Introduction: Doctor Octopus Costume on the Cheap!

Doctor Otto Octavius is an iconic Spiderman villain. He is also my favorite! I mean, his story is your typical story: genius child becomes super genius scientist, super genius scientist conducts a super experiment that results in super tragic accident, super tragic accident changes super genius into super genius super mechanized freak, super genius super mechanized freak turns to life of crime to fund more super experiments, and so the cycle continues. So relatable!

So, I thought to myself, what if I created my own super (non)mechanized robot arms but did it in a way that did not require a super tragic accident? And what if I did it on the cheap so I didn’t really have to turn to a life of crime!

This is my plan. This is my Instructable!

(Note: I am going with the contemporary trench coat and hat wearing version of Doc Oc, as opposed to the green and yellow spandex body suit.)

Step 1: Parts List

One cannot conduct super experiments without obtaining the necessary parts! These parts are so cheap it will be like you stole them!


  • 4 pieces of 5 foot length of ¾ inch PVC pipe (I already had used PVC on-hand, but to buy only runs about $5 for all of it.)
  • 1 roll HVAC duct tape (any duct tape would work, but the HVAC tape is smooth and shiny and again only costs about $6)
  • 2 packs of 4-pack ¾ inch foam pipe covers ($3 each pack)
  • 1 backpack (Clearance after “back to school” season - $2)
  • 3 empty 16 ounce plastic water bottles
  • 1 empty 16 ounce plastic juice bottle
  • 50 foot of cable (I used dead monitor cables I had access to, but you can substitute braided rope painted black which could run about $12)
  • 3 count of 4 inch hose clamps ($1.25 each)
  • 1 roll heavy gauge steel wire (optional, but I used it to add structure to the claws, $3)
  • 3 count red pipe cleaners ($1)
  • 1 can gray spray paint ($2)


  • Trench coat (I already had one, but they can be picked up at a thrift shop for about $12)
  • Fedora (Again, I had one, but they run about $10 new for a cheap one)
  • Tinted goggles (I had bike goggles, but you may find something that could work at the same thrift store or garage sale $5)
  • Pair of black gloves (optional but $1 at the dollar store)
  • Dark pants
  • Dark shirt
  • Dark shoes


  • Hacksaw
  • Heat gun
  • Screwdriver for the ring clamps
  • Wire cutters
  • Scissors
  • Hot glue gun and glue

Step 2: Pipe Work

The first thing to do is to make the PVC framework for each of the four limbs.

I am going to stop you right here, because I found this AMAZING Instructable by darbinorvar called How to Bend PVC & Make Incredible ShapesAFTER I went through all the work of shaping my PVC.

I will still show the steps I went through to shape mine.

  1. With the heat gun, heat a point on each pipe about 15 inches from one end.
  2. Roll the pipe over the heat to evenly warm and soften the plastic. Be careful not to hold it in place too long or it will burn.
  3. Before it cools, carefully bend it to as close to a right angle as you can. Roll it at the same time you bend to keep it from creasing.
  4. Repeat for the other three pipes.
  5. Now, heat the pipe about 5 inches or so from the right angle and perpendicular to the first 15 inch length. Use the same technique in sub-steps 2 and 3 except this time do not bend to a full right angle. You will only need enough of a bend to start a curve segment in the pipe.
  6. Heat another segment down the pipe in several different spots to continue the curve. Keep the curve wide enough that it will stick out from behind you.
  7. Repeat sub-steps 5 and 6 on another pipe, but this time change the angle of the first bend so that it sticks out a slightly different direction than the first pipe.
  8. For the next two pipes, again, perform sub-steps 5, 6 and 7, but the first bend after the initial right angle, bend the opposite direction of the first two pipes. This will insure that the four limbs with all stick out in different directions with two going to the right and two going to the left.
  9. With the gray spray paint, paint all four of the limbs to cover any scorch marks and imperfections. It will also give a metallic color to the pipes.

There is a great Instructables class on PVC I highly recommend. Enroll here:

Step 3: Knuckles

You now have four spindly limbs. Not quite so intimidating at this point, but that is where the "articulation" knuckles come into play.

The knuckles are made by cutting the foam pipe cover insulation and wrapping them in the aluminum tape.

  1. Measure each cut the same width as the silver tape.
  2. Cut each length of foam into as many three inch segments as you can.
  3. At this point, I measured out a length of tape to go around all three foam segments, dipping in toward the pipe between each segment. (If you choose to use a tape that is adhesive right away, instead of the HVAC tape that has a paper stripe over the adhesive, then you cannot measure them all out at one time. Tape would have to be cut and applied one at a time a little later in the step.) I cut one strip of tape for every three foam segments.
  4. Starting at each bend, hot glue a foam segment to the pipe.
  5. Glue two more segments to the bend spacing them out to create a foam triangle around the pipe.
  6. Repeat at each bend except the right angle bend. This bend will be hidden and will not need knuckles.
  7. Glue a set of segments at the end of the pole opposite the right angle bend.
  8. Check the spaces between the bend knuckles. Guestimate how many knuckles can evenly fit between each bend section, leaving equal amount of distance between the knuckles.
  9. Glue these spaced out knuckles to the pipe. Make sure the interior holes line up with each other down the length of each section.
  10. Wrap each knuckle with a length of the tape.
  11. Repeat for the rest of the limbs.

Step 4: Cable Time

I acquired my cable by cutting the VGA cables from dead CRT computer monitors. They were the best length and easily accessible for me. The rope process would be identical.

  1. First, I cut the blue VGA ends off the dead monitor cables leaving just lengths of thick black wires. I needed 12 wires total because each limb would have three.
  2. Starting at one end of the limb, feed the wire into the foam segment and lace it through each segment in the line to the other end.
  3. Repeat this for the other tubes on the limb.
  4. Glue the wire end opposite the right angle bend to the inside of the foam segment.
  5. If you have extra wire at the end by the right angle bend, tape it to the pipe or just cut off the extra.
  6. Repeat the entire process with the remaining three limbs.

Step 5: Bag It Up!

You have four limbs that look like articulated snakes. Now is time to make a structure to WEAR these things.

  1. Take the backpack and cut a horizontal line about 4 inches long near the bottom of the bag. I found it is easiest to hang the bag from a hook at this point.
  2. Carefully feed the knuckle-less ends of the limbs into the hole.
  3. Arrange the limbs so there are definite left and right limbs.
  4. Tape the limbs together inside the bag to hold them.
  5. Adjust the limbs so the right angle bend is actually inside the bag and rests on the inside bottom. This should help hold the limbs in place.
  6. Open the hose clamp and fit around the bag with the limbs inside at the lowest point of the bag. Be careful not to include the straps in the clamp.
  7. Tighten the clamp as tight as it will go.
  8. Attach the other two hose clamps around the bag at the mid point and toward the top of the pipes. Also, tighten these clamps as tight as possible.
  9. Zip the bag closed. If the pipes are too long and the bag will not close, carefully cut the extra pipe with the hacksaw so it will.
  10. Slip the backpack on to feel the fit.

Step 6: The CLAAAAWS!

Creating the claws on the cheap is easy. I used three plastic water bottles and a plastic Snapple bottle. The Snapple bottle was selected because it is firmer and retained a “closed grip” appearance.

  1. Start by cutting the ends off the bottles.
  2. Cut them lengthwise down the side of the bottle all the way to the bottom.
  3. About a third of the way around the bottle cut down the length again.
  4. Finally, about another third of the way around cut another length of the bottle. Now you have a bottle with three sections.
  5. Fold the bottle sections out, essentially turning the bottle inside out. Depending on the bottle brand, they may curl up neatly when folded inside out. (At this point, I painted them with the gray paint to give them a metallic look, but it did not work as well as I hoped. This explains why the bottles are gray but still get covered.)
  6. Measure the length of the claw tip to the center of the claw.
  7. Cut nine lengths of the heavy gage wire this length.
  8. Attach the wire to the outside of the claw with the silver tape.
  9. Tape the inside of the claw with more tape.
  10. Touch up any exposed areas with the tape.
  11. Repeat on the other two claws.
  12. Cover the closed grip claw bottle with tape.
  13. Coil up the red pipe cleaner into a disk.
  14. Glue the disk to the inside center of three open claws.
  15. Hot glue all the claws to the ends of each limb.
  16. Use the tape to conceal any exposed areas behind the claws.

Step 7: Suit Up!

  1. Now it is time to suit up with a pair of dark gray slacks, and a dark shirt, and dark shoes.
  2. Carefully put the backpack on.
  3. Tighten the straps so it fits well, and the arms are where they should be instead of sagging down.
  4. It may take a henchman, but slip on the trench coat over the backpack. If there is not a slit along the back of the coat, you may need to add one so the coat does not bunch up on the limbs.
  5. Slip on the goggles.
  6. Put on your hat.
  7. Slip on the gloves.
  8. I added a stuffed Spiderman in my closed claw for effect.
  9. Strike your best super villain pose!

You now have a cheap set of super (non)mechanized robot arms that did not require a super tragic accident. Suitable for participation in any costume party!

I hope this inspired you to create a fun Doctor Octopus costume on a budget. Let me know if you tried this, and please post pics of your finished costume, as well as any hints, tips or tricks you did to make yours your own.

And as always, thanks for checking out my Instructable!

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