I had been contemplating this idea of a Jack Skellington Nightmare Before Christmas Costume for quite some time (since the movie first came out). I have seen other costumes that were really great. But one thing always seemed to bother me. The proportions of Jack are so surreal, that no costume worn by the average adult ever seemed quite right. Most people (if not all) have a considerably shorter and more stout figure than Jack’s exaggerated structure. Therefore I came up with the idea to create a Jack that could be more like a puppet than a costume.
First, I sketched out a few ideas on paper, then I designed the body out of wooden dowels and some hardware, according to my sketches. I bought a 10″ Styrofoam globe from the craft section of Walmart and began to carve the face. Once carved, I painted the head all white and filled in the black for the eyes, nose and mouth. I used PVC waterline from the hardware store to create the neck and placed it on the “bone” structure that was made from wooden dowels. The neck is inserted into the head of Jack loosely to allow it to swivel back and forth.
My mother, who is very good at sewing, stitched together some black cloth with pinstripes for Jacks clothing. I used some soft foam for the hands, feet and chest area and attached them to the wooden body. I found a backpack that has speakers already built in (for an Ipod connection). Perfect for playing the Nightmare soundtrack as I walked through the neighborhood.
In the backpack, I placed a short piece of 1″x6″ board cut about a foot long. On this board I bracketed two long pieces of 5/8″ water pipe cut to about 6 feet. I bought two fiberglass rods, made for driveway reflector markers, at a hardware store and they fit nicely inside the two long tubes. Thus giving the two “suspension rods” some springy-ness. I attached the suspension rods to Jack with some spring clips and metal eye-loops.
I then attached some wooden dowels to the hands and feet of jack. The other end of the foot dowels were then attached to my ankles using a couple short pieces of Velcro cloth tape. This creates the appearance of Jack walking as I walked. I simply held onto the hand dowels and could easily create hand / arm gestures. I also attached a shorter dowel between my waist and Jack’s waist for stability.
For storage and shipping, I bought a rigid golf-club bag case off eBay for $29. Jack and the backpack and all dowels and rods fold up and fit nicely into the case. There he stays, ready and waiting for next Halloween! I will try to put a video of Jack in motion on youtube when I get a chance. But for now, I will include the photos.