I’ve been brainstorming for months on how to create a Star Wars BB-8 Costume. Don’t know who he is? He’s the adorable new droid from Star Wars: The Force Awakens. It’s ok if you don’t know who he is yet, the movie doesn’t open in theaters until December.
BB-8 is a droid that rolls, so the biggest challenge was creating his sphere shaped body. Our Baymax paper lantern caught my eye a few weeks ago and I decided a round paper lantern might be perfect for a BB-8 Costume. Even though I had moments of doubt while making it, I think BB-8 turned out much better than I anticipated.
Ideally a Chinese lantern made from fabric would be sturdier but they are harder to find and much pricier. I settled on a 24″ White Chinese Lantern from Amazon for under $8. We have a 12″ paper lantern in the boys bedroom so I used it to help estimated how big of a lantern I needed. For reference, this costume is for my 5 1/2-year-old (he’s ~43″ tall).
I started by cutting the top and bottom openings slightly larger so that my son could fit into the lantern. I used wire snippers to cut the wire frame and scissors to cut out one or two rings of paper from around the openings. To the keep it top and bottom from ripping, I reinforced the openings with white duct tape.
Paper lanterns are usually held open with a metal or plastic frame, but that won’t work if you want to fit someone inside the lantern too. My solution was to coat the inside of the paper lantern with white duct tape. The duct tape actually serves two purposes, it helps hold the paper lantern open and also makes the overall costume more durable. I went through 2 rolls of white duct tape!
You can take a peek at the process in this time-lapse video!
Once the sphere was prepped, it was time to cut out my BB-8 designs. Finding nice clean pictures to use was actually pretty hard. Hopefully better images will be released as we get closer to release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens. I found using images from the Sphero BB-8 Droid to be the best bet since it’s a very popular toy right now.
I enlarged 4 images as consistently as possible (i.e. making them similarly sized). Then I cut out each piece of the design and traced it onto parchment paper. Using the appropriate duct tape color, I covered each design completely before cutting the shape out. Scissors will easily cut through the parchment paper and then the duct tape design will slide right off the parchment paper, ready to be applied to the paper lantern.
I created straps using a long piece of white duct tape folded in half length wise. After Elliot tried it on a few times, I attached the straps to the BB-8 sphere using safety pins. Then I covered the pins with white duct tape.
BB-8 Costume Sphere Materials
The base of the BB-8 hat is a white colander from the 99 Cents Only store. I wrapped the entire thing in white duct tape to create a more solid and consistent base. I painted on the BB-8 designs using gray, orange, and black paint if I did it again I might try duct tape instead, but the paint worked well. I created the droids two “eyes” by cutting 2 craft foam balls in 1/2 (one large and one small) and covering both with black duct tape before using a glue gun to attach them to the hat.
BB-8 Hat Materials
- Dollar store colander
- wood dowels
- white duct tape
- black duct tape
- white duct tape
- grey, orange and black paint
- foam or bubble wrap
- foam spheres
Buy this Star Wars BB-8 Bike Helmet already made. 😉
I used wood dowels to create the BB-8 antennas, covering them first in duct tape. Using the colander as the hat base made it easy to attach the dowels. I used a pair of scissors to drill/widen two holes in the top, then I was able to push the dowels snuggly into the top. I added bubble wrap to line the inside of the helmet to help it fit more snuggly to Elliot’s head, similar to foam in a bike helmet. A white t-shirt completes the look.
I love this costume, it turned out so much better than I thought possible. I might doubt myself a bit. 😉 It’s light weight because of the paper lantern base but durable because it’s lined with white duct tape. To me it totally screams homemade Halloween costume in a really fun way.