How this massive 9-foot-tall video game cosplay was made for New York Comic Con

The INSIDER Summary

• This “Overwatch” costume blew fans away at New York Comic Con.

• The over nine-foot-tall outfit weighs about 85 pounds and takes an estimated 10-12 minutes to put on.
• Thomas DePetrillo of Extreme Costumes tells INSIDER how it came to life.

We saw a lot of great cosplay creations at New York Comic Con this year. One of the best looks that had everyone talking throughout the four-day event was a larger-than-life cosplay of a video game character from “Overwatch.”

Cosplay designer Thomas DePetrillo told INSIDER the over nine-foot-tall Reinhardt, one of the heroes in the popular multiplayer first-person shooter from Blizzard, took about five weeks to build with a team of three people. It was completed on the first day of New York Comic Con.

DePetrillo’s no stranger to cosplay. He’s been building larger-than-life outfits for the past 20 years through his company Extreme Costumes. In fact, he sold his car wash so he could live out his passion of creating these costumes with a small team in Rhode Island.

You may recognise some of DePetrillo’s previous work. He ruled the Con last year in a showstopping Hulkbuster cosplay inspired by “Avengers: Age of Ultron.”

The year before, he showed off an impressive Bumblebee Transformer.

Bumblebee nycc 2014 cosplayKirsten Acuna/Business InsiderFans were taken aback by the Bumblebee cosplay at New York Comic Con in 2014.

This year’s creation was inspired by the popular video game “Overwatch,” one DePetrillo has been following for the past two years. 

“I’ve always been drawn over to Reinhardt just because he looks so incredibly badass,” said DePetrillo of his interest in creating this year’s ensemble. “It’s an awesome game because not only does it offer tons of great gameplay, but it’s an inclusive game. It offers a variety of different body types and different genders, different races, different ethnicities, different political backgrounds are all being shown to be inclusive.”

OverwatchMike Coppola/Getty ImagesDePetrillo could be seen roaming the Con with many others in ‘Overwatch’ cosplay Friday and Saturday of New York Comic Con.
Thomas depetrilloKirsten Acuna/INSIDERThe man behind the suits: Thomas DePetrillo speaks with us while showing off his Reinhardt helmet.

DePetrillo estimates the Reinhardt costume weighs about 85 pounds and takes about 10-12 minutes to put on and take off.

“If I’ve got handlers, it’s definitely under 10 minutes,” said DePetrillo. “Solo, it’s probably like 12 minutes. But I can do this solo and that’s pretty big.”

Reinhardt cosplay nycc 2016Kirsten Acuna/INSIDERDePetrillo makes his way down 11th avenue Friday, October 7 to enter New York Comic Con.

Last year’s Hulkbuster outfit took about double the time to get into. DePetrillo needed the help of a few people to get situated inside the massive costume, which weighed about 95 pounds.

DePetrillo’s creations are also meticulously detailed. For instance, a rocket pack in the back of Reinhardt lights up and pivots. The wrists on each hand rotate and the fingers are all individually controllable.

Kirsten Acuna/INSIDERIn addition to the giant cosplay, Reinhardt holds a giant hammer which weighs in at about seven pounds.

One thing DePetrillo wasn’t able to show off at New York Comic Con was the so-called stomp feature.

“I have foot stompers which make a crash sound every time he takes a step,” DePetrillo said. He also mentioned that he has an additional 45 feet of lighting just waiting to be installed, but he didn’t have the time. “Am I going to New York Comic Con or am I installing the lighting? I chose to come here.”

Inside the costume, DePetrillo becomes a virtual celebrity. It’s difficult for him to even walk around Comic Con without getting stopped for numerous photo ops.

Kirsten Acuna/INSIDERThis is a typical scene of people gathered around DePetrillo when he’s showing off his cosplay.

This is DePetrillo’s second take at the Reinhardt cosplay. A previous version of the costume, which was made in just three weeks, was shown off earlier this year at San Diego Comic-Con.

“I wasn’t happy with him in San Diego. He just didn’t have the size and feel that I felt was appropriate to Reinhardt,” DePetrillo admitted. “So then we came back home and decided to make all new legs, all new thighs, a new head … new forearms. 

Reinhardt cosplay 2016Courtesy of Thomas DePetrillo, Extreme CostumesHere, you can see the new stilts being installed for New York Comic Con.

“That sounds like everything’s all new, but the skeleton and the frame is really a lot of the same frame,” he added. “The skeleton of one of my costumes is literally half of the work, if not more.”

Reinhardt skeletonCourtesy @extreme_costumes/InstagramEarly looks at the framework and mobility tests to get Reinhardt up and moving.

It was a lot of 16-hour days for himself and apprentices Qin Mae and Ryan to complete Reinhardt 2.0, as DePetrillo fondly refers to the revamped outfit, for New York Comic Con. 

DePetrillo has been attending various Cons and events for several years now, but he wasn’t always building giant costumes full time. In 2009, DePetrillo attended New York Anime fest in one of his three different Bumblebee Transformers costumes. That was the moment he realised how much attention his creations could receive.

“There was like 10,000 people that started cheering for me at once and I was like, ‘Wow. I think I’ve got something here,'” DePetrillo recalled. 

A couple of years later, DePetrillo took one of his newer Bumblebee costumes — one which turns into a car — by a Chevy booth at New York Comic Con. DePetrillo says when they noticed their attendance increase dramatically, Chevy reached out and he started taking money in exchange for showing up at various Chevrolet events. DePetrillo says Disney has also flown him to London for a photoshoot in his Hulkbuster outfit.

Bumblebee nycc cosplay 2014Kirsten Acuna/Business InsiderA crowd surrounds DePetrillo at New York Comic Con in 2014 near the Chevy booth.

“At that point, it became more of a part-time job,” he explained. “Then I got additional contracts for other costumes and more commission work. Then it got to the point where it got to be about 40K a year and I thought, Maybe I could take that leap and become just a full-time costume person.”

As the work increased, DePetrillo decided he needed more people to help him out. His first apprentice, Quin Mae, has been with him for a few years now. He currently has four full-time employees.

“We’ve now moved out of the home shop into a 2,500-square-foot shop,” he says. “We have a number of different contracts either for large commissions or for doing paid appearances and I’m happier than I’ve been at any point in my life.”    

You can check out DePetrillo’s Overwatch costume in action below:

NOW WATCH: This guy sold his business so he could make extreme costumes full-time

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