Doc Ock Costume

I wanted to do another somewhat involved costume after missing last year. Initially I thought nightcrawler would be fun but I don't have black hair and wearing blue body paint isn't much fun with clothes on. Thankfully Spiderman 2 had just come out so Doc Ock was born.

Constructing the arms out of thousands of little articulated disks, while tempting, was going to take way too long for a costume. So instead I used some flexible downspout tubing - that stuff you see people use to pipe water away from their houses. I thought about having the arms just hold their shape with spray foam but since the pipe tended to want to snap back into place I figured one good whack during a party would break the foam inside and send the arms flailing. Heavy guage copper grounding wire to the rescue. I think I used 6 or 4 guage, I can't remember, it was whatever was available at Home Depot.

The little adapters to connect that flexible tubing to rectangular downspouts worked well for giving me something squarish to bolt to the rest of the costume. And since I'm an EE and know the pains that conduit can save, I ran some tubing through the arms to make pulling wires and whatnot a whole lot easier.

So on to the arms. This was a lot of trial and error, but I ran the grounding wire through the tubes, clipped the ends and bent them at an angle so they'd be held in place in the downspout tube and then just started bending. I had a friend help me here, I'd bend the arms, hold it against my back and ask how it looked from the front. Too close? going to gouge someone's eye out? It took about a half hour to get them mostly right.

Once I was happy with that I filled the tubes with "Great Stuf" expanding foam adhesive. It hardens pretty stiff, sticks to the plastic tubing, and isn't quite as hard to work with as whatever that green crap I used in the Duff cans was. While it dried I had to prop up the "conduit" tubing so it came out of the general center of the arms. It had a tendency to want to move to the side.

Painting. I needed the ridges of the tubing to be silver and the valleys to be black so it would look like a bunch of metal disks stacked on top of each other. I tried masking out the ridges with rubber bands or tape but it never seemed to work and was taking too long so I elected to just paint it all silver then paint it again by hand with black.

Krylon metalic spraypaint worked pretty well for the arms. It looked better than just grey but did tend to pool and drip more than I would have expected from spray paint. A few coats and we're on to detail work.

This ended up not being too bad. Since it was lots of detail work I could break it up over a few nights for about an hour a shot. Having someone there to talk with while doing this helps a ton.

Starting off I was very careful about not slopping any of the paint up too high on the edges of the silver rings, but towards the end I realized that no one is going to see it in a party, and if they do they're not going to care. And if they care they're not likely to be someone I want to know or associate with.

Yes, those are magic cards.

An old external frame backpack from value village ($2) served as the mounting platform for the arms. Initially I hacked down the backpack to just about a foot and a half tall and screwed a chunk of wood into it. It left me with a lot of jagged metal edges that liked to rip through my jacket and skin so some modifications took place after these pictures were taken.

A slab of really thick foam protected me pretty well for the night. It was about two inches thick but I don't know anything else beyond that. We had it lying aound our house. I have no idea why.

Eventually I ended up just chucking the whole metal frame. Instead I just screwed the straps directly into the hunk of wood, which made the whole contraption fit better under the jacket. With the metal frame on it tended to poke up beyond my shoulders or around my side making me look like I was wearing a backpack under my jacket. It might not have been a problem for a wider/taller guy. Sans frame and we're golden.

Bolting the arms to the frame took more trial and error, two friends this time. Me standing there, one to observe and another to hold the arm in about the right place. Once observer was happy with the look holder would outline where the arm was on the board for easier bolting later.

3/4 inch bolts with lockwashers held the arms in place without a hitch. I just ran them through one side of the round to square adapter thingies and tightened them down. They did bounce and move a little bit but the plastic was plenty strong without having to do any reenforcing.

Ever stylish, you can see Zack here sporting an all vinyl brown trenchcoat purchased from good will for $3.50. This was the look I remembered from the movie even though I guess the Doc there spent most of his time running around in a "wife beater". I never gave much thought to the purple and green color scheme of the cartoon/comic outfit.

Oh yeah, since you can see the arm bonking me in the head in the one picture I ended up mounting the arms a little higher on the board later on. Couldn't go too high though or they'd get caught on doorways. A delicate balance.

Zee Goggles, Zey do nosing! Old welders goggles off of ebay. I paid a little more because I wanted goggles that were already brown and not obviously made of plastic, but if I were to do it again I think I'd get some plastic ones and just paint them. These tended to dig into my forhead when not over my eyes and the elastic didn't like to stay in place.

The claws! Claws were nearly as "make or break" as the arms since they were featured pretty prominently in the movie. Of course I wanted articulated claws - or at least one claw - so they could serve as drink holders for the night. Don't want to hold my cup? Just have the lower right arm hold it for me. It wouldn't have been too hard to come up with a cam driven claw but the problem was mounting the motors and gears and whatnot inside the arm or under the jacket. No matter what I thought of it just wasn't going to fit. So static claws it was.

Wood and carpenters staples ended up working pretty well. Since I don't have any fine woodworking tools I just used a chopsaw and some guessing to get the angles and curves just right on the claws. It did occasionally take a big chunk out of the wood but it didn't matter much once they were all painted. The staples left a gap between each wood segment but that ended up working pretty well since it let the claws flex a bit if they ever got caught on anything.

A 4 inch hole saw cut out the disks to mount each pincher of the claw and left a nice hole in the center for eventually mounting the lights. Three of the four clwas are identical but I wanted the one above my head and looking forward to stand out so it's open. Just spinning the middle wood section of each pincher opened it up pretty well.

I tried to use screws or nails to mount the pinchers to the disk but that just succeeded in breaking some of my prototypes. Wood glue ended up working the best.

More metal spray paint and some nice bright red bulbs (not LEDs) from radio shack completed the claws. I found some end caps meant for the plastic downspout tubing, screwed the claws to those and those to the arms. They fit nicely inside and held everythign pretty well in place. You can see the screws if you look for them but they were hid in the black troughs of the arms pretty well.

Wire thread easily through the conduit in the arms, hooray for planning ahead.

All assembled and wired. With the added mass of the claws on the end of the arms they tended to bob around a little more when I walked but nothing too bad.

A cool old knife switch - think Igor and Frankenstein - I found around the house worked to control the lights. I ended up never turning them off and they weren't that bright but it definately added something to the costume to have them there. If anything I'd consider adding more but I didn't have any more bulbs and it was only a few days to halloween so this is what I've got.


I have no idea who these people are. Well, now I know Anna (on the right) but the three in the middle are still just nuts.
The evil guy from Zoolander. I want to call him Mustafa but that's from Austin Powers. Upper left arm had had a little too much by that point in the night and mercilessly attacked him.
Hell yeah. And the lower right arm did end up working as a cup holder. It could just only ever hold empty cups. So by cup holder here I mean attached garbage can.
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