Introduction: The Mire Man-Tis

About: Prop builder, yard haunter, Halloween freak and podcaster.

The Man-tis is a Halloween/ Haunt prop made from eps foam, EVA foam, upholstery foam and Free Form Air.

Height is about 7 feet tall and weighs about 75 pounds. This is the center piece for my yard haunt the Village Mire for the 2017 Halloween season.

Tools and materials needed:

Barge cement

Hot Glue gun and glue sticks

Foam Glue

Oscillating multi tool with various triangle sanding sheet

Dremel Tool

Spray 70 glue

Berman Balloon rubber

latex color tint

Monster Makers latex mask paint

Monster Makers

Nitrile Gloves

Respirator/ protective mask

Critter spray gun

Foam cutting knife

Rasper tool

Parma Wet Gloss coating

5 Minute epoxy

EPS Foam

High Density Foam

Step 1: Glue Foam

Glue 7 or 8 pieces of eps foam together with foam glue and let dry overnight.

Step 2: Carve Face

I used an professional hot knife to trim out the rough Mantis face and used file/ rasp to shave off extra foam and smooth out edges.

Width eye to eye 17"

Height base of neck to top of head 10"

Length tip of nose to back of head 12"

Step 3: Build Out Face

Use nitrile gloves to scoop out and make a baseball size ball of Smooth-On's Free Form Air part A. Remove gloves and put on a new set of gloves, as to not contaminate part B, and scoop out and make the same size ball of part B. Nead equal parts A and B until it is all a light gray color (completely mixed). Keep a small bucket of water handy and a spray bottle of water as the epoxy will stick to hands, with or without gloves, and it will make it easier to sculpt and smooth.

Step 4: Make Mandibles and Fangs

Using Free Form air sculpt out the mandibles and fangs. I pinch off a small amount and roll the dough in my palms. Lay the pieces on wax or aluminum foil to dry over night. Free Form takes 12 to 24 hours to harden. For sanding wait 24 hours.

Step 5: Attach Mandible

Hot glue mandible and fangs to mouth area. You may need to use Dremel tool or drill to make a hole in styrofoam to help secure the mandible.

Step 6: Add Ridges to Face

Roll a small balls Free Form Air in your palm until it looks like a worm. Make several different lengths and cut longer pieces unto smaller pieces as need. Use a Sharpie to draw lines on the face were the ridges will be placed. Place pieces of Free Form Air onto the face to build up the ridges as shown in image.

Make some longer thinner rolls (worm like shape) of Free Form Air and place them where the eyes and face meet to make edge like a eye lid. This is not necessary, but adds a nice look.

Step 7: Add Base for Antennas

Take a pinch of FFA and place about 1" from the left and right of center on the upper part of head as shown in image. spray with water and shape like an ant hole. Use a pencil and poke a hole in the middle, this will be the insertion point for the base of the antenna.

Step 8: EVA Foam Antenna

Using 5 or 6 mm thick EVA foam, cut two pieces 12" long by 5/8" for your antenna. Trim off some foam from the bottom to the top so the foam is tapered to a point. Using a Dremel tool with grinding bit grind down the square edges so the are rounded. Start from the bottom and work your way to the point. This is teadous, but keep grinding off excess foam until you achieve the desired look.

Step 9: Front Legs

Add shirt before starting this step. You will not be able to put on shirt after you add front legs.

The hands or tibia of the praying mantis are created with upholstery foam, but I would recommend using eps or pink/blue foam. Cut two rectangle pieces about 1.5' long (depending on how big your mantis body is) and cut away square edges and trim tip to a point with foam cutting tool. You will be covering with Free Form Air, so no need to be perfectly rounded or shaped. The main thing is to cut away the excess and round out the shape.

Attach the foam to the femur (wrist area) of the body form with Barge cement if using upholstery foam or gorilla glue is using eps. Tape into place with paintings tape. When glue dries remove the tape.

Femur = 15"

Tibia = 17"

Step 10: Build Out Femur and Tibia

Flatten out balls of FFA until 1/4" thick and start applying to the femur and tibia. Spray with water and smooth out the FFA until it is smooth. Apply and smooth until all areas of the tibia and femur reach the desired look. Using a plastic sculpting tool carve a ridge where the tibia and femur meet, so it looks like two separate pieces.

Use escalating tool with 80 grit triangle sanding pads to smooth out the FFA. Wear a mask.

Step 11: Spikey Things

You can make the spikes things that protrude from the inside of tibia and femur with FFA or EVA foam. EVA is easier. Cut 3/4' 1", 1.5" and 2" triangles with razor or exact-o blade out of eva foam. Sand and smooth the edges of two of the three sides of the triangle with dremel or belt sander. Apply with hot glue.

Step 12: Body Form

Total height of Mantis = 80"

Lower legs:

Tibia = 18"

Femur = 17"

Bicep = 14"

Torso = 26"

Shoulder width = 20"

You can make your own body form with PVC or wood armature or buy one from a vendor. I purchased this giant body form from Ghostride productions a few years ago for another prop and repurposed it for the mantis. If you buy a body form make sure that it has a mental armature, so it will be sturdy and posable.

I decided to cut the feet off with an electric carving knife and make new feet. This step isn't necessary though. Put pants on the body form at this step, because once you start build out the feet, you will not be able get pants on the body.

Step 13: Feet

Make two eps foam rectangle blocks about 12" long x 4" wide x 5" tall. Cut a V in the end that will be glues into the ankle. Affix with Gorilla Glue using painter's tape to keep them in place until glue dries. Use a foam cutting tool to remove excess foam and shape the feet.

Apply FFA to build out the feet until they reach desired look. I added a pointed tip to my feet, similar to a fang.

Use escalating tool with 80 grit triangle sanding pads to smooth out the FFA. Wear a mask.

Step 14: Chest

Add FFA to chest, just the are that will show with shirt on. Add FFA around neck line for a simple transition from head to shoulders and chest.

Use escalating tool with 80 grit triangle sanding pads to smooth out the FFA. Wear a mask.

Step 15: Skin

Bunch up shirt to the armpit area and cover with plastic wrap to protect against paint spray. Roll paint legs up and also wrap with plastic wrap.

Place painters tape over tips of mandibles, fangs or anywhere else you don't want the green rubber coating.

Sand all FFA one more time using escalating tool with 120 grit or higher sanding pads. Wear a mask. When you are satisfied that all areas are perfectly smooth and ready to paint its time to begin skinning.

Using a Critter Gun fill the mason jar 3/4 with Berman Balloon Rubber and add a few drops of green latex tint. You can mix blue and yellow tint in separate jar to create green. A few drops will do. Shake jar and apply light even coats. 30 to 50 PSI will be enough. Apply 6 coats. Lighten or darken the tint color as needed and allow 15 minutes between coats. Clean out critter gun with water between coats as to not clog up gun.

Step 16:

Halloween Contest 2017

Participated in the
Halloween Contest 2017