Making the Pinball Machine Costume

It has become our tradition of sorts to make costumes that light up and have a coin-operated or vending machine theme. In years past, we have made a a candy machine, a jukebox and a fortune teller. This Halloween was no exception. This year we stayed in the arcade, and our challenge was to create a pinball machine that lit up, had sound effects, and was lightweight enough so that the wearer could trick-or-treat with relative ease.

Pinball Machine CostumeMission accomplished!

I wanted it to have a retro feel, so I researched pinball machines from the 1950s and decided to go with a bowling theme. The artwork was created in Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator. I didn’t stick religiously to any particular machine, instead I took inspiration from a number of old machines I looked at and combined elements with some fun bowling illustrations. I experimented with color; Joe threw some of his notions into the mix, and we printed the final result out on an Epson R1800 printer. The paper was thin enough so that we could light our back glass and have it look like the real deal while trick-or-treating.

The Pinball Machine started as a U-Haul, 15″ x 15″ x  48″ sports equipment storage box. Joe made a small scale model out of paper to determine how the box was going to be cut, and I sat at the computer to work on the bowling themed graphics.

The back glass portion that our Trick-or-Treater would fit into and the game board were all part of the same box.

We went online and purchased a 1″ ball bearing and a string of battery operated blinking LED lights. Then we looked around hardware, dollar and junk stores for inspiration. There we found bits and pieces that serve as pinball machine parts such as door stops for the flippers, and translucent sauce cups for the bumper bases.

And now, some shaky and hastily edited video of the Pinball Machine Costume in action!

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6 Responses to Making the Pinball Machine Costume

  1. Kerry Bush says:

    Hi! I found this post via a Google search because I’m thinking of making a pinball machine costume myself this year. A couple quick questions: How did you put the box(es) together? Is that a black pool noodle around where his head and arms come out? Also, how did you do the sound effects? Anything you can assist me with in this regard would be helpful. Thanks so much for your time!

  2. Tina says:

    Hi Kerry – Thanks for stopping by!
    We used a hot glue gun to glue the boxes together.
    It’s not a pool noodle – it’s pipe insulation that you can buy at any hardware store. We took a 9″ cake pan to trace the holes for the head and arms, and cut the insulation to fit. No need to glue it into place, it pretty much stays put.
    There are MP3 sound effects for sale on Amazon, anywhere from 99¢ to $1.29. Ultimately, when going trick to treating, the sound effects really weren’t as important as the lights. But you can buy an MP3 speaker for next to nothing.
    The lights were battery operated available at Amazon – I’ve even seen them at the dollar store. Good luck!!!

  3. Kerry Bush says:

    Thank you so much for getting back to me so quickly and for your most excellent advice! 🙂

  4. Tina says:

    My pleasure, I’d love to see your costume when it’s finished!

  5. Kristin kenealy says:

    Hi! This costume is INCREDIBLE! Is there any chance you’d be able to send me the images you used? I’d be willing to pay!

  6. Joe says:

    Thanks for the generous compliments, but sadly, we no longer have access to the art files we created to produce the costume. It was ten years and a couple of hard drive failures ago.

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