Communications specialist Clay Hielscher seems like an average guy, but pay his home a visit and you’ll realise why he’s called the real-life Tony Stark. The Kansas man not only resembles the popular comic book character, but he is also passionate about building superhero suits from scratch – his house is like a costume prop shop for a motion picture studio.
Hielscher is a former law enforcement officer, which sort of explains his obsession with superhero battlesuits. It all started a few years ago, when he was building a 17-foot kayak, just to let off some steam. One of his friends took a look at his work and suggested that he try to construct an Iron Man battlesuit.
Hielscher was interested. He started doing some research zand came across this guy from Great Britain who had built a suit from card stock, coated with fiberglass. So he decided to try making a helmet out of the same materials. “It took 30 hours to build and then it collapsed,” Hielscher recalls.
But the experience only motivated him to try harder. He then read about how floor mats were used to make medieval armour. So he purchased some dish drying mats and 5mm EVA foam sheets to add to the fiberglass and epoxy resin. He used these materials to make armoured battlesuits worn by Iron Man and War Machine from ‘Iron Man 2’.
He ended up selling that suit, but the project was a success and it spurred him on to do more. Several people who saw his eBay posting contacted him, asking if he would build suits for them. So he slowly developed a template that he now uses to build all his battlesuits. But he adds new details to each one – hinged arms for full movement, helmets with air circulation, magnets to attach weapons, and boots with three-inch lifts.
Hielscher uses a 3D printer to create multi-piece fingers for the gloves. Once the suits are complete, he spray paints them, and then hand paints the details. “Everything must pass the eight-foot rule,” he said. “It has to look real from eight feet away. On average, it takes him 400 hours to build one suit.
According to Hielscher, his biggest motivation for making the suits is his 11-year daughter Kyrianna. They design and build the suits together. “She is probably my biggest critic,” he said, fondly. “She will tell me what looks good and what doesn’t.”
The father-daughter duo have also attended Comic-Con events dressed in battlesuits they’ve made together. And sometimes, Hielscher puts on his battlesuit for good causes – he recently visited the Children’s Mercy Hospital as part of a superhero team to cheer up sick children. “I could be sitting on my butt doing nothing,” he said. “Or I could be doing something creative to make a kid smile.”
Via Washington Times