In my college days I was involved with the Sparty Mascot Programs at Michigan State University. Having such a hobby allowed me to become quite proficient at not only fabricating costumes but also performing in them!
To set the stage, MSU was playing Idaho in football at Spartan stadium, in August 2006. Part of mascoting involves coming up with skits that frequently involved some poor character getting the tar beat out of him! So when we saw we were going to play Idaho, the land of potatoes, Mr. Potato Head Costume seemed like the natural choice.
I got last minute authorization from the MSU athletic directed less than a day before the game so I had to make haste making my creation. With a budget of over $500 I knew I could, and had to, make something that had to please 72,000+ fans at the game.
I started my project by purchasing a pop-up hamper, the kind with a built in spring. Next I took egg-crate bed padding and made concentric rings, two smaller for the top and bottom and two larger to simulate a fat potato with tapered edges. I duct taped the rings around the hamper to make the shape of a potato with the hamper as the core. Then, in the space between the outside of the hamper and the inside of the bed padding I stuffed about a dozen bags of poly-fil to make the potato really fat and squishy. I covered the entire thing with brown fabric.
Now to turn a giant potato into Mr. Potato Head! As of now, the performers head, arms, and legs are sticking out of the potato. I then engineered a hat that allowed the performer to not only see out but also to be able to move his head (potato’s hat). I took a Rubbermaid trash can lid and turned it upside down, then cut a hole in it for the brim. Next I purchased a medium sized witch’s cauldron from the costume store and flipped it upside down for the bulbous part of the bowler hat. In the cauldron I cut a large eye slit and covered it with a see through filter that is used for air conditioner units. I covered this hat assembly with a black felt to give it the look and feel of a felt had.
Now the fun part! For the eyes I purchased two small plastic witches cauldrons from the Halloween store and covered them with white vinyl and made pupils out of black felt. The nose was made with red vinyl, stuffed with poly-fil, and then darted and folded behind to make a nice round nose. The mustache is made out of “devil wings” for a children’s costume and covered with a black fur fabric. The mouth is simply a white furry fabric, cut to shape, and drawn on with a black Sharpie. The ears…you’ll never guess. They were made of inside out “butt cheeks” from a costume for a fake butt.
Finally, the feet were made from tennis shoes hot glued to large pieces of rubber cut from the walls of old tires. Then Styrofoam from the left over bed pad was used to give contour and blue fabric was glued over the entire assembly.
The performer then finished off the Mr. Potato Head Costume by wearing white baseball pants, a white long-sleeve T-shirt, and white cartoon hands (with 4 fingers).