Mr and Mrs Commander Shepard and the Lego minifigs!


New Member
Back in June I stumbled upon the posts of the Mass Effect costumes done
by EvilFX and VolpinProps and got the crazy idea to give it a shot. In my youth I loved making scale models and I live vicariously on RPF, enjoying all the excellent scale model and prop work but it seemed like a good time to try making a costume. Wait, not one costume. Better make that two, because I wasn't going to let my wife laugh at me in her street clothes. So the idea was planted to make a Shep and Femshep. Then my kids started asking what they could be for Halloween this year and soon this project turned from 1 costume to 2 costumes to 4 costumes. Halloween sounded a long way away at the time. No sweat.

My girls decided they wanted to be Lego minifigs. That sounded easy. Some box shapes, some styrofoam, glue paint, done! Right? And the Shepard costumes shouldn't be too hard either right? Well I tip my hat to EvilFX and Volpin for doing such high quality work and making it look easy. The subtitle for this post should be "Spending quality time with your Dremel and glue gun". Yikes!

What started as a few hours each weekend became a full head first dash for the Halloween deadline, with the last hot melt glue burn on the thumb coming at 4pm on the 31st. Even then I didn't get to everything I wanted too. The M8 Avengers will have to wait for next year, and the edgelit datapad, though working, didn't get to final detailing. The Lego minifigs were a little rougher than I would have liked but I'll admit to being a harsh critic of my own work. The kids loved them and all their friends were gobsmacked. My wife and I had fun too, as both adults and kids gave us kudos for our Shepards. I guess I should have expected that we would be mistaken for characters from Tron with our glowing blue back lights but the people that recognized us as Shepards were really complimentary.

Thanks for reading!
I love your Lego minifigs - they are great, especially the Lego policeman. It's like my old Lego policeman figure: :thumbsup

I love your Lego minifigs - they are great, especially the Lego policeman. It's like my old Lego policeman figure: :thumbsup


I tried to convince my kids to be Star Wars Lego minifigs so that I could combine two of my passions but they opted for surfer girl and policeman.

The costumes weren't really practical if your main goal is to race from house to house collecting as much sugar as possible but everyone thought they were cool.
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To make the datapad, I used 3 layers of 1/8 thick mdf and a translucent orange plastic clipboard. I found a cheap string of white led lights (I hate it when stores start selling xmas stuff in October) that I cannibalized for the switch and lights. I bedded down the plastic in some silicone glue and wrapped the led lights around it, feeding the light into the edges. I cobbled up some contacts for a coin battery and then glued on the top piece of mdf. There is a hole in the top piece so that I can change the battery, that will be hidden but the detail trim. I cut a piece of styrene and rough routed the letters and spent some quality time with various needle files getting them right. I glued that down with CA and then masked off the display and primed/painted it white. I then engraved some lines of text/greek/hieroglyphics into the display with my dremel. With the edge lights on, the effect is pretty cool. It's hard to see in the pictures in the first post because the flash washes it out.

Now that Halloween is over, I'll take some time to detail this prop correctly with paint and keypad, etc.
I know I'm mixing two costume builds in one thread but that was more or less the way it was in real life too. Paint one, work on the other, etc. etc.

For the lego costumes, I used foam core poster board to make the torso boxes. Four sides and and a top deck for the head to rest on. The "belly" is is the same material. It's a rectangular box but with the front edges of the side pieces protruding past the front edge in a semicircle to which thin poster card was glued to make the rounded belly. It's not really a belly, I think it is supposed to be the curved section of the leg joints. The legs were from large cardboard box scraps. The back and sides of each leg is a single piece, bent at the corners, and the front is a single piece, bent at the ankle and toe. The two pieces were joined with tacky glue and reinforced with sheetrock joint tape buttered in white glue!

The basic heads were made from styrofoam and poster paper. I got a sheet of styrofoam insulation from the local home depot. It comes with a silver mylar coating on one side and a white coating on the other but peels off easily. This gives you a nice big sheet of foam that you can cut section from. The head has a neck/chin sectioni and a forehead/top-knob section that are then joined with a cylinder of poster paper. The mouth is window screen material. I had to excavate some of the foam behind the mouth and I lined it with black craft foam to black out the area.

I tried making the hat and hair with expanding foam but I don't think that worked out so well. For one, it's _heavy_ and two, it's a pain to smooth, seal, and paint. I ended up scrapping the policemans cap and made one using the remaining sheet of styrofoam, just cutting sections, stacking, glueing, sanding to get the shape. This worked really well and resulted in a lightweight cap that comes on/off just like a real lego hat. The hair piece remained a base of expanding foam but I ended up putting a paper mache cover to seal/smooth the shape so I could paint it. I then excavated as much of the foam from the inside to lighten it as much as possible, leaving the cardboard "ribs" I used as the skeleton for the foam work as the connection points to the head. If I did this again I would just do it with styrofoam, even though I hate working with the stuff. You feel like you are living in a snow globe with styrofoam dust floating all around you.

For large cuts and coarse shaping I used my pistol solder gun as a hotwire tool. I bought some brass rod, bent it to a useful shape and fitted it to the gun. Hold the trigger long enough and it slices through the sheets of styrofoam like butter. Detail and smoothing was done with medium grit sandpaper in a sanding block or wrapped around various scraps of wood.

The hands were made from a single huge block of foam I happened to have. I used a plunge hand saw to hack out the rough shape and sanded it smooth (or not as time was running out). The wrists are pvc landscape drain connectors that I found at home depot, although my plan was to use the core tubes of duct tape rolls. Either would work fine. Carve a hole through the hand, glue in the tube, done.

All the styrofoam pieces were sealed with washes of white glue. This helped smooth out the surfaces to get closer to the "injection molded plastic" look of real lego, but it is no substitute for good prep. Sand as smooth as possible before glue-painting, unless you have time to apply 50 coats. In the pieces that were well prepped, the resulting look is spot on.

The arms are just felt sleeves that I sewed. I then hot glued them to both the inside and the outside of the shoulder holes of the torso box. Gluing to the outside gave it the look of the snap-in arm on real mini-figs.

Since the hands just slide on, I glued some velcro to the inside of each wrist and ran a length of elastic through the sleaves and behind the wearers back that attached to the velco. This allowed the wearer to "drop" their hands without them crashing to the ground in a shower of styrofoam! Similar to what you do with kids and snow gloves!

All the pieces were painted and then gloss coated to give the plastic look. The torso patterns were masked out or made with stencils, but the faces were hand painted. The heads just rested on top of the torso decks. The fit was tight enough that they wouldn't fall off. I ended up fastening the torso and belly sections together so they could have been made in one piece, and the legs were attached with elastic and velcro to the belly section. The wearers legs banged around in the leg boxes. I think I could improve the fit with some elastic cuffs suspended within but I doubt that would have been sufficient for their halloween candy dash requirements. So they posed in the legs and then ditched them.

Since there isn't a lot of airflow in these heads, I wouldn't recommend them for warm weather and make sure you paint them well in advance as the paint fumes can be unpleasant. Make the mouth as big as you can to maximize the opening for both vision and airflow. Since vision and mobility are restricted in this costume, a handler is recommended!
Some more pictures showing the lego details.

  • hand and plastic wrist cuff with velcro strap
  • layered styrofoam construction for the police cap
  • layered styrofoam and poster paper head
  • inside view of the window screen mouth
  • the elastic velcro suspenders to attach the legs to the body
  • the hair piece with cardboard ribs, expanding foam fill and paper mache shell. It hard to see from this picture but it does mate with the head knob.
Switching gears now to the Mass Effect armor, here are some detail photos

  • The elbow attachment, crude but effective
  • Shep's shoulder strap buckle
  • Shep's thigh consisting of foam, a breath mint container hip puck, black "Solid Grip" shelf liner for the shiny panels , and black weatherstrip for the accordion detail
  • Femshep's back
  • Femshep's plastidip paint job (masking the forearm grooves was fun)
  • The really quick and dirty last minute boot detailing
  • Femshep's chest piece form and a cardboard and duct tape buck I made to make her inner shoulder bells.
awesome costumes! Especially love the legos!!! I'm curious, what paint and gloss did you use? It looks so vibrant and shiny!
awesome costumes! Especially love the legos!!! I'm curious, what paint and gloss did you use? It looks so vibrant and shiny!

Thank you! The colour paints were either Rustoleum "Painter's Touch" brand or Orchard Supply's house brand. OSH's yellow was a perfect match for Lego yellow. The clear gloss top coat was Rustoleum and a couple coats of that really made it pop.
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