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Times reporter takes on a DIY robot outfit for Halloween
A DIY robot costume for a busy 2-year-old wasn’t as difficult as imagined. With cardboard and craft supplies, and a bit of imagination, a robot was brought to life. - photo by SAVANNAH KING

Supplies needed

  • Scissors
  • 2 cereal boxes
  • Twine
  • Cardboard
  • Paint
  • Silver spray paint
  • Staples
  • Glue
  • Hole punch
  • Pencil

Earlier this month, I took my 2-year-old son shopping for a Halloween costume.

We stooped in the children’s Halloween aisle, raking through the half-opened bags of muscle-bound superheroes, gruesome monsters, colorful hippies and cute, cuddly animals.

After a few minutes of rummaging and laughing at how silly we looked in giant sunglasses and crazy wigs, he suddenly stopped and stared at a package hanging on the wall in front of him.

"Robot man, Mommy," he said in quiet awe, unable to take his eyes off the image of a smiling child dressed in a cloth robot costume.

I guess he figured out what he wanted to be. So, I bought it without much more thought.

When we got home later that night, I eagerly dressed him up in his wrinkled new costume to show his father, Shawn Cozad.

I’m not sure what kind of a reaction I expected but, "Oh, you actually bought a robot costume?" wasn’t it.

We’re a creative, penny-pinching family. We’re also what some might call sci-fi geeks.

By buying a mass-produced robot costume, I’d basically broken our family’s cardinal rule.

There was only one way to make amends.

Shawn and I spent the next few days rescuing cardboard boxes from the recycling bin for our son’s transformation into a high-tech robot man.

I spent a lot of my free time sifting through homemade costume how-tos on the Internet. The projects ranged from over the top to tinfoil nightmare.

"Relax," Shawn told me one night while I clicked through image after image. "The outcome of the project isn’t as important of the project itself."

I knew he was right. Not only was this going to be a fun learning experience for our son but it was going to be a rite of passage for us as parents.

Once we’d collected two cereal boxes, one cardboard box, some twine and compiled elements of our favorite designs and we were ready to begin.

First, we cut open the cereal boxes so they would lie flat.

Using a pencil we sketched the outline of the design, similar to that of a tank top, on the biggest of the box’s panels.

We let the lower half of the design spread out to the two smaller side panels so the costume would be able to wrap around his body.

We did the same to the other cereal box, changing the basic outline just slightly by making it a little more "boxy."

Then, after making sure we’d measured out enough room for his arms and neck, we cut the designs out leaving the side panels in place so they could wrap around the sides and connect with the back piece.

Once we had the outlines cut out we headed outside to give them a coat of shiny silver spray paint.

While the paint dried and the fumes cleared, we started cutting circles and squares out of the remaining cardboard box to use as details on the chest and back plate.

We used acrylic craft paint on the circles to create the look of gears and buttons and painted small squares to look like screens and data charts.

Then we glued the details on the front and back pieces.

Once everything dried, we punched two holes in the shoulder straps and three holes along the side flaps. We took the twine and looped it through the holes; once the twine was in place, we folded the edge of the shoulder strap over the loop and stapled it so the twine would stay in place.

Then we tied the front and back pieces together at the shoulders and waist.

I decided to get some use out of the store bought costume after all and dressed him in its silver body suit before lacing him up in his new, homemade robot costume.

He smiled at me when the full realization of what we’d been making for the last two hours hit.

"Robot Mommy.Robot Daddy," he said handing me a discarded piece of cardboard.

I’ve got my work cut out for me this year. We’re going as one big, happy robot family.

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