The idea behind this year’s costume actually started before last Halloween was even finished. My son Ian has always had a love for the Halloween season. My wife and I, actually think he loves Halloween more that Christmas. With that said, we have had to come up with some different ideas that only a child’s imagination could conjure up.
Last year Ian was a tornado, the year prior he was Edward Scissorhands. My wife and I enjoy putting together the ideas Ian comes up with, but this year was an accumulating of our family’s imagination, teamwork, and a love for Halloween.
If you think back, you may remember a little movie called Big. In that movie, the main character makes a wish to become big. The mystical Zoltar granted this wish. A fortune-telling machine that continues to fascinate children and to this day, is found in many amusement parks. My son Ian wanted to be Zoltar. Not just the character, but the entire machine.
Our main challenge was how we would make a realistic, portable version of this machine. Furthermore, how can we make it light enough for an eight year old to walk around in. Throughout the year, we collected items for the homemade Zoltar Halloween costume idea that Ian would wear. Like his turban, jewelry, and outfit. In doing so, we kept our inspiration going year round, giving us time to work over ideas.
Before we knew it, October was upon us and the costume had nothing but the items we purchased throughout the year. Then, while I was bringing up Halloween decorations, I came across some ¾ inch foam insulation board left over from a project for my neighbor. Suddenly it hit me. The foam board was light enough and had the durability we were looking for.
One of my past jobs was as a cabinet maker, so the concept for the costume came together quickly. Being foam, nails and fasteners were out, so liquid nails was used to hold the parts together. I made a bottom much like a drawer box. Except for a 1 inch channel across the back to help hold the back of the top piece in place. Believe it or not, 1 inch foam is hard to cut straight, so many pieces did not come out as square as I would like. My wife had picked up some corner re-enforcements used in packing. We planned on using them to hold up the top.
Frustrated with how the foam was coming out I set the corner pieces on top of the box while contemplating solutions. Once again, I was hit with a great idea. I used the corner pieces on every edge. One, it made the box square, second it made the box look as if it was fabricated out of wood or metal.
Now that the box was completed, I used poster board to cover the foam and a Krylon spray paint that had a metal effect, to paint the box. Next, we used some red fabric to wrap around the bottom. The fabric had sheen to it, along with the top, this gave the illusion of a booth. We used a shiny gold fabric to cover the inside as well.
For the windows, we used plastic wrap used in making gift baskets. The main reason was that it is durable and comes in a large roll. We then hung fringe and the lettering for added effect
With the costume all together things were looking great. That is until Ian got in for a test run. He slid himself through a hole in the bottom cut to the size of his waist. After getting in we discovered the costume was to top heavy. To solve this problem we made straps to go over his shoulders. No matter how we configured them, the costume kept tipping backward. I used a 2lb weight to counter balance the costume, and we were finally complete.
We took Ian outside and had him walk up and down hills and upstairs for further testing. Halloween came and Ian was asked to have his picture taken more than houses he would visit that night. The entire illusion fascinated children, had parents asking if he could breath and if the costume was too heavy for him. They thought it was made of wood.
The entire costume weighs less than Ian’s backpack. Ian was able to pass fortunes that we printed up on card stock, to kids and people giving him candy. As Ian says, it’s in the details. We hope you enjoy the included pictures and thank you for your time in considering us for this year’s winners.
The Betley Family,
Brian, Suzy and Ian