Most of what we learned about how to create the costume, it was learned on Instructables! The Spartacus series on Starz has inspired this costume. We are huge fans. To make sure I was creating the costume accurately, I researched Roman gladiators and ended up having an interesting history lesson! I used a mixture of the actual Spartacus outfit and what the Thraex style gladiator wore. Like Spartacus did in most of the series, I opted to go without a helmet. I researched every piece of the outfit, even the shoes.
The complexity of the armor daunted me, I had no idea where I would begin, it was just an idea in my head. One day I went into a popular craft store, and saw a bin of black foam sun visors laying there. They resembled the arm piece (the manica) so closely I had to grab a few and slide them onto my arm. They were perfect! I bought them all.
It was weeks before I began to build the costume, still not knowing how to fasten it all together. There were so many pieces. I googled (which brought me to Instrucables) and looked on Pinterest, and finally got up the mojo to start. The shin guards are made out of foam floor mats, the 'leather' straps are thin craft foam, the sword is foam, the belt is foam, almost everything is foam except for the material around my waist, calves, and wrists; those are old t-shirts. The material around my waist was a dress that belonged to my girlfriend, she willingly sacrificed it because that was the only material around in that color. For the end of the sword to the deflector on the shield, I used dog toys. I used shoelaces to bind the manica and craft rope as the designs, along with a plastic roman coin to glue on the center of the belt. I took tons of pictures of the process with my cellphone, so apologies in advance about their quality! Once I began painting, gluing, and heat-gun bending the pieces, the rest began to flow. Piece after piece went smoothly until I had the entire thing from shoes to manica. Just putting it on took 20 minutes! We got lucky because we had to buy very little, we had most of this laying around the house. We had to buy all of the foam involved and the glue, and that’s it.
You will need:
Thin Craft foam in black
Gray or black foam floor tiles
Silver thumb tacks
Black, silver, gold, rust, and gray paint (clothing paint, or latex house paint)
A little fake leather (optional)
Old black and gray t-shirts
Sweatpants (you will cut these and use the leg parts)
Material for the waist and crotch pieces
Boot laces, preferably black
Velcro with adhesive
Old coin or fake coin
Elmer’s glue all
Needle nosed pliers
Balls of different sizes (we used dog toys and plastic Christmas balls)
Duct tape (if the foam is weak you can use this to reinforce it from the back
Foam sun visors; black or brown (12-20)
The Sword: was the first thing I made. I used re-bar to keep it from being floppy. I drew a freehand pattern of a Thraex style sword on a piece of paper, then traced and cut out two pieces in foam. I added PVC pipe as a handle, with the re-bar through it and bubble wrap to stabilize it, used a cut-off vitamin bottle for the hand guard, and a dog toy for the end. Then, I glued the foam together over the rebar and stabbed it with pens to create pitting, and dry brushed it with a rust color, then a silver coat.
The Manica (leather arm armor): I took 16 foam sun-visors, strung a boot lace through each side to connect them all, then weathered and painted them the same way I painted the sword. This time I used the pens to score the surface of the foam to add scars. After it was together for the most part, I added the chest and shoulder strap: a foam strip measured, cut out, added to, and weathered. The pieces are put together with contact cement, thumb tacks to look like rivets, and Velcro pieces glued on. Once the thumbtacks were through, I bent them with needle nose pliers and glued material swatches over them so they would not be scratchy. I tied a piece of T-shirt around my wrist and connected it to the boot laces around my wrist so the manica would stay on.
The Belt: Was measured and cut from thin black craft foam. A piece of decorative material rope with gold weaved into it was glued to the edges. A fake Roman gold coin was added to the center, and upholstery tacks were added above and below it. Shoelaces and brass O rings were used for the details, affixed with contact cement from the dollar store. The belt was then painted black, scored and pitted, then rag painted with rust and silver. Velcro adhesive squares were used for the back closure.
The Greaves (Shin guards) were made of foam floor tiles. They were measured and a paper pattern was drawn and cut out. Then I cut the foam with a foam-razor. I then used a craft heat gun to bend them to shape. I cut ¾” wide strips for the edges and glued them on, adding detail. I glued another piece of thinner foam to the tops like the real ones have. I drew leaves and details onto them, and scored the surface with a pen for depth; then added Elmer’s glue for height to the details. Then they were pitted a little with pens, painted black, and silver and gold paint was added to make them look bronze. Strips of a t-shirt were glued to the outer sides inside the greaves so they can be ties onto the shins. The pads under them were the legs from gray sweatpants.
The wrist covering: an old t-shirt with black t-shirt straps tied over it.
The Subligaria (Crotch covering) was made of a piece of upholstery fabric, thick so as to not reveal too much. The teal material was my girlfriend’s dress, re-purposed and wrapped the same way the movie-Spartacus had it for the Theokoles fight.
The Shield: A Square (Slight rectangle) was cut from a piece of foam floor tile and the white lines were painted on and then it was bent with the heat gun. Two strips of that foam were bent into handles with the heat and glued heavily to the back. A piece of thin black foam was cut into a square and glued in the center, then upholstery tacks were added as rivets. A dollar dog toy was cut in half and the hole was shaped by shaving it away so it sat properly on the curved shield, then glued. After that glue dried, the toy was painted black then dry brushed silver, and the entire shield was dirty-fied with a grayish tan latex paint we had left over from our walls.
The shoes: Foam floor tile with fake suede used to tie them up. That was an involved process in and of itself! Patterns can be found on the internet. They were dirty-fied with black paint.
Sura’s dagger: the shape of the blade was cut out of foam (two sides) and the pommel was cut out of the foam floor tiles. It was then bent with a heat gun and a hole was cut in the center. The handle was made out of the cardboard part of a clothing hanger that you get from the cleaners, and a thin piece was left to sturdy the blade. The blade pieces were glued on it (one half on each side) and then the handle was glued into the pommel. Upholstery tacks were used as detail and a small plastic Christmas ball was glued to the end of the handle. The whole thing was painted black, pitted, and dry brushed a mix of gold (pommel), and rust, then silver.
Sura’s dress: My girlfriend knows how to sew and she happened to have the blue dress and a brown vest. She painted the white dots on it, slapped on a brown wig, used a purple piece of elastic for the thigh piece (of significance to the TV series), and made the sandals the same way I made mine.
Theokoles: we bought the wig and the waist wrap from a costume store, and weathered the waist strap. It was perfect! We also added more black material from old tshirts to his waist and shins. (I played both Spartacus, and Theokoles, who is Photoshopped in).
Step 1: The Manica
Began its life as black foam sun visors! Details in the body of the text.
Step 2: The Belt
Made from foam and odds and ends from around the house.
Step 3: The Greaves (Shin Guards) and Sandals
Step 4: The Strap for the Manica (arm Guard)
Step 5: The Shield
Step 6: Sura's Dagger
Step 7: Everything Together
Step 8: Fake Blood
The blood was made out of glycerin, food coloring, and corn starch for thickness. Red food coloring was used along with yellow and a little blue for depth and accuracy of color. We should have used a lot more for the pictures, it is very messy and sticky!