Greg A.'s Whiplash Costume Build Log

Greg A.'s Whiplash Costume Build Log

Since last Halloween several popular movies were released, including Avatar and Iron Man 2. Initially, I planned to build an AMP costume from Avatar.


Given the success of my Predator and Bumblebee costumes from previous years ( I knew I'd be able to pull off an amazing AMP suit.


Unfortunately, I got busy doing other things and was worried I'd run short on time and the AMP costume wouldn't be up to snuff by Halloween.


Instead, I decided to make Whiplash from Iron Man 2.

Here's a clip from the movie:

The character is played by Mickey Rourke who just won the Spike TV award for Best Villain for his role as Whiplash.

Unlike Rob - who always comes up with something completely unique - I knew there would be other people out there who had made a Whiplash costume. I looked around online and didn't see any Whiplash costumes that wowed me. Most of them were lacking in the detail department.

I knew the most difficult and important parts of the costume would be the whips and arc reactor. In the movie, the whips "chase" from the backpack down to the ends. This raised several issues: Where do I find lights that chase? How will I power them? Will they be durable and not crap out in the middle of a costume contest? Will they be bright enough? Right length? Right thickness? Etc. So, I decided to confront these issues like Tony Stark would... I built a real-life, miniature arc reactor to power the costume!

The whips are 3-wire LED rope lights that I had custom-cut to the right length. The problem is that "chasing" lights generally don't come in 12-volt DC packages; they're 120-volt AC, the same as a wall outlet. That posed a challenge because I wasn't about to walk around all night hooked up to an extension cord, and I didn't want 12VDC ones because they wouldn't chase. So I realized that if I wanted the whips to look authentic, I'd have to find a portable 120VAC power source. It would also have to be small and light weight. A Duracell PowerSource Mobile 100 fit the bill.

Although one battery pack should be able to power the entire array all night, I bought two and built a second one into the backpack as backup in case the other one runs out of juice. Yes, I was kidding about building a real arc reactor.

Everything is mounted inside a hidden compartment in the backpack. The backpack itself is built off an ALICE military frame that I painted black.


Here is an in-progress photo of the backpack.

The arc reactor is a modified LED puck light:

friend I painted it, mounted it in a housing that I built, and then added details to make it look authentic.

Here's another progress shot (not done yet) with my friend wearing the costume so I could see how it looks and if any adjustments needed to be made.


Now comes the other hard parts... the chest piece and arms! Issues: How would I mount the arc reactor? How would I mount the whips? What would I make the chest piece out of? How would I make it look real? How would I connect it to the ALICE frame? What would I make the arm armor out of? How would I hold it all together without it breaking?

For the chest piece, I bought a Snugli baby carrier on eBay for a few bucks. Basically, there's a soft side (that holds the baby) and a rigid side (that goes up against the adult's body for support.) I cut them apart from each other then used the rigid side as the base for the chest piece. It's rigid because there's some sort of stiff cardboard inside. Because of the internal cardboard, I was able to drill holes through it for bolting down the other details/wires/etc. and the pieces surrounding the arc reactor. There was a soft/stretchy piece in the middle of the chest area. I cut that part out and the arc reactor slid in perfectly - it just pops in and out of the chest piece and stays securely in place on its own. I did this so if the batteries on the first arc reactor got low, it could be swapped out easily. There's a spare arc reactor inside the back pack. I then covered the entire chest piece in faux leather that I bought from Walmart, and I grabbed some leather belts that were on clearance to finish up the buckles and straps that make up the chest armor. Details were added using thumbtacks (pointy parts cut off), wood, foam sheets, special paint, and various pieces of steel and brass hardware.

Here's a progress photo from before the details were added.

Lastly, the arms.

The round parts are made out of various diameters of mailing, vinyl, and carpet tubes. They're just like the little tube at the end of a roll of toilet paper, only they're bigger and thicker. They give them away for free at places like Home Depot and Fast Signs. What I did was cut cross sections of the tubes, then I covered them in vinyl applique and painted them to look like metal. I drilled holes in them and inserted bolts so I could connect them all together with the straight parts.

The straight parts are made primarily of PVC pipe. Thanks to Rob, I'm now the proud owner of a heat gun, which I never had before. So I took a saw and cut various lengths of PVC pipe into quarters. I then used the heat gun to heat up the pipe, then I flattened it out with a board and let it cool. Voila! PVC sheets. From those sheets I cut the straight pieces of the arm armor. I then painted everything, bolted it all together, added details, and used Loc-tite to secure it.

It's built to withstand a lot of movement like in the movie.

Add some more details, a wig, a toothpick, and a set of shredded up/burnt/painted orange coveralls, and you have a pretty good Whiplash costume!

Here's a YouTube video of the costume from a few weeks ago. It's finished now... wasn't quite done yet in this video, but you get the idea.

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