Halloween Trophies: Putting Movement Into Skeletons and Mini Zombies!

I love Halloween, I love parties, I love celebrations, and contests held all in good fun. I love skeletons, all shapes, sizes, and qualities; blow mold, Bucky, blucky, each one has its own special place in my heart. I'm particularly fascinated with the little ones you can find at dollar stores. I use them for loads of different things, but in this case, I'm going to use them to make Halloween trophies! Our city is putting on a "zombie event" this year, they asked me to create some trophies for first, second, and third place. (I added an "honorable mention" one into the mix.) This is how it's done.

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Step 1: Supply List

You will need the following:

Skeletons Only:
Mini Skeletons (These usually can be found at dollar stores, I found these at Walgreens for only a little more money. At our dollar stores, you can get four mini skeles for $1, at Walgreens I got six mini skeles for $3.)
E6000 (Can be found in craft stores)
Petroleum Jelly (This is for the E6000)
Tape (Any kind will do, clear tape, masking tape, it doesn't matter)
Paper Towels
Acrylic Paint (Black)
Small Paintbrushes
Your Imagination (Not Pictured)
Bases (For mounting the trophies, can be found in craft stores) Also see the "alternative bases" section.

In addition to the list above, for the Zombies you will need the following:
Acrylic Paint ("Peach")
Dolly Clothes or Scraps of Fabric
Liquid Latex
Disposable Paintbrush
Fake Blood 
Hair (Optional)

Additional Items:
Alternative Bases - Caps from a glass bottle, black cardstock, and small stones for weight.

Step 2: Break (Well, Bend) Those Bones!

First things first. E6000 is wonderful stuff, but BEFORE you puncture the tube, lightly coat the threads of the tube with petroleum jelly. This will keep you from losing an entire tube because it glued itself to itself.

Figure out the pose you want to use for your skeleton, and glue those feet to the base. This year, I'm doing a zombie theme, so I found some good "shambler" poses online. I glued down the feet and taped them so they would hold their position while drying. I also bent the knee into position added a drop of glue and taped it so it would dry correctly.

Step 3: Alternative Bases (In Case You Have More Imagination Than Money.)

Last year, I was asked to make some trophies for the office, I was short on time, so I used the one thing I happened to have a stock of... Coffee lids. These are the little, metal lids from the glass coffee containers you can buy in the store. 

I took these skeletons apart at the hips, because I needed to get a better stance on the small surface, and glued them to the lid. Then I bent (not broke) the knees into position, added a drop of glue, and taped them into place to dry (not shown).

When my poses were set, I painted the bases black. Then, I went out to the yard and found some very small stones to put "under" the lids. I then traced a piece of cardstock around the base of the lid, put the stones inside the lid and glued the cardstock to the bottom. This gave it a little bit of weight.

Step 4: The Devil's in the Details

When the glue is dry, remove the tape and start embellishing. 
You'll want to paint the entire skeleton with black acrylic paint, then wipe off the top surfaces of your skeleton. (This will keep the paint in the hollows only. Notice the difference in the detail on the first and second pictures.) 

Then, paint your base. Don't paint the base first. Your skellies may have trouble sticking to it.
When your base is dry, you can add clothes (if you so desire).

Step 5: Corpsing and Hair

If you're making zombies, you'll need to add some flesh back onto your skeletons. You can do this in many different ways. I find the easiest to be liquid latex. You can also do it this way, but the little skeletons really don't do well with too much heat applied to them. 

Simply dip a disposable paint brush into your liquid latex and brush across your bones to give them sort of a connective tissue look. You can do several layers at once. If you're corpsing for a zombie, don't forget to add the little details, fill in the eyes and add a nose (you can "build" one out of liquid latex).

If you want to add hair, wait until your liquid latex has finished drying. You can use wig hair, or go to the dollar store and buy whatever "princess" hair is available for the little ones. There are "proper" ways to lay hair, in layers, these things are so small, I say just glue it on there. They are zombies after all, photo-ready perfection isn't really the first concern of the undead.

If you're adding blood/gore, this is the best recipe I've found. (In these zombie pictures, the blood and gore is toned down; in amount and colour, based on the projected age of the participants.)

Step 6: Zombie (and Skeleton) Crossing...

That just about covers it. The zombies really don't photograph too well, they look very "stagey" you really do need to see them in person to appreciate them. But, this should at least give you an idea. The crawler is still my favourite.

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    15 Discussions


    2 years ago

    These are fandamntastic zombies !!!


    4 years ago on Introduction

    These skeletons are great..we used 2 part epoxy to glue the skeletons on and we covered the entire pumpkin in Modge Podge which sealed the pumpkin and it lasted a whole year! The trick to bending the skeletons is not to break and reattach the limbs, but to use a heat gun on them...you heat until the plastic is soft, but not droopy - the point before the limb goes limp..use gloves and bend the part to the desired position and hold until the plastic hardens..heat at the joint to make it more realistic...after a couple of skeletons you will get the melt point just right and be careful not to burn yourself

    1 reply

    Thanks! I make it a point not to break the limbs, but I do detach the joints when I need to make sure the skeleton is in an 'odd' position. I actually use an embossing gun when I need to soften the limbs. It has a lower heat point and doesn't melt as fast as a heat gun will.
    See: Step 2: Break (Well, Bend) Those Bones!


    5 years ago on Introduction

    These are waaay GHOUL! I post a lot of stuff from our Haunted House builds as well as the results of my other passion.......... EATING... Correa Ct Haunted House

    1 reply

    5 years ago on Introduction

    I just bought a bunch of these to make skellies in a jar! They came out great! I'm going to try your version next!

    1 reply

    5 years ago on Step 6

    I dig it! I actually happened to buy those EXACT same mini skelis from Walgreens for this purpose! I love the ideas you had in the posing of them and adding more black paint to the crevices.

    1 reply

    Thank you! They have so much detail to them, but the bad paint job kills it. I repaint nearly all store-bought stuff when I get it. Every time I go to Walgreens I pick up another pack or two of the skellies. I know someday they won't be available, so I'd better have plenty of stock on hand. :)
    I'd love to see what you do with yours, if you'd like to share.


    5 years ago on Introduction

    When I was little we had this hanging glow in the dark plastic skeleton that was JUST the right size to wear barbie clothes, my mom ended up letting me keep him with my barbies because he would always end up off where ever she had hung him, and into my room, wearing a pink dress... This makes me want to just dress up a ton of skeletons!

    1 reply

    I love it! I did use Barbie clothes for this project, but they did require some "alterations" because Barbie is taller than these guys. However, it was easy enough, and they are zombies, so ill-fitting clothes kind of goes with the theme.


    5 years ago on Step 6

    Fantastic, creative, resourceful use of inexpensive materials--thanks soo much!

    I am putting together a 'Reinvent Barbie' Halloween contest where I work (craft store). These will make great trophies!

    1 reply

    5 years ago

    Cool this is amazing thanks! I'll use this at r adult Halloween party

    1 reply