MST3K: The Halloween Costume

Happy Halloween! Or, as I celebrate it, Bon Chance* to Make a Creative-But-Time-Consuming Costume Day! You remember last year’s?

Geek Girl Photo courtesy of Heidi McFadyen

Geek Girl
Photo courtesy of Heidi McFadyen

And three years ago?

It's Claire, from Guess Who?, the classic game from Milton Bradley

It’s Claire, from Guess Who?, the classic game from Milton Bradley

After I won the contest last year, I considered retiring. Or reviving my Liz Lemon costume from five years ago (so easy).** I didn’t know how I could top Geek Girl. But I was with my sister, shopping at Unique Thrift for picture frames to make an earring holder*** when inspiration struck. I came around the corner and there, on the shelf, was a gumball machine.

The gumball machine that started it all. If you look closely, you can see a gumball inside.

The gumball machine that started it all. If you look closely, you can see a gumball inside.

But not just any gumball machine. The same shape as the head of Tom Servo, only miniature. Who is Tom Servo? you ask. Only one of the greatest comic robot geniuses of our time. And in that moment, an idea was born.

Tom Servo Photo credit Wikipedia/Wikimedia Mangiano

Tom Servo (Photo credit Wikipedia/Wikimedia Maniago)

I put out a call on Facebook back in April asking for the following:

– a bowling pin from a child’s set (~8″ tall)
– a pair of ventriloquist dummy hands
– two small ping pong balls
– a junior hockey goalie face guard (the kind with the wire bars, not the Jason/Friday the 13th kind)
– red spray paint
– a large Barrel of Monkeys
– gold spray paint
– plastic platters with high sides

I can’t tell you what they’re for and you won’t get them back…I also can’t pay much but would negotiate some type of baked good exchange. I was kind of hoping to keep it hush-hush, but I have some clever, equally geeky friends who knew immediately what I was up to. After the initial flurry, I kind of forgot about it. The gumball machine sat on my bookshelf but that was still the only piece I had until early September.

These were keychains I got at Axman. One said "Hope" and the other said "Free." They were not free, but they were inexpensive.

These were keychains I got at Axman. One said “Hope” and the other said “Free.” They were not free, but they were inexpensive.

I scraped off the images and lettering before spray-painting them white. I also removed the keychain, which came in handy later.

I scraped off the images and lettering before spray-painting them white. I also removed the keychain, which came in handy later.

Amassing the pieces took patience and time. I had to be ever-vigilant when I was out (anywhere!) because inspiration (and equipment) could be found anywhere. Crow’s neck rings, for example, were protective plastic pieces from a three-tiered shelving unit my coworker had recently, which is also where the box backing/theater seats came from. The “springs” that form Tom Servo’s arms are actually two halves of a bracelet I found at a booth at the teacher’s convention exhibitor fair.

 

Tom Servo, taken apart. Pre-paint.

Tom Servo, taken apart. Pre-paint. Notice the keychain. It’s attached to the spring that connects to the gumball opener (which allows it to open and close). The keyring held the spring in place for painting.

Most good things take time; this one has taken a lot longer than I thought. Part of that is due to the fact that the idea sort of evolved as I was making the costume. Part of that is because I’m a procrastinator; I hesitate before making cuts or gluing together parts because I didn’t want to mess it up. Fear of commitment? Permanence? Maybe. And I wanted to do a good job, not just slap something together (although there was a fair amount of duct tape and hot glue involved and I burned two fingers (I’ll post pictures later)).

Some adaptations:

Tom Servo’s hands are keychains (not ventriloquist’s dummy hands), his body is a Barrel of Monkeys with buttons and doodads (not a Money Lover Barrel bank), and his “skirt” is a round Ziplock storage container I spray-painted white and glued pipe wrap to (not a Halloween Boo Bowl and car engine block). Crow T. Robot’s hockey mask cage, bowling pin face, and torso made of platters are the only things that I didn’t adapt (although his eye socket is made out of a soap dish, but it isn’t the same kind). And really, the bowling pin is foam (not plastic) so hat’s not the same. Instead of a Floralier body, he’s on a cheap lampshade I got at Goodwill. His arms are the metal parts of an angle divisor my dad took apart for me wrapped in pipe wrap. I don’t know what to use for hands.

Here are some photos of how I made it. I’ll explain more in my next post.

My dad broke these apart so Crow could have arms that bend.

My dad broke these apart so Crow could have arms that bend.

I colored two small balls with a highlighter, then drew on eyes. The socket is a soap dish I got at Menards.

I colored two small balls with a highlighter, then drew on eyes. The socket is a soap dish I got at Menards.

Lots of spray-painting was involved to turn Tom Servo from blue and yellow to red and silver. I also painted all of Crow's parts gold (except his center, which is black) and Tom's skirt, shoulder, and hands white. I did most of the painting at my parents' house and, according to my mother, their driveway is a little gilded. Sorry!

Lots of spray-painting was involved to turn Tom Servo from blue and yellow to red and silver. I also painted all of Crow’s parts gold (except his center, which is black) and Tom’s skirt, shoulder, and hands white. I did most of the painting at my parents’ house and, according to my mother, their driveway is a little gilded. Sorry!

The offending glue gun. It's high heat, so it's supposed to glue better. It burns better, too...

The offending glue gun. It’s high heat, so it’s supposed to glue better. It burns better, too…

Tom's coming along. I can't figure out what to do to make his shoulders.

Tom’s coming along. I can’t figure out what to do to make his shoulders.

Crow used to be a maroon and orange foam bowling pin. The cardboard "neck" was originally inside the bowling pin, giving it shape. I cut it in half to glue the black rings in the center.

Crow used to be a maroon and orange foam bowling pin. The cardboard “neck” was originally inside the bowling pin, giving it shape. I cut it in half to glue the black rings in the center.

I hot-glued the eye socket to the central cardboard tube and the foam head/bowling pin, which I had sawed in half at my parents's house.

I hot-glued the eye socket to the central cardboard tube and the foam head/bowling pin, which I had sawed in half at my parents’ house.

Gluing the rings and the hockey cage backing on. Apologies to those of you who play hockey. But it was for a good cause.

Gluing the rings and the hockey cage backing on. Apologies to those of you who play hockey. But it was for a good cause.

I glued several ice cream pint lids that I'd spray-painted black into a stack and then glued each of the platters to the top and bottom of that stack to form the shoulders/upper torso of Crow.

I glued several ice cream pint lids that I’d spray-painted black into a stack and then glued each of the platters to the top and bottom of that stack to form the shoulders/upper torso of Crow.

Gluing the foam to the skirt. The glue was so hot it melted the foam. I'm pretty sure I inhaled a lot of fumes throughout this project, as I drove back to my apartment from my parents' house with a car full of recently spray-painted parts.

Gluing the foam to the skirt. The glue was so hot it melted the foam. I’m pretty sure I inhaled a lot of fumes throughout this project, as I drove back to my apartment from my parents’ house with a car full of recently spray-painted parts.

Tom Servo, as he joined me at work. I still have to finish the shoulders and attach him to the box/seats, but I think he looks pretty good.

Tom Servo, as he joined me at work. I still have to finish the shoulders and attach him to the box/seats, but I think he looks pretty good.

The Real Tom Servo Photo credit Wikipedia/Wikimedia Mangiano

The Real Tom Servo Photo credit Wikipedia/Wikimedia Mangiano

Crow's a little top-heavy, so his body needs a little more support. This didn't quite work.

Crow’s a little top-heavy, so his body needs a little more support. This didn’t quite work.

Crow T. Robot as he joined me at work. Despite the lack of body he looks pretty good.

Crow T. Robot as he joined me at work. Despite the lack of body he looks pretty good.

So I had a little trouble with my box/seats. But I woke up this morning with the answer.  Stay tuned...

So I had a little trouble with my box/seats. But I woke up this morning with the answer. Stay tuned…

Tom came to work and was very helpful. Here he is taking notes. Hes a bit of a pen-hoarder, but I can understand that.

Tom came to work and was very helpful. Here he is taking notes. He’s a bit of a pen-hoarder, but I can understand that.

He got the interoffice mail thing down!

He got the interoffice mail thing down!

Hes not the best at taking messages, but well work on it.

He’s not the best at taking messages, but we’ll work on it.

I’m sad that I’m not completely finished, that I have some logistical issues I’ll have to fix before tonight’s party (or at least the two tomorrow…), but I’m pretty happy with how they turned out. And it was really fun to make, despite all the time, obstacles, and burned fingers.

Many thanks to the following (for parts, encouragement, spray paint, and/or labor): my parents, Libby and Matthew C., Lyndsay and Spud M., Ingrid, my coworkers, especially Lisa & Meg, my fellow partygoers tonight (Charlie and Julie), and Phil S., without whose sweatshirt this costume wouldn’t have the authenticity I so desired.

* “Bonne chance” means good luck in French (so it’s got double meaning, which you know I love).

**Basically, I wear my own clothes and have awkward interactions with men. So, you know, like every day.

***That’s a different post for a different day.

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About Sarah in Small Doses

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3 responses to “MST3K: The Halloween Costume”

  1. Anthony says :

    That’s a really cool robot. I first saw The Evil Dead on MST3K. You’ve got a knack for creating cute Halloween costumes.

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