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Meet Anthony Le: Designer of Iron Man And War Machine Replicas

In this interview, I got to sit down with the ultimate cosplay artist!
Who is Anthony Le? If you don’t know already, the Colorado resident has created some of the most realistic looking Iron Man and War Machine costume armors ever. Anthony Le is also a man who likes to push himself. Along with cosplay, he is a P90X instructor, a prop maker and a budding filmmaker just to name a few. One of his biggest passions, though, is his charity work. More on that later. I got the opportunity to sit down with Anthony for a one on one interview. Actually it was a two for one, as he brought along his friend and colleague, Nathan Trujillo ( Nathan is his right hand man, pushing Anthony while also helping to design and build the armors and take photos. Anthony created his first armor by himself just a week before the first Iron Man movie came out. He was the first designer to have integrated lights for his eyes. They light up and he can still see out of them from just under the light source. Since then the two have gone on to create two versions of War Machine, the suitcase armor (Mark V) and the Mark VI. The Mark V premiered at Denver’s Starfest last month. Anthony, of course, won first prize at the costume contest displaying his War Machine armor.

Le’s first War Machine (which he calls the War Machine Hybrid) “took costuming to a new level” in his words. He made it before anything from the movie version was leaked out. It is a mixture of designs from Mark I, Mark III and the concept art of War Machine by Phil Saunders. This was the first armor that caught director Jon Favreau’s attention when he tweeted about it. One of the most unique things about Le’s armors started with the faceplate. It comes down and into position when he poses in a ready position using a pressurized system. It goes up by using a manual motorized mechanism. Very few cosplay artists have been able to perfect this.

DogsOfWar-After seeing Iron Man and War Machine in comics and the movies how did you figure out the designs and all the moving parts?

Anthony Le- “I love to look at things and reverse engineer it and figure out how to do it. Since I was six years old, I like to figure things out myself. I don’t like to ask.”

DOW -What’s the hardest part of creating armor?

Le- “Doing all the electronics and wiring-it’s tiring!”

DOW -What are you working on now?

Le- “I am building the Pepper Potts armor from Invincible Iron Man comic. Just finished painting it, the jet pack lights up. I’m building it for a friend in California”

DOW -Since that’s close to being done, what’s after that and what drives you to keep going further with these designs?

Le- “I am making a HulkBuster armor with Nathan. Then Mark II, maybe Mark I and a hall of armor [like in the movie]. I’ve received a lot of requests for builds.”

“I decided to advance the way I use and make materials. I went from foam board, bondo and fiberglass from past experiences. I use other stuff too, like vacuum forming. It’s all cool and all but it doesn’t last as long. I started researching into better materials. I found high impact urethane. Most of the biggest challenges is finding what you need. Home Depot is always a good source. I go up and down every aisle.”

The armor heads are built using a silicone resin in a negative sculpt mold which helps to hold detail and fine lines. The original molds typically weigh around 13 pounds. I was lucky enough to try on his Iron Man mask and found it fairly comfortable and lightweight. The body armor is a high impact urethane plastic, much like with today’s cars. The metallic finish comes with painting. It is very flexible. Tony modified his WM once for a zombie theme party and was able to fully dance in it. He has vents built throughout and only gets sweaty when he is standing still.

DOW-What were the challenge in creating the suitcase armor?

Le- “The only thing I had to go on was the first trailer and a four inch toy. I didn’t have any back shot of the armor or anything of the lower body. When the second trailer came out, I had guessed pretty close to it.”

Anthony donates a great deal of time to charity. Last October, he visited the Denver Children’s Hospital. Watching the kids see and recognize Iron Man was very fulfilling. He will be doing a charity event and appearance at Hollywood Theater in Centennial this Friday and Saturday from 6-10 PM promoting Iron Man 2. Grand prize for the raffle drawings will be one of his War Machine or Iron Man helmets, winner’s choice. His sponsors have also helped kick in toys and posters. He even got Jon Favreau’s backing for doing such work.

Anthony has been able to take his costuming skill and turn it into something special. He gets the biggest kick out of doing it for charity but he also does promo work for Paramount and just recently did an ad for Guess Jeans and Iron Man 2. He will always continue to build. "I love costuming; I can make a lot of other things if I had unlimited funds like the movie does.” Some of the other things on his “wish list” are Star Wars Mandalorian armor and Gundam Wing armor.

Anthony Le follows a simple code everyday: “Live life with a passion and no regrets”

To see more of Anthony’s work check out his sites:

This got me thinking (a rare occasion for me). What type of armor or for that matter, any superhero costume would you make for yourself? Me, I’d have to go Colossus for armor and Beast would be an interesting challenge as well.

Many thanks to Anthony Le for sitting down with me.
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