Introduction: Build the H.U.L.C Suit From the Movie Elysium

Picture of Build the H.U.L.C Suit From the Movie Elysium

After seeing the movie Elysium, with Matt Damon, I knew I had to do the costume for Halloween! This was a challenging build and my first time working with foam. This build took a month and over 100 hours.

I'm a huge fan of Neill Blomkamp, I also did a District 9 costume some years back.

The cost was surprisingly low though. PIC HEAVY instructable! Enjoy guys! PLEASE be sure and VOTE!

Step 1: Inspiration

Picture of Inspiration

After scouring the internet for every screenshot and piece of concept art I could find, this is what I came up with. I did not do any mock ups or drawings of my own. I measured on my body relative to the pictures and drew on the foam.

Step 2: Tools and Materials

Picture of Tools and Materials

Hack saw, scissors, pipe cutter, sander, band saw, pliers, hot knife, soldering iron, xacto knife, drill press, hot glue gun, high heat

4pack garage floor foam mat, various thickness craft foam, metal wire coat hangers, high heat hot glue, various nuts, bolts and washers, 1/2" PVC, wood dowel, elastic string, nylon straps, velcro, needle, thread, eye screws, paint..... Lots of paint.... Spray on plastidip, old phone (for blue back lit LCD), 9 volt battery, led light, spare wiring.

Step 3: The Chest

Picture of The Chest

I started by tracing out my chest piece on the thick foam mat and cutting it out with an exacto knife. I reinforced it with metal coat hanger wire from behind. Cutting a slot and use high strength hot glue to secure. I then added detail with a hot knife and layered thinner pieces of foam. I "weathered" it to make it look beaten and scratched, by melting the foam with the hot knife.

Step 4: The Arms

Picture of The Arms

I used the same method as be for, cutting and strengthening with wire, to form the arms. I made loops with the wire to reinforce the holes where the points would be located. securing the joints with washers as well. I also used thick aluminum bar for the very top joint, as seen in the picture. I also glued on nuts to give it that industrial look. I cut out and attached the fore arm guards to corrugated plastic, attacking with aluminum plating. For the final touches, I coated with the spray plastadip, black paint and silver on the edges to make the metal look worn.

Step 5: The Back

Picture of The Back

After cutting out the parts, I added a joint in the back to give better mobility. I used one long, thick piece and attached all of the back segments to the strip. accenting with thin foam and large washers, detailing with a hot knife. Almost all gluing was done with high strength hot glue. In hind sight, the joints and thinner areas could have done with a stronger adhesive. I used the same paint method as before, plastadip and painting

Step 6: The Legs

Picture of The Legs

The legs proved to be a greater challenge, needing a high range of motion and still looking the part. The same construction and paint process as detailed in the previous pages. I used a ton of straps and Velcro here!

Step 7: The Pistons

Picture of The Pistons

The biggest issue I ran into was the fact I used hot glue to build the pistons, attaching the washers to the PVC. Had I used epoxy instead this would have held up better. but I was in a time crunch and rushed it! I used PVC and wood dowel to form the piston body, capping it with a washer and using eyelet screws to attach. the pistons were held in place with a piece of string elastic. They worked really well and looked amazing!

Step 8: Head Piece

Picture of Head Piece

This was tricky, I took apart an old land line phone and used the LCD for the back panel. wiring it together with a blinking green LED to a 9V battery. Same construction process as detailed before. I attached it to my head with hair clips. this proved difficult to say the least!

Step 9: Putting It All Together

Picture of Putting It All Together

I attached everything with nylon straps an Velcro, most of which I hid under my blood stained shirt. I cut holes for the straps to go through. Most of the joints were attached with plain nuts and bolts, with lock-tite. It's easy to see in the pictures how this thing went together, then trying to explain in text!

Step 10: Final Thoughts.

Picture of Final Thoughts.

I was really pleased with the outcome of this costume, people were blown away! mobility was great and everything actuated as it should have. As I said before, the biggest mistake I made was using high strength hot glue as my only adhesive. This was the first time I have ever worked with foam, so please be kind! I also made a pistol form the movie to go with the costume, but that's another episode ;-)


Antzy Carmasaic (author)2015-07-12

Nice work. The LCD head looks great. Voted for you

Thanks for the vote and the complement!

AreThreeSeaTea (author)2016-09-01

Nice build, best cheap exo suit I've seen. Would you be able to attach a full list of the materials and tools used as well as downloadable schematic files, that would be awesome!

diybomber834 (author)2016-01-21

could you make a vault 111 suit how to im a big fan boy of fallout4

I plan on doing some fallout related stuff, just not sure when I will get around to it! thanks though!

diybomber834 (author)2016-01-21

is it a prop or a real exo suit?

RianC1 (author)2015-09-10

plz make 1 with less requirements or tell me other materials I could use to make this cause this looks super cool!

desertsniper (author)RianC12015-09-14

Well, I think this is about the most simple (and cheap) way to make a convincing exo-skeleton. What issues are you having with this build? maybe I can help?

Really intereting, how much does foam cost?

Thanks, I think I got 4 large 1" tiles (24"x24"?) for 20$ and at craft/ hobby store its around 50 cent for a thin 1/8" sheets. the only down side is you have to coat in plastidip spay before you paint, or normal spray paints will eat the foam. hope this helps!

Louietactical (author)2015-07-19

Awesome! I want to buy it how much?

Unfortunately, the suit only lasted about 4 or 5 Halloween parties. The hot glue I used to hold the piston together gave out. It is no longer usable. I do custom work, if you would like something commissioned please PM me. thank you for the intrest!

Thank you for replying! You are very talented! I'm working on a new shooting vid for my yt channel and really want to end the vid with an exo suit in action blasting away. I would buy the one you made if you change your mind. Just give me a price. Maybe you can reglue the Pistons. Anyways keep up the awesome work brother! Here's my yt channel if you're curious on what kind of vids I do. The suit would be epic in my new one! Best regards,


MadMike3 (author)2015-07-16

well, very interesting, when I first saw the instructable, I thought some one had created a real cheap exo thingy, then the word foam cropped up, lol, looks good/great even, not seen the movie however, but as got me to thinking, along the lines of someone else who seems interested in a real world unit,. When carbon nano tubes go mainstream, thats the weight sorted, fluid for hydrolics, soz my spelling. pnematics, may not be up to the task, newer tech batteries supply what ever we can come up with, I have not yet hasd the privalage of seeing ur iron man suit... 3d printing is abot to take off big time in all of various materials ,,, titanium being one, the future is looking scary........................................

nice one though

desertsniper (author)MadMike32015-07-16

Elysium is a great movie, check it out! The future definitely have some amazing things on the horizon. thanks for the complement!

Honus (author)2015-07-10

Awesome job!

desertsniper (author)Honus2015-07-14

Also i'm a huge fan of your work. My fiancé and I made our own wedding rings. I studied your posts thoroughly, your ironman suit is amazing.

Honus (author)desertsniper2015-07-14

Thanks! That's really cool that you were able to make your own rings!

After Elysium came out I immediately wanted to make a H.U.L.C. suit but I never thought of using eyelets for the ends of the actuators- that's a super cheap solution as the Igus rod ends Weta used aren't inexpensive.

desertsniper (author)Honus2015-07-15

We ended up using "a wedding ring experience" a site dedicated to just such a venture. they provided a class and all the tools. I used a silver and gold Mokume Gane billet for my ring and she used white gold. ill post a pic when I can.

I had contemplated doing a better build, using poly or pvc sheet, aluminum rod/tube and the actual rod connectors. but it would end up costing about 1.5k. plus I had less then a month for the build. I though of this way, I even used foam plugs in the eyelets, washers and springs in areas that needed greater mobility. the entire project cost around 100$

Honus (author)desertsniper2015-07-15

That's awesome. Mokume is really neat. I have a funny story about it but it's too long to post here... :)

Yeah the identical rod ends for the suit would have cost around $200 so that wasn't going to work for me either. I thought about taking one and molding it so I could cast duplicates.

desertsniper (author)Honus2015-07-14


pjhrtr (author)2015-07-13

Awesome job! Great eye for detail. Much kudos for your tenacity to research all the design elements, & I'm very impressed with all of your work that went into developing the look. Though it appears metallic, all the foam must be generally comfortable (if not somewhat warm in the contact areas) -as opposed to a full on enclosed costume which would become stifling to walk around in! **And this is one that (like many artists) you can just continue to add to & improve (or move on to the next challenge!). -Had you ever considered using real "pistons"? You may be able to acquire a surplus of (benign) single-use medical syringes of wide diameter (I have a box of these from a friend who takes insulin) -and actually capture the expansion/ contraction energy with (clear, flexible) surgical tubing routed to a manifold (centralized container with valves) & produce power from body movement!

Just a thought. Of course, this is clearly the opposite of the intention of this strength augmenting design, but in my book, once you get it air (pneumo)-tight and the system shows itself to be useful, this may embolden one to look into coordinating micro valves with small "jelly adhesive" electrodes that would actually amplify one's movement.

ok, found a few examples to consider:

Muscle sensor circuit:

Air muscle controller:


Neurofeedback with Arduino

3d Print An Artificial Muscle Robot Hand

Mind Control of motors via Bluetooth:

Position sensing flex-sensors

And lastly... maybe add an assisting robotic arm... made it this far!

(ok, got a little carried away with what was relevant in the search for "neuro")

With such an array of sensors & valves, I would recommend a panel of variable resistors to adjust the signal (and strength or reaction time) manually, until time you're able to integrate this baby with some kind of bio-feedback suit with potentially a programmable multi-channel arduino board to coordinate different modes or settings. Sound too involved for a beginning entry in realistic costume art? Going practical mechatronics? My friend, I'm not the expert here, but many others are. I just wanted to offer some inspiration that if you are this motivated to get the thing produced this far.... a little further may yield something actually useful!!! History is replete with sci-fi moving the bar of what humanity can accomplish.

*And I saw this movie 2x in the theater... which never happens. It was a very realistic possible future, in my book. Also, one aspect of the exo-suits resonated with a very useful concept I had a few years ago, which I believe your work is relighting my motivation to develop!

Why not?

Love to hear some of your thoughts on this.

My Best,


desertsniper (author)pjhrtr2015-07-14

Thank you! yes the suit turned out really well. as far as a usable exo-skeleton, that would be awesome, my electronics skills are a bit lacking. My workshop is also pretty limited, as is funding. It would be a worthy challenge though! let me know what you come up with and thanks for your intrest!

Georgeh3 (author)2015-07-12

Now to make something from some air pistons that will actually allow lifting :)

desertsniper (author)Georgeh32015-07-14

now that would be something! I think id need a better shop lol.

nickton (author)2015-07-10

so dorky it is kool. wow.

desertsniper (author)nickton2015-07-14


Roshan the innovator (author)2015-07-10

nice work..!

thank you!

Ginko Balboa (author)2015-07-12

Please send some schematics how did you connect the Suit to the Cerebral Cortex. Just kidding, but looks pretty real almost as it only lacks a connection to the brain. Keep up the good work!

thank you very much!

TracRat (author)2015-07-12

very impressive. I like the way you made the pistons. Using the elastic string was a great idea. Thanks for the share!

desertsniper (author)TracRat2015-07-14

The pistons were very tricky, I had tried a few different versions before settling on this one, thanks!

riocruz (author)2015-07-12

wow! wish I could be that detailed! this is insanely awesome!

desertsniper (author)riocruz2015-07-14

Thank you!

MichaelR5 (author)2015-07-12

Very nicely done. With your creative adaptability, you could do costume design work. They're all about making things look good enough for film, without spending too much time or money. I think you have a great balance between them.

desertsniper (author)MichaelR52015-07-14

That would be my dream job! I have some other projects to post for up coming contests, stay tuned! and thank you!

wallaby84 (author)2015-07-13

GENIAL!!!! Asombroso!!!!, congratulation my frend, is a good job realy!!!

desertsniper (author)wallaby842015-07-14


jkieler (author)2015-07-12

It doesn't look right on him

liam.plybon.3 (author)2015-07-10

That's cool!

Thank you!

alltrades72 (author)2015-07-10

Very very impressive... your ingenuity and attention to detail are amazing! you have a true talent, looking forward to seeing your future creations. Very well done

desertsniper (author)alltrades722015-07-10

Thank you! I have some awesome posts coming soon! please favorite and vote.

yavr (author)2015-07-10

really very nicely done, just one thing some pictures gives the idea that left and right drawings and cutting are not balanced or equal. But you have done a very nice job. good luck.

desertsniper (author)yavr2015-07-10

Thanks! It was a really tough build and I was some what rushed. some parts were not exact copies, but was later fixed.

About This Instructable




Bio: I enjoy building things and being creative.
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