Introduction: The FLY
If you are looking for a classic Halloween costume but Frankenstein, Dracula, or the Mummy seems a bit overused, the science experiment gone wrong idea of "THE FLY" might be the talk of the party! The original movie was filmed in 1958 and then because of its charm, they made in a remake in 1986. Movie credits to 20th Century Fox studios for a great movie and inspiration to my costume.
If you are unfamiliar with the story line of the movie it goes something like this (Spoiler Alert):
1. Scientist claims to make a transporter device, but friend tells him to go slow with testing.
2. Scientist jumps in the chamber but unknown to him a common housefly jumps in with him. He energizes the transport.
3. DNA mix up causes the scientist and fly to mix up body parts, wife has a stroke, but commits to finding the fly somewhere (God knows where) to remix them back to normal.
4. Scientist commits suicide under duress of not being able to find the fly. Fly is found in the garden, caught in a spider's web, being eaten by it, as it cries out "Help Meeeeee ! Help MEEEEEEE !!!"
See? Scary Movie.
Here's how I did it ....
4 - EVA foam floor mats (Harbor Frieght) - $9.00
1 - 3M Contact adhesive - (Walmart) $12.00 (plenty for about the next 6 costumes!)
Glitter - Etsy (you pick the colors - I did purple and green) $4.00
Small Spool of 3D priminting filament (Black) - EBay $6.00
Silicone Caulk - Clear & Paintable ! $6.00
Utility Knife & shapener or extra blades
Kwik Seal $2.30 (Walmart)
Lab Coat - Multiple online sites $8.00
Step 1: Concept & Planning
This is purely a EVA foam cosplay build - meaning not a whole lot of equipment is needed and it can go as a pretty fast build.
My concept - Be able to have a costume with an open face to see, eat and drink easily, and well... make it look like my face is in the Fly's mouth. Ok, so that's not QUITE the movie but it's easier to eat Halloween treats this way !!! I also had a first generation helmet (unfinished) laying around and I thought I could use it to build off of and it worked out great. A variant that could look equally cool would be to lower the Fly Head farther down on the helmet and wear the Probiscus (fly's nose) as an add on, so choose your look and start the plan!
Planning - I used EVA foam mats from Harbor Frieght. They are cheap and I do not have to buy too many to make a single project. Note that some mats have a diamond plate look and others have a waffle look to the one side of the mat. I like the latter pattern as it is much more uniform in wall thickness and makes glueing the seams a little bit nicer.
I also used thinner pieces in the claw and as a band around the eyes to hide a major seam. I also added warts and other defects on the skin of the head and claw with thinner foam pieces. I did this by using my bandsaw and a guide (see photo) to rip the foam into half thicknesses. This really stretched the use of the foam out and saved a TON of sanding thick foam down into a black dust just to get a proportionate look. If you do not have a bandsaw then you can buy thinner foam at a number of hobby stores, but this is rather pricey for the amount you get. Try to get someone to rip it down for you if you can.
The planning missed the idea of using a neck gaiter to help hide the turtle neck I was planning on wearing as too much of it was exposed in the unbuttoned top button of the lab coat. So with extra foam material I had, I fabbed a piece (see photos) to help this out.
Sketches - These can be useful if you have not worked with EVA before and because this particular project is very organic looking, it is very forgiving if mistakes are made. A fly's head is not at all like a symmetrical piece of armor! So a very precise pattern is not required, but a concept sketch can help you adjust as you go along the build. However, a pattern is useful regardless and can save you time by avoiding mistakes.
Step 2: Patterning / Cutting / Glue Up
Patterns I used - I use manilla folders as my pattern material. Cheap and easy to use and a little masking tape helps to rework a pattern that just isn't quite right. Just start out with sketching the easy parts first, like the claw, cut and tape them together. If it isn't quite right adjust it until it works for you!.
For the helmet (reused from surplus I had), I actually used the pattern I got for free off the internet from Evil Ted's website. Evil Ted also has some really great videos on YouTube that show ALL the steps I used here to making a foam costume. No need to rehash his information here, he does a fantastic job so if you haven't seen his tutorials, you owe it to yourself to see them if you do any EVA foam work!
His website is here: https://eviltedsmith.com/
Cutting - I used a utility knife and my bandsaw. I particularly used my bandsaw if I wanted to cut a beveled seam for edges that needed to be mated to form an angle. The saw gives a very clean and consistent cut for compound angle seams. A utility knife however does a fine job if cutting square to the workbench. As Ted points out, you want to make reference marks on your foam as referenced in your match marks of your patterns. Sometimes a dart cut into the piece helps to form curved pieces and I have found these pieces require extra attention to really look great.
MORAL OF THE STORY ... When cutting, Take Your Time! An accurate cut can save you all sorts of rework / processing time to make a seam screw up look acceptable!
Glue Up - Contact cement is super strong in glueing up foam. Follow the directions of a coat of glue on BOTH of the foam surfaces to be glued together. Let the glue dry, THEN bring the pieces together starting on one end of a seam and work your way along the seam, joining the pieces together until you reach the end of the seam. Keep an eye on the match marks to be aligned (joined to match) as you go along. You may have to compress or stretch one piece to make this happen. Once joined, the foam is nearly impossible to pull apart, sometimes it will rip the foam before the glue will let go.
Tough / High Stress Joints - Wherever I had to glue a joint that I thought was going to take a lot of tensile stress or where I thought it was holding a lot of weight, I reinforced the seams with a ton of hot melt glue. Often for these joints I held them in place with extra long stick pins (2") until I knew the joint was fully cured. The pins were then pulled out.
Seams - Seams can be easily touched up (filled in) and made essentially seamless by using a silicone caulk like Kwik seal across the two pieces to fill in the gaps. I did this for all the seams but the fly still didn't look right. So I got a tube of clear silicone caulk and a pair of rubber gloves and I coated the entire head and claw with silicone. I slopped it on, pulling up peaks here and there to give the smooth foam some organic texture.
Step 3: Detailing
Detailing is where the project comes alive so have fun with it. If you don't like the look, try something else. There is no right or wrong when building a FLY head so go for it!
Fly Eyes - For the eyes, I punched out foam circles by taking a piece of 3/4 electrical conduit and sharpening an edge to one end on a grinder. I then puched the foam for about 2 hours to get all the eyes I needed. Try glueing with contact adhesive a small round foam to the head, and soon they are sticking to your fingers! Use neoprene gloves if ya got 'em! I just packed them it all over the eye domes. This gave the eyes true texture and hid the seams perfectly.
Fly Hair - For the hairs I used black 3D printing filament. I punched a hole in the foam it a nail and then stuck random length filament strands into the hole. They are held in place with hot glue.
Fly Mandible - The mouth area has some wierd structures as seen in the reference fly photo. Go nuts here! Make it creepy to look like this is the last thing you want buzzing onto your slice of pumpkin pie! I added a lot of hair here.
Warts - All round the head and claw, I added randomly cut shapes as overlays to the skin. It added a lot of dimension and grossness - just what every fly has!
Glitter- After painting the fly in the colors as seen in the photos, I added some more clear caulk and sprinkled a number of pinches of glitter to give it that "insect" sheen look.
Step 4: Afterthoughts ...
I like the way this turned out especially since it was a quick build off a surplus helmet I had laying around. Never throw away bad or unused parts from failed costumes, as you never know how it can be used.
I also prefer not to wear facepaint so if you really want to disguise your face, just use black facepaint and your face will blend in just fine. That way you don't have to remove and mask to eat or drink at your halloween party and conversation with others works out just great. Maybe puch a few holes by your ears if you want to hear better as well if that is needed, it can easily be done. I could hear just fine in one on one conversation, but at a party with music holes might be required. required.
For the toal look, the scientist had suit pants and dress shoes throughout the movie and a dress shirt. It is the small details that make it reall come together so you might want to consider that for a complete look.
All in all... It was a fun build and something unique as a great conversation starter!
Happy Halloween !
Participated in the