Playable Pacman Arcade Game Costume




Introduction: Playable Pacman Arcade Game Costume

About: I'm loving this site! Most of my 'ibles will be of birthday parties and Halloween costumes. I absolutely love planning and running birthday parties and Halloween is the best holiday ever! If you like those as …

This Halloween my kids decided they wanted to be Pacman so I just couldn't pass up the chance to be the arcade game to match. Now an arcade game costume is pretty cool on its own, but one you can actually play is infinitely better wouldn't you say? So here I will do my best to explain how I made mine. I got lucky in that I had the perfect sized boxes to work with and that someone had done a similar thing so I had something to get me started. The basic idea for the working parts came from this great BMO costume 'ible: So be sure to go check that out and give some props!

Basically, this costume is made from cardboard and hot glue. You will also need spray paint (white and yellow), a box cutter and scissors, a computer and printer, card stock, spray adhesive, a plastic shopping bag, glue stick, black, red, and orange paint, and a paint brush.

For the working components you will need a plug and play pacman game. You can usually find these pretty cheap at a dollar store. You also need a small battery powered projector. I used the same one suggested in the BMO ible, a Jakks pacific eye clops like this one

and batteries for the projector. You will also need a mirror.

Also see our Pacman cosutme:

and our Metal Pacman costume:

Step 1: Get the Idea

So before you can really get started, you have to have a tentative plan and know general sizes needed.

Gather some reference photos to work from. Use these to help you with the design. Here is a little sketch of my concept. I did it different colors to visualize all the parts:

1. the body compartment: this is where your body will go when you wear it.

2. the projector box housing: this is the box that holds the projector and mirror

3. the screen

4. the control panel: where you will mount the joystick

5. the coin door: this will allow you easy access to the projector box to turn it on and off and replace batteries.

6. the side panels: you add these to the build near the end to cover up seams and tape.

7. the sign: the pacman sign at the top of the game

This also helps with sizes if you are a numbers person. I tried taking measurements of the parts, but I ended up finding it easier to just wing it for the most part.

Step 2: The Body Compartment

First you need to measure yourself from shoulder to just below waist, shoulder to shoulder, and front to back. This will tell you how large to make your body compartment which is the base for the whole thing. Or you could just find a box that you fit in comfortably and screw the numbers mess. The rest of the build is built onto this so this is the foundation.

I happened to have the perfect box. It fit me great with plenty of room without having too much space and making the build bigger than it needed to be.

Break down your box and remove any tape that may still be on it. Cut off the end of the box where you feet will be. Now take your box and any other cardboard you think you will be using outside and give them a nice coat with cheap white spray paint. This will save you time and money later when you need to paint it yellow. That cardboard really soaks up the paint making you need to apply more layers and yellow spray paint can get expensive. I recommend having a layer of white on any cardboard you use for this build. It is much easier to do that BEFORE you build it. I learned the hard way.

Anyways, once the paint has dried, bring it back to your work area and find the center of the panel where your head will be. Draw or trace a circle there large enough four head to comfortably fit through. I traced a medium sized mixing bowl. Then carefully cut the hole out.

Now build your box back up and tape it with wide masking tape. I say masking tape because it is the best tape to paint over. I initially taped it with duct tape and it didn't hold well so I switched to masking tape.

Try the fit. Make sure the head hole is good for you. If you are good, we need arm holes next.

We are going to trace another circle in the middle of each side panel at about 4 and a quarter inches from the top of the box. Carefully cut these out and add some tape to the seams.

Try the fit again. I found, later on in the build, that the arm holes were not comfortable for me. They needed to be more oval shaped so I had to go back and draw an oval around the circle and cut it out again. Then I traced the piece I just cut off on the other side to make it even.

* you will notice that I did not spray paint the side panels. This if because we are going to add panel later that will cover this part up, so no use in wasting paint.*

Step 3: Projector Housing Box

Let's get out housing box started.

I used a double cereal box from Sams to house my components.

Cut off one of the larger panels.

The game will plug into the projector and the battery pack will plug in as well. We need to flip the image so that when people play it from the other side of the screen, it is the right way for them. This is where the mirror comes in. It plays 2 major rolls: it flips the image and it helps make the image larger in a small space.

Sit your mirror at an angle against the back panel, and your projector and battery pack near the open end. I used the cut off panel to hold above the box at the angle I wanted to screen to be so that I could move the mirror to the angle that best fit that. Mark around the mirror with a pencil to be able to line it up later.

This little experimenting will probably end up different in the end, but for me the angle of the mirror was about the same in the end, either way, this is good practice for understanding how it all works together.

*keep the cut off panel*

Step 4: Make the Screen

Here you will need a section of a box that has the front panel and two side panels. The box, with the side panels at top and bottom, needs to be the same width as the body compartment, which for me, was 21 in. Again I lucked out and had the perfect box.

Make sure the whole box is sprayed white. You can see, I didn't paint the side panels and had to do it later when it was all built, no bueno.

Get your plastic shopping bag and cut off the handles. Then cut along the seams on the sides and bottom. This leaves you with the back panel of the bag which has no writing and the front panel which does (useless). Spread out your bag to see how large it is. This will be your screen. We need to mount it to the cardboard.

Lay out your cardboard with the painted side down. Mark out a rectangle that is a little smaller than the bag. For me, it was 1.25 in from the top and bottom, and 3.5 in from the sides. Carefully cut out the rectangle.

Lay out your bag over the opening to check the fit.

Now grab a glue stick and start with one side of the bag. Put a line of glue along the edge of one side of the screen opening and align the bag on top. This will hold the bag in place while you secure it.

Cut strips of scrap cardboard. Put hot glue along the length of it and place the strip across the plastic bag along the edge of the screen opening. Make sure that the strip touches the cardboard on both ends because the hot glue can melt the bag.

Next do the side of the screen opposite the one you just did. Pull the bag tight and secure in the same fashion.

Continue with the other 2 sides.

The top panel of the screen will connect to the top of the body compartment and the bottom panel will be the control panel. For my build, I needed the screen to come out from the body a little to make the image as large as possible on the screen so I marked a line at half of the panel and scored it from the back side so that it would bend there easily.

Step 5: Figure Out the Angles

Now the frustrating, I need more hands! part.

We need to set the final location for the projector and battery pack, as well as the mirror and screen angles.

I placed the cut off panel of the cereal box inside and pulled it out a bit to expand the area I could use, so I could move the projector back some, which makes for a bigger image.

The projector has a little metal part that sticks out the bottom so it cant sit flat. So I bought a foam block at walmart for under $1. Cut off a bit on the end and push the projector into it, This will give it a stable surface.

Set up your mirror and put your battery pack right on the edge of the open end, with the projector right in front of it.

I tried many different configurations, but this is the one that worked.

Turn it all on and grab your screen. hold your screen so that the bottom panel is sitting on the projector housing box near the open end of it. Play with the angles of the screen and the mirror until you are satisfied. The bottom flap of the screen should not move, you should just be able to tilt the screen forward and backward.

If the angle of your mirror has changed, mark it. Roll some tape and put it on the bottom and sides of the box on the line you marked and press the mirror into place. This was enough to hold it for me. Use tape to secure the projector and battery pack as well as you can.

Now we need to make our housing box a bit sturdier before we attach the screen. Take some really stiff good cardboard and hot glue one piece across the top of the housing right over the battery pack, one under the housing box parallel with the first piece, and one from end to end long ways on the bottom. This gives it the strength it needs to support all the weight.

Now you can hot glue the bottom panel of the screen in place. It should connect near the end of the housing box, so that most of the panel is free to work with.

Step 6: The Hole

So, when we add the projector housing box to the build, we are going to need some support where it meets the body. Hot glue probably wont be good enough. so we need to cut a hole in the body for the end of the projector box to fit snugly in.

You will need a helping hand here. Hold the projector housing against the body with the top half of the top panel of the screen resting on the top of the body box. It is good to have it all on, so you can check the angle of the screen and the picture. When you get it aligned where you want it, have a friend mark the corners of the projector box on the body and the line where the top panel rests on the top of the body box.

Now cut a hole out that is very slightly smaller than the box. Try to fit the projector housing box end into the hole. If it wont go in, make the hole bigger. It should be tough to get in so that it fits snugly, We aren't connecting it right now though. Next step.

Step 7: Finish Off the Front

Time to enclose the front of the game.

Find a box that will work.You will need only 3 sides. I used the rest of the box I used for the screen. It needs to be as wide as the body compartment, deep enough to sit the projector housing against one side with the mirror side of the box extending a little past it. See photo.

Mark where the control panel meets the box. Cut on this line.

Now the projector housing should fit in the box with the control panel of the screen extending slightly over the cut side of the box.

Step 8: Add the Controls and Coin Door

Sit the pacman game in the center of the control panel an inch or two away from the edge, so that it overlaps the box below and trace around it.

Cut out the hole, again just slightly smaller to allow for a snug fit.

Sit the game in the hole to check the fit.

Now cut a rectangle into the box below the game so that you can push the game down farther into the hole.

Feed the wires into the hole and then the fit the game in.

Add the coin door

Draw out a rectangle on the box just below the game.

Carefully cut it out.

Trim the cut off rectangle a teensy bit on one of the shorter sides.

I bought a cheap set of hinges which I used to attach the door to the box. Just align the hinged on the door and push the screws through, Add a bit of hot glue to the back of the screws to hold in place.

Now cut a hole and add the lock and key. You can get these at Lowe's for like $4, but I was lucky enough to ask around town and got a used one given to me.

Fit the door in place and push the other screws into the box. Hot glue the back of the screws.

Now we are ready to connect stuff.

Hot glue the projector box and control panel to the box.

Push the box up against the body and play with the screen angle again. When you are happy, mark where the screen meets the sides of the box.

Hot glue along the seams on both sides of the build where the sides of the box meet the screen.

Step 9: Attach to the Body

rim off the excess cardboard around the sides of the screen.

You will need a helping hand here.

You need to insert the projector housing into the hole you made and push the box flush with the body, as well as align the top panel of the screen on the top of the body AND hot glue it all in place. Hot glue everywhere the two sections meet.

My body compartment was much too tall for my game build so I had to trim it down. I did it the hard way by gluing everything first. I had to rest it on a plastic shelf thing in order to do so. Not recommended if you can help it.

Step 10: Prepare Side Panels

I was originally going to use yellow foam board for this, but it was 1. too small and 2. too expensive. I ended up using cardboard. Just find 2 sections of cardboard large enough to cover the entire side of the build.

Hold it up to the side of the build and mark where it meets. Then get a small person/child to sit in the box while you hold the panel in place and trace the arm hole.

The side panels of the game are rounded and higher in the front than in the back, so draw this out on the panels.

cut out the panel and the arm holes.

Spray paint it white and let it dry. (paint the side to be shown and the edges of the back side.)

Spray paint it yellow.

Step 11: Prepare and Paint

Cover the game and screen with plastic bags held with masking tape.

Use masking tape to cover the bottom of the game and the hinges and lock on the door.

Spray paint it all yellow.

Hot glue the side panels on. This is kinda tricky cause its such a larger area to cover that the glue dries before you can get it on. You will have to go in sections and apply extra along the edges.

Step 12: Make the Sign

Cut a strip of cardboard that is about 3.5 in wide and slightly longer than your build is wide. This will fit at the top of the game. Be sure to leave extra space on the ends to glue in place.

Paint it white

Then paint it yellow

Print the sign here and assemble it, by taping it on the back.

Use spray adhesive to stick it to the cardboard.

Hot glue the sign on the build

Step 13: Stencil

Here I have attached a 4 piece stencil. Print them out and either cut them then put them together or vise-versa. Maybe easier to put together first, unlike me.

When you are ready to cut out the stencil, you will need to draw in some bridges first because there are a lot of islands. We want to keep all the white and cut out the black. In places where white is completely surrounded by black, you need to make a bridge to connect one section of white to another. See example in first pick.

Assemble your stencil.

Roll tape and place all around on the back side of it.

Stick stencil to build and carefully trace the lines with a sharpie. Coloring it all in with a sharpie may be annoying cause they tend to run out of ink. So just trace it on, remove the stencil and paint it in black.

Then paint the shoes and tongue red and the gloves orange.

Step 14: Finishing Touches

Here I have attached some pictures of coin door slots and game decoration. Print them and cut them out.

Use spray adhesive to stick them on to your build.

That's it, we are finished. Be careful getting into and out of it because the projector and battery pack are only held in with tape. Try to keep it level as much as possible.

Also, I hope you have an SUV, van or truck, cause it is hard to impossible to fit in a car.

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    8 years ago

    Amazing! The structure and painting alone are awesome and the playability aspect really takes it to the next level. It's truly a memorable costume.


    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    Thank you so much for the great feedback! I got recognized in the mall as that Pacman game girl lol

    OK so this is awesome just because of the costume, however the fact that it's playable is amazing! I love this so much, I bet everyone was super impressed!


    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    Thank ya! Yes, they were. People were amazed when they saw that it was actually playable. I had kids come up and play while parents stood by thinking it was just a picture and then realized their kid was actually playing. I had lines of people waiting to play, kids and adults. It was a lot of fun! And it will be a great thing to keep after halloween.