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Doing the Dalek for Marcon

After seeing the post in here by mothernatureiam, my wife and I decided to take a stab at making a Dalek costume to compliment the TARDIS costume a friend of ours was making for MARCON. I blithely ignored the fact that her post starts with "For 3 months..." thinking it was a costume that could be banged out in a week or two. Technically, it took us just under two weeks to make this, but it was some long hours indeed. My wife started by cutting up enough 3 Inch styrofoam balls to be our dots. Then she covered the halves with two coats of modge podge to smooth out the surface some. Next, was two coats of silver craft paint.

The next big hurdle was designing the lower skirt. We didn't want to use just two panels on the front, but instead wanted something that closely resembled the 6 panel front end of the Daleks on the show. The problem was, those panels would not have a single right angle in them, making them virtually impossible to cut correctly on the first go. What I ended up doing was taking some 1/4" graph paper and then drawing out the shape of the top and bottom of the skirt and the 'cap' pieces that the vertical pieces would connect to, and basically doing some geometry to figure out angles and lengths. My wife did most of that from the drawing, and then we confirmed our math when we drew out the actual full sized pieces. For the record, if you're going to cut a lot of foam core board, get one of the Xacto foam board cutting tools. That and a good, long straight edge were invaluable in the drawing and cutting process, as well as having a good seat of rulers. Once the top and bottom of the skirt were drawn, my wife re-did the math, varified the shapes of the 6 front panels and cut them out. Once the base plate of the skirt was cut, we just cut out the smaller top panel of the skirt from the bottom panel piece, this giving us a start for where the girls could put their feet through the bottom of the skirt. I also drew an octagon in the top of the top skirt piece, as that was going to be the shape of the shoulder section. We could not do circular foam board, so we decided an octagon was close enough. With all the main skirt panel pieces cut, we also cut a second copy of the top skirt panel piece, so we could better dissassemble the dalek for transport.

Here is a shot of the early skirt assembly:

And a shot as we started hot gluing the panels together:

As we got the panels in place, the assembly went faster

Here is the Skirt, and the shoulder after gluing but before painting. I have not cut the hole in the top of the shoulder yet for their head to go through:

and another view. There are no gaps when it's completed, between skirt and shoulder

Here is a shot of the top skirt and the copy, being held together with chip clips so nothing is loose when they were walking inside. The 2nd skirt top panel was glued to the bottom of the octagon shoulder piece.

and after the skirt piece was glued to the octagon shoulder

Here is the start of the head:
5/16" dowel rod, painted black, into holes drilled into a 13" plastic salad bowl. The bowl was clear, so had to be spray painted black. Drill the holes before painting the bowl, as the bending of the plastic can cause the paint to come away. Also, you will need 3 other holes, for the "ears" and eye stalk:

Here's a shot of the test fitting to make sure the whole thing would be tall enough for her to stand in:

This is a shot much later in the process, after painting the skirt and shoulder black. We used Valspar black gloss enamel. The white foam board had a much nicer finish than the black. I would recommend using just white foam board. My wife cut out two squares, where the weapons would go, and glued a couple extra layers of foam board on them, before putting the top and bottom triangle pieces on. I then drilled through the foam board after it was hot glued to the shoulder, to make sure the weapon arms would line up properly. I also had cut out the head hole by this point. The dowel rods are hot glued to the top of the octagon.

Here are the weapons put into the slots. The ray gun is a paint roller, and the plunger is.. well.. a plunger. Hot glue was used to attach the cup 'ears' to the dome.

The mid section looked bare, so we cut out some 2" by 8" sections of foam board and painted them silver. It made a big difference in how things looked.

Another test fitting, to ensure everything was the right size.

The finished Dalek! Hot glue was used to put 4 layers of plastic window screening across the front of the head cage. No one can see in, but you can see out just fine. The back half of the head was a folded piece of thick poster board into a semi circle to help prevent light from sneaking through from the back. The rings are simply weather stripping cut and glued to size. they can be slid up or down so as not to obscure the vision of the people inside. The eye bud on the end of th stalk is a toilet flapper valve, with the connections trimmed off.

Here is the finished project, with her sister and her "Dalek Handler" T-shirt behind her, and a kid Dr. Who who just happened to be there

Marcon was a British theme this year... so there were plenty of Doctors around to meanace:

And then a full size, full blown Dalek showed up. Everyone thought the pair of them wer great!

Again.. plenty of Time Lords to Torment:

Though they got their revenge soon enough:

My daughters had an absolute blast in the costume. We got second place overall for Hall costumes, losing out to a master costumer with a Blink Angel outfit. They wandered around for most of the day, with a speaker toy that shouted various Dalek lines, and many people thought the costume was a voice controlled robot or remote controlled toy untill my girls spoke up from inside. Well worth the effort! The only shame is that we'll probably only get another year, maybe two out of it, because they are growing so fast.

Some other tidbits.. I put in several pieces of 1/4" squared dowel rod on the inside of the skirt, on top of the base plate, to give some extra support to the base. There were 7 furniture casters on the bottom of the foam board base, and my wife sewed a 3" fabric skirt around the base, to hide the casters. We used velcro to attach the casters to the base, but the stresses from moving around caused the casters to come loose, partiuclarly when turning quickly. We figure that if we glued the casters to a small square of foam board, and velcroed the foam board to the base skirt, we'll do better. (Why did we have to velcro the casters on? because if the skirt was any taller, it would not have fit into the back of our station wagon, making transport impossible)

Overall? A challenging project, but a lot of fun, and well worth the reaction we got from everyone. Not bad for Foam core board, styrofoam, hot glue, and some dowels and paint. 8)


( 1 comment — Leave a comment )
May. 28th, 2009 06:33 am (UTC)
Wow. Amazing job. Looks like they had a great time there.
( 1 comment — Leave a comment )


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