Updated: 5 days ago
Ever think of slipping into an Iron Man suit after watching a Marvel movie? There are a few select people who have replicated such suits with full articulation and in great detail. Introducing Frank of Franky Built! Frank is a happy-go-lucky guy who is more than happy to talk about all things nerd. But as you talk, you find he is one of the coolest people you can meet online or in person! Being a technician for jet engines, he builds Iron Man suits, Gundam series models and other mind-blowing artifacts in his spare time.
We got to chatting about his amazing hobby and here's what he had to say.
1. What was the very first step you took towards building and recreating Marvel Tech?
I’ve always been a huge Marvel movie fan; after my father introduced me to the first Iron Man movie. I’ve always wanted my own Iron Man Suit like any kid. After seeing Endgame and being in a better place in my life I decided to give it a shot. I grew up working on cars and building models. I knew this would help me build a suit. I researched the options and landed on 3D printing as the best most accurate course! I bought my first 3D Printer in July 2019 and began to learn the hobby. In October 2019 I started printing the first parts of the MK85 Iron Man suit.
2. You mentioned teaching...could you elaborate more on that?
I’ve always enjoyed teaching, whether it be about cars, electronics, computers - anything. When I started this 3D Printing/Cosplay journey I noticed an inherent lack of detailed tutorials for this particular niche hobby. I began documenting and recording my own journey and adding it to Youtube. People seemed very receptive to the way I explained things and asked for more information. Therefore, I began making tutorials and guides on top of just my documentation to help people more. Thus began my love affair with this niche hobby.
I also seemed to pick up 3D printing really quickly. My wife had suggested starting an in-person class at a local children program community center near our house. They had some 3D printers no one ever used, so with her help I developed a small 1 hour class to teach local children and teens to start 3D printing. It was going really well but had to be paused due to the quarantine situations; so with that I started doing occasional live streams.
3. What is your motivation behind building things?
So. Actually. Maybe this will help answer this question. I wrote it a few weeks ago.
4. What are your views on monetizing this hobby?
After some time spent in the hobby I began to net decent results with my prints. My background in painting in the automotive and model making worlds really helped me push ahead and get beautiful results. People started to take notice of the things I was making and began asking to purchase them. While I never entered the hobby with this intention I couldn’t pass up an opportunity to let my hobby fund itself. 3D printing in itself isn’t an expensive hobby to maintain but expenses sometimes do sneak up on you. I was up to 3 printers and some $$ down the hole! I began selling smaller projects and props like Iron Man Helmets to fund the hobby.
I was also able to capitalize on the unique props I was making that no one else was. It kept my items special and more appealing. With that; I’ve been able to fund this entire hobby 100%. I now have 5 printers, a full cosplay iron man suit, multiple prop weapons and a 2nd suit in the making. All had been paid for by the hobby itself.
Through the reception on social media, my YouTube and Instagram has grown greatly as well; landing me some partnership and sponsorship deals to help fund other projects. My fans even contribute through a Patreon account! To say thank you I host (near) monthly giveaway contests where the prize is a full scale Iron Man helmet or something equally awesome!
5. You mentioned you have a background in painting for automotive and model making domains...can I know more about your 9-5 job?
So my current “9-5” is actually a part of the US Air Force as a jet engine mechanic. I’ve been serving for 8 years now; travelling the world with my family.
6. That's insanely cool! Do you want to talk about life in Jet Engine Maintenance?
Hahaha well thanks man, Eh. It’s not as interesting as you think haha I can give a brief summary about it.
I enlisted in the US Air Force and became an Aerospace Propulsion technician; a fancy word for jet engine mechanic. I was assigned to the Pratt and Whitney F-100 engines powering the F-15 fighter. I spent my first 4 years of my contract in Okinawa Japan, tearing down, overhauling and rebuilding engines with dozens of other technicians. After that I was sent to the United Kingdom where after a short time continuing to repair them; I am now part of a team that operates and tests the engines after they’ve been repaired. It’s such an amazing and fun job to see just how powerful these engines are.
7. Is there anything else you would like to add, or just want to say anything about which you feel strongly about?
For anyone considering entering the hobby of cosplay or 3D printing, I implore you to start now. There is no better time to start! It’s a rapidly growing hobby that is much cheaper than most think. An amazing entry level printer is $200 and can make some beautiful props and parts. You also do not need ANY 3D modeling experience as hundreds of websites host pre-made 3D files ready for printing. Such files range from cosplay and collectibles to everyday items! The only limiting factor to this hobby is your own imagination and determination.
So if you need any pointers on getting started with 3D modeling, cosplay or just fancy a chat with a Nerd Knight in IronMan armour get in touch with Frank.