Thank you Mr. Kokis for taking the time to answer some questions that were submitted by curious fans.
Please, it's Peter! I spent decades being formal…not now. Anyway, my pleasure.
To start out with, what was your very first cosplay attempt?
It was Brooklyn Optimus Prime, my interpretation of the hero from the first Michael Bay film. That was spring 2010 and he weighed about 45 lbs. He's since been upgraded so many times that he's now at his 12th version and weighs 130 lbs. Optimus - in whichever generation - is a hero to many kids. Actually, you'll find a lot of people in the military grew up idolizing Prime.
Why have you chosen to focus on giant robot and mecha cosplay?
I've always been a sci fi geek, and liked robots. I specialized in Transformers from the Michael Bay films - often maligned as 'Bayformers' - because of their visual complexity, and they are fighting robots so they suit my physicality. After Optimus, Bee was an obvious follow-up.
Each Transformer also has a distinct personality, so I get to act differently with each character…Brooklyn Ironhide - the cranky Autobot - seems to suit me best, ahem…
How much time does it usually take to build one and to put on a suit?
I now build them so complex that it's 450 + hours' direct construction time, and I have to plan very far ahead as it can take quite awhile to acquire the parts. My Brooklyn Alien Xenomorph took 16 months to get his parts and I had planned on building him for two years.
Brooklyn Typhoon took 10 months for parts (I started the day after I saw him in the trailer).
I don't just go to a store and buy up what I need: I visualize what I want a character to look like, then seek out those shapes. I'm kinda obsessed with shapes. Regarding strapping a 'bot on, I get dressed in a very precise order and it can take 60-90 minutes depending on the character. During this time, I'm blasting the associated music and getting in-character.
What is your fave material to use in these projects and where do you find your materials?
I use everyday items, stuff we all have around us and use but never pay any attention to. Stuff from housewares stores, hardware & discount stores, pet shops, toy & sporting goods stores, nothing special. It's all from neighborhood stores, and usually one online purchase: the football shoulder pads I always use as the torso infrastructure. I don't work with EVA foam or moulds…it's all existing stuff. That's my artistic challenge. More specifically, I use a lot of kitchen & bathroom-stuff as it all looks very mechanical. The different designs for toilet brush holders are endless. The actual shell / armor is typically parts of plastic trashcans and buckets. I can't pass a discount store without popping in.
Your costumes are so shiny! How do you get plastic to look like enameled metal?
I always use the same gloss spray paint that everyone can buy from their local store. None of it is special or airbrushed. Regarding the shine, that's a credit for the photographers I work with, shooting with flash or sun. I like the characters to look brilliant and stand out, and that's the talent of the shooters.
Is there a specific mecha theme you like to do other than Transformers? My Brooklyn Terminator endoskeleton was an obligatory project, but it turns out I have an absolute blast cosplaying him…the next film comes out summer 2015 and I can't wait. Brooklyn Alien Xenomorph was my first non-robot, not mechanical or angular, and I wanted the challenge. I seek artistic challenges - that's why I built Typhoon (because of his second arm, claw & head) - and I'll continue to seek challenges. I also will be drawn back to Transformers, as Bay has totally re-designed Optimus and Bumblebee for the fourth film and I'll be adding them to 'the team'.
What does your family think of your cosplay?
It's always nice to have supportive people in your life.
Any plans to make another Jaeger like Gipsy Danger or Cherno Alpha?
Hmmph! I had planned on building ALL the PacRim Jaegers, but now that a sequel is in doubt, few people saw the film, and they were all killed off, it is doubtful. Almost everyone thinks Typhoon is a Transformer, and so I've been cursing under the helmet a lot lately. Maybe it will be a big hit on DVD and Netflix (I'll know it if people stop calling him 'Transformer') and then, right on!
And lastly, how do you prep for an appearance at an event or a con?
Lots of time in the gym (each 'bot has its own physical challenges I prep for), no eating and little drinking for 18 hours before (that should answer they often-asked bathroom question), baby aspirin, practicing quotes & poses & voices, and the anticipation of the very unusual experience of being encased in armor. See you all soon, fate-willing and sunshine-only, as I say…
I'd like to thank Mr. Peter Kokis for taking the time to answer these questions and making me look at my kitchen tools in a whole new way!
If you'd like to contact Mr. Kokis he can be reached at Brooklyn Robot Works.