Monday, April 11, 2016

How-To: DIY LEGO Costume (Torso/Upper Legs)

A little over a year ago, I finished my five-month-long LEGO minifigure costume project. I said something about hoping to post a series of videos or blog posts and this is the first installment in that series.

If you want to make your own costume or are looking for possible inspiration, hopefully this series of how I made "Ricky" will provide you with an idea of how I did so. :)

This "How-To" series of blog posts will be split into five parts as follows:

  • Body
  • Legs
  • Head
  • Hands
  • Finishing

This part details how I made body, so let's get to it!

The Body

I chose to split the costume into manageable segments where the upper portion of the legs were actually attached to the torso. There are other ways of going about making the legs, however, I chose this method because I knew I was capable of making it more maneuverable than had I done it a different way. This tutorial covers the way I did that and not really any other method

  • Cardboard (preferably the extra tough stuff, double-perforated)
  • Strong tape (I wouldn't use duct tape as it peels off quickly over time and tends to lose its stickiness. Gorilla Tape is awesome; even after a full year, it's still holding strong!)
  • Foam insulation boards (this stuff is available at hardware stores like Home Depot)
  • Scissors
  • Measuring tape or ruler
  • Marker, pencil, or ink pen (for marking down measurements)
  • Patience ;)
  • Water-based super glue (Make sure it's not quick-drying glue as that can dissolve your foam! The big bottle of Gorilla Glue works because it's water-based, but make sure you double-check before buying/using.)

First things first, you will want to take measurements. Lots of measurements...

I would give the measurements I used for my costume, but the thing is that everyone is different which means the shoulders could be two inches off, the height might be wrong, etc. So, what I did, and something I would highly recommend you do first for the body is, if you have any extra, cheap cardboard, make a few quick measurements, cut it out, and create a prototype torso.

I started by creating the top and sides first, then I found an angle which seemed right and just measured how big to cut the test front and back. This also gives you an opportunity to test out your tape and the integrity of your cardboard.

Once it's all looking like a minifigure torso, you can try it on and see how it feels. Mine ended up being a bit too wide for my taste, and the cardboard I used was much too flimsy, so this happened overnight...

Just another reason why I would recommend using something other than duct tape. However, the chose is totally up to you. :)

With my new measurements, I went ahead and began work on the real prototype. This was before the other body collapsed in on itself.

Something you may want to do right now is cut two little square holes on the top along with the main hole. I did this so that it would be much easier to have an easily attachable head without it falling off.

I cut the holes then lined them with Gorilla Tape so that they wouldn't get worn down after continued use of the costume.

Once you have all of the panels ready, I found that the easiest way to assemble them is to lay them out flat and then tape the center piece to all the others (make sure there's enough gap in between so they can fold down!) and then tape the edges one by one.

The next section is the belt portion. I took a picture of myself wearing the torso with a piece of cardboard taped to the bottom of it and then penciled in a line where I thought the curve should end.

Get your water-based glue ready! This is the part where you will need the foam boards, unless you decide to use extra sturdy cardboard.

Also, before you start gluing pieces to each other, you might want to do a test sample and make sure the glue is strong enough and doesn't dissolve your foam.

Going off of your measurements, cut some peaces as shown below. Be sure the curve is equal on each piece of foam, then cut out a piece of cardboard and bend it so that it roughly matches the curve.

For cutting the foam, I used a steak knife. It did an OK job of cutting, however, the edges were still pretty rough.

Now you will need to glue the pieces together. It helps if you have something that can keep the pieces pressed up against each other.

When glueing these, you might want to use a board or something to keep the distance between the boards equal. Otherwise there might be a problem with alignment later on.

I used small roofing nails to hold the curved part together evenly on each side, as seen below. However, if you do not have any nails lying around, anything that can clamp or that is moderately heavy ought to work.

At this point you are ready to try it on the torso! Just go ahead and line everything with tape so that the edges aren't as rough. I also went ahead and hastily taped it to the torso just so I could see how it looked (mostly out of excitement). :)

As seen below, I lined the edges/corners with tape and secured the upper leg section to the torso.

I would not recommend painting/finishing any of this stuff until at least the legs are completed. Just to avoid any inconsistencies.

Also visible in this picture are the legs; those will be covered in the next part.

Hopefully this provided you with some insight of how I went about creating the costume! I may go ahead and include the blueprints I created for this costume with the final part, however, the reason I am going to wait is as I stated earlier; everyone's body is built differently and so measurements that might work for me might not work for you. :)

Stay tuned for Part 2!

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