I've always thought it would be cool to work as a propmaster for sci-fi films, so this year for Halloween I decided to go all-out and make a costume from found parts, classic Star Wars-style.
My favourite costumes in sci-fi film and television have always been the ones that involve futuristic armour - Boba Fett, Captain Power and his team, the guy from Superforce, and so on. I also wanted to make something that would be relatively recognizable, but that I would be unlikely to see anyone else dressed as. I decided on the Ghost, from StarCraft, because I like the concept of the character and the way it looks. I was also given a fair amount of leeway to make my own design decisions, because of the huge differences between the way the unit looks in the original RTS game and Nova's suit for the in-progress stealth action title. For those who haven't played StarCraft, the Ghost is a sort of sniper/recon unit. They carry personal cloaking devices to make themselves invisible, so they can sneak into the enemy bases and call down nuclear missile strikes. Being invisible also means they can take out unprotected enemy units easily with their rifle.
The finished costume, pre-Club Mercury
One thing that unfortunately doesn't show up in most of these pictures is the blue EL wire running underneath the armour. Some of the work-in-progress shots were taken without a flash so it shows up in those as it looks in person.
The finished costume at Club Mercury, Devil's Night 2004
The finished costume at Club Noc Noc, Halloween 2004
The armour and rifle had sustained a fair amount of "battle damage" at this point, but fortunately it's not obvious in this picture. I can see now why actual prop masters make about ten copies of everything that appears onscreen.
The rifle started out as an airsoft replica of a British L85A1 assault rifle. I'm fond of this particular model because it looks like it's from a sci-fi film as-is, and because it's a bullpup design (the ammunition magazine is located at the back of the rifle instead of the front, increasing the effective barrel length). I increased the barrel length by about a foot and a half using 1/2" galvanized pipe from Home Depot. The increased width also looks more appropriate for the .50 caliber ammunition the "cannister rifle" (or a lot of sniper rifles in general) is supposed to fire. The "flash hider" is the business end of some kind of hairstyling appliance I bought at Goodwill, minus the plastic spines. The scope is a small toy telescope that I found at a clearance store, and it's held to the original scope mount by metal bands which were taken from a pipe joint thing (also from Home Depot). The laser sight is from an airsoft pistol. The shoulder strap was designed for an M-60 machinegun, which I figure is probably about the same weight as this finished prop.
The handgun is an airsoft replica of the Walther P99 with a laser sight, scope, and mock silencer attached. It was unmodified except for the paint. The silencer originally had a sticker attached which read "Power Device - Self-Assembling." I'm not sure if the manufacturer intended to imply that it used nanotechnology or what, but the box it came in was similarly full of broken English descriptions of its capabilities. I had originally wanted to use a Walther Nighthawk (same concept, but much more ominous-looking), but the only replica available was as a CO2-powered pellet gun and would have cost more than most of the rest of the costume combined.
The body armour is motocross gear that I bought on eBay. The chest protector is by Vega, the arm guards are by SixSixOne, and the knee guards are actually elbow guards that turned out to be *way* too big for me. The chest protector is wired up with 9 feet of EL wire, powered by 4 AAA batteries hooked to a DC->AC transformer. The wire is connected through a parallel distribution bus I made from an 8-point barrier strip.
The uniform is a white pilot's top (commercial airline, I think) with captain's bars that I bought at a local supply shop (Kroesen's, if you're in Seattle). The pants are by Fox, and also intended for Motocross riders.
The utility belt is from the same military surplus store as the M-60 sling (the one in Belltown in downtown Seattle). I added a big pouch from the same store. The oxygen mask is another eBay find. The handgun holster attached to it I sewed myself from elastic and plastic clips, since I knew I wouldn't be able to find a minimalist design like that pre-made.
The goggles are by Dyce, and also from eBay. I originally planned to line the inside edges of the lenses with green EL wire to make them glow like night vision systems, but it ended up looking lame.
The boots are stock Cyber Bikers from Vegetarian Shoes. Like all their other footwear, they're basically indestructible and I would recommend them to anyone, vegan or not. They have reflective patches on the heels, which show up in the photos as if they have lights on the back.
Most of the pieces were painted using semi-gloss white and grey paint from Home Depot. I also used a bunch of bolts and glue that I'm not going to detail here due to laziness.
This was a test to make sure all the bits and bobs fit on at the same time and didn't look totally ridiculous.
The rifle and armour both took a relatively long time to make, so I took some pictures of them midway through the process. The armour shots really show off the EL wire glow. It's even more impressive in a dark club-type environment. The internal shots show the power bus for those who are curious about that. The framing is poor on these because I shot them myself using the timer on my camera.
Photographs and text copyright 2004 Ben Lincoln. Email: benlincoln at speakeasy dot net.