My frustration is with judges who seem obsessed with armor and hard kit- You can have a beautifully sewn costume that looks incredible up close, but they pass it over for armor, because of a perception that sewing is easier, and armor or hard kit must be somehow harder.
I'm working on some Skyscraper crowns at the moment, figuring out how to light them up and make them look good, with the wiring hidden. I'm also building us some psionic weaponry, using the same tech as that used in the lightsaber building hobby, with advanced soundboards, LED modules and the like. I'm worried that those props will be passed over in judging because they're relatively small- the wiring is intricate as hell, and requires a lot of research to design properly. And the hilts themselves can require a lot of work beyond simply screwing a few parts together. But because they're not giant 6 foot tall things, all that work might be liable to get ignored.
In regards to LED strips, I will offer one dissenting opinion- as a lightsaber builder, I've seen builds that used LED strips- both the mass produced licensed replicas, and more advanced versions, such as the blades made by hyperdyne labs, which also use strip technology. Those do produce even light instead of spots, but they need serious light diffusing material.