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Build A Cardboard Superhero This Weekend With Comic-Con@Home

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Connor Lee inherited a stockpile of cardboard boxes from his grandfather. Now he and his brother, Bauer, have created a garage full of cardboard superheroes and movie props. The L.A. teens will be hosting a Comic-Con@Home virtual panel Sunday at noon about how to build life-size models of your favorite superheroes.

Speaker 1: 00:00 15 year old Connor Lee inherited a stockpile of cardboard boxes from his grandfather. Now he and his 13 year old brother Bauer have created a garage full of cardboard superheroes and movie props. Comicon at home starts today at 3:00 PM. KPBS arts reporter, Beth Huck. Amando speaks with the teenage brothers who will be hosting a virtual panel this Sunday at noon about how to build life-size models of your favorite superheroes. So Connor, tell me how you got started building these cardboard superheroes.

Speaker 2: 00:33 Well, we've always loved to build ever since we were little, it just been an interest of ours. My mom, she actually used to babysit me and my grandpa's work, which was filled with cardboard boxes. And that was like, course time. I got introduced to cardboard and I, I loved it and I would just build every day and just have so much fun doing that. And then when he retired, he actually gifted me all of his boxes and this is like the best gift I've ever gotten. And, um, eventually I decided to fit grade to build RTD too. And this is like my first superhero model and this is kind of stylist. Like I combine my interests with superheroes and also with corporate building and then I built Ironman next and then bar joined and then we sent button all these models here and Bauer. What about you? Just like my brother, I've always been really interested in building and it would just be like little things out of paper. I'd build like origami things out of paper. Uh, but then when I saw my brother building out a cardboard, like some of these models I got interested in as well. So I actually bought my first two models, which were actually weapons. They were the storm breaker and the hole. And then from there kind of just all took off.

Speaker 1: 01:38 So you guys have been doing this since before quarantine? Yes. How does one teach oneself to build these? Because I can't believe are there tutorials online? Are there actual places you can go to learn these skills or how did you learn

Speaker 2: 01:53 How to do this? A lot of it was like trial and error and like I started off very simple. So with RTD too, what I did is I printed out a bunch of pictures of him from all different angles and I wouldn't use math to scale up all the models and I would scale it up to what the life size version of RTD two is. And that's when I, that it was very simple and I just made it very basic shapes and I kind of just kept on advancing, advancing, and then I taught everything I knew to my brother as well. And that's how we kind of learned. And there wasn't really a set way cause there's no one who actually like kinda does it. I mean, people there's like prop makers. And so, but this was cardboard. So we kind of like had us experiment ourselves.

Speaker 1: 02:32 When did you decide to start making these online tutorials?

Speaker 2: 02:35 We actually ran our first big event with the calmacom museum for the summer nights event. And we created these models or these like templates for gillnets Thor hammers, and also wonder woman gear. And so this was like a two day long workshop that we ran with the Comicon museum. And we had like over 600 people that we actually ran out of templates. There was so much fun. Uh, so after we were really looking forward to running another in person workshop, but then quarantine started. So instead we had this idea to create these miniature models. So it's things like a miniature Wally and add it. There's a bunch of other models that we created. So we created a principle templates that you could just print out, cut out and create some of these models. And also along with that, we created, uh, an instruction video that teaches you how to create a specific model. And so this is just like an alternative that my brother and I decided for people to still be able to build a home. And so, uh, what's cool about this product is that we made it stuff, all of the materials that you've had or that people need to build. Some of these models are very common health, so materials, it's just things you can find around the house. And we created this, so it's an all summer long project and we're actually on our fifth week right now. And we're posting a new model every day.

Speaker 1: 03:47 And how did you hook up with the Comicon museum? How did they find you or did you contact them?

Speaker 2: 03:51 Yeah, so my brother and I have always, uh, but huge fans of Comicon, we've actually been in the past two years. And so last year, uh, we, when we went to comic con, we heard that they won and launching their new Comicon museum. And the first time we went to the common commies, the end, there was a pop up Batman exhibit and it was just such a cool place. And we were so excited about it and we knew we had to somehow get involved in this. And so we reached out to them and then they invited us to come run a workshop there for summer nights event. And like I mentioned before, it's like these Thor hammers and wonder woman gear. And so it's just a such a fun event at the Comicon museum a lot is to do. And, you know, we're just really looking forward to hopefully running another one soon.

Speaker 1: 04:33 Easy are these tutorials to actually,

Speaker 2: 04:35 Yeah. So we actually made these models very, very simple. And so like, for example, this RTD two, uh, for this one we created templates. So you can just print those out, cut it out. And you basically have all the shapes that you need to create this model. And we also made an instruction video so that people could watch it as they build so that they know exactly how to construct.

Speaker 1: 04:57 What kind of background did you have that made this, something that was feasible for you? You talked about like, well, I used some math and stuff like that. Not everybody can, you know, look at something on a page and then transform it into a three dimensional object. So where you guys like into model building before this or into things or studying things in school that helped you do this morning?

Speaker 2: 05:20 I started off because I really loved superheroes and that was like my first interest. And I was like, watch all the movies when it first came out, I'd read the comics and I decided, and it was kind of like, I wanted to build the props that I see in the movies. And that's when I was like, Oh, I want to learn how to do this. And so when I would go to, like, when I would go to school, I would pick a class based off of like my interests, for example, like an art class. I would like really like ask the teacher questions and ask like, what, what do you think is like a good way to make this out of cardboard or out of paper? And that's how I kind of learned. And I slowly like taught myself as well. Just like, as you, as I'm, as I make models, I make a lot of mistakes, but I learned from the as well. And so that's how, that's how it all started from there. Describe what you have behind you right now. So these are all of the models that we built so far also on like the shelf there's like helmets over there. So yeah, the background that you can see is just all of the models that we've created so far.

Speaker 1: 06:15 If this quarantine goes on much longer, you guys are going to be running out of time.

Speaker 2: 06:19 Yeah. It's taken up a good portion of her house. Um, yeah. And all like the cardboard is like taking over, but our parents are like really supportive about this. Although we do, they, my mom really makes us clean up after herself.

Speaker 1: 06:32 And how did you first get into superheroes? Was it through movies? Through comics, through television?

Speaker 2: 06:37 So my elementary school, they had like this, like you can buy like a book and order it from like this company. And instead of buying books, I would order like comic books. And that's when I first got interested into like superheroes when I got my first comic book. And then I discovered like there is going to be movies. And so I watched the movies and I, my love for you can grow groove and Bower. Yeah. For me. Um, I didn't really order comics as much. It was mostly like, uh, cause when I was growing up, it was mostly like the new movies were popping up, like the iron mans, the Avengers. And so yeah, from there, um, my love for superheroes just kept on growing. And what do you,

Speaker 1: 07:12 I think you're going to be doing after you get out of school, how do you think you're going to be applying some of these skills? You're learning to do something that might end up in a career in Hollywood or a building products.

Speaker 2: 07:24 My dream job is to become an entrepreneur and I've always like, this is like, I've always wanted to become one. And this is kind of like my start into becoming an entrepreneur and I've been learning a lot of skills and I definitely want to use this further on in life and maybe start my own business, something like that. And Bauer, what about you? So I haven't really thought about much what I want to do in the future, but I mean, I love building these models and so it's just like a little fun thing that I like to do. So maybe something along that route, right.

Speaker 1: 07:53 I want to thank you both very much for taking some time to talk to me while you're in quarantine.

Speaker 2: 07:58 Thank you so much.

Speaker 1: 08:01 Photo of Connor and Bowerly with their cardboard super heroes, go to More information about the brothers virtual panel as well as some 300 other free panels can be and click on Comicon at home.

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Maureen Cavanaugh and Jade Hindmon host KPBS Midday Edition, a daily radio news magazine keeping San Diego in the know on everything from politics to the arts.