Julian Checkley is having the time of his life. Last week, Guinness World Records crowned Checkley’s Batman cosplay for “Most Functional Gadgets in a Cosplay Suit” in the 2017 edition of its annual Guinness World Records: Gamer’s Edition. The veteran SFX artist from Ireland didn’t make the costume itself, but he did design the 23 working tools that attach to his costume based on the 2013 game Batman: Arkham Origins. To qualify, the gadgets could not merely be carried, but be a part of the suit.
“After finishing putting together a Batsuit last spring we decided to embellish it with a few gadgets just to add a little more theatricality,” Checkley told Inverse over email. “After doing a little bit of brain storming and research we came up with a few [gadgets] that look quite spectacular and are yet were simple enough to create.” Like anything with Batman, things simply escalated from there.
Although a bigger fan of super-villains — they tend to have cooler costumes and storylines, says Checkley — his love for Batman is lifelong, if only skin deep. “Whether he’s a good guy or bad guy really depends on what angle you view him from. Lawless vigilante? Or crime fighting hero? But yes, it really just comes down to the fact that he has one of the coolest costumes in crime fighting!”
What was the first Bat-gadget you started with, and how did you make it?
We saw an amazing magicians flash paper shooter which creates the illusion of making things disappear in a puff of smoke. We got hold of one and installed it into one of the gauntlets. Once it is packed with a custom-shaped load we can fire it four times with varying distances and fireball sizes. It will shoot a fireball anywhere from two-to-ten feet. This isn’t strictly a classic Batman gadget but it could definitely be something he might use to stun his foe.
The other was even simpler. We cut a new acrylic screen for one of the gauntlets and fitted an iPhone behind it. Now Batman has his comms screen that Alfred can pass on essential information. From there the flood doors just opened with the plans to make a load more.
What was the hardest gadget to make?
The EMP stun gun. It runs 2000w and works like a flash gun on steroids. SWAT teams use them to temporarily blind their targets before engaging them. We thought this might be something Batman could carry on his utility belt. The hardest part was miniaturising [sic] everything into the chassis of the gun. And yet it still had to look cool like something Wayne Industries would produce. After lots of fiddling and rewiring [we] got something that looks badass and pumps out a hell of a light!
Of all the gadgets, I’m intrigued by the Bat-flask. Was that so you can hydrate while in cosplay?
Probably the most important of all the gadgets. This is an antidote flask, not a hip flask. Batman would never carry spirits as Bruce Wayne is a teetotaler. Myself on the other hand…
Explain your background a little, before you began Order 66 producing commissions. I understand you worked in motion pictures?
I worked in the film industry for around 20 years in jobs varying from art director to polystyrene sculptor to special effects technician.
The job I really loved and always gravitated back to was creature effects fabricator. Order 66 was a way of keeping my hand in after I moved from the big studios over to Ireland where I started a separate business with my wife. Today I focus on private commissions for high-end collectors and costumers but I’m still open to film work here and there.
How did Guinness get wind of you?
When the first gadgets were installed we did a guerrilla style photoshoot on the roof tops of Galway, the city I live on the west coast of Ireland. After publishing the pics online they appeared to create a stir within the gaming community. This is where the editor of Guinness World Records Gamer’s Edition saw them and contacted me. After chatting with him, we were inspired to go for a record as we already had plans to make several anyway. It was full steam ahead and we plowed through making them over many late nights and long weekends.
Did you ever think you’d be a world record holder? What’s that like for you?
I always loved the books and looked forward to the new edition every Christmas. I was a huge fan of the TV show we had here in the U.K. during the ‘70s and ‘80s. I always dreamed maybe I could make it into those pages, just never thought it would be through making 23 Batman gadgets!
Things have been amazing since the record. You get the odd person who’s not a fan but everyone is entitled to their opinion. Or they’re a Marvel fan. On the whole it captured people’s imagination. I think everyone has a bit of Bruce Wayne/Batman in them.
Do you plan to make gadgets for the rest of the Bat-family like Robin, Nightwing, and Batgirl?
Sadly, no, we have our hands full just kitting the Bat with gadgets. But you never know, there still might be one or two more gadgets sitting on our work benches waiting to be tested? Those kids can go find their own toys to play with.
What’s next for you and Order 66?
We have a personal project we hope to have early next year that should be quite pleasing for Star Wars fans. It’s a walking, talking, saber-swinging Cyborg Darth Maul costume based on the original concept drawings. It sounds a bit of a vague choice but it should be a huge crowd pleaser when he steps out into the daylight.