Last year my sons said that they wanted to go as zombies for halloween, but not the regular raggy clothes and dark makeup around the eyes type zombies, Minecraft zombies. Minecraft zombies are nondescript, brown and green boxes with arms and legs. A full body costume consisting mostly of unbendable boxes that I knew they would find to uncomfortable to wear wasn’t going to happen. I managed to talk them down to a set of diamond Minecraft armor. I didn’t know exactly how I was going to accomplish that. Cardboard boxes, cloth attached to a dowel structure. Cardboard would never hold up to how my kids were going to abuse these costumes. I know how to sew, but not competently enough for nice looking costumes. I eventually opted for foam mats and this was the result.
Recently they game of choice around here is Terraria, so when we asked what they wanted to be for halloween, the answer wasn’t very surprising. They both have different opinions on what they coolest looking terraria armor is, so I knew I would have at least two challenges to tackle.
That’s the thing. If you ask me to build something, and I am pretty sure I can do it, but I don’t really know how yet, i’m hooked. I could have taken them to the store and bought a costume, or put one together out of the stuff we had kicking around, but I was presented with the opportunity to build something new, and I couldn’t resist.
Since I wasn’t planning ahead, I never took any pictures of the process, but this is the short breakdown of how I built this years halloween costumes.
I started out with the art from the game as reference. I made a swipe at the pixilated blocky look last year and I found that pixilated stuff just doesn’t easily translate into real world items. I did a few rough sketches of what those sprites could represent, if they really existed and were scaled up to kid size.
I found working with EVA foam incredibly easy last time so this time I went and found a giant 4’x6’ rolled up shop mat. The foam was a bit thinner than your standard foam tile mats, but that just made bending the foam around curves easier. Once I was a small way into the process I did some searching around on the internet for costuming tutorials. As it turned out, this sort of foam is what people use to make costumes all the time. Not knowing this before I jumped in made me feel equal parts clever and dumb. But I’m sort of used to that.
I hand drew some paper patterns so I could trace them down onto the foam, and then just started cutting. I used either a utility knife or scissors for all the cutting. I assembled the pieces as I went, cutting, adjusting, and adding detail as needed. All the assembly was done with hot glue and some elastic strap I got at the dollar store.
Since these were supposed to look like armor I didn’t bother with coating the foam with anything before painting, and just let the original dark grey stand as the base color. The painting was all acrylic and sparkly poster paint we had here. I used a sponge, and some cheap brushes to do all the painting, going over some areas with a dry brush to even out the details, and hide my mistakes.
In the end, they turned out okay, and they should stand up to most of the nerf and lightsaber battles that go on here throughout the rest of the year.
Of course this also means that I went and raised the expectation bar one notch, and next year when they want to wear a full working ironman suit with firing missiles and LED eyes, I’ll probably consider it briefly before steering them toward Hawkeye or Madripoor Wolverine. I know that I do it to myself, but I would be lying if I said it isn’t fun.