• DIY Ninjago Costume

    It’s the most wonderful time of the year (at least in this house)!

    Between the months of August and September, Rob and I go into full R + D mode….

    …to develop concepts for our kiddo’s Halloween costumes.

    Two years ago was the first year we channeled our theatre and construction experience (that’s construction with sets and textiles, not buildings and skyscrapers, natch) and Rob created an amazing R2D2 costume from cardboard, poster board, and duct tape. It helped Oldest Boy win first place in the costume contest at the Monster Bash and was a huge confidence booster for him in a difficult year for him, full of new baby brothers, moving to new homes, and difficulty at preschool due to emerging neurological revelations.

    Last year we realized we set a precedent with Oldest Boy by making the elaborate R2D2 costume by hand, and he was going to expect nothing less for his Halloween costume. Challenge accepted!

    The timing of Halloween usually marks the time of year where the production for my business increases, as I’m fulfilling wholesale orders, making more items for my own inventory, and building up stock for holiday shows.

    Thank goodness Rob took the reins on this one.

    DIY Ninjago Costume Cardboard Template

    He started with a cardboard template after using this little guy as his guide throughout the costume building process:

    Oldest Boy was pretty insistent on being Jay the Ninjago, so Rob used Oldest Boy’s minifig as the guide for proportions, shape, and details.


    He then built the initial shape out of cardboard and those super stiff tubes used for construction (check out the little circular indents in the back of the leg! Rob is WAY more detail-oriented than I am, so it was better for him to build this costume this round).


    Onto paper maché! This wasn’t Rob’s first paper maché rodeo, and he’s used this method in previous costumes, even dating back to our college days. It helps keep the cardboard together and smooth out everything for a cohesive look.

    Yes, we let our five-year-old paint indoors. On carpeted floor. He was pretty careful to paint without making a mess, but this is literally the only carpeted room in the house (and it’s the dining room- WTF, previous homeowners?!), and we hate the carpet, and we’re tearing it out this weekend (for REAL!!).

    Then came more complex pieces that required shaping, and Rob used foam and scraped and shaped them to their proper form for this costume.

    I’m a weirdo and have a huge aversion to the sound of styrofoam scraping together, but this job was messy so Rob shaped the foam in the garage, so I missed out on having to put in earplugs during this part of the project!

    Rob created sword handles out of wood and affixed the foam swords with the wooden handles for the perfect swords for Jay.

    He also had to shape the head and designed the costume to have a section between the head and torso piece to hold the crafted shoulder pieces and the back piece that would hold the swords.


    Then he outlined all the details as shown in our Jay minifig friend:

    While Rob did 99% of the work on this costume, I did help a tiny bit and sewed the suspenders out of webbing material. Looking back, I would have made them a little bit shorter and would have devised the center straps to adjust better, as they kept falling off his shoulders.

    Then, to create the mask for the headpiece, he used spray starch and cheesecloth and overlaid it on the eyes of the headpiece and painted the cheesecloth. Once dry, he cut out the eye portion of the foam headpiece, and then affixed the cheesecloth to the headpiece.

    And of course, had to test it out himself. (above, right photo)

    Kiddo Test Drive! Oldest Boy tried it on, complete with lego hand gloves (Amazon), and he was SO excited. Jay was coming together.

    Looking back, Rob realized he should have trusted his instinct and added in “hinges” of some sort at the knee, as we discovered Oldest Boy had a hard time walking around during trick-or-treating.

    Overall, he was so stoked to have a Jay the Ninjago costume of his very own, made just for him, by dad.

    Happy Halloween and Happy costume building!



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