Here are the step-by-step instructions of how to build a full scale prop of the Tumbler from the Batman Begins/Dark Knight movies. I've also included some information for making an entire Batman themed display with things such as a life sized animatronic Batman, a rig of flying bats, and, of course, your own bat signal. It's the kind of project that I've always wanted to do since I was a kid. (Hasn't everyone wanted to own a Batmobile at some time in their life?)
My goal for this display was to make it as realistic as possible while keeping it affordable. I also wanted everything to be durable, reusable, portable, able to set up quickly by one person, and that it wouldn't take up much storage space when not in use. The cost for the completed Tumbler was about $600. It easily could have costed two to three times that amount, but I was able to use lots of scrap materials, found some freebies and saved a lot by purchasing used items on eBay. Most of the year was spent figuring out which items were needed and trying to collect everything on the cheap.
Please know that I am not a carpenter, and only have basic tools and limited construction knowledge. I'm sure there are more efficient ways to do this project (a table saw would have really helped), but I think it's good to show that anyone can do it. Also, I did this project in my spare time while running a business and juggling family responsibilities, so it's difficult to judge the true time required. Included are some notes about the general time line counting down until Halloween in italics.
The Tumbler is a very complex vehicle. But, unlike the earlier Batmobiles which had lots of curves, this one consists of many small, flat facets which makes it a little more possible to construct something from ordinary materials and make it look like the original. The trick is figuring out the jigsaw puzzle.
I started by finding as many pictures as I could online and organizing them into different sections of the vehicle for later reference. From Target, I bought a $10 Tumbler toy (which a standard action figure goes into) so I could see what it looked like in 3D (very helpful). There is a lot of good source material about the car on the movie DVDs and YouTube.
Blueprints are readily available online with side, front and rear views of the vehicle. I also found the instructions and printouts of a paper model (one page pictured) online for free. It was good to see all the pieces involved and an example of how the shapes fit together.
The best resource is the website www.chickslovethecar.com. These guys are the real deal. They spend years building perfect working replicas of Batmobiles from the '60s to today. Many have posted their progress in 'build logs' that they continually update. The members are very willing to answer questions and give suggestions. They also have the most comprehensive Batmobile image database around, including the Tumbler.
Note- At this time in the project, it is November '08 (one year before Halloween).