AT-ST Costume…Nothing But Cardboard

Posted: December 1, 2013 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , ,

I know I’m a tad bit late, but if you follow me on Facebook then you’ve already seen this. For Halloween this year we, the Nerd Company, decided to continue the annual tradition of having a themed costume party. Last year we decked ourselves out as famous rock stars, me going as red shirted Alvin the Chipmunk, and two years ago we gathered up all the ingredients needed to throw the most epic Harry Potter party, with me playing the part Ron Weasley going to the party in his great Aunt Tessie’s dress robes. This year we put our heads together and decided a Space Age theme would be perfect for this year’s Halloween frivolity.

It took some time as I muddled around the idea of going as Mega-Man, Green Lantern, and I even entertained the idea of putting together a Marvin Martian costume. But none of these ideas could top what would become my greatest creation…the AT-ST walker costume!


If you’ve seen Star Wars then the AT-ST isn’t a foreign concept to you. However, if you aren’t a fan of the famous movies series, or simply don’t pay attention to the names of robots and contraptions, then let me explain. This costume idea was no simple task and required a lot of planning and constructing – wheel and ball bearings, movable legs, holding straps, etc etc. It took about two and a half weeks to complete so I decided to document the entire process with photos.

Phase 1 – The Head
I decided to start with the head piece as I found that to be the most design-specific part of the entire ensemble. I decided that if I wasn’t able to get the head together, then I would need to look at other costuming endeavors. The head was rather large because I had to account for my shoulder width as well as making sure I had room for my arms to move. I was able to acquire a lot of cardboard from my part-time job, did some measuring, a little math, and cut five large sheets out and glued them all together.


Phase 2 – Painting
My next task was to make sure this was going to LOOK metallic enough to work. So I bought some metallic colored spray paint and sprayed the crap out of the head. I did this early in the morning on a Saturday and allowed the paint to dry for a few hours in the sun. After that I got a big black sharpie and marked out the lines for the window eyes and other parts that needed those defining features.


Phase 3 – The Legs
Now came the most difficult part. I didn’t need an incredibly substantial construction for the legs, yet I knew I needed them to be sturdy enough as to not bend so easily. I made eight leg pieces, four for the top portions and four for the lower portions, and cut out some smaller pieces to splice them all together using pipe cleaners to do the binding.


Phase 4 – The Waist, Feet, And Leg Movement
I didn’t want to stick the legs to the head so I knew I needed a waist piece. I poked some holes where it was neccesary and used some nuts and bolts to get motion out of the legs. I was starting to run out of time since the party was in two days so for the feet I simply cut out larger strips of cardboard, wrapped them around my feet and glued it all together. Bad engineering maybe, but it worked. I used duct tape to act as straps to hold the waist up, and did the same thing with the head to keep it rested on my shoulders.


Phase 5 – Testing It Out
I needed to make sure I didn’t put all of this together for nothing so I put it on to see how well it would all work out. I found that the feet kept ripping through the holes of the legs so I had to reinforce them a lot more, and that still didn’t work too well but it held well enough for the party.


Phase 6 – Finishing Touches
I spray painted the rest of the costume and put the final touches on the head with my black sharpie. I was so happy with how it turned out even though there were other complicated details I would have LOVED to add to the entire costume. However I was lacking on time so I simply had to be fine with what I finished at this point.


Cardboard is an awesome medium to work with when it comes to costuming, and if you’re ambitious enough you can construct some epic costumes. The whole costume bent a little in places when transporting it to the party venue, but I was expecting that.

If I were to change anything it would be how the feet connected to the legs as well as reducing the length of the head. I’m planning on redoing this costume using perforated plastic which would hold up better as well as making the needed additions to turn this costume into something I’d feel proud to wear at events like Comic-Con!

And just so you can see this beast in motion, here’s some videos…


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