Totoro, Adam Savage version

Wooden Ironman

New Member
I have started building a Totoro inspired mostly by Adam Savage's video on YouTube. Haven't seen any threads with more detailed guides and after starting on the build I realized there are a few things that needed to be known that were not covered in the build so I am going to share my build and hope it helps. I am already a ways into it. I started last year and then my wife and I moved so Totoro got shelved for a few months but Halloween is coming up and I have a garage away from the 110 degree Arizona heat to work in so WOO! So far I have the internal skeleton complete and finished sewing the muslin pattern last night. Pictures to follow, I promise, with a detailed walk though of materials and pricing. Not including the sewing machine I bought, which I think my wife has used way more than I have for her projects, total cost is probably going to be in the neighborhood of $200 maybe a little bit more because I still have to figure out how I am going to wear it. Adam uses a metal head cage thing but my friend Connor, who also recommended I throw this post up, gave me the idea to use PVC tubing instead of metal for the head cage. Easier to work with and just as light. We will cross that bridge when we get to it... Most expensive part by far was the fur which was 15-16 bucks per yard. I bought 6, if I remember correctly at Joann's. They had a decent selection and are always having some kind of sale. If you shop through them, sign up to get their emails. I hate getting spam but I was able to stack coupons on top of sale prices so it made it reasonable.
 
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Wooden Ironman

New Member
I happen to be nearly the same height as Adam, 6 foot- 6 foot 1 inch (depending on which convenience store I'm robbing) so I used this screen shot to plan how many rings I was going to make and what dimensions Adam used.

Youtube totoro build screen shot.PNG

Frustratingly though he does not state nor does he write anywhere that I could see what the distance from ring to ring is. I guestimated (its a technical term)about 5-6 inches separate each ring and made my own spread sheet.
totoro spread sheet.jpg
I did 13 rings total because the 14th ring at the bottom was going to be too restrictive for getting in and out, and I kind of like the number 13. I had my first brain surgery on a Friday the 13th btw (shout out to Simon Giertz). The numbers on the far left are spacing estimates, the numbers in the 1/4 column and the far right column were to help me determine how much muslin and fur I needed so I would just ignore those. Once I had the dimensions, I needed to find material for the skeleton. Rattan in the southwest turns to splinters because it is so dry all the time. I did order some 1/4 inch rattan from Michael's online but when it arrived it was so dry and tightly coiled that I couldn't make a loop bigger than a basketball without it curling in on itself or splintering when I tried to straighten it. Rattan was just too flimsy for me. I went to Lowes and found 1/4 inch interior diameter irrigation tubing which comes in 5 foot lengths. Less than 2 bucks per piece and they were exactly the right size for the dried out rattan to fit into. I took all of my measurements, multiplied by pi to get the circumference, then multiplied by 2 because I wanted to make the rings double loops. All of my measurements are in inches so I have to divide by 12 to get the number of feet. If I had to make this costume and the loops again I would make 2 loops of each size, instead I made one long piece of PVC tubing with rattan inside twice the circumference I needed and looped it over on itself. It worked just the same but instead my rings stacked to the outside of each other instead of on top like I wanted. Oh well, with the padding and the fur hopefully they won't be felt at all.
 
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Wooden Ironman

New Member
totoro skeleton 1.JPG
A quick pic of how I used the rattan and the PVC tubing together. Leave a lot more rattan overlapping the seam than what is in the photo to make the joint stronger. Held the two pieces of PVC together with duck tape.
totoro skeleton assembly 2.jpg I made the foam spacers like Adam did out of an old foam core science fair display board my daughter had laying in the garage from years ago. I will snap a pic of one with a ruler later to use as a guide. Make a lot of them though, like 60, because they break. READ THE POST ABOUT TAPING IF YOU DON'T WANT TO SPEND THE TIME MAKING THE SPACERS. I found an easy way to do it with tape as you are assembling it.
 
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Wooden Ironman

New Member
As promised:


foam spacer height.jpgfoam spacer length.jpgfoam spacer width.jpg

internal shot of skeleton.jpgskeleton with muslin.jpg

As you can see I used quite a bit of duct tape. The PVC tubing, although light is not nearly as light as just the rattan that Adam used. I found that as I added more and more rings at the bottom, the top (and even a few of the middle rings) warped more in areas I had not originally supported. The tape does support the weight, which is maybe 20 pounds, but more importantly it keeps the rings from bending too far away from each other. I also found that wrapping the tape around both circles, then squeezing the two sticky sides together was probably the worst way to tape it. As the weight of the suit pulls down constantly it slowly pulls the two layers apart. Instead, take one long strip of tape, stick it to the top ring with 2-3 inches extra unattached at the top, then when wrapping the lower ring wrap the tape going from the outside to the inside, doing your best when you start coming back up to stick the tape as close together at the base. You don't want any gaps between the lower ring and the inner layer of tape. Finish it by sticking the two adhesive sides together as best you can and wrap any extra over the top. The idea is that all of the stress will be going through the outer edge of the tape, instead of trying to pull it apart. Squeezing it together also shortens the length between the rings and after doing that 6 times around 4 rings, my Totoro skeleton looked like it had been in a car accident. None of the rings were even nor were they level. This method of taping also works great if you don't have those foam cutouts. If you stick the tape to the top ring and bottom ring without wrapping it, itwill hold it in place so you can make adjustments on the fly if you needto.

foam spacer height.jpg


foam spacer length.jpg


foam spacer width.jpg


internal shot of skeleton.jpg


skeleton with muslin.jpg
 
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Wooden Ironman

New Member
So I had a minor set back. Remember how I mentioned it was important not to just squeeze the tape together when attaching the rings to each other...
Totoro skeleton delamination.jpg Totoro skeleton falls apart.jpg


Yeah, I though I had reinforced or replaced all of it but apparently not. Now I have added a lot of extra duct tape because overkill is underrated.Good news is I was able to get the muslin skin off and back on fairly easily. Once I got that taken care of I cut out the nylon batting with roughly the same dimensions as the muslin. Once I glued it down with some spray on glue It looks like I have a giant egg. He should be sufficiently cuddly once I get the fur on!

Totoro egg.jpg

Adam had the luxury of already having the headgear built for this project from a previous show but I have to fabricate my own. Total cost is going to be about $30 for material but I already have all the tools. A rivet gun and a drill/drillpress are really the only tools you need.

Totoro head brace 2.jpgTotoro head brace.jpgTotoro head brace 4.jpgTotoro head brace 3.jpg

The head brace is made of 1.5 inch wide aluminum. the shoulder pieces are 2 feet long and the piece between them is one foot. I used 1/8th inch pop rivets and a box of 50 was more than enough. Originally I wanted to put a crease in the upright pieces to help keep them from flexing a bit but I'm not that worried about weight so it should be ok. The circumference of the top and bottom ring is 32 inches, making it 10 inches wide, but cut the piece 33 inches long so you have a place to overlap them and rivet the sections together. Total you will need about 16 feet. Lowes had 4 foot sections for 6-7$ the one thing you can't/shouldn't use the aluminum for is the support at the top of the brace where the suit will actually sit. I had to use a piece of cold rolled steel, so it doesn't bend and flex, which I got to take some frustration out on. The only thing I had to cut it with was bolt cutters but it worked.

Oh also! I came up with what I think is going to be an interesting way to see out of Totoro the same way Adam did but without dropping a few hundred buck on a gopro: wireless baby monitor. I just need to figure out how to power it without running a cord to an outlet...
 
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