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Picture of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle [Michelangelo] - Costume
08 Glam_Front.jpg
10 Glam_Front.jpg
14 Glam_Back.jpg
21 Glam_Swinging Chucks.jpg

I told myself I'd take it easy this year - no full body costume ... no head with visibility comparable to having glasses made from salt shaker lids ... and no oversized feet, which make walking impossible. Why couldn't I just be a Pirate? Oh nooooooo ... that would be to easy and result in far too much sleep. I just HAD to be Ninja Turtle and I just HAD to come to that decision two weeks before Halloween. Nice job, self.

Reference materials, tutorials, templates, and appropriate credit
I wanted to go with the Nickelodeon TMNT version, not only because kids would be more familiar with them, but also because I figured the hand and feet fabrication would be easier to replicate in EVA foam.

While searching online for a slew of reference photos, I quickly found an existing Nickelodeon TMNT Instructable by nbehling. The Instructable is great and gave me lots of design and fabrication inspiration. You'll notice that I replicated his leg design.

The wild card for me was the turtle head. The truth is ... I'm not very good at mentally dissecting compound curvatures in order to know how to rebuild a shape. I can visualize the exploded view of square and rectangular construction (houses, furniture, etc), as well as simple shapes like a dome or sphere, but a realistic character head is currently out of reach. I decided to search for existing templates and found some great Pepakura files posted by Nintendude. You'll notice that I translated his patterns to work with foam.

Building Materials
The majority of this costume is constructed using EVA foam floor mats (both the puzzle and rolled style), which I acquired from Harbor Freight. 1/8" craft foam was acquired from Michael's (the craft store ... not my neighbor who borrowed a screwdriver, which he failed to turn. Damn you Michael!!). I used/love/recommend Barge cement and I highly recommend investing in a Kershaw Ultra-Tek Blade Sharpener.

My Templates
I don't have access to a large format scanner, but I'll work on digitizing all of my templates.

Step 1: The Arms and Hands

Fabrication started with a prototype arm, so that I could troubleshoot any issues and make improvements on the design before committing to a matching set. After a few changes and notes, the prototype was dissected and used to make poster board templates.

The top of the arm and two fingers are one piece. The prototype helped determine that this would be stronger than having a glue joint between the palm and fingers, which is the point of flex. Two layers of 1" foam strips were laminated to the finger tips, cut flush with the finger sides, and a bevel added to the front for shaping [Fig. 1-5]. The thumb is a separate template and piece so that it can be cut to the appropriate length and positioned during a fitting. The same technique is used for the tip, but the sides are boxed in using small sections of foam for the sides and 1/8" foam for the bottom [Fig. 6]. The prototype proved that a strap didn't provide enough support and control for the thumb, which will make more sense very shortly.

The second part of the arm is a 10 1/2" square piece of foam with a semi-circular notch removed, which allows your arm to bend at the elbow. One side gets glued to an underside edge of the arm top, bent into an arc, and then glued to the opposing underside edge [Fig. 8-9]. Just be mindful of the notch placement and glue the second arm up as a mirror image [Fig. 10].

1/8" craft foam was used for strapping. A loop for each finger and a larger loop for the palm. These help keep the foam hand tight to your own hand and make it possible to curl the fingers. Placement and length will depend on the size of the individual hand [Fig. 11-12].

Once the hand was complete, I was able to put it on and mark not only the distance of the thumb from the finger, but also the angle at which to cut the foam. The thumb was then glued in place and I laminated a strip of 1/8" foam to the interior face to reinforce the seam [Fig. 13-14].

ransun6851 year ago

That's awesome Bales, you should create a freddycostume.

nbehling1 year ago

Dude!!! Fantastic Job!! Thanks for the shout out. I love seeing what worked and what you changed!

Nice work! Really turned out great and I cannot believe it was under $100 to build! Voted!

-BALES- (author)  Slap Stuff Together1 year ago

That was probably the Tool & Supply total you saw.
Materials Total = $179.09
Tool & Supply Total = $76.50


Final Total = $255.59

Ah - yes didn't scroll far enough. Still impressive in cost at the end of the day.

mlawing1 year ago
That was way more rad and in depth than I'd imagined. This is epic!

eh, not bad.

This is really a great write up with tons of info. Well done, you got my vote!