Introduction: Giant Lego Darth Vader

Picture of 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

Picture of 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

Picture of 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

Picture of 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

Picture of 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

Picture of 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

Picture of 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

Picture of 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

Picture of 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

Picture of 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

Picture of 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

Picture of 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

Picture of 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!

Picture of 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 . . . 

Comments

Adalberto_M (author)2015-08-14

WoW!! Super fashion!

krummrey (author)2014-08-06

WOW! That looks great.
Have you seen the Minifigs from Ninjatoes? I've built Luke Skywalker.
Let's have a fight and see who wins ;)

https://ninjatoes.wordpress.com/2013/01/20/lego-71..

seamster (author)krummrey2014-08-06

That's cool! I hadn't seen those. Some papercraft stuff is just amazing!

bobes360 made it! (author)2014-07-31

Hi after about a month of occasional making it I finally made it! But I did not follow your instructable so I made my own. If you have time please check it out : https://www.instructables.com/id/Making-BIG-lego-Darth-Vader/

seamster (author)bobes3602014-07-31

You did great! I'm glad to see you pushed through and figured it all out. As you practice and continue making things you'll only get better and better. You only need a little talent and a lot of determination to make awesome things; you've obviously got enough of both! Good work, keep it up!

partypanda2345 (author)2013-07-23

Awesome

JackDF (author)2013-05-30

wow

tdickinson2 (author)2013-05-18

Just amazing!

GpaSteve (author)2013-02-02

This is great, my grandkids would love something like this. May have to add something like this to my 'to do list'.

EducationSmellsSweet (author)2012-11-05

Oh, my it appears I answered my own question! I need to brush up on my art skills and see if I can created this wonderful instructable.

I see you found it! It's quite a project, but if you have a lot of determination, you could pull it off. Good luck!

I am going to try it, I won't lie, I'm terrified, lol!

Be afraid, be very afraid!

But also . . . be persistent! Mine was not a weekend project. I worked on it for a long time. It was worth it, but it was a LOT of work!

Alright you talked me into it, time to get out my tape measure!

hankd (author)2012-08-27

WOW! This is great! Is there a pdf that we can print out and do this at home? That would be totally sweet!

seamster (author)hankd2012-08-27

Hi, thanks! Glad you like this. I really tried to put together a plan for this, but there were just too many variables involved to actually create a plan that would be usable. It started to really slow me down on the project (trying to make usable plans along the way), so I scrapped the idea. ...Bummer, I know!

poofrabbit (author)2012-04-11

Holy cow batman I want one!!!

monsterlego (author)2012-03-04

Awesome! **5**

benjib0t (author)2012-03-02

Congrats! This is an awesome project and a great instructable.

seamster (author)benjib0t2012-03-02

Thank you, and right back atcha!

A homemade settlers game has been on my radar for a while, but I'm still on the fence as to what style I want to make. Yours was especially well done. Congrats on your win!

Grasshopper1221 (author)2012-03-01

I wanted to say congrats on the big win!
look forward to seeing more from you.
Grasshopper1221

seamster (author)Grasshopper12212012-03-01

Thank you very much!

redpepper237 (author)2012-02-26

P.S hope you win ;)

redpepper237 (author)2012-02-26

YOUR PROJECT ROCKS!!!!!!!!

sunshiine (author)2012-02-23

This is totally awesome and worth voting for. Is this for the toy contest? I wish you the best!
sunshiine

TimTheScarecrow (author)2012-02-23

This is prime example of instructables finest.
And a perfect contest entry for the toy challenge.
I would like to let you know that i voted for your entry.

It pleases me to see an in depth instructable, and not one that only has 3 or 4 vague steps.

seamster (author)TimTheScarecrow2012-02-23

I appreciate your kind words, thank you!

Z0M8I3 (author)2012-02-22

This is GREAT! please let me know if you end up making a pdf, I would LOVE to make a few lego guys for my daughters room. Although I have to admit, with the wonderful detail pictures I can just about build one right now if I just had the foamcore.

Great Job!

mikeasaurus (author)2012-02-22

When your kids remove the helmet, you should to gasp "Luuuke, let me look on you with my own eyes" (then collapse dramatically). Or maybe just reenact the Cloud City battle scene.

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Bio: I got an old sewing machine when I was just a kid, and I've been hooked on making stuff ever since. My name is ... More »
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