Hi makers. Before we begin, let's name off a few facts about myself.
- Fact: I've been a Transformer fan since I was 4.
- Fact: A realistic Transformer costume would be awesome for Halloween(I would probably get extra candy).
- Fact: I have an Arduino Uno, which I can pretty much do anything with at the moment, except build a real Transformer(darn).
- Fact: I am an evil genius.
- Fact: Halloween isn't too far away from the publishing of this Instructable(neither is the deadline for the Fandom contest).
- Fact: Having LED's and sound effects would be pretty boss.
- Fact: I love bacon and Dr. Pepper. I know it's not really related, but as long as we're sharing facts about ourselves I might as well put that in.
As said previously, the goal is to make a Transformers costume out of cardboard boxes to give it a boxy look. Also we are going to add LED's and sound effects. My favorite Transformer is Silverbolt, so my goal for this project is to create a costume that looks like he does in the video game Transformers: War for Cybertron.
- Tons of cardboard. It may seem impossible to get enough for this project, but if you go around to local businesses and ask for some leftover boxes they will happily provide.
- Some blue sunglasses for the eyes.
- Something that will fit your head. An old helmet or cheap mixing bowl perhaps.
- Duct tape
- Hot glue gun with plenty of glue. You'll be using this a lot.
- Silver and gold spray paint.
- Contact paper
- Silver or grey paracord
- A dark Sharpie
- Some sharp scissors
- A sharp knife. Pocketknives work wonderfully
- An Exacto knife
- 20 1/8'' wide 3/4'' long bolts
- 20 1/8'' nuts
- 40 washers to fit the bolts. Make sure the total width of them is 3/4''
The following materials are if you want to go all out with this costume and make it light up.
- Soldering iron and solder.
- 4 red LEDs
- Heat shrink tubing
- .22 gauge wire
- A 25x15 printed circuit board. I got one at RadioShack for $2.50
- An on/off switch
This Instructable is a remix of dannyeurena's great Instructable on how to make an Optimus Prime costume here.
Step 1: Prepping the Boxes
Once you have amassed a big pile of cardboard boxes, you need to get them ready for use. Do this by flattening them out so that they are easier to work with and cut. By flattening I don't mean jumping on the boxes like a madman, but cutting the flaps apart so that they are flat. This may seem like a tedious task, but it honestly would only take about 15 minutes, and they are much easier to work with after this.
Step 2: Measuring, Cutting, and Folding
This step is pretty much the bread and butter to making a cardboard costume. Once you're done with this, the costume itself will be close to being done. You'll want the costume to fit your body well, so take detailed measurements of all limbs and body parts (i.e. forearm, chest, head, shin). I would recommend making all of your boxes the same width so it looks better. For instance, all my pieces are 7 inches wide. That would mean all your limb pieces should be about 28'' by however long your arm or leg is. One thing I found that makes putting the piece together much easier is to make a small 1-2 in. flap at the end. We'll explain what to do with this later. After you have cut out a piece, fold it along increments of however wide you want it. For instance, all my pieces were 7'' wide, so that would mean all my folding increments were 7''. Once folded we'll have to connect the ends so that they're pretty sturdy. You remember those little flaps that we added on? Well those are about to come in handy. Getting your hot glue ready, fold the piece up so that it makes a square shape. Then take the flap and hot glue it so it completes the square. Put some duct tape over it. Cutting the shoulder is a bit weird and different from all the other pieces. Silverbolt's shoulder is combined with his upper arm, so we'll just make one piece. When cutting out the shoulder, cut out 4 sides, 2 pieces where your arm comes through, and 2 long pieces that will fold over the top. Remember, the side pieces are just 13x7s with a slight curve at the top. For the side pieces I would recommend that you add flaps to the long side. Once you have them all cut out, assemble by first attaching two side pieces to each side of an arm piece. Attach them by first hot gluing and using duct tape as extra insurance. Then hot glue the top piece, folding it to fit the curve. As the limbs are all done and coming together, you need to the biggest piece of the whole costume, the chest. When fitting the chest all you've got to do take some fairly big pieces. I cut up a big Amazon box into two and put them over me then hot glued them so they would fit. A good idea to do is to a few inches of space for the LEDs if you have decided to do those.
Step 3: Making the Helmet
For this step, take your old helmet, and really evaluate if it's going to work. I started with an old bicycle helmet, but I stopped using that because it was so thick that it made the cardboard on top go way too high. If I had stuck with this, I would've ended up with a bobble head Transformer. But seriously, find something that isn't too thick and that fits your head well. In the end I went out and got a cheap plastic mixing bowl. It was a bit snug, but oh well. Silverbolt's head has a tapered rectangle on top of his head. Once you cut that out, find some flat pieces of cardboard and glue them so they are coming down on the sides. Then take a piece big enough to cover everything on your face except the eyes and attach it to the side pieces. Put some blue sunglasses on and you're ready to go.
Step 4: Texturing and Details
When I say texturing and details, I mean the 3D shapes on Silverbolt that make him look cool and unique. First, we'll start with the things on his chest. To start trace a foot long line. This will be the base. Now mark a triangle that has it's point 4'' deep into the shape and is 3'' high. After that go another 4'' in and come to about an inch from the edge. Repeat this once more and then you have a complete triangle side piece. Now we've got to make 4 more of these. Once done, hot glue them on the chest an inch away from the edge and 2 3/4'' apart. Add some duct tape to the insides where nobody will see them. After they are done cut two 15'' long and 2 3/4'' wide pieces and hot glue them onto the sides. The shins will now be pretty easy to do. Cut 4 10'' diameter circles. Take thin strips of cardboard and hot glue them to the sides. Make sure they are protruding down. Then put hot glue on the bottom and apply to the shin. Make sure they are toward the bottom of the shin and sticking out a bit in the back. For the forearms make eight triangles that are 4'' long and 2'' high. Once cut out hot glue four of them on one forearem spacing them 1'' apart. Then cut a square piece 4'' wide and however long the back side of the triangle is. Yay! Now the costume looks a lot more realistic and detailed.
Step 5: The Wings
One big detail of Silverbolt's appearance are the wings protruding from his back. As you can see there are two sets of wings. Some small wings on the bottom and much larger wings on top. For the small wings cut two 12'' by 6'' pieces. The large wings were 2 1/2' long and 1' wide. To give it the tapered look they have I added smaller pieces onto the side. To ensure good connections we are going to use the bolts and washers along with hot glue. I started by putting the smaller wings on. To do this first fold the end of the wings and hot glue that end to the back of the chest. If you look at the wings on Silverbolt, you will see that the wings are slightly angled back. To achieve this take two small strips of cardboard and fold it in two places. Then wedge one strip under each small wing. Then use an awl to punch holes in the top and bottom of the strip that go through the chest. Then proceed to put a bolt, nut and washers through the hole. Make sure to put a washer on each side. For the larger wings, just use three sets of bolts, nuts and washers on each wing. I experimented with tilting them back, but they weren't able to stay straight and always flopped. Now onto painting.
Step 6: Painting
This part is pretty simple as all you have to do is spray. Take all the parts and just spray paint them all silver. I also got a matte clear finish. Looking back I should've used glossy to give it a gleaming appeal. Toward the end I ran out of silver paint and had to start using regular grey paint. But this was entirely my fault as I hadn't started with a full can of silver anyway. There are some parts that are gold such as the front of the shoulders, the exhaust things on the forearm, and the circles and lower shins. Once the paint is dry and set you're ready to make this costume an Autobot!
Step 7: The Symbol
No Autobot is an Autobot without his official insignia! If you have decided to put LEDs in then you're really going to want to do this because it's going to be backlit. To make this symbol, first print out a small Autobot symbol and use a glue stick to glue it to the chest. ONLY USE A GLUESTICK! If you use anything else it will tear the chest up. Once the symbol is on use your Exacto knife to cut out the pieces. Color the top in with a Sharpie. Then when all the pieces are cut out, cut out a square of contact paper, sticky side up. Then carefully place all the pieces onto the contact paper. It's not a big deal if you misplace something, just take it off without getting anything else stuck. Once the symbol is in place then cut another square of contact paper and put it on top, sticky side down. Now take the symbol and attach it under the little hole you left in the chest. I used duct tape to secure it to the underside of the chest. If you do this, make sure you can't see the tape or whatever. Don't be afraid to make the hole in the chest bigger if you can't see the symbol too well.
Step 8: Jointing
For this step we will be attaching all the limbs and parts together. We're going to start off with the stiff joints(the elbows and knees). Take two limbs that are attached such as the shoulder and forearm. Cut two 4'' strips and hot glue the ends to the inside of the limb pieces. Put some duct tape over the top too. Do the same for the other piece you're attaching. Now take the strips and overlap them by about an inch. In the middle punch a hole with your awl and stick the bolt and washer and stuff. Tighten it, but keep it loose enough that you can comfortably bend the joint. Once satisfied, put a dab of hot glue on to prevent it from loosening. Repeat for the other side. Now test it out by slipping on whatever newly attached pieces you have and bending them. I found that for the arms you want them a little bit stiff, but for the legs you'll want them to be pretty loose. Now repeat for whatever stiff joints are left. We now move onto the flexible joints which we use paracord for(attaching the shoulder to the chest, and thighs to chest). First put a hole where you where you want the paracord to come from. Put a small square of duct tape on each side of the hole to prevent ripping the cardboard. You'll need to make the hole bigger by using your Exacto knife.
Now put the paracord through the hole.
And tie a square knot.
Remember to fuse the ends.
I did this once on each thigh and twice on each shoulder.
Now make the holes in the chest so you can detach the legs so you can get the costume on.
Step 9: Wiring the LEDs
Warning! If you're really hardcore and want to add LEDs then this step is for you. This step is not for the average costume maker.
So, first thing first, solder the LEDs to the pc board. Make sure they are flat against the board when you solder them
I made sure to put all the negative leads on the left. I then added the power lines. And just kept adding jumpers and solder bridging them. The wire with black marks are negative.
Now we add a power switch to the negative and a splice to the positive. You can find a really good Instructable that I used for splicing here.
For the power supply I used 2 3v C2032s. They're really compact, so they were perfect. I couldn't find any holders at my local RadioShack, so I wrapped electrical tape around the batteries and wire. To attach the circuit to the costume, I crudely duct taped the pc board to the back of the symbol.
I did it so the LEDs lined up under the eyes, the the little triangle on top, and one LED at the bottom around the mouth.
I then made a little hole for the switch. And hot glued it in.
I then just taped the loose wires and batteries down to the inside.
Now you're done! You have an awesome Transformers costume that lights up!