I am a mechanical engineer by trade and am lucky enough to work on the Curiosity Mars Rover project! My love of Mars and technology runs deep and I could think of no better way to honor that this Halloween than with a Marvin the Martian inspired Halloween costume!
Once I had my muse in mind, I started my research. I started by watching old videos and looking up images of Marvin to figure out just how to bring him to life. I realized that Marvin, being a Martian, does not have the same proportions of us humans. If I were to make him life-size I would need a HUGE head. Instead, I came up with the idea to downsize his body. From past costume experience, this would make it more wearable and easier to create. As I sketched, I could not imagine Marvin’s body really coming to life once it was scaled and secured to my torso, but then it hit me… he needs to be in his spaceship! This design allows me to keep him in proportion, plus has the added benefit of making Marvin look like he’s truly flying in the air. When the costume is in the dark, the spaceship would be hip level for me and appear to be levetating. Dancing increases this effect and looks like he’s steering his craft through the darkness.
Now that I had my design and sketches, it’s time to get to work building my vision. For the mask, I used some 18 gauge steel wire to craft the face. This allowed me to outline Marvin’s head with the EL wire, securing with zip ties as I went. Any mistake was easily corrected by cutting and re-attachin zip ties as needed. To bridge gaps, I wrapped portions of the EL wire that I did not want to glow with black electrical tape. To finish it off, I hand sewed a hair band to make the mask… well, a mask! This also provided a nifty place to clip the power pack and hide it beneath my hair.
For the body, I found a black mesh material intended for use as a kitchen cabinet liner to keep your utensils from slipping all over the place. This provided a square grid with many tie down places for zip ties. Creating the body and spaceship on this took a bit of art, but the zip tie technique pulls through again by making it easy to adjust if something doesn’t look quite right. I then hand sewed the final design to a black dress and Marvin was complete! I left space un-sewn under Marvin’s arms so I could slide a belt through and secure the two power packs needed to power the body to the belt.
body and spacecraft, sewn to the black dress
Finished body on the mesh material
Dance and Enjoy!
After all that hard work, there’s no better way to show off this costume than dancing in a dark club. A few shakes of the hip and the spaceship comes to life. Walking through the club makes marvin look like he’s flying through space. I love the attention EL wire costumes attract. People ask how it’s made, what powers it, and if they can take pictures. I’ll happily chat with anyone interested all night and I just love posing for photos to show off my handiwork. EL wire is affordable and easy to work with. I’d love to see this used more often in children’s costumes to make the little ones more visible and keep them safe while trick-or-treating.
This may look like a lot of work, but for me, the hardest part is concept and design. Once you know what you want to do and have your sketches, creating the actual costume is very forgiving and oddly mesmerizing. It’s a bit like color-by-number or in this case, trace-by-line if you have a good plan to follow.
Happy Halloween Everyone!