He is pose-able and all of the individual body pieces come apart just like a real Lego minifigure.
Step 1: Planning
This Lego Darth Vader is made primarily from foam core, which I purchased from a picture framing shop. You can find foam core at Walmart as well as most office supply stores. I also used some brown craft paper and thin painter's masking paper, both of which I got at my local hardware store. I also used some flat single-ply cardboard, craft foam, and some other basic materials.
I based all my dimensions off of the second image shown here, which I found through a google search. I enlarged it to fit an 8.5" by 11" paper, and printed it out. From this sheet, I measured and multiplied each length, diameter, etc., by 3.5 and and drew out all the pattern pieces accordingly. (It's projects like this that make me love the metric system. Millimeters are awesome.)
I apologize that I am not including some kind of pattern for this, although I may do so in some later project. I made approximately 80 individual pattern pieces which were then used to produce the over 300 individual pieces that went together to make this Lego man. (And that doesn't include any of the trial pieces and re-do's.) So it'll be a lot of work to turn those into a PDF anytime soon!
Overall this may look quite daunting and complex, but each individual step was actually quite simple. The problem was that there were just a whole lot of steps, and lots and lots of repetition for certain pieces (like the head and the helmet). I worked on this a little at a time over the course of a month, and eventually it was done. I enjoy the creative process, and find projects like this to be very therapeutic.
To make this, there were some tools I just couldn't do without. Aside from basics like white glue, hot glue, and scissors, I used a utility knife with a snap-style extendable blade, a compass, a protractor (a round 360-degree version), a metric ruler, and an exacto blade with lots of extra blades.
Step 2: Legs
I am kind of a hoarder with any kind of cardboard tube, so I had a big pile to choose from for this project. However, I still had to make custom cardboard sleeves to fit over these existing cardboard tubes, to use as connectors for all the pieces of the body. To make these cardboard sleeves I used the same technique I have shown here in my Bullet Bill Rocket instructable.
For the legs, most of the joints were created by joining two 45-degree beveled edges with hot glue. To make these beveled edges, I placed the piece of foam core on the edge of the table and used my utility knife as shown the second photo.
Step 3: Hip Section
When cutting the bevels on the edge of the foam core, it's important to use a very sharp blade, hold the piece you're cutting securely, and work very carefully. I'm happy to report there were no injuries on this project!
Step 4: Chest Section
The chest was tricky because all the other body pieces connect to it. All connectors had to be prepared and fitting correctly before anything could be assembled.
Step 5: Head
To lay out all circle pieces, the diameter is lifted directly from the pattern as shown in the second photo.
Step 6: Arms
I'm okay with how they turned out, but I'd have preferred a more rounded elbow area with less funky angles.
Step 7: Unfinished
Step 8: Paper Covering
I liked this green color a lot, but couldn't find a good enough excuse to just leave it this way.
Step 9: Helmet, Part One
Step 10: Helmet, Part 2
The distinct triangular Vader-cheeks were added to the face section later on when I realized it just wasn't very Vader-like without them.
I found that craft foam is really fun to work with in situations like this because it is flexible and will stay where you put it if you use the right glue. I used 3M 77 to attach it to the cardboard structure of the face section, and used wood filler to cover the seams. It has to be sealed well with decoupage glaze, however, before you paint it.
Step 11: Paint
I created stencils for the head and chest sections to lay out where all the details went, and hand painted them on.
Step 12: Lightsaber and Cape
The cape was made from black nylon canvas that I harvested from an old laptop bag.
Step 13: All Done!
My kids are going to absolutely destroy it of course, but they are going to love every second of it. Thanks for taking a look. I welcome any comments.
You know, I think he's lonely and needs a couple of Storm Troopers to hang out with . . .