Illusion costumes are the best--especially when you can't tell who is who.
Step 1: Prepare the Box
Find a sturdy box and cut an opening for your body to comfortably fit through. To test the size of the opening, set the box on the ground, step into the opening, and lift the box so the opening is at belt level. Continue to make the hole bigger as needed. Eventually, this is the way that you will enter the costume. Here we used an ordinary milk crate and cut the opening with a jigsaw. The crate works well because it has handles for lifting it up and transporting the costume. Seeing through the sides even makes the illusion better. A file box will work fine also. A cardboard box will also work if the back and sides are modified with extra cardboard to provide added strength.
Step 2: Build the Body Frame
While this could be built using several coat hangers twisted together, we chose to use PVC pipe for industrial-strength results. PVC is very inexpensive. The PVC spine is bolted directly to the crate with wing nuts. Pipe insulation foam is used as a light-weight filler to bulk-up the arms and provide a base for the head. Where the neck attaches to the PVC junction box, we added a small hinge system to provide strength to the neck and a slight rocking movement of the head to move forward/backward. This is not necessary but does add some life to the monster when you are running or dancing in the costume.
Step 3: Make the Body
Here we could have used crunched newspaper but instead glued three (3) sheets of Styrofoam together to make a very light-weight body. We will add a chest layer in the next step. We carved the glued Styrofoam to show strong neck/shoulders and V-cut sides. We dug a track into the foam so the PVC spine and shoulders are properly inserted. To prevent a Styrofoam mess, we kept a shop vac running to suck up all the Styrofoam debris. At this point, the body is not attached to the PVC--it's just resting on it.
Step 4: Attach Body to the Frame
Now we add a chest layer (oval layer makes 4 layers) to the body and attach the body to the frame and make it stronger by wrapping Duct Tape several times around. We also wrap the pipe insulation foam on the arms because the foam has a slit for attaching it to pipe.
Step 5: Fill the Monster Head
The rubber mask we chose cost $9 new and is the most expensive item on the costume. We inserted the pipe insulation sleeve into the mask (makes for an excellent neck) and filled the void area of the head with expansion foam. Across several hours we shot expansion foam into the nose and every opening available. Because of lack of airflow, it took a couple of days for the foam to dry completely. The foam seeped out through the eyes, nose and other openings but we waited for it to dry and picked it off. We had to re-paint the eyes because the yellow foam caused the eye fabric to turn yellow. The head is solid as a rock and is very light-weight. The core insulation sleeve used inside the head slides neatly unto the PVC neck.
Step 6: Dress the Monster
The monster is wearing a long-sleeve T-shirt and a light-weight jacket. Because the arms are loosely connected (hinged with eye bolts) we are able to dress the monster. The PVC spine is connected to the crate with a bolt and a wing nut that we needed to temporarily remove in order to get the shirt over the chest. We made a small hole in the shirt for the bolt and re-attached it with the wing nut.
Step 7: Add Eye Bolts to Crate to Carry the Costume
Backpack straps will be worn to carry the costume. They will be secretly connected to two eye bolts located in the back-side corners of the crate.
Step 8: Make and Attach the Hands
The end of the PVC pipe is the thumb for each hand. A glove is used to create the impression of a hand. Inside of the glove, a light-weight coat hanger has been bent to the silhouette of fingers and held to the PVC with Duct Tape. The hanger allows you to bend the fingers down under the crate. A bolt on each thumb is used to connect the hands to the crate. Inside is a wing nut to secure the bolt for each hand.
Step 9: Build the Fake Legs
Fake legs are created using crumpled newspaper taped around coat hangers. Socks cover the ends of the legs. The coat hangers are secured to the shoes to avoid accidental disconnecting. Light-weight pants cover the fake legs.
Step 10: Finish the Costume With a Harness to Carry It
An old backpack was modified--leaving just the shoulder straps and is hidden under the sweatshirt. A fastener on each strap is clipped to the eye bolts shown in step 7.
The base of the (pink) fake legs press against Franki's (pink) sweatshirt. Even though you can see into the sides of the box, it appears that the fake legs belong to Franki.
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