Introduction: How to Make a G.I. Joe "Snake Eyes" Costume. Version 2.0
Snake Eyes is the mute ninja from the GI Joe 1980s series. Silent, deadly, uses a katana and guns, AND A SUPE SWEET VISOR?! What more can you ask for!!!
In 2016, I had plans to propose to my "then" girlfriend and I wanted to do it at the Chicago Comic and Entertainment Expo (C2E2). I was going to have all my friends wear costumes and hold up letters asking her to marry me. Well, I had originally made a Snake Eyes costume several years ago, but it was in drastic need of upgrades. Years ago, i had only thought of using fabric and foam to create miscellaneous pieces. However, I leveled up in skill and thought it was time for a more armored Snake Eyes.
- Black Balaclava (motorcycle mask)
-black long sleeve shirt (Turtle neck works great for this)
-black military boots
-toy samurai sword
- EVA Foam
- plexi-glass (home depot)
-2 spice caps
- Self-adhesive window tint
-plastidip or modge lodge
-comic book cardboard
-Mini Black plastic buckles
-shoulder strap of lap top bag with clasps at each end
-Strong miniature magnets (home depot)
-thin metal squares (about 1x1 inch). i just sawed some off of a metal ruler.
-little circular magnets
- silver thumb tacks
Step 1: Reference Pictures
Before I ever start ANY costume, I look up a ton of reference photos from various sources and put it in a folder. The more pictures from different angles, the better.
Look up: 1. Actual photos of the character from its source (movies, comics, action figure, etc)
2. Cosplay pictures. You can see what has been done, what you like, what you don't like, how to improve on a design. You can also start getting an idea of different poses you think you'd like to do.
3. I start looking at art work. I usually look up things via google images, deviant art, tumblr, etc. This way, you can see different renditions of a character through a new perspective and once again, start thinking about what you like, don't like, etc.
4. Use your own imagination. Think about what you want, how to make it your own original design, what are some tricks you think you'd like to incorporate.. perhaps you want to try out a new technique with this build, etc
Optional: 5. If you can draw, I sometimes will take all my reference sources and start drawing out my own design.
Step 2: Base Clothes
I like the idea of multiple accessories for Snake Eyes. He still is Military, which makes me think of all the little gadgets and pockets and such. It's the details that make the costume. Just keep that in mind as you start to accumulate things
Black Pants - I personally prefer to use cargo pants. I think the pockets add a little extra than just straight flat dress slacks.
Black long sleeve shirt - i think its good to get a more fitted/ tight black turtle neck. As a ninja, I would think his suit is sleek versus baggy. Additionally, the turtleneck portion of the shirt functions well to cover the seam of the balaclava
Black Balaclava - Just get your standard balaclava where the slit is only for the eyes. There are two types of balaclavas: One that only has an eye slit, and on that has an entire face opening.
Boots - I like military combat boots, as you can tuck the pant legs into them. In a pinch, you can probably use black shoes.
Gloves - You can use regular black gloves, but i prefer something that has some type of armor on it. Sometimes you can find gloves like these at hardware stores.
Belt - I like a standard black belt where i can add a big black buckle.
Step 3: Visor
Sorry for the lack of actual picture. But, the diagram should help explain what i am talking about.
1. I first cut the general shape of the onto a piece of paper (pic A), then traced it onto the plexi glass. Save that piece of paper. The top angle should be about mid forehead. the bottom angle should be roughly under your nose (pic B). the length should be roughly from mid ear to mid ear (pic E). Take your plexi glass and use a saw or dremel to cut out the diamond shape. you can use sandpaper to smooth the edges, but be careful as plexiglass is sharp when jagged.
2. Take your heating gun and heat up the diamond shaped plexiglass.. I wedged the piece between two sleeves of a table and started to bend it in half, so it looked like an “L” (pic C). BE CAREFUL to make sure the plexi glass is warm, or you will snap it. Once it is cool, warm the sides and bend those in as well.. you should have a nice curve (Pic D) that will fit around your face.
3. Take your window tint and adhere it to the visor.
4. Use your silver sharpie or silver paint pen to draw in some lines on the visor. (pic 2)
5.Now, take your spice caps, and cut a groove into the side where the plexi glass ends can fit into.Glue the plexi glass and caps together. (pic 3)
6. Now take your small magnets and Glue them inside the spice caps. (pic 4)
7. Take your 1” x 1” piece of metal and put some foam on a side.. I had some scrap metal from a metal roller that i just chopped down. These will go inside your mask (metal side out, foam side against your temples).. now the magnets in the spice caps should “click” onto the metal pieces against the temples of your head, thus keeping it on your face (pic 5)
Step 4: Guantlets
1. Start with grabbing your measurements. You will need with length from your wrist to wherever on your forearm you want the gauntlet to end. Then i take a rough estimate measurement of how wide to make it.
2. Transfer those measurements to a piece of paper and fold length ways in half. Folding it and drawing the design on the half will allow for symmetry once you cut it out and unfold the pieces. Draw your design on the half piece of paper, cut it out, and then unfold(pic 1)
3. Use that paper template from step 2 and trace it onto the EVA foam. Cut it out. (pic 1)
4. Heat the cut EVA foam piece with your heat gun and then curve it. Hold in place until cool. it will retain it's form. (pic 1). you now have your gauntlet base
5. Now take your paper template from step 2, refold it in half, and cut off any detail (usually the base) that you don't need. this should give you anything that is elevated on the gauntlet. I used a dremel to bevel the edges i was creating.
6. glue the accents onto your base. In the picture, you can see that the accents are red craft foam, and the base is the grey EVA foam (pic 2)
7. I then glued mini buckles onto the gauntlet to close it up. (Pic 2)
Step 5: Body Armor
1. Take your measurement from the top of your shoulder to a little above your waistline. The reason the measurement is NOT to your waistline is to compensate for how wide the belt is. Then you need to take the measurement for your width. I wanted it to be more of a vest, so i was okay with not having the sides directly connect into one uniform piece. Anyways, once you have your measurements, transfer to paper and fold in half. Draw your design out on the half sheet and then cut out. once you unfold the paper, you should have a symmetrical paper template . Transfer that to EVA foam and cut out. This is your "base". (pic 1)
2 Once i have the base cut out, i used the paper template to draw in where the pieces were going to be glued down. Once satisfied, i cut out that section from the paper, transferred to EVA or craft foam and cut out the piece.
I used my dremel to bevel the edges of the armor plates at an angle.
*If you want to be a superstar, you can get a electric sander and sand off all the tread from the back of the EVA foam. i personally don't like the tread and this way, glueing it down is more neater and flush. if you don't want to, not a big deal. (pic 2)
3. For the back, repeat steps 1 and 2. I just added my own design to give it some differing layers.
4. Now you should have a chest piece and a back piece. In order to have them conjoin, place the chest and back piece on you. Take some extra foam, place it in the vacant gap where the shoulder strap would be, mark the foam, and then cut it. Glue in place once completed. Those pieces are like a puzzle, as you want just enough room for your head to fit through. (pic 4)
5. Glue some foam straps to the sides of the vest. I like using mini black buckles to click everything together. (pic 4)
5. Eventually, i added a collar to the vest as well.
Step 6: Shoulder Pads
I wanted to make armored shoulder pads for the vest.
1. draw out your template on paper, transfer to EVA foam, and cut out. (pic 1)
2. use a bowl and a heat gun to create the concave of that will fit around the shoulder. (pic 2)
3. i did this 4 times, and glued the shoulder in 2 layers. ( pic 3, Picture is not from this build, but premise is the same.)
4. You can attach these shoulder pads to the vest through the use of thicker elastic.
Step 7: Biceps
Pics are not from this build, but concept is the same.
1. measure out your bicep and cut a strip that will wrap around your arm.
2. create all your EVA pieces from your paper templates (pic 1)
3. i made sure to add a front bicep piece (pic 2)
4. The seam is located on the inner bicep. I closed it with mini buckles (pic 3)
Step 8: Decals
1. Arashikage symbol - Snake Eyes belonged to the Arashikage clan so i wanted to add this symbol somewhere on his suit. I decided to add it to one shoulder. (pic 1)
2. I glued on a layer of craft foam over both shoulder pieces.
3. I then drew on the location of each piece of the symbol so i knew where each piece would sit. (pic 2)
4. Take your craft foam, cut out each piece, and glue onto the shoulder. (Pic 3)
GI Joe symbol - i wanted include the GI Joe symbol on the suit so i put it on the chest. (pic 4)
1. I drew out the symbol on the chest and then used an exacto knife to cut into the foam (like a pencil). The idea is to NOT cut through the foam, but just into it.
2. Use your heating gun and apply eat to the cuts you made with the exacto. It will open up the cuts, leaving you with an imprint.
3. When i painted the suit, i first sprayed that area with silver and then used black to paint around the cut. ( pic 5)
Step 9: Weapons: Shoulder Harness
Sorry i don't have just a separate picture of the belt harness. The diagram hopefully describes what i am referring to.
1.Grab some type of strap (can be leather, nylon, etc) and put a hole through each end. Now put two metal washers on each side. (pic K)..
2. loop them around your belt on one side.. from there, take your shoulder strap belt and click it into the washers (pic L).
3. Take two straps of double sided velcro and secure your sword to the back (pic M and pic 2)
Step 10: Weapons: Gun Holster
1. get your guns first, so you can have something to measure on. (pic1)
2. create your template out of paper. I wanted it to be relatively one piece for the holster so i knew the 1 piece of EVA foam would have to fold into 3 sides. (pic 2)
3. Use your paper template to trace out the design, then cut it out, and then use a soldering iron to carve in the grooves. once done, you can glue those grooves closed (pic 3 +4)
4. Now you can add your closing flaps to the case. (pic 4)
5. i added a strip of craft foam for design and to also keep everything secured together. (pic 5)
6. To secure your closing flaps, i used tiny magnets on the inside of the lid, and then a washer on the body of the holster so it "clicked" closed. (pic 6)
7.I used elastic and plastic buckles to secure the holster around my thigh
8. i cut a little slits in the back of the gun holster so i could slide my belt through it.
Step 11: Grenades
For a grenade, take a thin strip of foam and horizontally encircle the ornament (pic N). There should be a little cap that you stick the hook through for the ornament to hang.. CAREFULLY cut that off and save it. grab some cardboard and you should have 2 trapezoid looking pieces, a long strip, and that piece from the cap (pic o)
assemble the cardboard pieces together, (the strip will wrap over the top).. hot glue the entire cardboard trigger to the top of the ornament. Take the “cap” that you cut off the top and glue it to the side. Put a key ring through and you have a grenade. BOOM.
(pic 3) i made three and used some double sided velcro and safety pins to attach them to the front of the chest strap.
I later got lucky and found some plastic toy grenades at a dollar store. i tore off the tops and glued those on to the ornaments in the upgrade.
Step 12: Knife and Sheath
*You can buy a plastic knife, or build one. If you choose to build one, then follow these instructions below.
1. Draw out your paper template (pic 1)
2.you need 3 pieces of cardboard that will be sandwiched together. The two other pieces of cardboard will be a bit thinner than the middle piece because they do not include the "blade" of the knife. Also, cut a thin piece of cardboard for the handle of all 3 pieces. This will fit inside the PVC handle.(pic 2)
3. Glue the 2 side pieces onto comic cardboard. remember to make sure that the comic cardboard is on the outer side of the knife. (pic 3 + 4)
4. Now glue all three pieces together.
5. Once together, start filling the "ledge" created by the outer cardboard pieces and the middle cardboard piece with hot glue. Use the tip of the hot glue gun to create the angle. Once you get the rough shape of the blade, use comic cardboard and rub furiously against the glue, as if it were sandpaper. The friction will warm up the glue, allowing it to spread more evenly. repeat as needed. (pic 5)
6. Create your hand guard out of a small rectangle of cardboard. put the hole through it and encase in comic cardboard for a clean look. Then put the whole thing in a PVC tube. You can add rings of EVA around the handle for detail (Pic 6 )
7.That should give you your knife. (pic 7). to make a sheath, i took some cloth and wrapped it around the knife. i sewed the edges closed and call it a day. Oh, and i added belt loop and an elastic thigh strap to the sheath.
Step 13: Finishing Touches
That should be it! A few last minute things and tips:
1. All foam pieces should be either coated with Plastidip or painted with modge lodge matte. doing so preps the foam for painting.
2. if you have any gaps that you need filled between foam pieces, use the kwikseal caulk
3. If you want more guns, i suggest something big like an assault rifle.
4. Just to give the suit a bit more style, i added silver thumbtacks throughout the suit after it was painted black. It gives the suit a nice break in all that jet black. I also added a silver dog tag.
4. Don't be afraid to find some fellow GI Joes or some Cobra cosplayers!
5. If you really wanted to add more stuff, i guess you could add some shin armor or knee pads.
Oh, and as a little side note, my girlfriend said "yes" to becoming my wife at the 2016 Chicago Comic Con!Yay for happy endings. For anyone interested, here is the video of the proposal. Snake Eyes is holding the "M" in "Marry"
More of the featured costumes in the pictures can be located on my instructables page.