Local artist builds life-size Optimus Prime transformer
By Katie Smith
After hundreds of hours and thousands of his own dollars spent, a local artist has created an Optimus Prime replica that stands at an impressive12 feet tall and actually transforms into a semi-truck, which is seven-feet long from bumper to bumper, and weighs more than 200 pounds.
Three years ago, Chris Ruprecht wanted to make a Halloween costume he could wear to take his son trick or treating. What began as a simple structure made out of cardboard boxes, has turned into an interesting piece of contemporary art that will be on display this summer during Art in the Open.
Ruprecht wanted to create Optimus Prime, a character from the Transformer franchise, but as he began to build the costume, he got another idea.
“I thought if I’m going to make Optimus Prime, I’m going to make the best Optimus Prime I thought I could make.”
Without plans or blueprints, and only a 1980s toy as a guide, Ruprecht got to work.
“I started to slowly make him bigger and better.”
Artist Chris Ruprecht stands with his 12-foot creation. Photo by Richard Schroeter.
Ruprecht said Optimus Prime was one of his childhood heroes, a love he shares with his son, Brayden, who will turn five this year.
“I always thought he was cool,” he explained. “Optimus Prime would get his butt kicked and every time he stood up again and saved the day.”
When Ruprecht started working as a chef at Mavor’s in Charlottetown, he met some of the people from the Confederation Centre Art Gallery, including the gallery’s curator, Pan Wendt.
He showed Wendt the pictures of his project and when Wendt went to see his masterpiece, he decided to curate the piece and plans to install it this summer during Art in the Open – a festival that highlights Charlottetown’s visual art scene, downtown heritage spaces, exhibition venues and diverse cultural traditions.
“I think this piece will be a real crowd pleaser,” Wendt said. “I first saw it in Chris’ garage workshop where it looked like a sort of Frankenstein monster in plywood and sheet metal. Other people might like to tinker with their car in their spare time. Chris is into something much crazier, in the best way.”
As this is his first art project, Ruprecht is hesitant to call himself an artist, but his work speaks for itself. He has an eye for detail. There are thousands of tiny screws he installed by hand solely to make it as esthetically true to the original as he could.
“I wanted to make it as realistic and life-like as possible,” Ruprecht explained.
After three years of working on Optimus Prime, Ruprecht said he has about ten hours of work left. He plans to install lights and speakers that will say the transformer’s catch phrases, such as “I am Optimus Prime!” and “Roll out!”
While this project is all but complete, it won’t leave Ruprecht with much free time. He is currently building a second transformer, Grimlock. Once complete, this should stand two feet higher than Optimus Prime, reaching 14-feet tall.
The public will have the opportunity to see Ruprecht’s Optimus Prime on August 23rd. The festival runs from 4pm-midnight. For more information about Art in the Open, visit artintheopenpei.com.
[Here’s the published version: http://www.buzzon.com/index.php/news-articles/arts/20082-optimus-prime)