Last fall, I wrote about Brooklyn Optimus Prime, one of my costume creations. In that post, I mentioned that I was working on another robot, the Brooklyn Bumblebee, which I recently rolled out during the FIRST Robotics Competition in NYC.
Brooklyn Bumblebee is my most detailed and complex costume to date. It took 350 hours of work and weighs 140 lbs. His upper body is a football chest protector, built out with extensions everywhere, at every angle.
The exoskeleton is designed to be very layered, very dimensional. It has a silver under-chasis covered with a car's body parts as a shell. The large, heavy tires and car door replicas on his back required counter-balancing weights on his chest. All of this weight — and the helmet's breathing ports covered up — makes breathing difficult. Even when I'm standing still, it's obvious that I'm heaving... but I keep moving.
I design my suits of armor for movement. I'm very physical when I perform, and they must maintain their integrity through many performances. With all the layers of armor, the hundreds of nuts and bolt heads jabbing at me from every angle, and 76 thick velcro straps crushing my extremities, it's very difficult to stand still, so I need to keep moving. Thousands of hours beating myself up in the gym allows me to work through the discomfort — that and the positive energy of folks.
I've generally found that women don't "get" robots. They're more of a guy thing and for kids. BUT, all women seem to really dig The Bee, which is nice. Kids really love him. There was a lot of leg-hugging going on the other day and a few tears of joy, which was really, really nice.
I'm building a Terminator endoskeleton now... the (obviously) Brooklyn Terminator.
Please enjoy the Brooklyn Bumblebee photo gallery. For more pics, along with some cool Transformer remix music, visit BrooklynBumblebee.com. Also read the Geekend post FIRST Robotics Competition celebrates 'the new cool'.
Sonja Thompson started at TechRepublic in October 1999. She is a former Senior Editor at TechRepublic.