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Making a PVC Mannequin - Part 1, Measuring and Re-Measuring

Before I start any part of this costume The most important thing is I need to see it upright. In order to do that I will need a sturdy platform to make my costume on. Sure a real mannequin would help but there are a few problems.

  1. They are rarely symmetrical
  2. They are not my height, I am 5'4"
  3. they also are not the height of the costume 7'6"

  4. They cost way too damn much!

Now that I got that off my chest, I had to find a solution. So I began searching the web for everything ranging from Duct Tape Dummies, to the 2x4 version that I made to display the Beast, I finally I came across http://www.dagobahswamp.com/projects/mannequin/index.asp. Using a combination of PVC and metal hinges, I thought with some slight modifications this would work great for me. Oh, don't forget the cardinal rule of any project MEASURE TWICE, CUT ONCE! After measuring myself ad estimating what I thought would be right, I was 9 inches off... that would really of sucked in the real deal. I would have been fine because it was 9 inches too long but its worth making a mock-up like below. If you don't have graphic programs draw it on paper, and make sure you are accounting for any overlap from the PVC and the curves of the tubes (that was my mistake). The mock up, although shrunk for the sake of the web is to scale to my body. The outline of me is from a photograph, and for every 10 points it equals one inch. So it was easy for me to double check all the measurements. Behind #2 you can see the outline of the Wampa, this is the desired size of the costume. The dimensions were from a photo of an early costume that was full size made for Empire Strikes Back. (photo at bottom of post)

I know with a costume as large as mine, the feet would have to go. In exchange I will be using some steel mounts found at harbor freight, that are attached to a 3'x3' plywood & 2x4 base. With those steel mounts, I can slide the PVC tube on and off of them, which also gives me the ability to add 2' extensions to represent the stilts (light blue, diagram 2). These will give me the ability to work on the two halves of the costume. As mentioned before I plan on splitting the costume in two. With the leg extensions on I can work on the bottom overalls. Without, I can work on the top.

Below is the updated mock-up showing some more details. I will add some more mock-ups side by side photos of the progress. Now the mock up stage is done, it is time to start cutting and get this thing started! The photo above is an early version of the Empire Strikes Back Wampa (notice the head). This early version had the head way too high (see action pic in the inset) so I modified it, removing the actors head, and brought it down closer to the version seen on screen. Click on photo for details

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