Interview with Animatronic Elite Suit Creator, Pete Mander.

July 8, 2010, By Christian Davis

Do you guys remember the Animatronic Elite Suit created by Pete Mander and his team? I’m sure you do. The suit was enormous. Pete was kind enough to take time out of his busy schedule and answer several questions about his life like elite suit that had videogame  fans and enthusiasts in an uproar.

DM: Your amazingly crafted Elite suit definitely had the internet buzzing for the past few days. Over 150 thousand views on DeviceMag, thousands of tweets, hundreds of Facebook links, and even popular sites such as Kotaku displayed your work. Did you expect such a high outcome?

Pete: I knew the halo series was popular but didn’t realize how popular until the last couple of weeks.

DM: How much does it cost to create something of this magnitude?

Pete: Well adding up the Clay, plaster latex, foam, steel and animatronics I would have to guess somewhere around $800.

DM: Looking at your website, you’ve developed quite a portfolio. How long have you been doing this?

Pete: I’ve been making things since I can remember. One of my oldest projects was a cardboard R2 D2 with a flashlight in the dome and a remote control car under the body. I have the photo on my Facebook account think. I was around 8-10 years old.

DM: How did you get into this field of work?

Pete: It’s just been something that I’ve always enjoyed doing, I used to do oil paintings, then water color, then airbrush..then moving on to sculpting etc. It basically started off as a hobby in  a 9 to 5 job then when someone offered to buy one of my works many years ago it sorta went from there and have been trying to keep up ever since.

DM: What process do you go through in deciding what you want to create next?

Pete: Really all depends on the character. If it’s something of my own creation like the Robot Costume or “Tiamat” suit on my site, I just pick up foam and start building it and whatever comes out of it in the end is what it is. If it’s a character for a film, TV, or private collectors, I’ll  base my Marquette sculpt from other concept designs presented to me by the director or client and work from there until we have a base to start a full costume. Sometimes this involved online research just to generate ideas.

DM: Are you a big gamer?

Pete: I get this question quite a bit now; actually no,  I don’t even own an Xbox but my girlfriend has a Wii and she plays that.  I borrowed an Xbox from a friend last year just to try Halo and I could not get past the first board so I gave up. Plus it takes so much time I don’t really have. So the question some may ask is, “why the elite suit or MC costume?”  I love the Online Cutscenes from the games, the ODST trailer and the story and characters of Halo. The universe that it takes place in is awesome, just can’t get into actually playing the game

DM: Halo fanboys around the world want this suit for Halloween. Any plans on selling it, and if so, could you estimate how much?

Pete: As of Recently the Costume is now sold and going to the best possible home I can think of, to Adam Grumbo and the 405th halo costuming guys. And from what I understand, they plan to do some kind of short film with it, so this will be cool to see come together.

DM: Have you created anything for big budget movies in your career?

Pete: Not until recently I have a Film project we are currently working on For a company in LA but I cant get into details on this as I am under contract.

DM: Are you aware that a “Halo” movie was being developed, but ended up being put on hold?

Pete: Yes, there are so many rumors online I lost track of it. Last I heard Spielberg was going to take it on, but who really knows.

DM: There has been a lot of speculation with your project and the possibilities of a Halo Movie still being made. Can you comment on that at all?

Pete: I wish I knew but I only know what everyone else knows at this time.

DM: Last question Mr. Mander, are any other videogame based suits planned to be made in the future? Maybe a Master Chief costume to go along with this?

Pete: I had started a Master Chief costume over a year ago. And I just haven’t had time to finish it. Got as far as the helmet, lower legs and chest, and now with Halo reach I really love those costumes also. If there are any other videogame characters it would be from Halo. If I get time in between, I’ll be finishing the MC costume first, along with my own Halo concept vehicle I’ve designed called the scorpion.

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