Introduction: Giant Lego Darth Vader
This is a 22-inch tall Lego Darth Vader toy I made for my kids.
He is pose-able and all of the individual body pieces come apart just like a real Lego minifigure.
Step 1: Planning
My goal was to make a lightweight Lego man that was about 2 feet tall, and end up with a finalized pattern that I could use to create more giant Lego men in the future.
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
The legs are made from a combination of foam core and 110 lb. card stock, along with pieces of cardboard tubing.
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
The hip section was created in the same manner as the legs.
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 section was done similar to the hips and legs, although inside out... sort of. The 45-degree bevels were cut on certain pieces but glued with them facing out, to create a rounded-over look.
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
The head went through a few different versions before I ended up with what you see here. It is made from foam core and card stock, built onto a cardboard tube. The internal pieces were hot glued in place, while the outer layer was glued on with white glue.
To lay out all circle pieces, the diameter is lifted directly from the pattern as shown in the second photo.
Step 6: Arms
There was more trial and error involved with the arms than with any other pieces. Laying out the pattern was especially challenging due to their odd shape.
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
These are all the pieces in their unfinished state. Note the head is an earlier version than what I showed in step 5.
Step 8: Paper Covering
I covered all the pieces with a layer of thin painter's masking paper. This was glued on piece by piece with watered down wood glue, kind of like paper mache. This was done to cover all the seams, and have uniform, solid-looking pieces. Once it was covered with paper, I added a few coats of brush-on overglaze gloss (decoupage stuff).
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
The base of Vader's helmet was made much like the head--although it required a slightly more intricate framework.
Step 10: Helmet, Part 2
The rest of the helmet and face section were pieced together with cardboard, card stock, and craft foam. Wood filler was used to create the transition from the top dome of the helmet to the flare section.
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 spray painted all the pieces individually. I first gave them a coat or two of primer, and then a few coats of paint. The head was painted almond and all the body pieces were painted flat black.
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 lightsaber was made out of a cardboard tube from a roll of aluminum foil, along with some bits of foam core, card stock, and craft foam.
The cape was made from black nylon canvas that I harvested from an old laptop bag.
Step 13: All Done!
This was a good challenge, and I had a lot of fun making it.
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 . . .