Heavy Load Costume




About: Luckiest guy in the world.

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.

If you have any questions, feel free to write jjs@onlinereunion.com

2 People Made This Project!


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13 Discussions


2 years ago

I don't know if I'm just missing it or something, but how did you make or stuff the fake legs and arms so that it seemed like there were actual limbs inside? Thanks, great costume!

1 reply

Reply 2 years ago

sorry I just now read your question after (how many) years.?

I have been making costumes like this and more since I was a teenager. My low-budget approach is simply (very wrinkled) crushed newspaper wrapped randomly with duct tape--that's it. Then I carefully use safety pins to hold stuff together--keep the shoes on etc. Lots of duct tape and newspaper and tender crafting.


6 years ago on Introduction

I used your idea for my costume - and I won first prize at the party I went to! I had to make some adjustments because I already had the old man but I could not have done it or even have come up with it without you, thank you ever so much.

I can't get rid of one of the photos, The 'remove' button is not working, sorry there are two.

1 reply

Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

Very nice costume and congradulations on your win. How fun is that! You set a bar that you'll be expected to jump over next year. --perhaps we can work together. Thanks for the ping.

Hi, I'm guessing that you didn't see ALL of the instructions. Note that you can comb through the steps (click "Next Step"), or click "View All Steps on One Page" near the top to see the details of building the monster, etc.

or click this link: https://www.instructables.com/id/Heavy-Load-Costume/?ALLSTEPS

That is really good! I think the fact that she has to kind of duck around the fake head really makes it look even more realistic!

1 reply

Thanks sooo much. And Franki is the happiest kid ever--in all that she does. We are so lucky... here she is at a school event: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YtqXFBwpPgQ


6 years ago on Introduction

This is great! I always wondered how this type of costume is supported and you explained all so clearly. Franki is one lucky kid!


Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

Hi, it weighs exactly 15 pounds. The crate is the heaviest component; followed by the PVC skeleton; and finally the shoes. Each of these could be replaced with lighter materials. (You could also eliminate the shoes and just show socks.) To carry the weight, we originally (Duct) taped a screwdriver to a belt that Franki wore. The screwdriver faced upward and stuck into the (PVC) spine of the monster. While this worked great, we noticed that Franki would get fatigued after 15 minutes. Hence we moved to the backpack strap strategy. --much improved. Thanks for the compliment.


6 years ago on Step 10

An exceedingly well done instructable!! I'd love a few walk-around photos of the finished product.

1 reply

Reply 6 years ago on Step 10

Thanks for your kind words. The 360 view of this is very realistic but what photos don't capture (video would) is the "acting" that really makes it funny. When Franki runs around and looks nervously at the ground, I almost believe it myself. --very funny to watch. She gets to wear it next week at her school party and I'm sure everyone will laugh.