Duffman Costume

I came up with the idea for a Duffman costume by realizing a slim blond web dev was going to have a hard time pulling off a pudgey italian plumber. For the hell of it I documented the costume construction as I went.

Some handy files for anyone who wants to try and make the costume themselves:
  • Duff Logo. The Duff logo in GIF format. This is the file I used for printing the shirt and hat.
  • Can Labels (doc). The Duff logo from above in a word document set up to print on 2x4 labels which fit the cans pretty perfectly

The Belt

For me the make or break portion of the duffman costume was going to be the beer belt. If that didn't work or looked like crap, it wasn't going matter if I found the white boots and red cape - I'd just look like a poorly equipped color-blind Batman.

I made the belt from a 24 pack of Fred Meyer brand generic cola, a Sampsonite luggage belt, some spray paint, some expanding foam sealant (unfortunately also an adhesive) and hot glue to hold it all together.

Wanting to not be too wastful I thought it would be good to at least drink the soda rather than waste it. That lasted for about half a can, the remaining 23 1/2 cans went straight down the drain. Given that it stained my sink it's probably a good thing I didn't drink it all.

Time to fill the cans with foam.

40%, that'll never fill the cans. I need these things to be solid. Have to be able to drill into them and withstand the beating of two halloween parties. I'd better just fill them all the way up, the foam doesn't expand that much.

Okay, so the foam expands that much. But that's why I bought a 24 pack. I figured my major screw up would come later in the project though - at least I hadn't already painted them like I wanted to.

Round two, much better results, still some overflow, but not bad. In retrospect I would have drilled or punched a hole in the bottom of the cans to drain out the soda. That way 1) if the foam overflowed I wouldn't really care since I could just carve it away from the bottom, but more importantly 2) the tops of the cans wouldn't look already opened on the belt.

It's not really that noticable, just something I'd have done differently given the chance.

Begin the tedious task of masking off the tops and bottoms of the cans. In the simpsons, Duff beer cans aren't red all the way from top to bottom, there's a band of silver can on each end. I didn't have any silver paint and really didn't care enough to paint these cans twice so they're going to be just solid red.

Krylon 12 minute dry bright red paint - two coats. Even with that much paint you can still sort of see the generic labels through paint, but not too bad.

While the paint dried, I take a stab at Paint Shop Pro and some web art. Do a google image search for Duff or Duffman and eventually you find an image of a Duff beer billboard. It's the highest resolution (and least obstructed) view of the duff logo I could find. Rather than freehanding it I just blew the image up and cleaned up any jaggies.

After removing the tape the cans are looking good. I used the dremel metal polish bit to try and clean off as much of the overflow foam from the top of the cans as possible. It worked really well on cans with only a little overflow but had a bit of a hard time chewing through more than a half inch or so.

Prototype can with a trimmed down label. Used generic avery 2x4 mailing labels and just cut out as much of the red as possible (it wasn't even close to a color match). The labels work pretty well though will probably eventually peel away from the cans. Good enough for one year though.

All of the cans. I like this picture because of the weird "organic" foam sculptures that sprang forth after the dremeling. Apparently the foam hadn't completely set up yet and I'd tapped into a still liquid area on a couple of cans. Basically like those "snake" fireworks only slightly cooler.

Lining the cans up on the belt (a trimmed samsonite luggage belt, I don't know many people with a 72" waist). I only end up using 9 of the 12, but it was better to have too many than too few.

Drilled two holes in the back of the cans to inject glue into. With the glue still hot in the holes I laid bead of hot glue on the belt and pressed them together for about 5 minutes.

This method of attachment works really well (tested it with one of the freak overflow cans and the leftover belt bits). Even if the glue pulls away from the can, the glue "rivets" still hold it on. It's actually pretty hard to pull a can away from a belt - should survive a party fine.

All of the cans in place, I let the cans set up for an hour. Well actually Enterprise came on and Matt came over so the cans just sat there. Proved to be a good choice.

Duffman has a belt, oh yeah.

Proportionally the cans are way small on me compared to cans on images of duffman. Of course to be the same proportion as the ones on duffman I'd have to have used Bud 24 ounce cans and that would have gotten expensive. Ready for the rest of the costume.

The Boots

Duffman's boots are pretty tall by boot standards, the only thing I could come up with was rubber rain boots. Since there aren't a lot of WHITE work type rubber boots it was up to Krylon yet again (thankfully rubber is one of the surfaces listed on the spray cans). This was probably the most expensive portion of the costume since the boots were new and $20. But it's not like they'll be useless after Halloween... just white.

Like the cans, many coats to get them looking right (4 in this case). I masked off the red toes and soles of the boots. I'm not sure if I'll keep them red or not (technically they should be all white) but I figured I'd see what they're like with red and if I want them all white, paint them then. Heck of a lot easier to add more paint than remove it.

All done. Kind of like the red as it is. However, putting it all together it looks wrong with the costume, so I'll probably end up painting the red.

A note about rubber rain boots, they only come in full sizes. So I had the choice between toe crushingly small 9's or swimmingly large 10's. I would have rather had the 9s size wise, but I went for 10s. I figure I'd rather wear 4 pairs of socks than lose feeling in my feet.

Since having initially made this guide, several folks have pointed out that you can buy white rubber boots (no flaking paint necessary) by looking for "Shrimping/Shrimper" boots.

The Shirt

The shirt was actually pretty easy to do. This is a pre construction shot. I used some heat transfer paper from Office Depot and an even bigger enlargement of the same duff logo. Sizing the logo to fill an entire 8.5 x 11 sheet works about right for this medium T-shirt.

An important note on the heat transfer paper: There's the standard stuff which will cause the white areas to come out clear(ish) and then there's transfer paper meant for dark fabrics. You want the dark fabrics type, it'll keep the white areas of the logo white.

The shirt after heat transfer - big difference eh? Actually the ink did smudge a little and the sides curled a little white, but overall it looks really good. If i don't completely ruin the shirt through the course of the night I'll probably wear it as a normal shirt :)

The Shorts

Ahh the shorts, I didn't want to shell out for a pair of red jockeys or, uh, tighty reddies, so I took some old white boxers I had and bought some RIT red dye ($0.99).

I ended up soaking the shorts in a double strength dye concentration for the full 30 minutes, I wanted them red.

They're not red. Kind of orange actually. That and they're huge and look nothing like the super hero jockey/cod piece. Time to look for some red jockies.

Also pictured, the cape. It's velvet on one side, but was also the least expensive of the red cape options save sewing one myself. I had a hard enough time shortening the samsonite belt, I wasn't about to try and sew a cape.

Since the dyed boxer shorts were a washout I opted to go with just colored Hanes briefs. $6, not too bad even though I'll never wear them again except as part of this costume, plus I got a grey and blue one as part of the deal. So with those in hand and a $10 red cape from Value Village the costume was finished.

Bringing it all together

And here it is:

If I did it again, I'd go with white shoe polish instead of white paint on the boots - you can see it's already starting to flake off - and I'd spend more than $0.74 on the hat so it stands up like a real baseball cap should.

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