... where the deer and triceratops play

Time to start building, a while ago.

Usually, I get started on my costumes a couple months in advance.  The last few years, the costumes have gotten progressively more elaborate and mechanical, and the time needed to finish them to satisfactory quality has increased.  This year, I'm doing something a little different.  I'm starting at the last minute, and going a little simpler.

First, some background.  Some of my better known Halloween costumes have been 2006's PowerLoader from the movie Aliens (the walking forklift that Sigourney Weaver operated without a hard hat, a terrible example for the children), 2005's APU from the last two Matrix movies.  A big walking gun platform with cannons that appeared to carry me, this used an illusion I'll be recycling this year, but that's the only real similarity.  More on that later.  2004 and 2003 I had a Battle Mech "in the flavor of Mad Cat" style costume that my oldest son rode in as "the driver".  The heaviest of my costumes, this beast turned out very well, but was somewhat challenging to not die in because of the strain.  The year before that, I made a German Tiger tank for my then one year old son to ride in (wifey dressed him like a little fox, so a WWII german tank with desert camoflage seemed logical).

"No more robots.  At least, not this year." - Kaydee, my wise wife

One thing these all have in common, of course, is that they're all mechanical constructs, most of them with lots of hydraulics and heavy flourishes.  Also, with the exception of the Tiger tank (with easy handle for pushing), none of these were practical to wear/bring to parties.  My wife suggested I extend my envelope a little this year, so I'm trying something less elaborate, but hopefully it'll still look good.

The design goals

I set some basic goals.

  • A lightweight costume.
  • Be unique (this is my target every time, but I didn't want to lose sight of it).
  • It needs to be something I can reasonably wear inside to, say, a party.  Or at least, something that can be worn without support staff.
  • Not a robot.

With these in mind I began thinking.  At one point, I decided to be Mario riding Yoshi, but a month before Halloween, I stumbled across a picture of someone else who did a fantastic job as exactly that already, so it was back to the drawing board.  I kept thinking about how much I'd like to ride a lizard, then it occurred to me that maybe the lizard didn't actually have to be Yoshi.  And thus, the rest of the costume came together in my mind.  

As of today, Tuesday the 9th of October, I'm seriously behind schedule but am going to try and pound out a good costume in time for Halloween & parties.  The next couple weeks will either end up with a good costume or abject failure.  We'll see which shortly.

The basic idea

I'm thinking a cowboy riding a big lizard.  I don't know why, but that's how it's gotta be.  Also, I'm thinking show-cowboy, the kind with bright colors and a flashy white hat, kinda like Big Tex or similar.  Ideally, the lizard would be a Velociraptor, but I want to be able to 
go to parties in this thing, so we'll probably have a composite lizard steed.

The illusion I'll be stealing swiping re-using from the Matrix APU costume is the classic false legs.  My legs will be that of the dinolizard, but I'll have faux legs hanging from the side that'll look like mine.  Success, as always, is measured by at least one person asking "who's under there?" when they see me wearing it.  The faith that some people have that someone exists who would carry my sizable posterior around on their back while locked inside a hot costume is remarkable.  

The skin looks to be solved.  I found some pleatherish type stuff in the fabric section of the Store That Cannot Be Named (always rolling back small businesses) god damnit, and it's not something I've found elsewhere.  A lightweight styrofoam frame with a couple of PVC braces for structure will be shaped with the stuffing material they use in quilts (or something) and then covered w/ the skin (which my beautiful and capable wife will sew), somehow matched to the head.  


I'll periodically update the gallery below w/ pictures of my progress.  Maybe a couple of tasteful nudes along the way to help keep my bandwidth costs down.


10/17/2007 - Big day!  Started fleshing out the neck.  Bought the pleather skin, four yards worth.  Should be enough.  The mask is green, the skin is brown.  A conundrum.  But, as with most things, I think this can be fixed with spray paint.  I also built a neck joint so beasty will be able to turn his head and look, also pictured in the gallery.  The black wire-tie is a little safety feature to avoid the awkwardness of a head falling off while on the prowl.

10/16/2007 - Got the Dino-mask!  Looks great.  I put it on and snuck up on my kids.  Eldest saw it first and giggled.  Youngest saw it, stared at me for a couple seconds, then began methodically screaming.  I yanked it off, and the screams turned into giggles.  Excellent.

10/15/2007 - Demonstrated the tail at work.  My oldest kid suggested that it looks like a big nunchuk.  He's 5, how does he know what a nunchuk is?  

10/13/2007 - Built the tail skeleton, it's almost done.  Still some tweaking to be done.  The hinges work great, and it sways back and forth quite nicely.

10/12/2007 - I've put a couple of pics up in the gallery.  A co-worker had a good suggestion for fixing the hinge problem, I'll be cutting a slot in the PVC to mount the hinges vertically tomorrow after getting back from my EAA breakfast.

10/11/2007 - I won a dino-mask off eBay!  It's on its way here.  In the meantime, I've built a basic PVC frame.  Right now, it's a square of 1" PVC that goes around my waist with a "neck" piece going up to where the head is and a "tail" that goes down behind me.  I'll be mounting some hinges for that flexibility I want, should be able to have a tail that moves semi nice looking shortly.  Pillows will help give me some of the rounded organic body for the lizard, and I'll need to start cutting some foam to be the dinosaur legs pretty soon.

10/9/2007 - First things first, I'm acquiring a dinosaur mask.  The dino mask will be heavily detailed and, considering my time frame, is the only practical way to get something that looks like it could be a lizard instead of, say, an anorexic Horta.  I have my eye on a few, we'll see what happens.  Immediate todo: Build the frame that this all goes on.