I’ve never seen an episode of Thomas the Train, but what if he had an alter-ego? What if he had the ability to stand up, unrestricted by rails, and fight evil-doers? The Transformers Halloween costume was about two months in the planning stages, including collecting random pieces of cardboard, plastic and packing foam.

Torso and shoulders were constructed first by covering an old exterior-frame backpack, with a cardboard box re-fit and cut to a semi-contoured shape. Fastening was achieved through a combination of duck tape, zip ties and hot glue. Shoulders were constructed from a second box plus packing foam, all completely covered with duck tape, and then loosely hinged to ‘give’ with shoulder movements.

Forearms were made from more cardboard. Packing boxes (the kind found inside a box when purchasing a printer or DVD player) and round oatmeal boxes. Again, covered in duck tape and fit to match the forearms. Hands were made from foam, duck tape and old gardening gloves.

The lower portion of the costume comes together with the help of thrift-store snow-bibs. Appropriately chosen cardboard boxes were used to fabricate lower legs, and mid-section and attached using duck tape. Train wheels were made using plastic planting saucers cut with xacto knife to create wheel spokes and covered in blue and silver tape. Train drive rods were made using old screen aluminum trim and paper towel tubes then covered in red tape and fastened using hot glue. Feet were created using a 25 gallon planting tub cut in half, covered with blue duck tape and filled with soft foam to snuggly fit a shoe.

Head/face/boiler/smoke stack was achieved with a second 25 gallon potting tub cut to fit the shoulders, and a cardboard mason tube cut to fit as the stack. My head fits into the stack and the face of Tough Thomas is worn protruding from the chest. The antenna on the left shoulder even sports a flashing yellow light.

Vision was a little restricted, but the costume and the twist on innocent little Thomas was an huge hit. Total build time: 4 days and 14 rolls of duck tape in assorted colors.

Total cost: $73