Ironman is suiting up

A 23-year-old cosplay champion on playing couturier for superheroes

Jaipur resident Ankit Singh believes in making an entrance. When he walked into the Mumbai Film and Comics Convention held in the city last year, he made jaws drop to the floor. Did we forget to mention he was wearing a seven-foot-high Space Marine suit? Oh yeah, that.
His character, Ultramarine is part of the Space Marine army in the fictional game world of Warhammer. Singh and his partner Vidhi Pareek took one of the three prizes at the Cosplay or costume play competition for his efforts. They defeated 500 other contestants in five categories, over three days. His costume was judged on uniqueness and resemblance to the original character.
Singh says he has no regrets. Even the fact that he couldn’t make it up on stage to collect his award because his costume was too big to fit on the podium, is fine by him.
Singh’s armour weighed 30 kilos and his boots were larger than the steps that led to the dais. It took three months, raw material worth Rs 8,000, repeated trips to Jaipur’s hardware stores and hours of manual labour to create the winning outfit.

The biggest challenge, he says, was sourcing EVA (Ethylene vinyl acetate), a type of foam widely used by cosplayers abroad.

Cosplay rules are stringent: no metals permitted. So, he finally settled for rubberised foam which he found at a shoe market. “Typically, the foam makes its way into making soles of shoes. Singh put them into an Ironman costume,” he says.

Singh uses a software called Pepakura that converts 3D characters into 2D layers. Each layer must be printed, used as a stencil and cut out from foam. Don’t take on the task if you lack patience, warns Singh.

The suit that is made in parts is then assembled and strapped on to the parts. The result, though impressive was heavy and left Singh with bruises on his shoulders. He wore stilts to make the final result appear massive and menacing.
A graduate in animation, Singh was bitten by the cosplay bug in March 2013 when he created his first costume, an Iron Man suit. He made his way to Mumbai with his suit that won a trip to the Singapore comic convention for his debut creation.
“Iron Man may be a big deal here, but abroad, they have moved on,” he says. So, Singh and his partner Vidhi Pareek decided to take the costume to the next level. Inspired by the Iron Patriot, Marvel Comic’s character that wears an Iron Man suit in typical Captain America colours, they created the Indian Patriot.

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