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My PacMan costume

39499 Views 44 Replies 23 Participants Last post by  MrNightmare
EDIT: Here's the video

I'm new around these parts, but am looking for a place to show off a bit of hard work. This project started about a month and a half ago as an idea, about a month from the initial design sketches. (Pardon any grammatical mistakes, I'm copying/pasting/editing multiple postings from a car forum I'm on)

Three years ago I made a giant PacMan costume, but did it kinda by the seat of my pants. The final product was pretty decent, but lacked fit and finish. It was a huge hit so this year I've decided to resurrect it, but make it better!

This year's is going to (hopefully) have a functioning, moving mouth. I've also got some battery-powered speakers that I'll be installing somewhere in this thing, as well as the wakka wakka sound that repeats for 10 minutes (enough to make anyone insane) and 2.5 minutes of PacMan game play audio.

Anyway, here are a couple pictures of the old one.

(I'm inside the suit)

This year gets a lot more planning. Here are my plans that I put together for this years

The extra bracing is there to fix problems I had with flex. You can see it in the frame only picture. There was more flex that happened later as well.

Initial sketch

Put into the computer

Here's the mouth mechanism drawn in

A crappy 3D rendering. It's not actually solid through and through, I'm just not good with CAD software. The blue and teal colors are the mechanism to close the mouth and the elastic material to make it open back up.

Some pictures of it starting to get put together

Here's that half going together

All put together
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Cross-Pieces installed. You can see the other half being put together. I changed the way I was doing this because it was much easier to join the frame at one of the 90 degree bends instead of in the middle of a curve. Much less tension.

The other half about 2/3 done. Sitting on top of the cross bars to get a feel for how things are matching up. I'm going to use little stubby ones to really nail things down.

Once the outer frame was finished I went shopping for military surplus backpack frames to install in the suit.

I picked up yellow fabric for the center section, black sheer fabric for the mouth, and had Lowes color match paint to the yellow fabric for the sides.

Here are some pictures from this night. I made super-short cross bars so that I could make adjustments and get the two halves as close to symmetrical as possible.

Here are the two halves. Pretty darn close to identical

All put together

One more all assembled. The two ladders in the background are a 6' and an 8'. That gives you a point of comparison for size.

I went to a surplus store and picked up a very old military metal-frame backpack. The pack part got thrown out but I'm using the frame to attach the costume to myself. I got the frame mounted and one of the sides put together. I'm not thrilled with the cardboard I'm using since I have to tape multiple parts together, but I don't have a good way to transport larger pieces. I may look into some kind of poster board to lay over the top to make it look a little bit cleaner.

Here are a few more pictures:

The harness mounted

And the side that I got put together. I'm not attaching it until I get everything else in the mouth figured out since the sides will make it much harder to do any work inside.

This night I got the lower jaw of the mouth built, installed, and working. There was a lot of tweaking required as far as the placement, attachment, and whatnot of the pulleys, but as of now it seems to be working very well. I may need to get larger rope though. The stuff I got is a little smaller than what the pulleys are designed for and it has a habit of getting a little off track.

I also picked up some poster board to lay over the top of the cardboard for a nice even surface. They should butt right up against each other leaving minimal lines, unlike the pieces of cardboard taped together.

Here are the pictures

It's crude and overkill, but it seems like expanding foam will work perfectly to attach the cardboard sides to the frame.

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The lower jaw completed

The other jaw in progress

The hip belt installed

The lower jaw mostly retracted. The yellow thing is a thera-band and I'm using it as tension to make sure the jaw retracts properly. You can also see the extra cross-pipe that I installed as a stopper for the jaw. I want it to close but no farther than the opening in the primary frame. This way there's no way that it can.

The jaw mostly closed. It closes a little bit more than it is in the picture. I may have to re-mount the hinge point though in order to get both jaws to play nice with each other

And from the other side. Unfortunately the side with the rope attached pulls up a bit more than the other so it doesn't close quite uniformly. This can be remedied with some cheating on the cardboard side caps.

Upper jaw completed. There is still some sussing out to be done as far as the alignment of the jaws and such, but it's all working now. I ended up installing some stoppers to make sure the jaws retract only as far as I want them too.

The whole thing

The upper stops

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
The lower stops

The mouth closed

A little video of the mouth in action
YouTube - Mouth

At this point I got a property tax refund and decided to make a ghost to go along with my costume. Same size/scale, so it should be pretty fun. Here’s a sketch of the design

More Ghost pictures


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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
This brings us up to tonight
More work done tonight on the PacMan costume. Completed dressing the two mouth sections, got the muslin that goes across the center attached, and one of the two sides is curing as I type this.

Today saw a whole lot of troubleshooting with the mouth mechanism. The fabric created much more friction than I expected, so things weren't working quite the way they were supposed to. I switched from a one rope system to having one pull rope on each side for the mouth. It works much better this way.

Also, since the mouth pieces weren't formed quite properly (or the frame, not sure which) they stick out from the frame a little bit so I couldn't wrap the whole thing in muslin because it was causing things to not move. I'm extending the cardboard sides in these areas, going to attach muslin to the cardboard once it's cut to sit a little bit above the mouth pieces, glue it into the rest of the fabric and then paint the whole thing. Hopefully it won't stick out too badly.

The respirator has been my friend today. Lots of glue, spray-glue, and expanding foam.

Now for pictures.

Muslin attached to one side

Muslin attached to both sides

Expanding foam used to mount the cardboard side to the frame


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A little bit more progress.

The ghost is wrapped and I just got the red sheer fabric installed so that someone can see out of it. It needs some more trimming where it's glued into the muslin, but that can't happen until the glue dries.

The PacMan also got one side trimmed down so I can cover the place where the mouth sticks out of the frame and the other side has been attached. It's just drying now.

The seam. It'll get trimmed way down and then the paint should help the seam blend into the muslin, I hope.


The side before it was trimmed

The other side traced

The first side trimmed down. You can see it how the cardboard sticks out over the main frame. The muslin will wrap around this so the mouth has clearance to move.

The frame sitting on top of the other side. Not attached yet

Foam put in

My winter washer fluid stock and assorted stuff used as weights to hold the frame down

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A little bit more work done yesterday and today. I had an issue with the mouth pieces getting stuck on the outer fabric, so I cut it away, extended the cardboard sides and re-wrapped those sections with muslin.

Here’s one side done, the other in process

One side done

The other

The lower section re-done

These addition caused the mouth pieces to begin sticking on the sides because of the increased tension. A little wheel bearing grease goes a long way to help! Also, bending the cardboard over to loosen things up made things start moving again.

My plan had been to cover the cardboard with poster board that I could mate up nicely and make the sides look much cleaner than the cardboard on its own. I have two types of spray-glue, so some test patches were in order.

Testing the best way to fit the poster board on

I was really excited because it was looking great, especially when I painted it.

Fast Forward about ten minutes and the paint over-saturated the poster board and it swelled, bubbled, and molted itself to the cardboard underneath, and thus looked terrible. It looked a lot worse in person than even in the picture.

Then today I decided to stretch muslin over the sides as well. I picked up some 90” wide bleached muslin from Jo-Ann’s. Pins helped hold everything in place while I was gluing stuff down.

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The fabric stretched and glued down

The other side

I also gave up on using my climbing harness as a hip-belt, it was too hard to get buckled and really dug in. So today I also went to REI and picked up a real hip-belt and lashed it into the pack frame that I’ve already got installed.

Now with fabric covering everything and 2/3 of it painted. Tomorrow once this is all dry I’ll flip it over and do the other side.

I also just foamed-in the first of the two speakers. It’s kind of hard to see, but it’s surely not going anywhere. The Pac-Man noises are sure to drive me nuts by the end of the weekend.

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By the way... The suit weights 37lbs now that's it's totally done. Thing is freaking heavy to lug around, and I don't think it'd be doable without the hip belt.

A few delays, but PacMan himself is done. I need to snap a picture of the inside since it has changed a fair bit. As of now I have the little battery module and the two small speakers it runs installed at the top shooting out the mouth as well as a battery operated fan aimed at my face. Hopefully the foam holds up to all of the abuse and nothing falls off!

It hasn’t turned out nearly as round as I would have liked. I think that I really would need to have a ring roller in order to get the thing super round. Plus the mouth pieces sticking out too far caused me to have to give extra room by misshaping the front of the suit.

Both costumes:

The ghost is coming along nicely. I’ve got the fabric stretched on the sides now; and all I’ve got to do is cut off the extra on one side, glue down the ends of that fabric, paint, and somehow cut the squigglies out for underneath.

I’ll have a video up soon, hopefully later tonight of the thing in action!

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Wow, what a lot of work you put into that, and trouble shooting and re-doing.....awesome job! I clicked on this link at first because my daughter is going as Inky the blue ghost. But, now I am ashamed that all her costume is, is a sheet and some cut out eyes LOL

Super job!

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Video at the end of this post!

Here are a couple more pictures of the finished costume, first is one looking through the mouth. You can see the speakers, the little round speaker battery pack/amp, and the fan all mounted to the inner wall.

Here is a shot from the opening in the bottom looking up toward the top of the suit. You can see the fan and battery pack/amp. They’re all within reach while the suit is on. The large block of foam on the left has cutouts in it for my cell phone holster clip and for the iPod.

In this one you can see one of the speakers

The loose ends of the side fabric were glued down tonight on the ghost, and I think it’s going to get painted tomorrow.

And lastly I have a video of the costume in action. It doesn’t look as good as it did in my mind’s eye, but nonetheless, still pretty nifty. The paint was supposed to be color matched to the fabric that is used on the mouth pieces, but the computer at Lowes seems to have not done so well. Oh well, what can you do. I’m really looking forward to next weekend!

YouTube - PacMan costume completed with working mouth

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A little more work has been getting done. It’s all about finishing touches at this point. At the advice of someone on YouTube, I’ve painted the inside flat black and it’s made a world of difference. I’m working on putting black cloth inside the mouth frames. This is turning out to be a royal PITA, but it’s coming along nicely. The change in visibility when someone is looking into the suit has been phenomenal.

My friend, who will be wearing the ghost, has been helping with it. She’s gotten it painted and the eyes stenciled in. The inside is about 2/3 completed as far as painting it black, and I still need to install the hip belt.

PacMan has gotten dirty, so I’m thinking about putting another coat of Paint on to make it look nice and pretty again. It’s crunch time now, and things are also busy with the rest of life. But we will make in time!

Working on the stencil for the squiggles on the bottom of the ghost

PacMan partially painted inside

Working on gluing the fabric into the mouth sections

Spray Painting the inside of the Ghost black

The ghost painted

We’re trying for one side being blue with the face when the ghosts can be eaten.

And the piece of cardboard we used as a backing for painting the squiggles. We're going to frame and sell it as modern art :huh:
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