Tokoyo-based Japanese artist Kogoro Kurata is fascinated with iron. He has built ferrous sculptures of musical instruments, typewriters, and even hybrid car-bulldozers, but that doesn't compare to his passion for building hulking life-size mechs. In 2008, Kurata completed a 4 meter tall giant Armored Trooper VOTOMS mech based off of the 80s anime show. The project took over a year to complete and Kurata broke a bone while making it, but he chose to make it completely out of iron just to show that he could. According to an interview with the artist by PingMag, Kurata appreciates the monotone texture of the metal, and notes that Japan's humid atmosphere makes ironwork unattractive for other artists because the metal rusts so quickly. But it's a challenge he's more than willing to take on. His blog and Youtube channel document the progress of his builds, including more recently a new mech that does more than just stand still and look cool.
Kurata's latest project is Vaudeville (also called Kuratasu), a collaboration with mecha enthusiasts Wataru Yoshizaki and Yuke Kitani in a venture called Suidobashi Heavy Industry. The mechanized robot not only stands 12 feet tall, it's supposedly the first pilotable mech--its human operator sits inside the iron cavity instead of controlling it remotely. The mech weights almost five tons and moves on four wheeled legs, powered by a diesel engine located under the torso. This 1/35 scale model photo of the mech gives you an idea of its final form. You can find more photos and progress reports on Vaudeville on its Facebook page and this report.
Just how functional with the Vaudeville mech be upon completion? This video demonstrates its crushing hand strength, and its master-slave controls will be a combination of multi-axes handle joysticks for arm movement and Microsoft Kinect head tracking for rotating the cockpit. The command controls seem to be operating off of a smartphone, too. One thing it won't be able to do is fire real guns: Vaudeville will only be equipped with water guns upon request. Kurata and Suidobashi Heavy Industry are expecting to finish the project some time this year and to sell it on the open mech market.