Introduction: Giant Robot Costume

Picture of Giant Robot Costume

In this instructable I will show you how to make a giant robot costume on a budget.  In total, the suit costed roughly 30-50$ and was made almost entirely out of cardboard.  It took me over two years of procrastination to finally finish (as you can see from the various hair styles in the pictures).  I wore this costume out to Salem, MA on Halloween a couple years back and got a huge response; every person that ran into me on the street wanted a picture with me.

The full description of the costume would be: Small Scientist Controling Giant Robot Suit, but that would make for a rediculous title.

List of materials (may vary):
Lots of cardboard
Great Stuff foam
Black/silver spraypaint
Black duct tape
Plastic shopping bags
Velcro
Styrofoam pieces
Safety pins
Thick string
Drinking straws
Underarmor longsleeve shirt and pants(should be tight)
Black and white fabric

List of tools:
Scissors
Hacksaw
Hot glue gun
Sharp knife/razor blade

The steps in this instructable are laid out as follows:
Step 1: Legs
Step 2: Arms
Step 3: Scientist
Step 4: Assemble

Each step may be broken down into smaller steps.

Step 1: Legs

Picture of Legs

The legs are cardboard boxes that are roughly the length of my entire leg, and are just wide enough to fit my foot with a shoe on in comfortably.  In the picture you will see me standing on something inside the leg, I will get to that in the next step.

For the robot's "foot", I simpy duct taped a piece of cardboard that was shaped like a robot foot.  These are STRICTLY COSMETIC, and do not aid in navigating around, in fact they make it harder sometimes.  I made the foot so that it would bend in a natural-looking motion.  You can see that motion in action here:



For the top, I had already ripped out the folding flaps, so I had to make new ones and hot-glue them in.  I cut sections of styrofoam to the shape of my leg right around where my knee joint is.  You can see in the pictures that the leg-holes are set back, this is to aid in balance.  In step 4, you will see how these come in handy.

Step 2: Supports

Picture of Supports

It was obvious to me that I needed something to boost my height in order to fulfill the "giant" requirement.  It wasn't so obvious, however, how I could comfortably carry the weight of something that could hold my entire body weight with each leg.  I devised these supports eventually, and as you can see in the pictures, are quite strong.

They are basically strips of cardboard that have been notched halfway across several times.  This allows them to be set into eachother in a crosshatch pattern that turned out to be very strong yet very light.  I stacked four of these with peices of cardboard inbetween each support to aid in structure.  The dimensions of these will depend on what "leg" box you are using.  I made mine so that four of them stacked would reach the halfway point in the leg.  It is important to note, that whatever box you are using for the leg, the supports should stack just high enough so that your knee is right above the top of the box (to allow for proper leg bending).

Each strip should look like this:
(the width of the strip is slightly smaller than the width of the leg box)

__________________________________
|                                                                              |
|                                                                              |
|                   |                  |                   |                   |
|________|________|________|________|

These actually took the longest out of everything in this costume, but an easy way to notch these is to gather a bunch of strips together and secure them with a vise.  Use a hacksaw to cut straight through each notch using the front strip as a guide.  When you are finished, you should have a bunch of identical strips ready to be put together.  I used a total of 64 of these strips in my costume, so the vise/hacksaw trick helped me out a lot.

As you can see from the picture, mine did not come out too perfect, but that didn't really matter when it came time to hold my weight.

Step 3: Foot Holders

Picture of Foot Holders

At this point, I am standing on a cardboard platform, but I have no way of carrying the leg with me as I walk.  To remedy this, I made a mold of my foot inside a box that would later be secured to the inside of the leg box.

The box I used for the legs actually originally stored smaller boxes that stacked inside of it.  These smaller boxes fit very nicely inside, so I used them as the structure for the foot holders.  I used a pair of shoes that had a lot of ankle support, this will help protect your ankle from anything rubbing against it and makes the "leg" feel like its nice and tight.

To make the mold, I just wrapped my shoe (with my foot in it) with a shoping bag, placed my foot in the center of the box and sprayed Great Stuff around it.  If you're not familiar with Great Stuff, it is basically an expanding foam used to seal up cracks and holes in foundations and around pipes etc.  I waited until the foam had expanded and dried (which took a bit, it needed multiple layers to fill all the space) and then sliced the box straight down the middle, leaving only the bottom of the box intact to act as a hinge.

Even though the top flaps are not able to close, I left them there.  Incidentally I found out that the top flaps will stay flush along side the inside wall of the leg box, and "lock in" underneath the portion of extra cardboard that I mentioned is the first step (the top flaps of the leg box that I had to hot-glue in).  You will understand what I mean in the next step.

Step 4: Put the Parts Together

Picture of Put the Parts Together

Now time to put all the leg pieces together.  Insert the leg supports, then the foot holders, then your foot, and you should be able to walk around!

Heres a short video displaying what I mean by "locking in":

Step 5: Forearms

Picture of Forearms

Now that the legs are finished, it's time to start with the arms.  This step quickly details the forearms, which are simply just boxes roughly the length from your elbow to your palm.  Set them up as shown in the picture, with a hole cut in to stick your arm through.  I had some leftover pole padding that I taped down inside the boxes to give my arm a nice tight fit, since it would be the only thing keeping it from sliding off.

Step 6: Hands

Picture of Hands

The hands took some inspiration to get working, so I remembered this robot arm toy that I had when I was a kid, and how it worked.

You may notice that some of these parts vary slightly between the left and right version.  This is because I used the first one as a test, then used that knowledge to construct its opposite, resulting in two slightly different parts.  For the sake of time and lazyness, I just kept the prototype.

So as you can see in the pictures, I started out just cutting out a shape that I figured a folded up hand would look like.  I added the first layer of foam to the "pad" of each finger, placed a small piece of drinking straw lengthwise with the finger onto the still wet foam, and then put some more foam onto that.  The drinking straws end up being the "channel" for a thick string to run through.  This string is mounted at the "fingertip" and at the base of the "hand" onto something that can be manouvered with your own hand.  I ended up using a rigid paper tube that can be found on old coathangers.

Once the foam is dried, it will probably be messy and won't allow the "fingers" to close naturally.  Just simply trim these up to make a cool angled boxy shape for each pad.

I cut open the back of each hand to allow my hand to grip it.  This also allowed room for my fingers to reach out to the bar that the string is attached to.  You can watch this video to get a sense of what this should look like:

Step 7: Put the Parts Together

Picture of Put the Parts Together

To assemble the arms simply throw on the forearms up to your elbow then grab the hands.  In some shots my hand is visible, this could potentially throw off the illusion so wear a pair of black gloves to hide them.

I left the hands free floating to allow for as much free movement as I could get.  This comes in handy especially when doing Tony Stark impressions.

Here's an early video showcasing the freedom of movement:

Step 8: Scientist Guy

Picture of Scientist Guy

The major aspect of this illusion is the small scientist man.  He is driving this giant robot.  It's only fair that he gets his own seat.

Unfortunately, the chest piece of this costume was destroyed in a drunken tackling incident.  All that remains is these test pictures so I will do my best to describe it.

I started with a cardboard piece big enough to cover my chest, then cut out "straps" that would wrap around my torso.  There were frour straps that would wrap around my sides underneath my arms and two that wrapped around the tops of my shoulders.  At the end of these straps were pieces of velcro, so that they would all meet up on my back and secure to eachother.

I then cut styrofoam pieces for the seat and hot-glued them to the chest piece right below my face.  Your gonna want a nice cradle for the scientist body to sit, he needs to look comfortable.

The scientist body itself was just a cardboard skeleton wrapped in white fabric to resemble those long coats that scientists always wear.  The legs were wrapped in black fabric to show that he was wearing pants.  The hands and feet were just more cut up cardboard.

I left extra fabric on the back of the scientist so that it could be wrapped around behind my neck to secure it better.  A seperate collar/tie combination was constructed to "tie" it all together (with more velcro).

Step 9: Put It Together

Picture of Put It Together

Now the tricky part: put it all on at once.

I was lucky enough to have been able to borrow a pair of underarmor pants (they're not tights!) and an underarmor long-sleeve shirt, which makes me look more like a robot than jeans and a t-shirt would I guess... I just wanted to avoid the classic "dryer vent" arms.

I actually had three of my friends (and three seperate cars) help me carry the entire thing into Salem.  The best way I've found out to assemble the whole thing is to find some level solid ground, get completely into the legs, put the chest piece on with your free hands, then have someone push up the forearms onto your arms and toss you the hands.

It's cumbersome and hard to walk around on (especially on cobblestone) but it's well worth it, I even made the local paper!  They got my name wrong though and didn't get the entire costume in the shot, but I digress.

Congrats if you decide to embark on this costume, I would really love so see how it comes out and see any improvements made to it.

Comments

datboi (author)2016-05-27

wow this is really cool, i would love to have one for halloween thank you for he instrutions i shall start construction nnow also are you single

LuciferJr (author)2011-07-15

did you find this hard to walk in?

lbastorino (author)LuciferJr2016-02-20

so cool!

ldb477 (author)LuciferJr2011-07-20

Yeah it was pretty difficult, but it got easier once I got the hang of it. It is nearly impossible to ascend or descend inclines, so I had to stick to flat ground. Eventually I was traversing cobblestone streets no problem, and luckily never fell. The next version will have an aluminum inner skeleton that will involve a pivoting "foot" at the bottom, which will hopefully allow more mobility.

LuciferJr (author)ldb4772011-07-20

i thought it would because i made a midget costume out of 2 trashcans and i tripped constantly so i had to trash them...no pun intended

DavidG156 (author)2015-10-03

Brilliant way of adding height. I will use this!

boomvenus (author)2015-04-17

Wow, also i want it! :-)

Kard Bord (author)2011-10-03

Very cool man! I'm a recycling artist and you gave me the perfect costume for this halloween, I'm going to see if I still have time to do it.

psycho_3852 (author)2011-09-21

i like this a lot, really cool and im defiantly going to do this for Halloween

MechAlucard (author)2011-08-31

Great Job! I've been making cardboard mecha costumes for the past four years now. I do one a year and take a week or so to make it. My latest was Zeorymer Wore it around the street the other day and shocked the neighbors... My sister recorded it and turned it into a music video... There are lights in it but you cant see it very well in broad daylight...
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X3V9RruqdQE

D00M99 (author)2011-05-27

Your elevated stilts are wonderful! I'm gonna do a mech costume and wanted to elevate myself, and this is a great way to do it! How heavy are you?

ldb477 (author)D00M992011-05-31

I weigh roughly 120 lbs give or take 5 lbs. I'm positive that doing it this way could support well into the 160 range. Just keep in mind that ALL of your body weight will supported by each leg at a time, and won't be evenly distributed all the time. The criss cross hatch pattern I used to step on was a great way to reduce weight and give me support at the same time. I plan to experiment with the same setup using fiberglass instead of cardboard, maybe you could give that a try! Thanks!

D00M99 (author)ldb4772011-05-31

I tried it, but with difficult results. The time it took to cut it out and to assemble it (which was actually really hard to intermesh) was way too much; I'm going to have to resort to stacking cardboard pieces.

At least I have a stool now. ;)

outsidethewall33 (author)2011-02-03

Where did you find whole boxes that were the length of your legs? Let alone 2 of them.

ldb477 (author)outsidethewall332011-05-31

I work at a Chuck E Cheese's and we get delivered tickets that come in these boxes. Its funny though because I was fooling around with the empty boxes one day putting them on my limbs and that's where I came up with this idea.

miggysay (author)2010-10-28

Could you maybe have used a piece of plywood for part of the base with two holes in it and used some rope to tie to your feet to it? Just a thought, not exactly sure if it would actually work though >_<

ldb477 (author)miggysay2010-10-31

There were multiple variations of the "foot mounting" that were thought up. What you just described was one of the first ideas that I had, but through trials and trubulations I found that I still would have needed to attach the plywood to the rest of the "footing" so that the whole leg would come up with my own. Another key factor was weight, and being basically 100% cardboard, adding wood to the mix would have made it too heavy to be comfortably carried around.

miggysay (author)ldb4772010-10-31

Ahh, well said. Great instructable!

beachflight (author)2010-10-29

I love how the scale and illusion of this are mindbending, yet it is incredibly simple in design. It is not as hard just to make something incredible as it is to figure out how to accomplish it in a simple way. I definitely want to try this sometime!

Grocery bag + foam + box + shoe = genius!

ldb477 (author)beachflight2010-10-29

Thank you! I'm really happy to hear that. You are absolutely right about what you said too, each part of this was made completely from scratch and without using any other plans to base it off of. The design process was just as important as the construction process, and they combined throughout many times.

codongolev (author)2010-10-28

it's similar to my costume this year, except mine is going for more of an "escaped government supersoldier" kind of thing. powerisers for supercool running, a helmet with a blacked out face, a microphone attached to a portable amp, and some homemade claws, plus a t-qualizer for effect.

ldb477 (author)codongolev2010-10-28

Nice! Sounds impressive, I would love to see pictures of it when its done. It's always good to have a "theme" haha.

salazam (author)2010-10-28

OMG this costume is great! It's so awesome I wouldnt' even call it a costume! It's like a power-suit! I love the elevated stance to make you tall! The moving fingers are excellent! The locking leg pieces! With just a little attention to detail this costume could be EPIC!!! (like hiding the duct tape by covering the surface before you paint it.... maybe a waist piece too). I am gonna copy you next year!

ldb477 (author)salazam2010-10-28

Nice! Thank you! I'm glad I could be of some inspiration for you. Almost daily I think about converting the suit to aluminum and fiberglass. Then I would have to wear it more often haha.

Screamo (author)2010-10-27

Your only impressing Creeps :D

Greasetattoo (author)2010-10-26

GREAT costume..
But..It looks unfinished.
Especially in the lower mid section and arms.

Love the little scientist!
Great idea!

Pictures are a little cluttered and dark.
But, GREAT instructable!

ldb477 (author)Greasetattoo2010-10-26

Thank you! I appreciate the compliment and criticism. The costume may look unfinished in spots because of the camera's flash, albeit it is just cardboard with duct tape and spraypaint. The overall effect was to have a costume that would be presentable in low-light situations, such as the nighttime outdoors. It probably looks better in person, and I am upset that I never actually got footage of me walking around with it in public.

Screamo (author)2010-10-26

U looks ccreepy.

ldb477 (author)Screamo2010-10-26

I dress to impress B:-J

LemurX (author)2010-10-25

Oh the feet are fantastic! Definitely gonna use that method in next year's Comic-Con costume.

ldb477 (author)LemurX2010-10-26

Thank you! I had endless ideas for the feet including coathanger wires, more styrofoam, dodgeballs... turns out the best idea was the simplest.

nave (author)2010-10-25

is this your take on the "giant cardboard robot"?

ldb477 (author)nave2010-10-26

I've seen many cardboard robots around and decided to do something a little different. I wanted to avoid the 1950s box robot look that usually ends up happening and do something a bit more modern.

falcotheimpaler (author)2010-10-25

i'm not gonna lie, this is absolutely the greatest $0 costume i've ever seen. I like your style.

ldb477 (author)falcotheimpaler2010-10-26

Thank you! I call it broke engineering.

piercebeme (author)2010-10-09

very nice work all together

ldb477 (author)piercebeme2010-10-09

Thanks a lot! :)

Dream Dragon (author)2010-10-08

I REALLY like the "Scientist Guy" that's a nice touch.

tweeder82o (author)2010-10-07

at first just a giant robot costume soudned "good", but the addition of the tiny scientist makes it "great"!

About This Instructable

41,808views

97favorites

License:

Bio: Like my instructables? Check out my band SkyTigers on the links provided.
More by ldb477:Person Being Carried Costume Part Deux!Handstand Man CostumeQuadcopter Air Cycle
Add instructable to: