The challenge was to standout dressed as the Joker (group costume) in a world filled with Ledger and Leto Jokers. Inspired by the Hot Toys Batman Imposter Joker Action Figure I decided to make my own Batman Imposter costume.
When I began working I had the notion to do an exact replica of the toy. But by the end of the project I allowed myself some creative license. The costume consists of four major elements: the cowl, the cape, the armor bits, and the suit. Plus a few props. In this instructable I'll give a basic rundown of how I created each piece as well as the things I would have changed. There is a sever lack of WIP pics because I am a failure at life. However I’ll do my best to explain stuff. If you have any questions please ask.
All-in-all I am very happy with the final results. I was able to keep the total cost under $50 and I think it looks pretty darn good.
Step 1: The Cowl
The Hot Tots figure's suit is based on the Batffleck suit, so I probably should have done something similar to that but I couldn't resist the iconic long eared look of earlier cowls.
To create my cowl I started with a cheap latex mask that I picked up for $10 online. I blew up a balloon inside of the mask so that it would take the shape I needed and then I sprayed on a couple of layers of matte black plastidip ($5). I let it stand set for a week (because I got busy) and then I spray painted two thin layers of green ($0.96) on to the mask. Once the paint dried I used a red and a black paint pens (already had) to add the details: the forehead reads "Damaged," there is a "J" under the left eye, there is a tar near the right eye, and then on the neck there is a spade, a club, a diamond, and a heart. Go team.
Step 2: The Suit
The suit is simple. It's a purple under armour like product that I purchased from a discount Chinese website (note: when buying for a discount Chinese website always buy at least two sizes bigger than you think you’ll need). I used a set of green cheerleading spankies to hide my shame.
The logo is the fun part. I free hand drew it while looking at reference photos. In hindsight it would have been smarter to just print it, cut it out, and trace. It's cutout of 5 mm craft foam. I heated it in the oven at 200 degrees for 30-45 seconds then pressed it to my chest to mold it to my individual contours. I then sealed it with a 50-50 mix of water and white glue. Once that dried I used gold acrylic paint and then a red paint pen for the details.
To attach it to the shirt I used hot glue while wearing the shirt to get the position and additional contours correct. Warning: hot glue burns can be ouchie. I knew this going in and I regret nothing! The cool thing is it has retained the original curves for over a year now. The less than cool thing is the shirt is now hand wash only.
Step 3: The Cape
I took some liberties with the cape. My inspiration used a long green cape. I mixed it up and went with purple and green. Why? I don't know... creativity is weird.
So I took two cheap polyester capes ($2.50 each on eBay) and after playing around with the orientation I overlapped their outside seams and hot glued them together. It turned out pretty good.
Note: While I am happy with the cape it's not as nice as some homemade ones I've seen but the cost and time expense way less than buying the fabric, cutting, and sewing. So trade-offs.
Step 4: The Armor
The armor consists of several parts: the gauntlets, the gloves (not pictured), the shin guards, and feet thingies. For the most part I used 5mm craft foam, scissors, hot glue, and paint.
The gauntlets are my favorite part. They were the first piece I built for this costume. They actually have their own dedicated instructable. Check it out. But basically they are two layers of 5mm that have been heated and molded to my wrists. Water/glue sealed. Green spray paint base coat. Hand painted designs. Clear coated. Velcro closure. After over a year of moderate use and display these have held up pretty well. Go team.
The gloves are just green stretch gloves. The plan was to convert motorcycle gloves but that didn't work out. Then I was going to armor up some work gloves but I wasn't happy with those either. So I kept it basic with simple cheap stretch gloves. They were comfortable and didn't take away from the overall aesthetic.
The shin guards are exactly the same as the wrist gauntlets except bigger. The foot armor is also the same but uses an elastic strap that slides around the shoe to keep it in place.
Note: the feet and legs are the one part of this costume I wasn't 100% thrilled with. They didn't look bad but they actually look costumie. I don't like when my costumes look costumie. You know what I mean? Yeah, you know. That guy gets it. Anyway, if I revisit this costume I will be buying boots and painting them to be as rad as the rest of the costume.
Step 5: The Belt
You can't properly mock the Bat without having your own utility belt.
My belt is made out of a packing strap that came with my mattress. I cut it to size and attached parachute buckles on the ends for closure. Yes, I could have sewn it down but by this time I had a theme going. So after running the belt through the buckles I hot glued it down. Once the glue settled I spray painted the whole thing.
The pouches and buckle are made of cardboard and wrapped in 1mm foam (for strength?). I coated those in several layers of the glue/water mix to seal them. Then I painted them with acrylic paint.
Step 6: The Gadgets
For me the best part of any costume are the props. I wanted to go big. After thinking about it for a bit I took my inspiration from another Joker toy, this one from my childhood. Joker had a large mallet. So I set out to recreate it.
The handle is five and a half foot long piece of 3" pvc. Using techniques I learned by reading the brilliant instructable written by zaphodd42 I made it look like wood.
The head is made from an extra large pizza box rolled into a cylinder. I took cardboard and cut it into circles that matched the interior size of the cylinder. I used duct tape to attach one ended. Lots of duct tape. Then I stuffed the cylinder with balled up pieces of paper bound for the recycling bin until it was a few inches deep. Then I placed another cardboard disc in the cylinder, followed by a few more inches of paper, and repeat until I got to the other end. By creating the different chambers I added weight but also some rigidity and strength to the head. This was important because I have children who inevitably decided to try to smash thingss with the hammer. It's held up well.
Once the hammerhead was stuffed and sealed I wrapped the whole thing in 5mm craft foam. I coated the head in plastidip. It gave it a weird rubbery texture. If I had to do that over again I'm undecided on whether or not I would. It looked good and was strong and I'm not sure what I would rather do but the texture was just weird. For the designs the J, the face I cut them out of 5mm craft foam, sealed it with a water/glue mixture, and hand painted them. Then I used a 2 part epoxy to affix them.
The upper part of the handle was coated in the epoxy and inserted through a hole in the head and capped on the other side. I love this hammer. It's held up extremely well to the occasional abuse from my boys and has become a cool prop on my living room wall.
Other gadgets I used for this costume were wind-up chattering teeth that I picked up from the dollar store and a couple of repaints on some dollar store toy knives that I hung on the utility belt (because Leto's Joker had an affinity for knives).