Introduction: Xbox Controller Case Mod

Picture of Xbox Controller Case Mod

I was watching David Cronenberg's movie eXistenZ the other day and got the itch to make an xbox controller inspired by the game pod in the movie. If you haven't seen it, it's a late '90's film about immersive video games with lots of fab fleshy technology. It's all sticky, bio grossness in that delicious way.

My first attempt was an utter failure in mold making which I documented here. I ended up taking the original polymer clay that I was going to cast and just baked it in order to attach it to the controller. It is heavier, clunkier, and not nearly as refined as I'd hoped, but at least I have a finished product and it actually works. The spine on the D-pad is a bit awkward when playing, but it's really more of a conversation piece than an everyday controller. 

Materials list:
Xbox controller
Polymer Clay
Filler and clear coat
Screw driver

Step 1: Take Apart the Controller

Picture of Take Apart the Controller

First things first. I took apart the controller removing the screws on the back. If you're using a regulation Xbox controller, one of the screws will be under a sticker behind the battery pack. The ABXY buttons will come out along with the dpad, bumpers, etc. Get a cup and make sure to keep all the bits and pieces, especially the screws.

I left in the circuit board on the back half and did most of the work solely on the cover. I was trying to minimize the chance of breaking the thing before I even got my sculpt on.

Step 2: Sculpt

Picture of Sculpt

First, put some sort of mold release on the surface of the controller. I just used dish soap which worked ok, but I read that baby powder is better. Sculpt directly onto the face plate of the controller understanding that you'll need to remove it from the controller in pieces before baking. The clay is much to thin in hold it's shape as one piece.

Once you have your sculpt, remove it from the controller face and bake it so it hardens. With sculpey, it's about 10 minutes at 275F.

Step 3: Attaching the Clay

Picture of Attaching the Clay

Once the clay is out of the oven and hardened, see how it fits onto the controller. You can adjust it's fit with sandpaper, or if necessary, an X-acto knife or Dremel.

Once it fits decently well, attach it to the controller. I used epoxy for this since it would fill in some of the gaps between the clay and the controller. I always wear gloves and a respirator when using epoxy, mostly for the smell, but according to the instructions a well ventilated room is okay too.

Since I was rolling off another attempt at this with a different controller, my clay needed some extra help to fit properly. On some of the larger gaps, I mixed the sculpey dust from sanding with the epoxy to make a fill material to ease the transition.

Step 4: Bottom Half of the Controller

Picture of Bottom Half of the Controller

The sculpt on the bottom half of the controller was solely to make a better transition from the top half. I created two small pieces that match the location of the top, baked and affixed to the bottom. I wanted to make sure I could still take the controller apart after all was said and done to be able to fix any issues that may come up, so there is definitely a visible seam between the two, but it at least marries the two sides together from a distance.

When I put the top and bottom together, I needed to do some adjusting so it would still clip closed. I just trimmed with an X-acto and a bit of sand paper.

Step 5: Paint

Picture of Paint

It took a while to get a paint color that matched the clay, but with a bit of mixing and shading, I was able to get pretty close. It took a few coats to get it to look right. I also used a darker brown to stain the lower parts as well.

Step 6: Clear Coat

Picture of Clear Coat

Use a clear coat to seal the acrylic. I wanted a liquid shiny wet look, so I went glossy, but it was a too shiny so I had to rough up some spots with sand paper. It's still shinier than I'd like, but I decided to just go with it.

Step 7: Buttons, Triggers, and Bumpers

Picture of Buttons, Triggers, and Bumpers

These are essentially button covers that serve two purposes. The first is to fit with the aesthetic, and the second is to raise the height of the buttons to fit the new height of the controller with the clay additions. I made a few of each button to be sure I got a better fit in the end. When making these pieces, particularly the d-pad and ABXY buttons, make sure that your additions will still fit through the holes on the controller. If they are too wide, it will impact your ability to use the buttons and make it impossible to put on the face of the controller.

Paint the original ABXY buttons, bumpers and D-pad to match the color of the controller, then superglue them.

Step 8: Put It Together

Picture of Put It Together

Now that you have all the pieces and parts, put it back together. After the two sides are together, attach the trigger pieces and the stick covers. You also may need to do some touch up on the paint and adjust the buttons to be sure they don't stick. Now, voila! A completely unique controller.


Basv19 (author)2016-06-06

I'd personally have replaced the home button with an eye, but this is still an awesome project regardless

REllis45 (author)2015-01-12

Did you have trouble doing this? I mean with the controllers being so expensive?

zTragiic (author)REllis452016-06-02

They are $60

leftmusing (author)zTragiic2016-06-02

I used a knock off from e bay that was $12.

infernisdiem (author)2015-05-24

I remember that movie, great job on this, it looks amazing.

nlenhardt1 (author)2014-12-11

Awesome Where can you get the clay at?

kenyer (author)2014-09-04

I wish I could sculpt like that...

Garra23 (author)2014-02-12

freakin amazing....making one as soon as possible....absolutely love it

pjordan (author)2013-09-05

That is epic it really reminds me of the game from the movie Existenz

polerix (author)pjordan2013-12-22

well... yeah, it's mean to. nifty aint' it?

polerix (author)2013-12-22

that's just amazing. i am so doing that.... first thing next weekend.

KittyKissMe (author)2013-10-13

I totally agree with jace1127! This looks so real thatl it's creepy. :-P Love it!!!

jace1127 (author)2013-09-27

omfg as soon as I saw the thumbnail I knew where it was from! One of my favorite movies for sure. I want to mod my ps3 controller now. :)

Turbocharged Chameleon (author)2013-09-12

What about the start and select buttons?

It's an off brand controller (I wasn't gutsy enough to try it on my regular controller) and the start and select buttons are the two white bone strips at the top.

The Rambler (author)2013-09-23

Ha, I had totally forgotten about this movie. It was really good and this is a hilariously perfect reference to it.

Axtklinge (author)2013-09-16

Absolutely brilliant.

Grunambulax (author)2013-09-13

Awesome. Truly nauseating.

pabsenger (author)2013-09-11

looks sooo great!

Advar (author)2013-09-11

Sweet! :))

Alternativesky (author)2013-09-10


eXtremeSomething (author)2013-09-07

Is a bio-port necessary for use with this controller?

Absolutely. I know a guy at a gas station who can install one for you.

nixiadel (author)leftmusing2013-09-09

Or he could just visit the fish farm and swing by the mall after words. I hear it's no worse than getting your ears pierced.

nixiadel (author)nixiadel2013-09-09

Don't forget to keep it in a ski boot.

ffcabral (author)2013-09-09

I love how you pushed the movie's idea one step forward with making the buttons as teeth, mimicking the popular controller mod of bullet-shaped buttons.

gunguru (author)2013-09-09

next, you should build a Glock 17 mod that shoots human teeth!?!?!?!?

jasonmhandyman (author)2013-09-09

Disgustingly awsome dude!

HJosh (author)2013-09-09

cool monster:) Yeah! amazingly fine creature, good work

HJosh (author)2013-09-09

cool monster:) Yeah! amazingly fine creature, good work

Mcyd_213 (author)2013-09-09

Very cool! Loved this film, so bizarre ^_^ the fleshy grossness makes this controller awesome ;)

MrE (author)2013-09-08

First thing I thought of when I saw this was wow that looks like the gun from existenze.

HollyHarken (author)2013-09-08

Creepy!!! Really see the HR Giger inspiration in it.

Delirieuse (author)2013-09-08

Well done. It really does remind me of eXistenZ, as well as HR Giger's body horror work. You did a great job, particularly with that cable.

rverdi (author)2013-09-08

rofl... me too! Second I saw this in the newsletter, I thought 'existenZ'! Guess you hit your target pretty dead on, there! Very snazzy! Gross! But snazzy! lol

nerdtoob (author)2013-09-08

I honestly thoughbof existenZ before I even rwad the description! greatvwork!

Crimson-Deity (author)2013-09-08

This is so amazing!

SoakedinVancouver (author)2013-09-08

The umbilical cord is a particularly gross touch, well done... I think?

Dgarner5005 (author)2013-09-08

That thing is so gross looking. I think that was what you were going for. Really keeps the kids from saying "can I play?" Well done leftmusing.

Technobly (author)2013-09-08


As a person who has seen that movie so many times, this makes me smile :) I instantly associated it with the movie. Great job!!

JonnyBGood (author)2013-09-05

So this is what happens to a controller when you leave it in the sun..... Great job making your bio controller!

poofrabbit (author)2013-09-05

This looks so bad donkey! How do you like using it to play games?

poofrabbit (author)poofrabbit2013-09-05

(I should add I read about the spine, just wondering about everything else)

leftmusing (author)poofrabbit2013-09-05

Thanks! It's not too bad. I had to adjust some of the buttons so they didn't stick, but now they are as responsive as before the build out. It's wired and a bit clunky, so I use it more as a novelty and keep a wireless controller for everyday use.

sandkvist (author)2013-09-05

Awesomely gross!

Vega76 (author)2013-09-05

Ow Wow, Fantastic mod abd exelent base of influence.

andrea biffi (author)2013-09-05


mikeasaurus (author)2013-09-05

Ugh, gross. Featured!

leftmusing (author)mikeasaurus2013-09-05

Ha, thanks! I wasn't sure if it would be too icky for yall.

spider87 (author)2013-09-05

Looks amazing!!

About This Instructable




Bio: I'm a maker with a penchant for art and a love of sculpting the unsettling. I also appreciate the history of deep craft traditions ... More »
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