By TJ Dietsch and Blake GarrisMarvel's "Iron Man 3" soars into theaters and IMAX 3D this Friday, May 3, and after you see the film you're probably going to want an Iron Man suit of your very own. And if an action figure isn't enough, Muckle Mannequins and Section 9 Entertainment has you covered with a life-size Mark 42 figure!
In anticipation for the film and statue, we spoke with Stephan Lokotsch, CEO of Section 9 Entertainment, US distributor of the life-size Iron Man about the creation process, Robert Downey, Jr.'s reaction when seeing it and much more.
|The Iron Man 3 Life Size Mark XL II Figure|
Marvel.com: While you've done other Iron Man pieces, how were you looking to make this one different from the others?
Stephan Lokotsch: This time around, we decided to go for a more aggressive and dynamic pose. If you look at previous versions as "ready for battle" stances, this new Mark 42 would represent full fight mode.
Marvel.com: The piece looks just like what we've seen of the movie so far, how did you achieve such an accurate look?
Stephan Lokotsch: A grueling schedule actually ended up helping us out in that respect. Traditionally, most of our statues had been sculpted free-hand, based on reference provided by style guides, but given the extremely tight schedule to produce this prototype and assure delivery of statues in time for the global release of the film, that free hand approach was an impossibility to begin with. Also, considering the immense detail in this new suit, the decision was quickly made to work with original data straight from production. We ended up working directly with Marvel's design team and utilized the 3D data created for the film's Visual FX. The file, originally in T-pose, was then positioned into the action pose you see here, and all the parts were created via 3D rapid prototyping. This way, we could assure perfect accuracy, while saving a lot of time over a physical sculpture, and managed to get the statue to market in time for the film's opening. In fact, it became a display element for a number of the international screenings of the movie.
|Robert Downey, Jr. in Korea with the life-size Mark 42 from "Iron Man 3"|
Marvel.com: Were there any particular difficulties or surprises when sculpting the Mark 42?
Stephan Lokotsch: Due to our use of 3D data to re-create the armor, there really weren't any sculpting issues, per se, but when re-positioning the armor, we suddenly noticed important detail missing below the arms and in other areas. In the end, we found out that these details were not created by Marvel, but by Visual FX company Digital Domain and, once we received updated data, everything worked very smoothly. Once the files were swapped out, we managed to make up for time lost and finished the project in the nick of time to begin the overseas manufacturing process. So, while sculpting ended up not being the issue, we did have to go through some learning curves in regard to molding the rapid prototype pieces. One of our early concerns was a heat resistance issue to avoid any warps in the pieces while being molded, the process of which causes the silicone around the parts to heat up. After some R&D, we identified and, subsequently, utilized a specific type of silicone that cured at a lower temperature, which solved that particular issue.
Marvel.com: We've seen a lot of new armors revealed for this movie, will there be any variants on this piece?
Stephan Lokotsch: We are currently discussing an Iron Patriot and a new War Machine. If customer demand warrants it, these are possible follow-up statues.
Marvel.com: If you had your way, is there a particular armor you'd like to see in the line?
Stephan Lokotsch: The sub-orbital Mark 39 and the "Heartbraker" Mark 17 are also very strong designs and personal favorites of mine. I would love to see a life-size "Hall of Armor" set-up, as seen in Tony Stark's house with faux concrete wall displays and the whole nine yards. One can dream, I suppose…
Marvel.com: Robert Downey, Jr. posed next to the piece in Korea, did he comment on it at all?
Stephan Lokotsch: He certainly seemed to pay attention to the statue and was quite playful with it, but I personally have not been given any notes as to him commenting so far. We are discussing a charity event right now though, for which we would donate one of these statues, and in which case, I would hope that we can get him involved and add his signature.
Marvel.com: Was there ever talk of doing Downey, Jr.'s likeness under the helmet?
Stephan Lokotsch: Yes, we did discuss, but for timing reasons it was not possible to add to this. That said, we may yet re-visit and create an alternate version or offer a Tony Stark head as an accessory.
For all collectors interested in further developments and products, please visit www.ironmanstatue.com, where you can also sign up for updates on future versions and/or accessories. On that site, currently in preview-mode, you can "Open J.A.R.V.I.S.," which allows you to sign up for updates. The full site will go live shortly.