Dragon in a Box

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As I said, I spent a good portion of October building my son a Godzilla costume. He is a HUGE Godzilla fan, and this wasn’t the first year he has asked to go as his favorite Japanese monster. I’ve been able to put him off, but I figured it was time.

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I knew that I wanted Godzilla’s head to sit on top of my son’s head, so my first step was to find a box that would fit over his head. I was on the verge of having to build my own box out of pieces of cardboard, when the perfect box showed up at my office. I ended up cutting the sides of the box at an angle to give it more of a “neck” shape and then taping things back together with masking tap. We also cut a hole in the front so he would be able to see.

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A few years ago, I made a Godzilla pinata, so I felt comfortable with building the head out of paper mache. I started by using boxes and wadded up newspaper to give myself the basic form to work over. There was a lot of masking tape and newspaper in this project.

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I love working with paper mache, even if it is totally messy! I use a mixture of water and flour to make a very thin “batter”. Then I dip my strips of newspaper in that and cover the form that I have built.

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I added some wadded up paper towels to fill in the gaps between his head and neck, and to soften the edges of the neck.. For this costume, I only did one layer of paper mache. Even though it’s just newspaper, flour and water, it can become quite heavy, and my son is no linebacker.

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It was a huge relief when the head actually looked like Godzilla! To make the body, I put a long sleeved black t-shirt inside a black sweatshirt and stuffed the sleeves with fiberfill to give him a bit of bulk. For the legs, I put a pair of sweatpants inside a second pair of sweatpants and stuffed the thighs with fiberfill. A bit of handstitching in the right spots kept everything in place.

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The head was given a good coat of black spray paint. Then I built him an upper and lower palate with cardstock. The teeth were formed by folding paper circles into cones, flattening their bottoms and individually gluing each one into place. The eyes were also cut from paper and glued on.

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There was much discussion about how to build the tail. My son was all for pool noodles, but I wanted to reuse some foam I already had. Unfortunately, the foam was not cooperating. I finally had to admit that the 11 year old was right. The trick is finding pool noodles in October in Kansas. Stores don’t sell those year round. I would like to open a store that sells “stuff you shouldn’t need at this time of year”. I was finally able to track down three noodles from my mom. She had them stashed away in her closet and was happy to contribute to the cause.

We used black duck tape to connect the noodles to each other and then covered the entire tail with the same tape, making sure to leave a gap to insert the spikes which were cut from white cardstock and glued into place. (That’s me up there making a tail while watching the World Series.)

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My biggest concern was how this was all going to come together and stay in place. I had a lot of stress induced dreams the week of Halloween. The kind that involve being back in school and not able to get to class and having a major project due that you haven’t started yet. We ended up attaching the tail to a belt to go around his waist, but also duck taped the tail to the head once my son had the costume on. Basically, we taped him into the costume. GO DUCK TAPE! My husband carried a roll of it around in his jacket pocket all evening, just in case.

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The final product was pretty epic! Our small town has a community costume parade and contest each year. My son has never won, even though he’s had some pretty great costumes. This year he was convinced that he would win his age division. We waited as they announced the winners in the younger age groups. When they got to his age division, we listened to them award third place to “Cleopatra”, second place to “headless man” and first place to “dragon in a box”. No one came forward as “dragon in a box”, and we were pretty disappointed that he didn’t win again. Finally, as the crowd was breaking up, my husband went up to the judges, pointed at our son and asked, “Is that ‘dragon in a box’?” “YES!” So, his costume won first place and he came home with $15 and a bag of candy! Pretty exciting stuff.

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