There were plenty of fantastic cosplays at this year’s New York Comic Con, but the one that stood above them all was Extreme Costumes‘ Hulkbuster Iron Man. The group, which is led by Tom DePetrillo and staffed by his four apprentices, created a costume that stands at an incredible 9’5” and took home a $1500 prize during New York Comic Con 2015’s Eastern Championships of Cosplay.
I had a chance to speak to DePetrillo about the creation of this incredible feat of costume engineering. He told me that he’s been thinking about building the Hulkbuster suit for many years, but for a long time didn’t think it would be recognizable to the general public. When the Iron Man movie came out, he considered building the Iron Monger suit but ultimately decided that the grey and black color scheme was “too boring.” Luckily, this past year, director Joss Whedon brought the Hulkbuster Armor to the silver screen in Avengers: Age of Ultron. When DePetrillo found out about this, he knew it was time to get to work.
From start to finish, DePetrillo and Quin Mae, one of his apprentices, spent over 1600 hours planning and crafting the armor. He estimates that 70% of the work was done all on his own– an enormous task for any man (although Tony Stark did do it in a cave with a box of scraps).
The costume was comprised of a number of materials that cost a total of about $3000. The bottom was made of EVA foam, a malleable material commonly used to create cosplay armor. The top had a aluminum skeleton and a polycarbonate shell, weighing in at over 95 pounds!
According to DePetrillo, getting the suit to the con and putting it on were challenges, but the most difficult task of the weekend was simply walking around in the suit. The wearer has to stand on stilts, but even DePetrillo, who has over 19 years of experience walking on stilts, found it taxing to wear almost 100 pounds of additional weight while moving around the show floor.
The suit was designed to precise specifications based on Depetrillo’s measurements, so when Extreme Costumes apprentice Raul Gonzalez put on the suit, he had to take it off after fifteen minutes because he is an inch shorter than DePetrillo and found that the suit parts scraped against one another as he walked.
Ultimately though, bringing the Hulkbuster suit to life was definitely worth the effort. Extreme Costumes’ Facebook page likes have jumped from 6000 to almost 19000 overnight, seeing a 200% growth in interest. A video featuring the suit has received over 260,000 views. This morning, the cosplay was the top trend on Facebook, beating out The Walking Dead TV season premiere. The most exciting thing to Tom, though?
“The looks on the faces of the children.”
Check out another video of the suit wandering around the con here.
2:17PM: Some minor corrections to the article. An older version claimed the suit’s skeleton was polycarbonate and that the shell was aluminum. In addition, Raul had to exit the suit due to the precise measurements of the suit rather than the challenges of using stilts.