IG NOBEL UPDATE--Troy's Armor on Ebay


Troy's Armor on Ebay

The further adventures of Ig Nobel winner Troy Hurtubise

by Alice Shirrell Kaswell, AIR staff

Troy Hurtubise, circa 2002.This suit -- and its even-more-famous predecessor -- will be auctioned off on Ebay.

Engineering-adventure history will be up for sale on May 5.
Troy Hurtubise's probably-grizzly-bear-proof, Ig-Nobel Prize-
winning suit of armor will be offered for sale on EBay.

These are the same suits that inspired an entire recent episode ("The Fat and the Furriest," 2004) of "The Simpsons."

This is another thrilling new chapter in our continuing series of reports about the inventively adventurous exploits of Troy Hurtubise. Troy is the winner of the 1998 Ig Nobel Prize in the field of Safety Engineering. His Ig Nobel citation reads:

Troy Hurtubise, of North Bay, Ontario, for developing, and personally testing a suit of armor that is impervious to grizzly bears.

Troy, ever-careful in his every engineering activity, has done a
dry run on Ebay, and is now fully prepared. The suits will go up for sale, big-time, on Wednesday, May 5, on EBay. Please help spread the word.

Investigative reporter Phil Novak of Baytoday.ca shares a recent background report (click here to see photos!) with us:

* * *

Two bear suits, good condition
By Phil Novak
Friday, March 26, 2004

As the fearless inventor of the Ursus series of bear suits, Troy Hurtubise has been hit by trucks, pummeled by baseball bats, cut by industrial saws, and knocked down the side of the Niagara Escarpment.

Yet ensconced in the plastic and metal Ursus Mark-VI, and its successor Mark-VII, Hurtubise, 39, has walked away unscathed and ready for the next encounter, which once involved being run into by a 20-ton front end loader.

Biological trigger
The suits, which the North Bay resident began building in 1986, have made him a cult hero to some and an oddball curiosity to others.

For the last 16 years he has been developing his protective outfits for some very specific reasons. As a bear behavioral specialists, Hurtubise has a burning desire to see what makes the furry creatures tick and what biological trigger sends them into hibernation each winter.

As well Hurtubise wants to be able to video tape what has never been seen before: the birth of a grizzly bear in the wild.

To get there, though, he needs something that will prevent six-inch claws and rapier-like teeth from turning him into papier mache. Hence the suits, which have evolved from the Mark-III, a patchwork of hockey and football equipment and leather, to the Mark-VII, fabricated from titanium, stainless steel, and heavy-gauge aluminum, and containing a cooling and ventilation system, advanced protective airbags, a built-in video screen, and a two-way communications system.

Monumentous decision
Hurtubise may still accomplish his goals, but not wearing the M-VI or M-VII; the star of the National Film Board of Canada documentary, Project Grizzly, has made a monumentous decision: to sell them both.

“Wow. Can you believe that? After 10 years who’d have thought that I’d ever sell my babies,” Hurtubise said during a recent interview.

“But I have to look at it. Realistically they’re sitting in my lab doing nothing.”

I need money
Money is the other motivating factor for selling the suits, which are listed on EBay at a starting bid of $5,000 (US).

“I need money to build the M-VIII, which has to be built within the next year because what people don’t understand is I do not have the physical capabilities to wear these suits past the age of 45," Hurtubise said.

“It’s a young man’s game, and even at 80 pounds, which is what the final suit will be, I said to myself you have to build that M-VIII now and you’ve got to get out there to do what you’ve always wanted to do since the inauguration of Project Grizzly, and that’s to be the first to get the recorded picture of a grizzly cub in hibernation.”

Flexible, bulletproof and fireproof
The M-VIII will be built out of FP-13, a material Hurtubise invented, which he claims is “105 times stronger” than steel, pound for pound. Although there will be no metal at all in the M-VIII, Hurtubise said it's flexible, bulletproof and fireproof.

“And we’ve proven this all through laboratory testing.”

Selling the suits won’t be easy, Hurtubise admits.

“These things have been with me more than what people think, because remember, I built these things by hand, I bled building these things, lost 20 or 30 pounds building these things and wore these things,” Hurtubise said.

“I look at them every day of my life, they’re so much a part of me, and they are more than I am in the eyes of the public. It’s not ‘Troy and the suits,’ it’s ‘the suits and Troy.’”

Basically breaking even
Hurtubise hopes the final selling price will come in at $250,000(US), because that's how much he needs to recoup the cost of building the suits in both time and materials.

“I’m not asking even for any profits, because the M-VI was $100,000 and the M-VII was $200,000 to build Canadian, so I’m basically breaking even, but it gives enough so that after I pay back the trustee, having gone bankrupt with the M-VI, and pay back some of the crew members from the M-VI, because they have to be paid back, and the investor in the M-VII, it’s going to leave me with enough to build the M-VIII for my big expedition.”

One of a kind
The big question, though, is will there be a market?

Hurtubise thinks so.

“It’s endless, huge. The Japanese, for example, who think the M-VII is a work of art, and there would be a 1,000 people in 24 hours who would pay $200,000 for the M-VII,” Hurtubise said.

“The suits are also huge in Australia, England, Germany and the States and they’re one of a kind,” Hurtubise said.

“There are a lot of people out there, whether they’re eccentrics, or whether they’re just millionaires, who love to get one of a kind items, or are fans of Project Grizzly and what it stands for and what it embodies, and they have all this money to do it.”

* * *

We will bring you further developments as we become aware of them.


This is a HotAIR feature. For a complete list of features, see What's New.