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How to make a replica of The Riddler's Box (Work in progress) Answered

All right, I admit it. I liked Batman Forever, and still do. I also liked the "Box," which was the film's signature gadget. (And no, I don't count the Batarangs--they're equipment. The Box is a gadget in the purest sense of the word.) To that end, I decided to build a replica of the Box last summer. It's still not finished--I need to work out lighting, a motor, and the lower coils. (EL wire, maybe?)

By the way, I'm posting it on the forum first because it's still a work in progress. I have no Monet to buy Degas to made de Van Gogh, as it were...


One clear 28-oz. tumbler, acrylic (I got mine from Jewel for $1 last year...I don't know if they still carry 'em)
One 20-oz. tumbler, acrylic (I got mine from Walgreen's last year...ditto)
Two super-size cup lids from McDonald's
One large bottle of Gesso
One bottle of gold paint (Antique Gold works best)
One bottle of green glow-in-the-dark paint
A really long paintbrush, preferably made of foam
A normal paintbrush

The wings are made of a piece of foam I had lying around...I need to get them made specially. It's also got some Christmas-wreath lights stuck inside, just for the picture.
SO: For the 28-oz. tumbler, first you need to thin your Gesso out with water. This will allow you, later, to add the paint in such a way that light can shine through. Then, you will want to paint the INSIDE of the tumbler with Gesso, and then with the green paint. Simple as that.

For the 20-oz. tumbler, you can leave the Gesso thick if you wish. Depends on your preferences, really...Then, you'll want to paint the outside of the 20-ouncer with the gold paint. With me so far?

Then, you'll want to glue the two McDonald's lids together for a bit of sturdiness. I recommend Gorilla Glue for this. When that sets, you'll want to paint the outside and the inside with Gesso. The outer lid is gold in color; the inner lid is black. This prevents light from shining through the lid, which could give the game away.

WINGS: As for me, I cut a pair of 11 3/4" oblong triangles from foam for the wings. They're not stable at all, but at least you get the basic idea of what it is. I stacked the 28-oz. tumbler on top of the 28-oz. tumbler, put the lids on, and stuck the wings on with tape. It's a crude mockup, but it works for now.

I put the Christmas-wreath lights inside just make it look like it's doing something. I'm thinking about adding a "Fusion" light from Windy City Novelties for the finished result. The final version of this will involve some very tricky wiring--I want to wire the light-up gadget and the motor to one switch or button.

If any of you have suggestions, the mailbox is open and waiting. I've very little technical experience, and would like as much input as possible from anyone who knows something.

8 Replies

Drum-Dude (author)2011-12-19

This picture might help in the creation of the spinning triangles http://www.hms-studios.com/pictures/movies/batman3_riddlerbox.jpg

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Goodhart (author)2011-06-07

I DO hope an instructable is forth-coming :-)

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Sharaz Destler (author)Goodhart2011-06-07

Heh, you and me both. Like I said, it depends on all you other members, and your combined forces. I'd appreciate feedback from:

1) Someone who knows a thing or two about hobby motors

2) Someone who knows a thing or two about electronics. More specifically, wiring and (possibly) installing/programming LEDs. I know where I can get a few kits, but lack the knowledge to put it together.

3) A designer to help me draft some kind of mechanism for the wings (ie holding them on and making sure they don't scrape against the surface of the Box).


4) Someone who can get me a good deal on a small quantity of white electro-luminescent (EL) wire. I think I'll only need about 1 foot of it for my purposes...unless, of course, I can figure out where to get the supplies to make more, and become INSTRUCTABLES' CLEVEREST CARBON-BASED LIFE-FORM!!! *ahem*

So yeah, any of those four would be a great deal of help. I haven't much money, and don't feel like wasting valuable cash on the wrong type of motor, or the wrong wiring. Why, just last week I bought the wrong ink cartridge for my printer, and it was only through the grace of God that Office-Max allowed me to exchange it at no cost--especially since I'd already opened it.

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Drum-Dude (author)Sharaz Destler2011-12-19

You can get the EL wire from www.glowstickspro.com. For really cheap and by the foot

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Goodhart (author)Sharaz Destler2011-06-07

Well, being unclear as to what exactly "needs to be done" all that info you need is going to be kind of "up in the air" so to speak.

LEDs themselves are not "programmable" but you can either use a microprocessor or several logic gate arrays (larger footprint).  Motors, again, it depends on what kind of load you will be putting on them, etc.   There is a lot here "left open".  

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Sharaz Destler (author)2011-07-05

Okay...I think I have something that'll make the job easier. Last night, at the fireworks show, I bought a "magic wand" with six or seven LEDs attached to a chip that makes them flash different patterns. When I take it home I'm going to open it up and see what makes it tick. I could, I suppose, tape them around the inside of the top cup. But I'd also need to extend the wires, as I want to control it from outside the box (or on the lid).

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Sharaz Destler (author)2011-06-10

Hmm. I have great difficulty in expressing my thoughts as far as technical things are concerned.

For the motor, the ultimate goal is to make the wings turn. The motor itself--a hobby motor--should be easy. Designing the 'mechanism' to which the wings will be attached is the hard part. Mostly in terms of what it's going to look like: "Batman Forever" doesn't really have any *good* closeups of the Box in action.

LED'S: I'd like to be able to attach the green (blue?) and white LEDs along the inside of the topmost cup. I tried a strobe-light, the kind that you put into a jack-o-lantern, but this proved too big for the cup (har har har), and too heavy to be attached to the lid. The original prop had this kind of "lightning-arc" thing along the inside of it. It's like one of those plasma disks you can now buy at the flea market for $50, but was pretty high-tech back then.

Now for the tricky part: All of this (and possibly some EL wire) should be attached to a main push-button switch. How does one do wiring in this manner?

I'll end up doing a few sketches over the weekend.

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Sharaz Destler (author)2011-06-08

I tend to confuse people, yes. I have what's commonly referred to as ADD, and I jump into a conversation assuming everyone else is on the same page as I am. It's a fault of mine that I've never quite been able to fix.

So, I'll explain what I need.

The motor inside the lower cone turns the wings, which I'll *try* to get made of plastic or acrylic. These should not weigh too much...at least five ounces is my guess. I should be all right with a typical Radio Shack hobby-motor; the challenge is creating a "seat" for the wings, which the motor will be hooked to. Talk to me later on that one...I need to go back to my drawing board.

The LEDs need to sit inside the top cone and blink like mad. That's about it. I could buy a kit from QKits and replace the red LEDs with green ones. In the movie, the Box proper makes a lightning-ish thing inside the top cone.

I assume the actual prop was built along the lines of a "plasma disk," the kind you can now buy at a flea market. It was made by a company called HMS Studios, which builds props for movies--they also made the "Bat-tleships" board and various other Nygmatech gadgets for the movie.

As for wiring, I need to figure out how to hook up the LED board and the motor to a single push-button switch. This is where you can tell that I don't know what the hell I'm talking about. (Ideally it should be a push-button switch, but a toggle will work just fine.)

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