Introduction: Make a Toy Soldier Halloween Costume for Less Than $50 (Or Cheaper!)
This instructable will show you how to create a "toy soldier" Halloween costume. Sure to win any local costume contest! But don't keep it all to yourself, get together with a few friends, and create a whole army of soldiers!
Step 1: Supplies!
Below is a list of supplies that I used. Feel free to add additional items, or adjust the items to fit your specific needs. I found a trip to the local army surplus store to be very helpful. A simple Google search for "army surplus store" should locate the closest one to you.
Belt Accessories (Pouches, Ammo, Grenades, etc.)
Plastic Toy Gun
Spray Paint (3-4 cans)
* These are the tools I used to create the base plate. The base plate could easily be made from foam, or a thin piece of plywood, but I felt the thickness of the wood really gave the costume that extra edge.
Step 2: Creating the Baseplate!
The first step I would recommend, is to prepare the base plate. As I mentioned before, I used a 1.5" thick, old piece of wood I had laying around from the top of an old nightstand. This provided me with a study base to stand on.
*If you don't have access to a saw, router, or sander you could easily follow the same steps with a piece of insulation foam, or thinner piece of wood. This could also be more cost effective, as a solid piece of wood could be costly. But I think the base plate really makes this costume. Check to see what you have laying around the house/garage, you might find something that would make a perfect base plate!
First, draw a kidney bean shape around the top of the board (Although, any shape would work), approximately 1.5' by 2.5', then carefully cut around the edges with a jig saw. (You may want to stand on the piece before cutting it to make sure it fits your size.) Then simply take a 1/4"-1/2" round bit, and router the board to knock down the edge. Give the entire board a good sanding, and its ready to paint.
Step 3: Prep!
Next you'll want to find a large open area, that has plenty of ventilation (preferably not in your house) and prep the area to begin spray painting the pieces. I simply laid out all the pieces in my backyard, as the spray paint tends to leave a thin coat of color on everything it touches. If the weather doesn't permit you to paint outside, make sure you use a larger tarp to catch any excess spray paint that may accumulate on anything around you.
Step 4: Ready, Set, Paint!
Now that your all ready, let's start painting!
Some Tips to remember:
Wear a mask!
Spray in even, light coats. (You don't want to see any run spots!)
Take your time (The paint job really makes this costume stand out.)
Allow ample time to dry between coats.
Try to paint at temperatures above 55F.
Make sure you buy enough paint, you don't want your costume to be several colors.
The paint I choose was Indoor/Outdoor "Hosta Leaf" by Krylon. I found these readily available at Wal-mart for a little over $3.00 each. I picked up 6 cans, (as i didn't know exactly how much it would take), but I had about two cans left over. So realistically you'll only need about 4 cans.
Step 5: Ready, Set, Paint! (Part II)
First up, we'll start with the jacket. Unless you can find some special fabric paint, this will take the longest to paint. The spray paint really seems to soak in, but I couldn't have the jacket a different color than the rest of the costume, so I just dealt with it, and added a couple of extra coats. Looking back, I would probably add some sort of primer to the jacket, this would save not only some time but some paint as well.
Next up, we'll paint the pants. I found some cheap Nike pants at a local thrift store (for less than $2) that were almost like plastic wind pants, so that made the painting process for these, nice and easy. One or two coats and the pants were ready to go.
Another easy piece to paint was the helmet. Although a real army helmet could be found abundantly at the surplus store, they seemed to be too heavy to be wearing all night, so I opted for the plastic version, which I found for around $6 at Halloween City. This came pre-painted green, so just a touch of spray paint here is all it needed.
As with the plastic helmet, the paint really stuck to the gun, so it made the process pretty painless. Just be sure to get all the nooks and crannies, trying not to spray to much at a time, as to have a nice flat finish.
Next up we'll paint the gloves and then move on to the belt and boots. Here i just used everyday household cleaning gloves. As you can see in the picture they came in blue, but if I had more time, i would have tried to find something closer to green, as they seem to peel a bit after wearing them for a long period. However, they are rather easy to paint, I just slid one glove on at a time and painted a few light coats. If you too scared to paint yourself, have a friend hold them for you! Finish the set, and your ready to move on.
Step 6: Ready, Set, Paint. (Part III)
Now we'll paint the belt, grenades (which came free with the toy gun) and the accessories. I choose a camo/green belt, as it wouldn't take to much paint, because like the jacket, the cloth here absorbs quiet a bit of paint. Paint the pouches (Which come in various sizes and styles for around $1-3 a piece), and your ready to finish up the base plate. If your short on paint, you can paint just the outside of these items because you won't see the insides.
Were almost finished here so don't give up now! The boots I got at K-mart during a BOGO sale as I needed boots for work anyways, but any boots that fit would probably work. There is no need to have brand new ones, but it made the painting process easier. If you are using older boots, just make sure you give them a good scrub down, so the paint sticks real well.
Let's finish up the painting with the base plate we created earlier. Before I painted the board with the Hosta Leaf, I painted the board with some left over primer I had from a previous project. I added two or three coats of the spray paint, and FINALLY all the painting was done!
If you wanted, you could even add a clear coat on top of all of the pieces to give them a shine, and realistic "plastic" look. This proved especially helpful on the jacket and pants.
Time to see our final product, lets start assembling the costume!
Step 7: Assemble!
After an entire afternoon of paining, It's finally time to see what our costume looks like!
Although not required, I'd recommend wearing an old t-shirt under the jacket. With all the paint, the jacket is no longer cloth, its almost like its transformed into actual plastic. I don't think it would make too much of a difference, but I just felt more comfortable with it on.
Add the pants, boots, belt and helmet and your ready to go. I would wait to put the gloves on till you arrive at your destination. I had to drive a few miles to the party, and I wouldn't want to ruin them before any photo opps arise (or in the unlikely case the paint would come off onto something). Oh, and don't forget your base plate and gun.
Next up, face paint!
Step 8: FaceTime!
No, it's not time to Facetime your friends (Although you can once your done with this tutorial); its time to add the final touch, painting the face. For this I bought a few tubes of the face paint available at any Halloween store, or Walmart for about $1. I grabbed a black, white, and green as I thought I would have to mix the colors to match the hosta leaf paint. But low and behold, the green paint match exactly with no need to alter it's color. Simply smear the paint over your entire face, and your ready to go!
*Depending on the jacket and helmet you choose, you may not even need to paint much of your forehead, or neck, but if you have to you can always add a bit of touch up paint once you arrive at your destination.
Step 9: Pose. Shoot. Repeat.
The best part about this costume is this all the photo opportunities. This costume can be put into a ton of positions. Just think back to your childhood and all the toy soldiers they made. There were hundreds of the little guys: Some were crawling, kneeling, crouching, some had binoculars (Which i plan to add into the costume next year), a few even had a metal detector (Think I'll pass on that one, though).
A side benefit of this costume, it tends to hold heat rather well, so it's perfect for these cold winters!
You'll be the hit of the party, or wherever you decide to go in this costume.
I wish you the best luck with your costume!