This Homemade Robot Halloween Costume is an original design whose form was largely suggested by the materials we worked with. It was inspired in a general way by classic B-movie robots and George Eisner’s gorgeous illustrations for the Gang of Five tin toy repro packaging. My six-year-old son, Declan, also helped guide the design with many suggestions and requests.
It was built mostly from plastic wastebaskets and buckets purchased at the local dollar store, cut with a Dremel tool and snips and joined with E6000 adhesive. Rivets made from rubbery cabinet door bumpers and edges finished with foam backer rod really helped complete the look. It was painted with Rustoleum Universal spray paint, mostly in “hammered silver,” with some gold and copper accents. The robot brain on top of the head lights up, the single eye glows an eerie red, the hand-mounted ‘scanner’ spins and flashes color, the claw hand actually grasps, and the hatch on the chest opens at the push of a button to receive candy. Excluding a few materials already on hand it cost less than $70 to make.
I lost track of how many hours it took to build, but it was a labor of love… though I’m not sure who worked harder: me, building it; or my son, galumphing around the neighborhood in it for trick-or-treat.
A few build notes:
The robot “brain” atop the head is just a dollar store touch light, which — because it’s a cheap, made-in-China piece of junk — flickered sporadically, which was actually kind of cool, because it made it look like the brain was computing or something.
The eye was an eyepiece salvaged from a WWII gasmask I bought at an army surplus store decades ago for another costume. An LED flashlight duct-taped inside the helmet shines through a piece of red plastic glued to the inside of the eyepiece, providing the eerie red glow.
The mouth — which serves as the peephole for the wearer — is a louvered vent for 4″ ducting picked up for a couple bucks at the hardware store.
The sloping shoulders are attached to the rest of the shoulder unit with woven elastic from the fabric store. This allows them to flex open to accommodate the helmet and hold it firmly in place while still being easily removable. A small piece of Velcro in back helped keep it in place.
The body is formed from a $5 plastic tub I cut down. The back seals with Velcro. An adjustable strap borrowed from a leafblower loops around the wearer’s neck to hold the torso on.
The push-button hatch on the chest is made from a plastic bathroom wipe dispenser, with labels designed and printed from my computer. Inside the hatch a mesh bag attached with Velcro catches the candy that is inserted when trick-or-treating.
The hands are just mini swing-top wastebaskets with the tops glued in place. A hole cut in the wastebasket’s bottom accommodates the wearer’s hand, while a hole cut in the top accommodates the device: on one side a $5 LED spinner toy for the “scanner”; on the other, a $5 grasping claw toy, which was cut down from it’s original length of 18″.
The boots are also cut from plastic wastebaskets. They’re open-bottomed, and attach to the wearer’s sneakers with a Velcro loop. Foam backer rod wound around the arms and legs helped make them look less like thermal underwear and more like robotic limbs.