Help my kid win Best Costume this year!
October 2, 2008 7:22 AM   Subscribe

My 4-year old son wants to be this bridge for Halloween. Yes, a bridge. That bridge. I am fairly crafty/handy, but I'm a little stumped as to how, specifically, to pull this off. Please help me, creative MeFites.

Key points - the costume needs to be easy-on, easy-off (this is a 4-year old we're talking about here). Also needs to be able to survive a morning at nursery school and then trick-or-treating in the neighborhood later on. Also needs to be inexpensive to construct.

My main question is in how to create the structure of the bridge. My initial thought was to make just one "segment" of the bridge for him to wear, with "Trenton Makes" on one side and "The World Takes" on the other. I also thought I could start with a cardboard box, "sculpt" it with an exacto knife, cover with duct tape (tedious, but would possibly provide rigidity?) and create a roadway w/ matchbox cars glued to it. I figure his arms will fit through the sides and his head/body will fit through the middle of it.

But is there a better way? Please give me your best ideas.
posted by missuswayne to Grab Bag (20 answers total) 20 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Each bridge section could be a sleeve of the costume? He'd have to hold his arms out for pictures, which would be really cute
posted by middleclasstool at 7:25 AM on October 2, 2008 [2 favorites]

Best answer: I am not crafty, but I am an art director who dabbles in set design, so let's split the difference and pretend I have some idea what I'm talking about:

Find, if possible, a photograph of the building roughly perpendicular to its course -- or skew in Photoshop to achieve same. Fill non-bridge image area with black. Vectorize (using a tool/service like ), and then use this stretchy vector art to create two print-ready files -- one for each side of your boy. Have it printed on foamcore, and use a blade to remove the non-image areas. Use thin strips of wood, perhaps, for front and rear braces and secure over the shoulders with string/fabric/dark cotton twisted to look like metal cabling.


(If this works, let me know -- my son wants to be a train.)
posted by CheeseburgerBrown at 7:28 AM on October 2, 2008 [2 favorites]

4 year old kids are INCREDIBLY easily pleased.

Three cardboard boxes glued together horizontally with a hole for his head in the middle. The bottoms of the ones on the sides open so his hands can go out. Holes in sides of the middle one for his arms to go through. Picture of the bridge front and back. Maybe some matchbox cars on top. Done!
posted by unSane at 7:30 AM on October 2, 2008

At four, it doesn’t have to be too detailed. I would make the bridge going vertical up his body. Draw, or construct from felt, a “road” going up his pants and shirt. Fasten some Matchbox cars to it. Put a railing on the side of each leg and one on each side of his torso, fastened on with safety pins. Maybe give him a hat with an on-ramp. Make the brick trestles out of cardboard or stryrofoam and put it on his back. Bingo, he’s a bridge. He can lie flat on the floor to demonstrate.

If it makes you feel any better, last night my wife informed me that my six year old wants to be a bookshelf for Halloween. Yep, a bookshelf. Expect another AskMe thread about that.
posted by bondcliff at 7:31 AM on October 2, 2008

Your child is supremely awesome for coming up with that.

The two spans of the bridge could probably be built out of K'NEX or LEGO or something and constructed in such a way as to slip on to each arm like sleeves (you'd probably want to superglue them together for extra strength). For clothes, you could wear something painted to look like bricks (for the support structure).
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 7:37 AM on October 2, 2008

Ooh, and if you put the sections of the bridge on his arms, put some blue streamers hanging from the bridge, so that when he puts his arms up, the streamers hang and look like water below.
posted by nitsuj at 7:42 AM on October 2, 2008

Response by poster: I love you, MeFites. So many good ideas.
Yes, I will definitely post pics of the bridge.
C_D, if you think this is an awesome idea, he was a cherry tree last year - again, his idea, and my task to pull it off. He definitely stood out in a sea of Spidermen and Backyardigans.
posted by missuswayne at 7:45 AM on October 2, 2008

Response by poster: (I will add, for entertainment value, that my son also wants his little sister to be a duck for Halloween. A duck that lives under the bridge. Thankfully a successful duck costume is infinitely easier to achieve.)
posted by missuswayne at 7:47 AM on October 2, 2008 [7 favorites]

Dye the bottom of the shirt blue. Write the words with magic marker and attach the bridge parts on the sleeves using an old erector set (or pieces of cardboard if you cant find one). Here's a little drawing. Good luck!
posted by damn dirty ape at 7:54 AM on October 2, 2008

A duck under the bridge? Everyone knows that TROLLS live under bridges :) Looks like you've got a bright one on your paws...can't wait to see the pics!
posted by legotech at 8:55 AM on October 2, 2008

Best answer: You've got your good ideas, so let me add to the OMG YOUR KID IS AWESOME AND YOU ARE AN AWESOME PARENT pile. And yes, pics please!

Oh, fine, here's some ideas too. Buy a cheap red or brownish-red sweatsuit and use a fabric marker or fabric paint to paint bricks on it. I don't know what it's called, but craft stores sell semi-rigid, semi-bendable foam - it's about 1/8" thick and it's often used for crowns or decorate-yourself sun visors or cut-out letters. Cut out four bridge shapes on it and either paint or print images of the bridge spans on it. Glue to the arms of the sweatsuit. Voila. Bridge. (This should let your kid get away with running around screaming and waving his arms without severely damaging his costumer or trying to run while wearing something boxy and rigid.) Bonus - paint his face to look like the sky.

And split the difference! Make your daughter a costume that's half-troll, half-duck. She can be a truck!
posted by fuzzbean at 9:19 AM on October 2, 2008

From experience, if you incorporate the arms in the costume, make sure she can still catch herself if she trips. Otherwise huge dental over a lifetime my result.
posted by StickyCarpet at 10:43 AM on October 2, 2008

I'd make the brick supports out of fabric over coathanger boxes, that way his body can fit into the middle one with holes for his arms. Make them oversized (think blocky and cartoony).

*MOST IMPORTANTLY THE LETTERS MUST BE LIT UP*, so I think you should make the bridge part out of solid cardboard (using wide masking tape) and paint it a sky blue, then paint the girders and letters onto it. Then cut out the letters and cleartape a piece of white plastic bag over the inside of the letters. Something like a small LED bike lamp mounted inside in each bridge section will provide illumination. I'd use a couple of pieces of thin wood moulding (about chest height) to support it front and back, then cut a hole for his head shoulders and line the hole with dark fabric so that the light doesn't leak out around his neck.

You have a wonderful child.
posted by bonobothegreat at 1:37 PM on October 2, 2008

Response by poster: Fuzzbean, thanks for reminding me of that foam stuff - it's ingenious, isn't it? I used it on his costume last year, in fact, but hadn't considered it for this year.

And Bonobo I lol'd at your all caps - are you familiar with that particular bridge? When it's lit up I've noticed that at any given time there is at least one letter out, so if I am able to get the letters to light up, I'm definitely going to include that detail.
posted by missuswayne at 5:01 PM on October 2, 2008

With regards to getting the letters to light up, try glow-in-the-dark Sculpey. You can easily roll out and cut out letters (cookie cutters?), then bake in the oven until hard and glue to his costume. No messing with wires. I want to say it has a lifespan of about an hour of glowing when fully "charged"; it also flouresces under blacklight so you could carry along a blacklight flashlight and shine it on him at appropriate moments. Make one or two letters with plain white clay for that realistic poorly-maintained look :D

And hey! Keeps him safe on the road!
posted by fuzzbean at 7:47 PM on October 2, 2008

This doesn't directly answer your question, but I also just want to say that both your kid and you are awesome. :) When I was a kid I went as a box of popcorn one year, a Christmas tree one year, a bunch of grapes one year, and one of a pair of dice one year (my friend was the other one). In hindsight I am waaaaaaay more grateful to my mom now for her patience/creativity/willingness to help than I was at the time.
posted by Quidam at 8:11 PM on October 2, 2008

ooh yeah and for the letters you could use these flexible LED tube lights! We tend to wind them around the spokes of our bicycles but they'd totally do the trick for the sign/letters!
posted by lonefrontranger at 8:11 PM on October 2, 2008

(Nix that query mark after cookie cutters. I meant to indicate that you absolutely can use alphabet-shaped cookie cutters if you have them around; otherwise a rolling pin and an exacto (or even just a sharp kitchen knife) will be pretty much all you need on the Sculpey front.) Hot glue will do fine to stick them to his costume. I have played with a great deal of Sculpey in my time so feel free to ask questions.
posted by fuzzbean at 9:30 PM on October 2, 2008

Response by poster: Update!
My dear son changed his mind (such a 4-year old thing to do) and was a giant red lego for Halloween. The bridge costume never got made. BUT the lego costume was still totally awesome (and homemade).
There's always next year...
posted by missuswayne at 7:37 PM on October 31, 2008

Oh, come on, PICS! We need to see this.
posted by middleclasstool at 7:45 PM on October 31, 2008

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