I always go as something from a movie. Ive been the leg lamp from The Christmas Story, The Flux Capacitor from Back To The Future, the treasure map from The Goonies, and this year I went as an At-At Walker from Star Wars. I always I decided to go as an At-At walker this year for Halloween and Comicon. I knew it wouldn't be easy.
Step 1: Patterns, Testing, and Enlarging
First you have to make the design pattern of the flattened structure. You're gonna want to cut out a model version of it in card stock to make sure it will all fit together properly before you enlarge it onto the polystyrene (or whatever material you want to use) or you will most likely be wasting materials. Try and scaled the torso and legs to the dimensions that will then fit your body.
Once you have all the pieces fitting together you are going to want to start with the torso and get that set to the right dimensions and then scale accordingly to that for the next parts one at a time. Don't cut them all out at once because once again you're most likely going to have to alter things to fit your dimensions , harness, or other modifications you dind't think about earlier.
Step 2: Torso Construction
Starting with the torso is the best way to ensure everything fits properly once the parts are completed.
Lay it out to make sure your head and body will fit inside. You will want to have plenty of room for your head to move inside so make the torso about 8 inches longer than your torso when you sit to the top of your head. and wide enough to fit your shoulders and hips in the back. As well as the harness/baby carrier/ or metal framed backpack.
You're going to want to make sure whatever you are using will make that torso snug to your back.
Step 3: Legs
The legs work best if you take the two outer panels and glueing small segments of L braces down against the edge. Then using the pop rivets because the glue is mainly just to hold it in place. The pop rivets is really what holds it all together. Once you get the braces in lay it face down and clamp the side panels to the edge and apply glue at the seams. Once set drill the holes into the pieces and L braces, slide the pop rivets and washers in place and put a dab of glue between right before you tighten the pop rivet. If you get a little assembly line going of the different stages and segments of the legs you can get them done much quicker while the glue sets.
When putting the segments of the legs together you will want to double check your measurements and make sure that the joint is right on your knee. I had to move the pivot on the inner segment farther up so it would pivot right. I used some of the left overs to make big washers so the rivets didn't catch and lock up. I put the crutch inside the bottom of the front legs so that my arms would be as long as my legs. I screwed the crutch to the knee joint to make it more stable.
Step 4: Feet
I went with rigid foam for the feet to give me the height needed for the platform feet. Glue the pieces together till you get the proper height. I needed about 8 inches to level off with the front legs.
I used softer foam for the exterior of the feet. You have to make somewhat of a half circle for the feet since your legs are closer together than the original at-at walker.
Step 5: Head and Neck
The head was my favorite part of the entire costume. I took a lot of time to make sure that it was able to move and had working lasers. I went with 1/16th inch polystyrene to keep the weight down except for the back and bottom which would take on the weight and support. I glued braces inside to keep the head rigid.
The hardest part was making a pivoting I-beam that was inside the neck. I knew that would be the only way to make it rigid and still be able to move side to side. I attached the i-beam to the head with glue and metal L braces and screws. I glued a bar from the top of the neck and through the body that I could control with my hand or chin to make the head move.
I attached the entire thing to the body with just screws so I could take the head off for easy transportation and storage.
The lasers are car LED strips that come pre-programmed with different patterns. I have them housed inside acrylic tubes that I sanded to a frosted look. I ran the wiring from the head through the neck and went to a 12v battery I had strapped to my body to keep the weight off the costume.
I used an accordion garden drain for the neck.
Step 6: Final Tinkering
Once you have all the parts together you will want to make sure you do some final tinkering to make sure that everything moves right and feels snug. I am still working on that and figuring out how to make it feel as comfortable as possible.
I use the term "comfortable" loosely because in no way is it comfortable. It's hot, cramped, and your back will kill after being hunched over. I recommend installing fans at the top of the body to help cool you down if you are in crowded places.
MAKE SURE AND PRACTICE WALKING and your movement. Because to get it to look right takes some doing. That is one thing people complimented me on was how realistic my movements were.
Step 7: Details.
I wasn't able to finish all the detail work before halloween but I still managed to win first place. I am excited to see how it will all look by the time Emerald City Comicon comes around. I figure I have 20 more hours of detail work.
I got some Rubbermaid pitchers to use the top of the jug as the joints of the legs. I'll laser cut out panels and pop rivet those into place on the exterior. Then give it a little dirty look to it.
Oh and here is a video of me dancing inside it to show that it is possible to really move in there.
Oh and follow me on instagram for the final look and my costumes next year. http://instagram.com/jeanmarcusphoto