Oversized Fidget Spinner Costume
Building a spinning costume for Sacramento Comicon
By Rob Cockerham |
I'm a big believer in making costumes which capture a popular trend or a fad... but some fads come and go before halloween time. The fidget spinner seemed like one of those trends. They were unknown in May, super popular in June, but clearly on the decline as school let out for the summer 2017. There was no way even a small splash of the fidget spinner fad would last until halloween.
Luckily, there was a comic book convention coming into town, and comic conventions require a costume.
This was my chance! By the time I heard that Comic con was coming to Sacramento, I had eight days to get a costume ready. I'd need to make it quick.
A spinning costume hinged on having a bearing large enough to fit my face through. Amazon had some nice big aluminum ones for sale, but I figured I could save some time and money at my local cool hardware store: Ace. They had 12" lazy susan bearings for $13. These are the heavy-duty version of the turntable inside your microwave oven. Perfect!
Well, the face hole was a little too small, so I snipped some of the metal away and left a ragged oval shape.
I ground off the sharp edges so it wouldn't cut my face off when I spun it.
My garage is full of pvc harnesses from previous costumes, so I just needed a smooth PVC arch to hold the bearing. I bend PVC pipes with a heat gun.
With the new arch screwed into the old black shoulder harness, the bearing sat right around my face.
It could work. One plate of the bearing was attached to the arch, and the other plate was ready to be attached to something large that could freely spin in a circle around my face.
Now I just needed to build the world's largest fidget spinner.
It needed to be lightweight, so styrofoam was the obvious answer, however, it also had to be strong enough for screws to hold. I settled on using a sheet of styrofoam glued to a thin sheet of plywood.
The pattern. I tried to get the largest possible fidget spinner out of a 4x8 foot styrofoam sheet.
Five days before the convention, at halftime of the Warrior's game, I ran to Home Depot to grab sheets of styrofoam and Lauan plywood. I brought plenty of twine to strap them to my car's roof, but a stranger with a truck spotted me tying them down in the parking lot and asked where I was going. I wasn't going far, and as you have probably guessed, he offered to bring them to my house for me.
He followed me home and I was super grateful and a little sad I didn't have a six-pack or gift card to offer him. There are nice people everywhere.
The scaled-up version of the fidget spinner had three main circles, with a 15" radius. I didn't have any 30" circles around my house, so I used the old nail/string/pen drawing compass technique.
One of the three circles would have to be cut seperately and attached to the side of the sheet.
I used a variety of bowls and lids to draw scaled versions of the rest of the giant spinner.
With the shape cut, I used a can of expanding foam to glue styro to styro. I had an idea that I might need to make the costume disassemble, so that I could fit it into my car. In the end I built it as a single piece and knew I could figure out transportation later.
The plywood was even easier to cut. Super 77 spray glue worked well to to attach the thin sheet of plywood to one side of the styrofoam.
If I did it again, I would have cut the plywood first, then glued it to the styrofoam and used the plywood shape as a template for the hot styro cutting wire.
My kids were wowed by the size of this monster fidget spinner.
The finished costume was going to be huge.
It was six feet tall, and the final project would be resting on my shoulders, several feet above the ground. Even without spinning, it would be a sight to behold!
I was running out of time, so I painted it that very evening and let it dry overnight.
The outside circles of a fidgit spinner are also ball bearings, usually colored black and metallic. I used a mirror as my template to slice semi-circles out of a sheet of Metal-FX Contact Shelf paper. The shelf paper had an adhesive back and looked like brushed steel.
The holes also got treated with a metal-look donut of shelf paper.
The metal went down with a few wrinkles, but the final effect had the look of a spinner.
The next day was the convention, and I had to finish up my costume. I touched up the paint and carefully screwed the harness/lazy susan to the plywood side of the blue spinner. I used ten long screws and was careful not to "strip out" the delicate styrofoam from behind their holes. Thanks to the styrofoam sheet weighing less than 12 lbs., it felt very secure!
For a moment I panicked, because the lower two sticks of the harness were scraping against the blue tri-shape as it turned, but some judiciously-applied heat from a heat gun allowed me to bend them safely out of orbit.
It was great! The center hole framed my face really nicely, something that I take very seriously when it comes to making costumes.
My logic is, if it is around my face, I'm DRESSED AS a fidget spinner. If it is around my waist, I'm WEARING a fidget spinner.
I loved it! It looked great, was unmistakable and shockingly huge, spun like a champ and was light enough to carry around all day! This was going to be epic!
The only downside was that I couldn't fit it in my car! I hadn't arranged to borrow a truck and I the big Uber vans are built for luxury and comfortable passengers, not unweildy plywood and styrofoam cargo.
No problem. I could take the bus! An all-day pass cost $7. Not counting the bus driver, everyone embraced the costume immediately... although not everyone was sure what it was.
"Is that for bean bags?" I made a note to myself to re-purpose this thing for a bean-bag toss.
"That's a BIG whatever those things are called!" one street-smart rider called out.
Downtown was crowded with people, and comic book nerds were packed everywhere, lining up to get into the Con. I turned the corner into full view and was greeted with open iphones, gaping mouths and spontaneous applause! It was awesome! The gigantic fidget spinner was an absolute hit that the crowds loved!
"OH DAMN! MIKE! LOOK! FIDGET SPINNERRRRR!" x 1000.
I love being stopped for photos, and with the fidget spinner costume I had a special trick: Invariably the photographer would click through and snap a picture, thank me and then slowly realize the whole truth.
"Does it.... spin?"
I would slowly nod. "Yes. It does!" Then I'd back up and give it a big whirl and they would shriek or just shake their heads in amazement. It was incredible!
Giant spinning costumes from now on!
Thank you Wizard World Comic Con!