Intro: A Battle Mech Suit
Halloween is the greatest time of year!!! I love making costumes but there is one simple rule I follow. Only found or recycled materials can be used unless it is absolutely necessary to buy something. Oh yes, and the costume can't be lame. It has to be EPIC!!!
This is not really an instructable. It is more of what I did to create this costume and hopefully you can use some of the ideas from it. I didn't take as many pictures as could have been so you might have a few questions.
This costume was made for a Halloween contest (unfortunately the contest was canceled at the last minute due to poor ticket sales). The only way I could get to the contest was by city bus so I phoned the bus company and found out the dimensions of their doors. This costume stands about 7 feet high, 3 feet wide at the shoulders, and is about 2.5 feet front to back.
Oh, and there are no pictures of me in the finished costume. I couldn't get it in my door to take pictures in the mirror!
Here is the material list:
For the paper mache; (Did I mention the costume is made out of cardboard and paper mache?)
-old pair of pants
-red plastic from a plastic file folder
-strips of rubber for feet
-pieces of wood
-cloth for padding
Camo, words, and symbols;
-red latex paint
-black spray paint
-white spray paint
-yellow craft paint
-white craft paint
-red craft paint
-green craft paint
-plastic flower pots
-lights that clip on to a hat
-2 6v gel cells
-large sewing needle
-heat gun (to speed up the drying process for the paper mache)
There are miscellaneous items like screws and stuff. The back bottles are from a water cooler I found.
I'm not going to describe how I made the smoke bombs for the smoke generator nor the ignitors for them. Also the gun on the left (left side of the picture) fired special confetti shells I created. They sounded like a shotgun going off and spewed confetti everywhere! But I made sure that it was absolutely safe by doing extensive testing with the shells and gun before putting it anywhere near my body. So I'm sorry but I can't tell you how I did that. It is very dangerous if you don't do it right.
As for the price, I think this costume cost me about $50 in materials. Most of the materials were found so they were free.
Step 1: Working With the Cardboard
I didn't follow any specific pattern or wanted to duplicate something I saw somewhere. It was more of a create as it was being built kind of thing.
From previous experience, hot glue or any kind of glue tore the cardboard if the cardboard was stressed. Since I was using paper mache, that was going to be the glue. But it wouldn't be strong enough to hold the cardboard together (learned that one from previous experience as well) so I sewed the cardboard together with string and a very large sewing needle. I think it was a bookbinders needle I bought from the dollar store. I also used a hardware store stapler (already had one) to help hold things together. Had to bend the backs of the staples down once they went through the cardboard so there were no protruding edges.
Before the cardboard was sewn and stapled together, I used the paper mache mixture (a thick paste of flour, water, and salt) between the pieces of cardboard to glue them together. Then after it was put together, another layer of the mixture was spread over the string and staples to help hold them in place.
Each piece was fit to my body during the construction. To join the upper and lower legs, cloth was sewn onto the cardboard and then sewn onto an old pair of pants with the string.. This made the joints flexible.
One of the pictures shows the back. Another picture has some black rubber things in it. These are the feet. They are made out of paper mache and cardboard too but the rubber let the feet flex as I walked.
Step 2: Creating the Body
As you can see, the body was being built to accommodate me. Again the cardboard was sewn together and it made it quite strong. To get in and out of the torso, the front bottom half of the costume hinged outward. The hinge was simply a strip of duct tape stapled to the cardboard. During this build phase, some of the lights were added. The smoke generator and some of the wiring was already added.
Step 3: Paper Mache
In these pictures you can see that the construction paper was used for the paper mache base coat. Since it is thicker, it hid a lot of the bumps. Newspaper was put over top of this later to smooth things even more but I didn't take pictures of that.
You can see how the feet were created. They are made of cardboard but the protrusions hinged on the rubber. The base of the foot is just pieces of wood that the rubber is stapled to. The cardboard for the feet was also stapled into the side of the wood to hold the shape of the feet.
You can also see the pants and the cloth that was sewn to them.
Step 4: Smoke Generator
The smoke generator was made out of electrical conduit and metal tubing. There are two tubes for the smoke bombs so they can be fired separately. The smoke bombs are inserted into the bottom two tubes and caps are placed over the bottoms. On either side of the smoke generator where the wires come out are where the 2 6v gel cell batteries are placed. These batteries supply the power for the entire costume.
The green tubes are where the smoke comes out by the side of the head. You'll also notice a lot of padding as this suit is fairly heavy and sits on my shoulders.
Again, I did a lot of testing to make sure that I wouldn't get burned by the smoke bombs nor could the costume catch fire. The smoke generator was designed specifically with this in mind.
Step 5: Weapons
Little Miss Boom Boom is a three barreled weapon that fires confetti using homemade fireworks. Again I'll stress that I did A LOT of testing before putting it anywhere near my body. Nor did I want it to hurt anyone. Safety MUST come first!
Sheet metal was used and tacked together with a welder. You could screw or wire it together. The barrels were welded in and tested a lot. Didn't need shrapnel. Each shell was triggered separately by it's own switch for a total of three shots. The power came from the batteries on the back of the costume.
To load the shells, the shells were placed inside from the back and a metal plate covered the barrels on the back. Toilet tissue was placed in the barrels from the front and the confetti loaded in. Then tissue paper was placed over the front ends of the barrels, held in place by rubber bands, and painted black. This stopped the confetti from coming out when the gun was pointed down but the tissue paper blew off when the shells were ignited.
If you make something like this, ONLY use thick steel tubing for the barrels! Anything else might explode and seriously hurt you. You could also figure out how to do this with compressed air as was my original idea but I didn't have the time to come up with a workable idea. Besides each shot sounded like a shotgun (a lot less power of course).
Booty Call is a tri-barrel rotating weapon. Because it wasn't firing anything except smoke and light, it didn't have to be as strong. You can't see it here but switches were added to this gun to also control the suit lights. All electronics were controlled with my two hands.
The rotating barrels were made from plastic pipe set in a wood frame. A bolt was passed through the center of each frame and a cordless drill was attached to one end to make the barrels spin and the other end was spinning on a bolt attached to the metal tubing. Since the gun isn't supposed to last forever, bearings aren't needed.
The letters for the weapons were put on using stencils and paint.
To fire the weapon, I triggered the smoke bomb below the hand grip and when the smoke came spewing out of the front, I spun the barrels and turned on the light. Because the barrels were open on each end and each barrel had to line up with the light, the light strobed. It looked REALLY cool with the strobing light and the smoke! Plus the strip of metal made a pretty cool sound too!
Step 6: Painting
The finished parts were painted with a dark red household latex paint for the base. It did a really good job of covering up a lot. I didn't want a smooth surface because it would be camo painted as the final coat. The latex paint also helped protect the suit from rain.
For the camo, all I did was take flat black and flat white spray paint and make random patterns. The paint really breaks up the lines of the suit and in when it is darker, that suit is hard to see.
For the symbols, ideas I liked were downloaded off the internet and printed on paper. Then the areas that were to have paint were cut out. This created a mask for the paint and a brush was used to paint the symbols. Craft paint was used for this. The lines aren't as sharp as I would have liked but tape couldn't be used as it would have damaged the paper mache.
The letters were created from stencils and painted on.
Step 7: Details
These are just closeup detailed pictures so you can have a closer look at the finished suit. You'll notice that the paper mache is ripping at some points and that's from hanging the suit in the carport so I could take pictures.
You may notice the weapons are attached to the suit with metal tubes. The weapons are fairly heavy and I didn't want to carry them. The tubes are hinged and give a limited range of motion but they carry the weight of the weapons.
Step 8: Finished Costume
These are just shots of the completed costume. All of the lights flashed randomly and it looked pretty cool. Unfortunately I don't have any pictures of the suit in action.
One thing I would do differently is create a larger visor. The field of view was too small. Still could see but not as much as I would have liked.