When Simply Buying a Halloween Costume Isn’t Enough

This year our older son decided he wanted to be General Grievous for Halloween.  If you don’t know who that is, look on Google (I don’t think I can share an image of him without copyright issues).  He is a character from the Star Wars Clone Wars TV show and is later defeated by Obi Wan in Episode III (spoiler alert!).  He is part man, (mostly robot) who has four arms that can all wield light sabers.  Bear with me here…

We found the costume online and it looked pretty great!  Our son was thrilled with it when it first arrived; however, something was missing.  He tried it on, only to find it had two arms; not four.  The disappointment and confusion showed on his face.  I had to laugh a little.  Then I realized I was the one who was expected to fix it.  Challenged accepted.  

The process was pretty simple after coming up with a plan.  I purchased some ½ inch PVC pipe with four 45 degree angled connectors and two three-way connectors for the hands.  I roughly measured these out based on our son’s body size and cut them to length using my miter saw.  I hand saw would work just as well.  

Cutting the PVC is very fast it could be done by hand in a matter of minutes

The difficult part was the hands.  I could not use PVC pipe to make the fingers, so I grabbed some scrap wood.  I roughly shaped out the fingers using my band saw and sanded them down to give a somewhat robotic hand look to it.  I rounded out the back part of the fingers to allow it to fit into the PVC pipe connectors and glued it in with a super glue equivalent.  I then also glued the rest of the PVC pipes and connectors together in the shape I wanted.

I probably spent a little too much time on the hands…

Once the glue was set and the structure was in place, I spray painted it with the pewter colored spray pain I have used for previous projects.  It helps to have supplies sitting around, plus it costs less.

Old cardboard is perfect as a spray painting station

As this dried, I cut out cardboard to match the shape of the armor on the outside of the arms.  I used paper tape to fortify the structure and then spray painted this with an Almond base color and lightly sprayed with a Khaki spray paint per my son’s request.  This took a while to dry as the paint became sticky on the tape.  After about 48 hours it was set well and ready to glue to the PVC.

After cutting and taping around the cardboard

I used the same glue to attach the cardboard to the arms.  This again led to some issues, as the glue initially dissolved the pain on the armor pieces, so I was forced to hold each of these in place for several minutes to help get the positioning I wanted.  This worked mostly well, but soon realized it would not be very secure.  Some clear tape was also used to anchor the armor to the arms.  So far so good.

Armor applied. Might resist a couple blaster shots…

The biggest question was HOW I was going to get the hands to hold the light sabers in place.  I determined that a mix of padding inside the hand plus some type of rubbed band attachment would be the best.  To do this I attached some black foam padding inside the hand, and then wrapped a rubber band around the inner finger insert to allow for the weapon to stay in place.  

Last, I had to get this attached to my son’s back without falling.  Obviously (I thought) I would just add a pipe up the back to keep it from tipping forward and all would be well.  

Let’s stop there.  Remember when we discussed these posts were about FAILING as a parent?  Well this whole project is about to fail.  The moment we placed the arms in the outfit they fell down.  I didn’t realize how heavy it would all be in the end. Determined not to let our son down, I had to think of something.

This is when a post from a member in my private Imperfect Dad, MD Facebook group (who wishes not to be named) suggested I use an old back pack.  Genius!!  We grabbed an old preschool back pack, cut holes in the two sides for the arms to come out, and I then added a longer PVC pipe DOWN the back and secured it to the bag with two safety pins.  We threw it on under the costume and EUREKA!  It came to life!

Don’t worry. The cute yellow dog is covered by the costume in the end.
Yes. Our living room is just as messy as yours…

Although he now has to get used to wielding four arms instead of two, I think he enjoyed the build.  It will probably never get used again, however at an overall cost of $9 to make, I think we can part ways with it come November.  The hands around the light sabers actually were too tight at first, and upon fitting the sabers into place both hands quickly broke.   This was an easy fix by drilling a hole in each piece, placing wood glue in each hole, and connecting it with an appropriate width and length wooden dowel that I cut from scrap pieces I had. 

How would you have done it differently?  Any other tips?

We may not get a “real Halloween” this year based on COVID numbers, but we can still find ways for our kids to enjoy the time they do get.  Nothing in the world right now is perfect, but we can embrace the imperfect moments we do have and try to make the best of it.  

Imperfect Dad MD

Photo by Ella Olsson on Pexels.com

Lifestyle Medicine Week 2

Last week I made some minor changes to my eating habits, including improved breakfast and lunch options.  However, dinner remained similar to the previous months.  I had hoped to have this improve this last week, however our older son had a Cub Scout camping trip over the weekend.  It is hard to say no to some quality hot dogs grilled over the fire or a boil of kielbasa, potatoes, onion, and cabbage.  At least I got 20000 steps in that Saturday.

Weight beginning of the week: 192 lbs

Weight end of the week: 191 lbs

Resting heart rate: 86 on average

Changes made this week: Improved water intake.  I typically do well on getting at least 60 oz a day in, but I have been working on hitting 100 oz on a daily basis at a minimum.  I am also working on my night time snacking.  This is difficult for me since we typically eat dinner around 5:30 PM.  By the time boys are asleep and we are hanging out 10:00 PM rolls around and my stomach is aching for food.  This will improve over time as I resist it, but I won’t pretend it was easy.  

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