I've finally been turned to the Dark Side. For years I decried Hallowe'en as a tacky, commercialised artificial promoted by Americans.
A Cub party has finally pushed me over the edge. I joined the Devil's Hordes. All I needed was something wholesome and original to wear...
Step 1: The Core Idea - "Captain Generic"
I wanted an easy costume that could be easily modified depending on Makers' requirements.
How about a superhero...?
What are the essentials of a superhero costume...?
Got it! Bodysuit, helmet, branding and shtick.
This Instructable has, therefore, four main parts, plus details of how I modified them into Captain Pinata.
Step 2: The Body Suit.
Potentially the easiest part of the whole thing - it's a disposable overall, the kind of thing you see them wearing on TV at crime scenes.
They don't come in many sizes (I could only find Large and Extra Large), so you may want to alter your suit - remove the hood, shorten arms and legs - before entering the truly creative stage.
Captain Pinata has no hood, so I cut it off. With scissors, if you need to know.
Pinatas are colourful and covered in tissue, but I didn't want to be too hot, too noisy, or shed paper all over the place. I decided to simply colour in my overall, using a random selection of decorating sample pots from local DIY stores.
Unfortunately, this didn't work. Half-way through the painting process, I realised it was starting to look like I'd lost a fight in a primary-school art room. Have a look at the pictures if you don't believe me.
So, back to the paper. Starting at the ankles, I wrapped wide strips of crepe paper around the legs and duct-taped the top edges in place. I only used relatively small pieces of tape to allow for movement and prevent ripping.
Each new layer over-lapped the one before, hiding the duct tape.
At the torso, I only wrapped paper around the sides, since I knew that the chest and back would be covered.
It was start to look more like Mr Flamenco than Captain Pinata, but I was committed by resources, and more importantly time.
Step 3: The Brand.
Flash has a lightning bolt on his chest, Superman his S: your superhero will need the same. Putting it on a breast plate will alter your body's outline, giving it the sort of broad-shouldered silhouette that is normally only provided by months in the gym or a quick dose of radioactive spider-venom.
Keep the logo clear and to the point - fists show strength, lightning speed or electrical powers etc. A good generic idea is to use the hero's initials. Use contrasting colours to make it stand out.
Using a sheet of corrugated card, make a flat breast-plate. It needs to be an inverted trapezoid - wide at the shoulders, tapering down to some point below the belt line. How far down you go is up to you, but it must go below the belt.
Two more pieces of card make shoulder-boards. Basically rectangular, but with a curved end to follow the line of your neck, duct-tape them onto the top of the breast-plate so that they can turn through ninety degrees and lay flat on top of your shoulders.
At the back of the suit, another trapezoid of card goes from the shoulder-boards (more duct tape at the joint), down the centre of your back. Again, it needs to finish below the belt line, but you may want to change the proportions to suit your style.
Using card and tape or staples, make a pair of loops on the inside of the breast plate, and one on the inside of the rear triangle. They should be at the belt line. Your suit will need a belt of some kind, threaded through these loops, to hold the breast-plate and backing piece in place. The nature of the belt is up to you - studded leather strap, length of anchor-chain or a bungee.
I couldn't decide what to call my hero - Captain Pinata or Pinataman. The logo swung it. A single letter "P" looks a bit odd, but I could turn "CP" into a decent monogram.
His breast-plate is properly-pinata-ry. I cut strips of crepe paper and glued them on with PVA. Working from bottom-to-top gave the desired pinata effect, so that each new strip hid the glued bit of the previous strip.
I did the same on the shoulder-boards, starting at the outside edges and working inwards.
I was going to prepare the logo on the computer, but my printer died. So, free-hand it was, glued over the strips of crepe.
The edges of the breast plate was a bit ragged, so I folded the strips over and glued them down.
After it all dried, the PVA had turned some of the crepe paper white, which didn't look nice, so I covered those with extra strips stuck on with clear tape.
Step 4: The Helmet.
Helmets are all a matter of preference - some heroes have shining bronze helms, others wear feathered caps, many wear none at all - it's up to you.
I just happened to have a roughly head-sized cardboard box handy, which a little sculpting turned into a large, open-fronted helmet.
Since pinatas are generally animal-shaped, I decided to give the helmet a pair of ears. More corrugated card, wrapped in more crepe paper. This time, though, I spiralled the strip around the whole ear - I took two strips, over-lapped, and taped the end to the base of the ear, then spiralled both strips around together, taping again at the top and trimming off the excess.
I glued them to the side of the helmet, angled slightly backwards in a vaguely animal-like style-ee.
Step 5: The Gimmick
There's very little I can offer in the way of general advice here. The gimmick is very much down to theme and available materials.
Maybe your character needs an appropriate weapon or other physical prop, such as a staff or other odd device.
Maybe the character has some sort of sonic power, in which case you need to add weird noises to the suit.
The Captain's gimmick is kind of obvious - he's full of sweets.
Obviously, I have no desire to be smashed apart on every outing, instead I added removable sweets. I small pieces of duct-tape to hang small bags of sweets on the inside of the breast-plate, so that I could hand them out to the deserving kiddies. Whenever there was a lull in the party, I'd pull off a packet and throw it into the crowd.
Step 6: The Final Suit
A friend took this photo for me at the Cub party, with two suitably anonymous Cubs.
I'm quite proud to say that my costume was the only home-made outfit there.
If you try something like this yourself, there are a couple of things to remember:
- Leave yourself more time than I did - I was forced to glue the logo onto the breastplate when it was itself still wet. It doesn't show in this photo, but some of the blue and green colour bled through into the yellow.
- Watch for visibility - I could see fine forwards and down, but side-to-side was a bit poor (not good if I'd been out in the streets, crossing roads). I also got caught out vertically - I found I couldn't see the flag at the evening's opening Howl.
- Crepe paper is not water resistant, and the apple-bobbing cost me half a sleeve.
- It is very flammable - lots of loose layers of paper - so be careful if you are planning to be Captain Pinata in a room full of candle-lit decorations.
Step 7: The Fate of Captain Pinata
It was the Scout Bonfire Party tonight, celebrating Guy Fawkes' Night. We stuffed Captain Pinata with newspaper, added a face in the helmet, and off he went to the Scout Hut.
What #1 Son (the Scout in the family) neglected to tell me that there was a Guy competition at Scouts, but Captain Pinata won, on account of being the largest, most colourful and most flammable guy on the night. He won a box of chocolates!