have you signed up to the Bendigo Advertiser's daily newsletter and breaking news emails? You can register below and make sure you are up to date with everything that's happening in central Victoria.