Kids Light-up Robot Costume
My son loves robots so much that a few months before Halloween he started putting paper towel rolls on his hand and saying that he was a robot. There couldn’t be any clearer of an indicator of what he wanted to dress up as for his first Halloween that he got to choose the costume. We also enjoyed that it still was fairly geeky!
Because it was his first costume that he got to pick, I really wanted to go all out on it. Had I known how much work and time it would take to make when I started, I probably would have just put some duct tape on a cardboard box and called it good! In the end he absolutely loved it and it is something that he WILL be wearing for the next Halloween. ;)
For those who are curious, I will be walking step by step through how we made it, but fair warning that this is going to be a looooong post. The crazy process all started when I found this costume and accompanying text made by Heaton J. – http://www.coolest-homemade-costumes.com/robot-costume.html#c12 . It was unlike any of the other robot costumes that I had seen. I was trying desperately to find something that wouldn’t fall apart right away because my son is very active. This costume used a plastic box for the body which I knew would hold up to abuse. The added touch with lights is great, but I wanted something different for the hat.
These pictures are the work in progress pictures. The body is made from a plastic lego box. This was only possible thanks to the great help from my dad, who was able to use a hole saw to cut out the arm holes using just his hands and a wrench because it didn’t fit our drill. He also cut out the opening for the neck and the entire bottom using a Dremel. From the picture you can kind of see that the back of the box fits well, but there was still work that needed to be done to secure it.
There were many steps to completing the body now that it was cut out. The first step was to paint the entire outside of the box and edges using a hammered metal silver spray paint for plastic. The paint covered well, but it took a heavy coat and in some harder to reach spots multiple coats. After the paint dried, I cut a slit in the center and put in a pocket size clip on plasma light to make sure it fit and then put it aside for later. Then drilled a small hole in the bottom left and threaded through some blue EL (Electroluminescent) wire – think of it like thinner rope light made for clothing – and wrapped it around the edges and glued it down with hot glue. This was repeated on both sides. The EL wire had two battery packs that get attached to power the lights that are supposed to clip onto clothing. We did it this way for a little bit, but they quickly fell out, so we eventually just placed them inside the box.
To make the lettering and gears I used thin craft metal sheets cut using my Sizzix Big Shot and dies (Gadget Gears, Lollipop Alphabet Set) and then glued them down using E6000 glue. The blue overlay on the letters is actually a very thin craft PVC blue cut out the same way and glued over the metal. To keep the back of the box attached to the front, I drilled a medium sized hole in each corner of the box and put a loop of silver shoe strings with the knot in the bottom. On the back of the box I drilled two small holes in each corner and then sewed on silver buttons using stretchy jewelry cord. Then when we got him into the costume, we just had to put the loops on the buttons which was easier to secure since they were stretchy.
The arms were made from dryer heating vents, but the really strong metal type, not the more paper type. This made him not able to move his arms which was comical, but I’m sure not the most comfortable – but he was a good sport. The vents were attached by cutting tabs at one end on each piece and then folding over on the inside of the box. All of the edges on the inside were taped down using Duct tape, and the outside was taped using foil tape.
The pants were much harder than they should have been because for some reason making pants is one of the hardest things for me to do. I found really fabulous silver painted soft suede-like material and stitched it into pants with an elastic waistband and elastic on the bottom to hold the pants into the boots. They were small the first, second, and third time I tried making them. On the third try there was nothing more I could do, but hope they were just big enough and call it done! :P
The shoes are what he now calls his “Robot Boots” that are just older style Crocs rain boots. This proved to be handy so that we could add light up and glow in the dark shoe charms. We decided that it would be in silver and blue since those are my husband and my favorite colors and our son didn’t have a preference.
The other main accessory was the astronaut helmet that needed to be transformed into looking like a robot. I purchased a can of silver hammered metal plastic spray paint and painted the entire inside and outside of the helmet. Then I attached kitchen puck lights to each side to look like knobs or ears.
Because the lights were designed to shine enough light to light up a space, these lights were by far the brightest part of his costume. Although, at one point I had considered putting a fiber optic light on the top of his helmet instead, but everyone thought it was too flamboyant. He has it in his room and turns it on occasionally, so it wasn’t a waste. :)
The last accessory were the gloves for his hands. The gloves are actually Transformers Optimus Prime gloves that have this really cool print of circuit boards and other mechanical things. They were designed for a kid, and since my son has rather large hands for his age, I thought they would fit. Unfortunately they were way too big for him, so I had to stuff the finger tips with polyfil and use a rubber band to keep it on his wrist. He didn’t like them, but at least it looked cool for the few minutes he kept them on :)
This costume really looks best at night time or in darker rooms, as can be seen below.
Overall, everyone really loved it, and his entire class came running over to touch the plasma light. My son enjoyed being a robot for the first 5 minutes and then was done, but still had a fun time!
I made a silly video to put together all of the footage I took of his class and him in the dark.