Introduction: Pac-Man Arcade Machine Costume
As a kid growing up in the eighties, I played my fair share of Pac-Man at the arcade.
As an adult, many years later, one Hallowe'en, I needed a costume I could put together in a matter of a day or so, yet still meet my need for it to look like I put in an effort! The theme of the Hallowe'en party I was going to was "The 80's", so at first, I thought: "Pac-Man". But, then, the more silly side of me said: "No, Pac-Man MACHINE!".
While photos of much of the build are lost to history, I can take you through how the costume was made and with what materials.
Step 1: Building the Head Piece
The entire costume was made out of cardboard. In the case of the head, I simply took pieces of corrugated cardboard and cut panels to form the "box". (Note that the box is not a square and is wider at the front than at the back, like an arcade machine!) The pieces of cardboard were simply hot glued together, painted black with some dollar store paint and black electrical tape was used on the seams to give it a finished look.
I then went online and did a search for the Pac-Man arcade machine header (or marquee) and found several that I could print on photo paper with my colour printer. This would be glued to the front of the head piece.
(In a later generation of this head piece, I actually created a compartment behind the marquee where I put a small, battery-powered LED light bar I bought at a dollar store. I then cut a hole in the front of the box, leaving enough of a border of the Pac-Man sign to be glued to. The idea was to light up the marquee just like the actual machine marquee would have been.)
Inside the box, I simply used a cardboard ring to fit my head, glue it in place and it allowed the head piece to be worn like a hat. (I could have come up with something more elaborate like using a helmet or something, but this had the advantage of being free...)
I then added a quarter (remember that's how you let it be known that you were next to play the machine) to the marquee as an extra detail.
Step 2: The "Screen" and the Control Area
Again, I went online and found some screen shots of the Pac-Man screen and downloaded one that was high enough a resolution.
I purchased a special type of printable heat transfer that comes in 8.5 x 11" sizes and printed out that downloaded screen shot.
Once that was printed, I simply ironed on the printed screen onto the shirt.
As for the control area, that assembly was again simply made out of card board. I wanted the thing to be true to the original machines, so using some reference photos I was able to find online, I recreated the area around the joystick and printed out the graphics that would have adorned a machine like this.
For the player select buttons, I used water bottle caps and embedded them into the cardboard, gluing them in place. The joystick itself was simply a long carriage bolt screwed into a small, red rubber ball. It was held in place by a nut on top of the cardboard, but I left a little play in it so that when people played with my joystick (yes, that happened all night long), it wouldn't get ripped off. To that end, I reinforced the cardboard in that area as well so that it would last the night (which it did).
As you can see in the photo, I just used some cardboard as a belt and used some hook & loop straps attached the belt as a closure.
As an added detail, I also found some great images of a lit coin slot which I simply printed on glossy photo paper and taped to my jeans. It was just that little extra thing to tie the whole idea of the costume together.
Step 3: The Finished Product!
The costume was a huge hit. It made people laugh (in a good way) and even made them feel a bit nostalgic. I even had one guy offer to buy the costume on the spot from me for $50! (I turned him down.)
I can't even begin to estimate how many photos were taken with people playing with my joystick throughout the evening, but that was part of the whole gag with this costume. And, I won "best costume" at the party that night!
The best part is that it cost next to nothing in materials and I was able to make it in a little over a day's time.