How a 9-foot-tall Hulkbuster cosplay was created for New York Comic Con

There was a lot of great cosplay at New York Comic Con, but there was one costume in particular everyone was talking about by the end of the four-day event: the Hulkbuster.

The Hulkbuster is the heavy-duty suit of armour Iron Man worn in “Avengers: Age of Ultron” in order to battle against the raging Hulk. We spoke with the man behind the larger-than-life Hulkbuster suit, Thomas DePetrillo from professional cosplay-building team Extreme Costumes.

NYCC hulkbuster cosplayDarren Weaver/Tech InsiderThomas DePetrillo and the Extreme Costumes team were the stars of New York Comic Con’s cosplayers this year

DePetrillo designed the Hulkbuster specifically for New York Comic Con (NYCC), knowing the con attendees would recognise the character immediately.

“It’s the most badass costume I’ve ever made in my life, and it’s coolest character I’ve ever seen,” he told Tech Insider. “I made it to show off at NYCC.”

The Hulkbuster cosplay is 9.5 feet tall, and weighs about 100 pounds. Getting the suit in working order was no small feat.

“1,600 hours were put into this bad boy,” DePetrillo explained. He had help from an apprentice, Quin Mae. 

NYCC hulkbuster cosplayDarren Weaver/Tech InsiderQuin Mae is DePetrillo’s costume apprentice

“He makes it function,” Mae told TI. “I just make him look pretty. I do all the foam and detail work to make it a little more accurate.”

DePetrillo used a variety of materials in order to make the Hulkbuster function. 

“[I used] an aluminium skeleton, with a polycarbonate for the top half and an EVA foam for the bottom half,” DePetrillo said. “The top is nearly indestructible, it’s almost bulletproof. It’s really really strong and lightweight.”

NYCC hulkbuster cosplayDarren Weaver/Tech InsiderDePetrillo demos standing in one of the stilt legs of his Hulkbuster costume

Making the suit durable was important, but so were the smaller details.

The suit was equipped with speakers and a microphone. 

“Whenever he takes a step, a huge crashing sound comes through the PA system, and that sound is used to simulate that [the Hulkbuster] is supposed to weigh two tons.”

DePetrillo says it takes him about 20 minutes to get into the suit, and that’s with the help of 2 or 3 people. We watched as the Extreme Costumes crew (dressed as the other Avengers) assisted DePetrillo at Comic Con, and it certainly looked like a team effort. Connecting wires, adjusting arm positions, and constant communication with DePetrillo was key. 

When the suit was finally on, the team of Avengers was surrounded by over a hundred onlookers, eager to see what the Hulkbuster could do. 

Here’s the suit in action at NYCC:


Extreme Costumes won a $US1,500 prize during the NYCC Eastern Championships cosplay competition, making the Hulkbuster’s debut a smash hit.

For more on how Extreme Costumes built The Hulkbuster, check out their YouTube channel. DePetrillo has been building costumes for 19 years, and has no plans to stop anytime soon. “It’s a dream job for me.” 

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