Introduction: Barbie Cosplay With Punching Balloons

About: Huur... derrr.

OK, so my brain works in a strange way. I make odd connections and sometimes they work out. Case in point- I needed a flexible diaphragm for a recent project. After trying various materials I finally had an 'Aha!' moment- one of the big rubber punching balloons I played with as a kid would be a perfect fit. After searching several stores I found what I needed at Walgreen's.

I cut the balloon in half and used one piece for the project I was working on. The other half sat on my desk for days and I played with it absentmindedly from time to time. The pleated rubber looked cool and it was a bit thicker than a usual balloon. It seemed like there was a use for it...

I was walking through the garage and one of my dolls on the shelf caught my eye. I suddenly thought about the pleated balloon and how it would make a cool looking skirt. I brought the doll to my workbench and played around with the balloon. Awesome! I went back to Walgreen's, bought a few more punching balloons and put together this instructable. Enjoy.

Step 1: Planning the Costumes

I used two dolls to create two complimentary costumes, like a crime fighting team. One doll was a gymnast Barbie which has really great articulation for stop motion. The other doll was a Shannon Dougherty 90210 doll. The blond Barbie and the brunette Shannon made for a nice contrast, so I decided to carry that over to the costumes. Also, since the unwritten rule of female costumed crime fighting is that the lower on the totem pole you are, the less clothes you wear, I decided that Barbie would be the sidekick with a mini skirt and bra while Shannon would get a little double-skirted cocktail dress.

Step 2: Barbie's Costume

I got my first modern computer in 1999. One of the main reasons for the purchase was that I wanted to do stop motion animation. I bought a cheap digital camera and went to town. I started haunting the clearance rack at KB Toys looking for cool 12" action figures and dolls to use in my animations. I developed an appreciation for the differences in the different lines. Soldiers of the World made historical military figures with a great deal of articulation. They could be manipulated into pretty realistic poses. Female dolls were another thing entirely. Since Barbie's main occupation has been to look pretty for so many years, she has remained a stiff mannequin with very little range of motion. My animations tended to be sausage fests because all the girl dolls looked hokey. Then my friend Joli gave me gymnast Barbie. She has knees and elbows that bend and hips that are more than just hinges. She had an articulated waist joint. She could do splits!

I decided to use gymnast Barbie to create my first balloon costume. I removed the balloon from its package and removed the rubber band. I carefully flattened the balloon being careful not to mess up the pleats. I arranged it so there was four folds on either side and then cut the balloon in half with sharp scissors (my wife's hair shears- shhh). I used the side with the tube that inflates the balloon. I cut the tube off just above where the pleats started. This would be her skirt.

I cut a small loop from the discarded inflation tube to make her bra. I just cut it straight across like a wide rubber band. I carefully stretched it over her legs and the skirt and arranged it around her chest. The rubber stretched across her decolletage to create a curved neckline along the top.

Since I used a yellow balloon to make the skirt and top I decided to use a contrasting green balloon for the belt and mask. I simply cut a loop from the inflation tube of the green balloon and stretched it over her hips to create a belt at the top of her skirt. I cut another loop from the green balloon to make her mask. I stretched the loop over a piece of 1" PVC pipe and wrapped it with blue masking tape. This will prevent the rubber from distorting or tearing when I cut it. I cut a small 'V' for her nose and two eye holes. I carefully removed the tape. I twisted her hair like a rope and carefully fed it through the stretched mask, arranging it carefully on her face and under her hair.

Step 3: Shannon's Costume

Ahh, poor Shannon. She's just an old fashioned doll with stiff legs and arms and very little range of motion. She always had to play second fiddle to gymnast Barbie in my animations due to her lack of flexibility. To make it up to her I decided to make her the leader of our little crime fighting team and therefore let her wear a bit more clothing.

I used the inflation tube side of the green balloon to create her dress. Again I just cut it straight across and let the flexibility of the rubber and the curves of the doll create the lines of the dress. Since the rubber stretches and tends to stay in place on the doll's rubber skin I was able to shape her neckline and backline quite a bit to create the look of a tailored seam. I cut another skirt from the top of the yellow balloon and put it under the green dress as a crinoline. I made sure to align the pleats in the two skirts so the green would match to contours of the yellow and I let the crinoline hang out just a touch to add accent.

Once again I made a belt and mask out of the yellow inflation tube. On Shannon's mask I skipped the nose 'V' to make it different.

Step 4: Photo Shoot

Tiny villains beware! Gymnast Barbie and Shannon Dougherty, AKA The Rubber Maids, are on your trail.

These costumes cost $1.07- the cost of the two punching balloons. They could be cut more elaborately and accented with Sharpies to replicate any super heroine costume or create your own character.

Now I need to find black punching balloons so I can turn my Sailor Scout dolls into a team of goth avengers!