Build Lifesize Space Marine Armor in 352 Terribly Complicated Steps

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When I was a kid I happened past a hobby store in Petaluma, California that carried rulebooks and miniatures for Warhammer 40,000, a tabletop wargame from Games Workshop.  I immediately fell in love with the rich, dark universe and the heavy, brutal designs of the characters, vehicles, and weapons.  I ended up getting a job at that same store and spending nearly every penny I earned collecting, building, and painting the models.

Years later I've developed a bit of skill collected some helpful tools that allow me to make some reasonably impressive costumes.  I've taken on project after project, but no matter what else I've built, I've always found myself thinking back to those beloved characters from my youth.

After trying to talk myself out of it for years, I've finally accepted the fact that I must build Space Marines in all their glory or I would never be satisfied with any of my lesser projects.  To do it right, the finished characters would have to be about eight feet tall and four feet wide.  Given that requirement, the main challenge was to make all of the pieces lightweight enough to still be a wearable costume.

With that goal in mind, most of the components were vacuum-formed in thin sheet styrene or ABS plastic.  Some of the more intricately detailed parts were sculpted in Magic Sculpt epoxy putty or molded and cast in urethane resin.  The whole project ended up taking about three or four months worth of actual work spread out over about ten months worth of the calendar.

While I suppose I've got a bit of experience with this kind of project, I will admit that this tutorial is not the end-all-be-all resource for this sort of build.  The intent is to inspire other people to take on similar projects.  I encourage you to do more research and spend some time gathering additional references before you begin.  I may have done everything the hard way.

It's also important to point out that Space Marines are the copyrighted intellectual property of Games Workshop and I have used the design without permission.  I'm a fan and these suits are a tribute to a rich universe that I have always loved.  This project is in no way endorsed by Games Workshop.  Instead, I decided that there just wasn't enough Warhammer stuff walking around in the world, so I took it upon myself to help.

In describing this project I tried to be as brief as possible, but there's simply no way to describe all of the hours and days and weeks and months worth of work that went into this project in 50 words or less.  Since it is a bit on the long side, I've at least tried to keep it entertaining.  So pour yourself a beverage of your choice, get comfy, and let's begin...
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darkmarine10 months ago
I was about to start on the project when I realized that Pepakura wasnt Mac compatible. Does anyone know of a good Mac program thats similar to Pepakura?
pobzeb darkmarine2 months ago

Don't know if this is still needed but you can actually use the Pepakura Viewer on a Mac using Wineskin. Look here:

historicrain 2 months ago
hey was wondering if you would be able to make me a suit of grey knights armour I'll pay you handsomely oh and then ship it to Scotland again I'll pay you please message back with rough estimates cheers
Dandaru3 months ago


But...I was wondering, how much does making one of these cost? I mean, just printing the pepakura model lifesize is pretty expensive. I can't even imagine how much a single armour building process can have cost.

DaveDude123 months ago
321,016 VIEWS? 647 LIKES? HOW THE?.....
thorssoli (author)  DaveDude123 months ago

Turns out it's good.

firefreak904 months ago


cla1396 months ago

is there any possible way i could buy this off you, this is awesome and literally i would die for one?

I'm not sure if I'll get a response given when this was posted, but I'm curious about two things:

How are the stilts mounted to the "sole" of the shoe?

How much side to side motion do they have? I saw in this and the other stiltwalking video that you can spread your feet apart pretty far and still keep them on the ground. This implies the ankle flexes a bit?

I'm making a costume of similar size and have been looking at options for the feet.

thorssoli (author)  EurobeatJester7 months ago

The stilts are bolted onto the sole of the character's foot. There's a piece of foam floor mat cut to fit between the bottom of the stilt and the inside of the boot in order to give it a bit of flexibility while still keeping it mostly straight.

ABEL21258 months ago
Dragon Bomb10 months ago
Hey I love the costume and I really want to make a few sets myself. Unfortunately money is tight for me. Is there any way to make a smaller form of the armour ??? I have looked around and found nothing. If you can accept this challenge I would love to see it. Consider it a kid/teen version of the Space Marines XD love the whole thing
DrJekyll1479511 months ago
I would use one articulated arm and not hold anything in it, and one attached arm for a weapon, that way you can still use one hand as an actual hand. I love your build though and am planning on using it to make my own suit of armour in a few months time.
galjin1 year ago
Maybe for the hands, to have a bit more of movility to at least be able to make a fist, instead of letting it be stuck on a relaxed form, you can use one of those robot plastic hand toys that have a little lever on the other end to flex the fingers. (couldnt upload it here...)
Get my suggestion?
bschran galjin11 months ago
was going to suggest something similar but more on the lines of building one out of simialr materials to what he used in the hands :)
tmoore2611 months ago
Not only would a Camelback be a good idea to wear under this suit, but you could effectively install some small CPU fans along inconspicuous parts of the armor and use the backpack as the power source to provide ventilation. It was something I was considering for an Ork Meganob build. It'll also give the suit a living humming sound which could only help.
jtmcdole1 year ago
Looks amazing!
mgarrison31 year ago
Is there anyway I could see a better view of the stilts diagram? I'm commissioning my brother to build them and he needs the dimensions. Thanks for inspiring me to build this suit
thorssoli (author)  mgarrison31 year ago
That's the best version I've got. If you click on the image, it'll give you a slightly bigger version. My handwriting is awful, but the dimensions are there.
Step14, pic 3. Poor kid.
A Diabetic1 year ago
Would you have a rough estimate on how much some of these parts weigh when left as fiber glass and bondo (not plastic vacuum formed)?
HEY! I saw you in the make magazine!!!
MrRodrigez1 year ago
Camelback is a brilliant idea, IMO. Now all that's left is a Jump-Pack :D
Anyway, as a fellow lanky person, (20 years, only 107(i know right?)) I'd be quite interested in seeing how this goes for you :P
Great patients. Awesome instructible! I want one, but Chaos Space Marine.
evilhusky1 year ago
I did the number crunching as i want to build this myself. I am doing it for three suits and as i don't plan on pursuing this as a career i won't buy a vacuforming table. For the fiberglassed and bondo form it comes to around $400 each. Although that price is a combination of most of what i need like a respitory mask ect as well as the supplies added together with around $150 of cush put in for error divided between the three suits. I may also have underestimated or overestimated the amount needed for some materials and i am trying certain things differently for this suit which also affects price, eg. mechanical hands based off childrens toys. I also plan on making the weapons out of pepakura simply because the lack of tools needed, their price is not included in the build. I hope this helps somewhat.
evilhusky1 year ago
imma do this, but add in a sort of fan in the power pack or at least a pouch with water and straws to the mouth or both as a cooling system
evilhusky1 year ago
imma do this, but add in a sort of fan in the power pack or at least a pouch with water and straws to the mouth or both as a cooling system
evilhusky1 year ago
imma do this, but add in a sort of fan in the power pack or at least a pouch with water and straws to the mouth or both as a cooling system
Dragontrap1 year ago
I LOVE how you guys are the same group that did all of the RvB costumes a while back (seriously, I started notice the helmets hanging from the ceiling in the shots XD. Doughnut was the first one I noticed, however lol)

Love, love, LOVE all the work that has gone into making the armor, and seriously, thank you for posting such detailed photos :D!
UK_IN_US1 year ago
Mr. Thorsson,
I have sent you an e-mail re: this build. I ran into you during Maker Faire 2011 as a tall lanky 13-year-old on crutches. I then managed to send you into a minor panic (I'm still sorry about that) when you e-mailed me a few weeks later. I had entirely forgotten about signing up for the e-mail list at your Halo booth. (Oops.) anywho, I'm a 6'2" 14-year-old now, and looking at doing something awesome with money I've got laying around. Does anyone have any ideas on what might need to be modded to fit my tall skinny (really skinny, 130 lbs) frame? I already know I'm going to need shorter stilts. Should I move the knee or something? My arms are also about 34" long, and I have handily hyperflexible elbows. I am also used to tromping around in hot weather for extended periods of time with heavy loads (Boy Scouts, 1st class), and on that note, would a camelback hidden inside the backpack be a workable and/or useful idea?
Adabiel1 year ago
When did they alter the scale of the Marines? I'm used to them being 7 feet tall, not 8 -- as when Jes worked out the scale back at the beginning of 2nd Edition for them to build the statues. Here's a link:

Note the ground is the 1-foot line, as Jes was doing it based off of having a slottabase below that. I think that's where the confusion has arisen over the years... I only mention it because doing a 7-foot Marine would probably be easier (and require less engineering to make working hands) than doing an 8-foot Marine. ;) That said, you did a magnificent job, and are one of the main inspirations for me to tackle this myself.
MattSwan1 year ago
This might be the single most well-written Instructable I've ever read. Excellent job. I may never build it, but it's the absolute most fun to read.
How did you print out the cardstock with the folding lines? What type/size of printer and ink or where?
you can use any normal printer that prints letter size 8x11. you can buy card stock in that size and ink doesn't matter its just black.
Awesome! 40K Fan approved! The only thing I don't like is the Darth Vader double chin. haha!
mabye just waer an adult dipaer if you are using the suit?

mabye just waer an adult dipaer if you are using the suit?

RTWHOCKEY1 year ago
Absolutely amazing! Great job Thorssoli!
poofrabbit1 year ago
Congratulations on being a finalist in the Halloween contest!!! Can’t wait to see if you win! Good luck!
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