Transformers Optimus Prime G1 variant WIP


Well-Known Member
Hi, my name's Dave.

I thought I'd start keeping a sort of "Build Log" or "Project Log" for my 2018 Halloween costume project.
I’m about to post several smaller posts all within the same hour to this thread. Each represents a separate “log entry” I wrote into a Word doc, prior to July 13, 2018 (the date that I’m creating this RPF thread). From today on out, I’m discarding the Word doc and will make all updates here.
It is currently June 11th as I start writing this log. I began planning and purchasing a few key items in late April. And I actually started construction (mostly prototyping a few parts with cardboard) in early May.

A small bit of history about my involvement in this hobby: I really need to figure out what year I started this. It was definitely after 2004 but before 2008. I remember, when I did my very first "over the top Halloween costume" (as I called it at the time), I couldn't find a whole lot of information or examples online for costume-building (for adults) or what I wanted to create. Pretty sure I'd never heard the word "cosplay" before either.

But I thought it would be really cool to build a Robocop costume. And so, I ended up building one out of posterboard, layered over with a thin layer of craft foam... and then I cut and glued those plastic "For Sale" signs you can get at Walmart on top of that. Spray painted it chrome/silver and you had something that looked remarkably like metal! And the whole danged costume must have cost me $30 total. I think the most expensive part was a sort of "one way motorcycle visor" piece that I glued into the styrofoam helmet!

And I didn't know a thing about Pepakura back then. I figured out my sizes by comparing my body to some very nice photos of an old man (I think they called him "sarge") wearing one of the actual suits from one of the Robocop movies. (I worked assuming a "scale" based on the proportion of his wrist width in the photos vs. my wrist width... which worked out surprisingly well!)

Anyways, after that I did... War Machine (pepakura and bondo..), Ironman (same stuff, just more fiberglass), Davey Jones, and then I took a year or so off, and then came back as a crowd favorite, a large Velociraptor! After that, another year or so off, and then something just for fun... the Grinch!

Alas, I didn't get the curvature of War Machine's helmet right and ran out of time. His face looks more like a ninja turtle!


Me as Davey Jones...with my wife playing Jack Sparrow



Last year's contest winner! (We weren't even trying, really. Just thought it'd be funny to dress Christmas-y while everyone else was Halloween!)

This year's project idea goes way back to the beginning: In one of those early years, a friend and coworker of mine jokingly suggested my next build. And, frankly, after that, a LOT of friends and relatives suggested this to me. But none of them were actually SERIOUS! It was always said with a bit of tongue-in-cheek humor. Like it'd be the most impossible thing for me to attempt: A Transformer that, well... transforms!

Of course now, in 2018, what with all the examples we get to see on Youtube,, and various other costuming and sci-fi websites, an adult costume of a transformer that transforms isn't so far-fetched. Many people have accomplished this!

But I don't really think of other costumers on the Internet as "competition". I know that it's very unlikely that those various projects will ever cross the radar of my friends and relatives. I'M the one they keep asking "What are you doing for Halloween THIS year?" So, it's really only MYSELF that I need to top.

Another consideration: I just turned 50 years old last November. There's going to be some point where if I keep enveloping myself in costumes that are incredibly hot and have limited vision, I'm going to get hurt. Or the quest to take things "one notch higher than last year" is just going to be too demanding. So, I want to have one "final" challenge (and then reduce myself to smaller-scale stuff like maybe prop-making or working on masks / prosthetic-based costumes.

But what could I do to take this one last project "over the top"? Well, how's about this: An Optimus Prime that not only transforms... but then DRIVES / MOVES (hopefully, "under power") ??!!

I think I can do it. Transforming and carrying some extra weight (in order to allow for the "moving" part) will be the biggest challenge. But I think starting early is going to prove to be a HUGE help.

- - - Updated - - -

6/15/18 -- Here are a few photos I took a few days ago of the feet, so far. I bought a $15 pair of slip-on shoes from WalMart that felt comfortable and yet had a sole that seemed to have some “grip” to it. I’ve surrounded the piece in foam, but the bottom piece basically has a hole that the entire sole is sticking out of.

These photos were taken after all of the sides were glued together. Since then, I’ve sanded some edges and have added in a few details. Every time I think maybe I should seal them (with heat and then Plastidip), I think of some other details that I want to add. It makes me think that I should just keep them on a shelf for a while, and let more ideas bubble up in my head, before I commit to sealing them / calling them “ready for paint”.



Well-Known Member
7/6/18 --
I'll have to remember to take a fresh photo of the shoes. They're essentially done, except for coating with Plastidip and painting.

So, here's my status on the other parts:

HEAD / HELMET -- OK, so originally, I thought I would use the toy Optimus Prime Helmet with the built-in voice-changer from 2006. I found one on Ebay and got assurances from the seller that the sound bites that the helmet spits out were voiced by Peter Cullen.
But when I tried it on when it arrived, it seemed a little tighter than I remembered (I had briefly owned one about 10 years ago). If I talked while wearing it, my chin would suddenly drop into view.

So, for about a week or so, I had tested "Plan B": I located a pepakura (paper-crafting) pattern for the G1 Helmet online. I owned Pepakura Designer already (I just had to contact the company to get my old license key, which I'd misplaced). I resized the pattern slightly, printed it off on cardstock and cut it out. It actually seemed a little large, but I couldn't try it on, because the pattern assumed the whole helmet was a SOLID; I would have had to slice some pieces apart to get it to have a hollow place for my head.

Then I decided I'd flip Pepakura Designer into "foam mode" (removing the paper flaps at the edges). I spent a couple of lunch hours watching Youtube tutorials on how to "simplify" pepakura patterns for foam, so one didn't have so many pieces. I started doing that but then... I thought I'd go back and revisit the toy helmet size problem.

It seemed to me like the "goggles" that made up the helmet's eye-area had a nose piece that was providing the most discomfort. It was all one rubber piece with the goggles, which are attached to the rest of the helmet by screws. So, I removed the screws and goggles and then cut out that nose piece. I tried the helmet on again, both with and without the goggles. And it now seems to me that either way will work. The helmet is much more comfortable.

Yes, I still have to deal with the chin issue, but I had a thought on that: I saw a Youtube video where a guy was showing a costume he'd built to sell... where he'd built a sort of "chin piece" that came up in front to become that "shield" you always see over Optimus Prime's mouth (or, rather, that kind of IS his mouth). And the chin piece was rigged-up with rubber bands to move up and down when the wearer talked! I think that would be really cool, so I'm going to proceed with that in mind.

Right now, I'm at the point with the helmet where I need to figure out how/where to Velcro the back-piece into place. And I'm thinking about what I want to do about eye illumination. Those "goggles" have a yellow tint to them, which I just don't like. I have some EL paper available from a project I did a few years back. But I think the glow from that is a bit too subtle for my liking. And you can't really fold that stuff. The goggles have several folds to them.

I should mention that I do plan on sanding and repainting this helmet. Here is a photo of it, with the "goggles" removed, sitting next to it.:

LEGS -- I've started building the lower legs / shins. I'm building one right now and testing it. If it works out, then I'll build the second one. Now, I haven't talked yet about how I plan on getting this costume to roll (under power!) when in "truck mode". But I will have to somehow support my arms and legs off of the ground when this happens, I think. Yes, I might be able to just "stiffen up", since I probably wouldn't be moving for very long lengths of time. Anyways... my plan is to support my legs and arms with skateboard wheels.

There is a "Five Below" store near me. I noticed they have small skateboards for kids for $5 each. Hmm... $5 for two sets of skateboard wheels. Nice deal! :


So, this week, I took apart one of those skateboards and installed the wheels onto a piece of 6mm thick PVC foam board (like Sintra), which I'd already cut to be the front piece of my shins. I then wanted to glue my floor-mat-foam as the sides of it.

At this point, I did test various glues on both foam and nylon strapping...and it seemed like superglue worked really, really well! So, I used that to attach the sides. Here are some photos. (Note: the skateboard wheels aren't attached yet in these photos, but the holes for the screws are drilled):



As you can see, I did cut and glue some additional small "support pieces" to provide additional strength.

ARMS – I have one forearm partially-built in a manner very similar to what I’m doing with the shin.

SHOULDERS -- I built a quick mock-up out of cardboard. The shape is a cube, with an arch cut into it to allow my own shoulder to sit inside it. But then I saw a tutorial on making shoulder pauldrons out of EVA Foam. And I thought, MAYBE the curved pauldron could be glued nicely inside that curved arch that's cut into the cardboard?


So, I made some pauldrons, but in the end, it really didn't seem like this should be the way to go. There wouldn't be much surface area that would potentially connect the two pieces (cube shoulder to the curved pauldron).


So, I made a cube out of EVA Foam and I'm thinking of gluing in several inches of padding-like foam into the top of it. The whole thing would basically lie on my shoulder and then it'd be pretty easy to glue a buckle onto that. Then maybe add a sort of curved piece to that final outer side to hide the foam and the inside of the shoulder from view.
Note that this is just a rough shape and will need a lot of work:


CHEST/ABDOMEN / TORSO – I have only built a couple of cardboard mock-up pieces for this. Part of what’s holding me back here is that it’s taking me a while to figure what dimensions to use and then cut to those sizes. And then, I’m just not sure about the fit yet. I’d almost like do get an action figure and do some mock-ups on it with cardstock or something, just to see how it will look and work out the relative sizes.

But also, I need to get a strapping system built first.

And here’s where I finally talk about my propulsion idea: How the suit will propel itself under power when I’m in “truck mode”.

I’m sure some of you have seen what’s possibly the best “money is no option” version of this: Some guys over in Japan, I think, have basically created some sort of powered axle that basically exists as the entire forearm of the robot. They basically lay down on it and go. But as I recall, those units cost well over $1000 US.

Thinking about that, I thought… what about one of those battery-powered hoverboards? Well, I’m a big guy, so it’d have to support 240 or so pounds (plus costume weight). I looked at some at Best Buy, but they were roughly 20 pounds each! That’s a lot to keep up on a single forearm all night.

So then I had the idea: What about a battery-powered skateboard? I looked into this and the weight limit seemed to be the biggest potential issue. Cost could range as low as $150 to roughly $600 before things started getting extravagant.

I searched Amazon quite a bit until I identified a model that could handle the weight… AND would also be short enough. You see, I’d need it to be strapped to my chest. At worst, it could extend from my crotch to my neck, but that wouldn’t allow me to bend at the waist, so it’d be better if it was even shorter than that. Oh, and I wanted it to have a hand-held remote. Not sure whether I’ll be the one operating that or maybe my wife, but it’d be nice to have. This model has that as well.

So then comes the problem of: How do you strap this thing to your chest? It seemed like a lot of people who build costume armor have strapping systems / harnesses underneath, so that’s what I’m just getting started building. Ideally, the skateboard should have straps bolted to it, with buckles on the non-skateboard ends so that I could attach them to my body harness.

One caveat to all of this: Obviously, I don’t want Optimus Prime’s chest to be made of a skateboard. That’d look way too obvious. So, the idea is to hide that under whatever chest piece I build and then, as I lay down, the costume more-or-less tilts upward, which would reveal the skateboard and allow me to lay down on it.

That’s the plan, God help me. If I can just get the transformation right.

So, being reluctant to try this out on the $140 skateboard that I bought (I got about $20-30 off because I bought a floor demo model.)… I also bought a $10 used skateboard at a flea market. I’ve drilled holes into that one and this morning, before I left for work, I ran some machine screws through some nylon straps and used nuts and washers to lock them into place. I have threaded some one-inch plastic buckles onto their ends, but I think eventually, I might glue them / lock them into place.

Here's a photo:

OK, long enough post for the day. I still haven’t actually imported this log into a fresh post on Need to do that soon. I may need some additional input and advice from others, even though I have to admit, I’m a bit worried / paranoid somebody’s going to tell me why this skateboard idea is bad / going to fail. <grin>

- - - Updated - - -

7/13/18 -- Finally uploaded all of this to a new thread here !! Woo-hoo!


Master Member
I love the idea of a costume that actually transforms and I've seen a few videos on youtube where they had cardboard versions that would do just that.
I'd say these are your reference material along with any instructables you can find on the internet.
For proper dimensions I would definitely use existing pepakura files and adjust them to your posture.
Looking forward to seeing this develop !


Well-Known Member
I love the idea of a costume that actually transforms and I've seen a few videos on youtube where they had cardboard versions that would do just that.
I'd say these are your reference material along with any instructables you can find on the internet.
For proper dimensions I would definitely use existing pepakura files and adjust them to your posture.
Looking forward to seeing this develop !


Yes, I've spent hours scouring Youtube to see what other people have done. The number of such costumes for KIDS, however, far out-weighs the number of transforming Primes worn by adults. What I don't want to do (unless there's no other way) is what 90% of them have done: Basically, the entire "truck" sits on your back, out of view, and then they just lay down to make it become visible. Simple and easy for a kid, of course.

There's one key adult costume that transforms that does this PARTIALLY, and I really like his design.:

But I'm thinking that must be WOOD he made it out of? Seems / sounds REALLY HEAVY.

One video that I REALLY like, in overall concept, is this one:
As you can see, the abdomen section slides out on DRAWER SLIDES! I really like that and my plan right now is to actually do that. What's odd, though, is when I searched for "plastic drawer slides" a few weeks ago, I found very, very few. Most are made of metal. And I'm a little concerned about that added weight.

I've used pepakura in the past, but I have never created a mostly EVA foam costume before. So, that's my material-of-choice for this build. But I am thinking that for the LARGER pieces, they may need to have a cardboard backing for support. OR, I also purchased some PVC foam board... an 8 x 4 foot sheet of it. It's a bit thick (6mm) however, as I intend to use it to partially support my forearms and lower legs with it, when I lay down in truck mode. But, I could a sheet of that, or perhaps "beams" made of that, to help support broader pieces of EVA foam (such as my entire back).

Another reason I can't use pepakura for the body is that I have to make the chest and abdomen "stick out" (when standing) by an additional 16 or so cm... so as to enclose / hide the motorized skateboard that will be attached to my chest. Yeah, that ought to look a bit goofy in side-view. But it's a trade-off for hopefully being able to "drive around" with my wife at the remote.

So, to build the parts and try to make them look like G1 Optimus, I am using this toy as a model (there are a ton of nice photos of it here):

I really, really like that paint job. Not so overly "cartoony", more "realistic".
If anybody has any advice on how I can accomplish a paint job like that and/or recommend paints, I'd greatly appreciate it! I'm a long way off from painting, but I just wanted to let folks know that I haven't got much of a plan on that yet.

I haven't made much progress in the past week, as real life has been interrupting. However, I'm sure I'll be able to get more hours as we get closer to the end of the month, especially the final week in July, when my wife should be busy / off-site in the evenings.



Well-Known Member
OK, time for an update.:

As usual, real life has interfered a bit on the weekends, but I slowly find an hour here or an hour there to get a few things done:


Well, the strapping is installed. I have built removable "back-pieces" that attach to the main piece by using rare earth magnets. I did a brief "test lay down" with one yesterday, while wearing one of the feet. I was trying to see if I could bend my foot / point my toe enough to keep it off the ground, considering the skateboard wheels underneath (or in-front-of, really) the lower leg only lifts me maybe 4-5 inches off the ground. And that didn't seem to work quite right. It felt like the rear wheels were up off of the ground. But I wasn't entirely sure there wasn't some weight from my knee throwing things "off balance". So, I'll have to do this again and maybe have some sort of large mirror at ground level (not sure how I'll do that) in order to really see what's going on. I suspect that it's an issue where the foot isn't able to flex enough / the leg piece gets in the way... but maybe putting wheels on the legs is a bad idea and I'll simply need to "lift my legs up and suspend them with my muscles" when I lay flat on the skateboard.

2018-08-05 19.29.49.jpg 2018-08-05 19.30.03.jpg 2018-08-05 19.30.22.jpg

You'll notice I did add one piece of foam to the side. It's just a part that I saw on the model. There's another one that I'm going to detail a bit that will get glued right on top of it.

Another concern I have about the legs is that I'm thinking the foam walls seem easily bendable. Yeah, maybe adding some Plastidip layers will help that. But I'm thinking about building some sort of interior cross-beams between the left and right walls. The whole idea of having the removable rear piece was so that it'd be easy for me to take on and off. And I don't want any cross beams to really get in the way of that.


I just started gluing the straps into the forearms this morning. They too have removable "plates" that attach via magnets.
I also bought my gloves off of Ebay.
2018-08-05 19.31.31.jpg 2018-08-05 19.31.49.jpg 2018-08-05 19.32.13.jpg


I'm starting to think that I'll end up attaching the boxy shoulders to the body / torso itself full-time, using strapping and buckles. In other words, I think I'm more or less going to shove my body's shoulders into them instead of strapping the costume shoulders onto my own. But I want to put light-up logos over the front of them. So, with that in mind, I bought some thinner foam, printed off a paper copy of the logo that I had sized up a bit, and then traced and cut the pattern. So now I have one copy for each shoulder.

2018-08-05 19.32.41.jpg

What I intend to do is make sort of a "very thin box" on the front of each shoulder, where this cut foam is more-or-less raised out in front of the shoulder by a couple of millimeters. Then, i want to shove some EL paper behind it. (I've used this stuff before as Ironman's eyes.) I think I may need to put a piece of thin plastic immediately behind this foam, in order to protect the EL paper. Not sure, off the top of my head, what I'll use. I have like, plastic sheet protectors for like protecting documents when you shove them into binders. But they are very, very thin. I don't think they'd provide much protection.


OK, so I finally started assembling a cardboard mock-up for the main body. This is divided into two sections: The upper chest...and the abdomen. They're basically sitting right on top of each other, taped together, for the moment. And remember, they "stick out" quite a ways because I'm supposed to have a skateboard strapped to my chest underneath. Note also that these would NOT contain my shoulders and arms. I have not yet cut out holes for those yet. (This is a bit of dilemna for me. More on that in a sec.)

So, as you may recall, I want to do an Optimus Prime G1. But I've been toying with the idea of actually making the truck he transforms into more...well... like the one from the movies. I was thinking that I should have the entire abdomen piece hide / hold a piece that slides out a good 30 cm or more in front. (And then I'd have to pop-up a piece to act as the "hood" over the truck's engine. See a Youtube link in one of the previous posts for a cardboard costume that inspired me.) But now I'm not sure I want to go through with that, because I'm worried that it's "one more bit of complexity that can go wrong".

I guess I got a bit discouraged when I laid this stuff all out and started thinking about it. In my head, I was thinking that with the expanded-out chest, I'd be able to lift the body/torso UP, while at the same time bending my head/ neck / body down, so as to put my head in the engine area. With the "engine as a drawer pull-out" idea, it seemed like I'd have plenty of space. But really, the upper chest would need to come out too. And that seems like it'd just make way too big a truck box.

It "feels like" I'll need to left the chest, allowing for long vertical slots in the sides so that my arms and shoulders can drop down...and THEN tilt myself 90 degrees...and bring the truck box back down, either partially or fully on-top-of my arms. Not liking it, as I'm sure that will look somewhat lame / not very smooth.

Here's a photo of most of my pieces so far, lined up. I just wanted to get a "visual reference" for how things were looking so far.
2018-08-05 19.29.32.jpg

A few disclaimers: That box that's in the front of the picture is actually a shoulder. I had no place to go with it / no way to hang it off of the body, just for this picture. Also, you'll notice the white cardboard seat / crotch / "shorts" piece (can't think of an anatomical name for the whole area). That's just a mock-up so far. It was too weak to hold the body up for me without bending / creasing. And that piece that's off by itself to the right is one that I cut out last night and was considering for the "engine drawer piece". But again, I'm not sure if I'm going to go with that. And if I do, I have the feeling it needs to be another 10-15 cm longer.

Gotta run. I may post a few more comments later. There are a lot of things running through my head that I would love to get some advice on.


-= Dave =-


Well-Known Member
OK, here are a few more progress photos, even some of things that I may not actually end up using:

Although I already have the Optimus Prime toy helmet, I was thinking about rigging up a sort of "mouth plate" to sit in front of the mouth... that would actually move up and down when I talked. I figure I could run some sort of rods or beams from the back of it, into the helmet, and then use rubber bands as springs. So, I measured and carved some PVC foamboard, then glued it together and to a sort of "chin piece". But when I held it up against the front of the helmet, I suddenly realize: I was effectively covering my best air-holes in the mask! The mask is already a tight fit, which actually led to me feeling a bit claustrophobic. I haven't felt that way before in a costume, so it worried me a bit. And that's why I may not end up including this:

2018-08-06 17.43.09.jpg 2018-08-06 17.43.21.jpg

Here is something else I probably won't use. I ended up making these sort of "covers" for the front of the feet. (They're on the model images I'm using.) Got them all the way to the heat gun stage. But then I realized, they're kind of thick. They seem to get in the way of me bending my feet upwards. The shin pieces end up pressing against them. I figure, they may not add enough to my costume in order to be worth the trouble:
2018-08-06 17.39.56.jpg

OK, now here's something I WILL use: I bought five tiny 5 volt fans ... plus some wires / connectors... off of Ebay. I figure two, for sure, will go into my helmet. I have a rechargeable USB battery pack picked out on Amazon ($20-ish). Just waiting for some more $$ in order to purchase it. The idea will be to hook up the two helmet fans and a switch to this battery pack by splicing in a USB cable. Got most of my info from here:

2018-08-06 17.38.16.jpg

And then, here's something that I've been waffling back and forth on: How big should Optimus' truck wheels be? If I go by the dimensions on my model images, compared with my shin piece size... I'm looking at between 4.5 -5 inches. (I decided to cut some circles out of cardboard in order to help visualize this.) But it seems to me that 6 inches is better. What do you think? I mean, these wheels aren't going to actually DO anything. They're decorative. Oh, MAYBE I'll be able to place them in such a manner that they actually touch the floor and spin when I move (via skateboard wheels, as you may recall). But I can't even be sure yet if they'll be plastic or maybe I'll build them out of foam ??
Here are pics of what 5 inch wheels might look like vs. what 6 inch wheels might look like:

2018-08-06 17.41.36.jpg 2018-08-06 17.42.04.jpg

Harbor Freight has a lot of wheels of different sizes. I'm thinking they definitely have to be made of light plastic or something of equivalent or less weight. And I guess I'm leaning towards the 6 inch wheels. But then, how might I maybe attach these? Should I put a set on the OTHER side of each leg as well, just so I could run an axle through them and get them to spin? Another question: On most trucks, each one of those cardboard circles is actually TWO tires, next to each other. Do I do that, just for a bit more realism? (That's not on my model.) Decisions, decisions. Opinions, anyone?

I don't have any photos of this, but I wanted to mention that I've been working on my chest strapping system. I have the basic "x" across my chest and back, which also connects to the front and back of a leather belt. And I just finished attaching straps from the shoulders that reach down just slightly to become buckles to attach to the front of my skateboard. But I haven't yet made the bottom /rear strap attachments. In testing the top ones, I almost wished I had some sort of counter-weight on my back, because it was really pulling the rear part of the belt up my back several inches. I need something to keep that down. Not sure what to do about it just yet.

OK, that's all for today. I'm not going to get much done over the next few days, unfortunately. Maybe a bit tomorrow morning. But I'm taking an early and extended weekend to celebrate my wedding anniversary with my wife. Taking a small trip, so I won't be doing any costume work. Still, there are things I can do (might hit a thrift store or two looking for parts... and there's always some minor youtube research I need to do).


-= Dave =-


Master Member
Thanks for checking in,Dave.
The mouth piece could be an awesome feature,but with regard to the air flow : how about leaving some (vertical) space between the helmet and the mouth piece?
The feet : how about dividing them into two pieces and make them hinge halfway? Similar to the iron man forearm-bicep connection and even the boots
Light-up eyes are awesome,whether it's on an iron man helmet or otherwise; go for it:thumbsup
The wheels : pick size according to realism/proper dimensions.First look at the total (assembled) picture (truck) to make sure it looks complete and 'right', then dissect and prepare each part accordingly.When you would put all the pieces on the floor up against eachother to form the truck that Optimus is,does it look real to you? I think that should be your starting pointbin order to get the dimensions right.
I hope this opinion/info helps a bit.Have a great Anniversary together !


Well-Known Member

Thanks for posting! There's so much for me to do right now that the helmet is taking a bit of a back-seat for a while. But I'm taking three days off of work this month and then three days off next month in order to catch up on a lot of things.

While I did cut a bit of a slit into the boots, that's only been somewhat effective so far. I did a test wearing of them the other day and I did some crouching and pointing of my toes...trying to stand on them, etc. And the contact cement bond on one of the edges of one of the feet came loose. I figured I just hadn't used enough contact cement, so I reglued it heavily and plan on trying again. We'll see how it goes.

I have ordered two wheels (even though, obviously, I need at least 6, but probably will order a few spares). The wheels I selected are actually for a grill. They look the most like truck wheels to me. And they are slightly larger than what I was originally going to do: 7 inches instead of 6. They should be here by Friday. I'm about to post an update here so I'll provide a link to them.

Thanks for your advice! More news in a sec....


Well-Known Member

OK, once again, progress has been a bit slower than I'd like, due to real life. But here goes:

HELMET: On standby. My next major step is to figure out exactly where inside the helmet I'm going to place / glue the two fans, switch, and USB Power Supply thingie (which turned out to be larger than I expected, after it arrived from Amazon).

UPPER ARMS: I wasn't sure I'd actually need or use these, but I did make them. They are three sided and cut-away a bit near the top. Most of them may not even be visible most of the time due to the shoulders. I've added an elastic strap and a buckle to each of them. Next steps are to carve in a few details, then Plastidip them, then paint them.

SHOULDERS: On standby while I get a bit further in prepping the main core body. Basically, they are foam squares... but I've applied a sort of thin foam edge to the front, in preparation for making large "pockets" on the front of them. Each pocket will be covered with a piece of thin foam that has the Autobot logo cut out of it. The plan is to put a piece of clear plastic underneath that foam (for protection), then a piece of EL paper behind it, so that, effectively, the Autobot logo has a strong glow to it. (In a dark room, it will be obviously lit. In daylight, it's less obvious). I had a bit of trouble finding that protective clear plastic. But I found some clear acrylic photo frames at the dollar store for... you guessed it... $1 each. My sole concern is that they are a bit thick, so they're a bit heavy. And that might cause the shoulder to try to tilt forward. And, once I transform into a truck, that shoulder piece is likely to be EMPTY, so I'm worried it will tilt forward and not look right.

CHEST / CORE BODY: OK, so I've had the main body built out of cardboard and duct tape for a few weeks now. The key thing I'd needed to work out was how the transformation was going to work. As you may recall, I want to basically lay down on the ground, with the main body remaining upright... and a sort of "drawer" pulling out of the stomach area to become the front of the truck. But the problem is: What happens to my arms when I do that?

I figured my arms would first have to go straight downward, compared to the body, and then my shoulders need to move straight forward, as I go prone. Then, my head actually ends up inside that "drawer" that pulls out (or, kind of underneath it). Of course, it's hard to describe without photos. But basically, I cut two large L-shaped slits into the sides of the body. This does allow me to move the entire chest / body piece the way I think I'll need to in order to transform. The down-side is, yeah, I'll end up with these large "slots" that, if you're looking at me from the side while I'm in truck mode, you're going to see (unless I figure something out).

I don't have a photo of this right now, but I promise to post one soon.

Right now, what I'm doing is cutting out some pieces of plastic (that PVC sheet foam stuff) and using it to build a reinforcing frame inside the cardboard. Then I plan on attaching the shoulders to it, because that needs to be done soon so that I can see how this is going to transform and then get further on the shoulder-pieces themselves.

I also have to work on that "drawer". I'm hunting for drawer slides, 15 inches in length or even a bit less. I'd love them to be made out of plastic, for the low weight. But I've only checked one hardware store so far ( Home Depot) and all they has was VERY HEAVY metal ones. I am probably going to start checking local Habitat for Humanity Restore locations for them.

This may need to be altered a bit. As I think I mentioned last time, the weight of the unpowered skateboard already seemed to be causing problems. It was pulling the back of my harness up while inching itself downard. And now I've sawed and drilled holes into my powered skateboard, which is a few pounds heavier! So, I'm thinking of taking the upper straps from the board and wrapping them around my neck.

The problem with this is that I already have a bit of arthritis in my neck and some bone spurs there as well. (I found out about that a few years ago.) So, I'm thinking this will probably be quite uncomfortable and possibly painful. But what choices do I have? Come up with a counterweight and somehow strap that onto my back?

CROTCH / SEAT: So, I've got the crotch / cod-piece / seat / whatever-you-want-to-call-it built out of cardboard. I'm starting to line three sides of it with plastic. The plan is to strap it / hang it off of my belt. The design problem I still need to figure out is: How to adjust this so that I can go to the bathroom? Being able to reach down there while in the costume MAY be an issue. Fortunately, experience has shown me, when I'm wearing costumes like this, I'm usually sweating so much that I never have to use the restroom.

LOWER LEGS / SHINS: Oh how I'd really like to start carving final details into these! But I tried them on again a few days ago. I put on the forearms at the same time, just to get a taste for how it would feel to wear this stuff. And I keep feeling like the skateboard wheels are problematic. I just get the "feeling", as I'm crouching down, that my knees are pointing downward way too much. Feels like I'm sloping into the ground. Of course, I'm not. But it feels really odd. I'm thinking about maybe moving the wheels to any thigh-pieces I create instead...and seeing how that feels. Maybe I won't even use them at all, but then I'd have to rely on stomach muscles alone to keep my legs extended and off the ground while in truck mode. I have put a few side-details on them. At the very least, I need to add some padding at the knees in, since I'm strapping these things directly against the front of my legs. And there's some rubbing against the plastic going on there.

I ordered two samples of some wheels that I'm hoping will look like truck wheels, once painted.:

They should be here on Friday. If I like them, I will immediately place another order and buy the rest of them. Once I have the wheel samples, I can then start building the wheel fenders for the legs, and hopefully get a ton closer to getting them ready to paint.

FOREARMS: I removed some foam on the rear of them so as to allow more freedom of movement. Then I covered the front openings, but cut a half-oval into each one, so as to allow me to slip my hands through. I need to enlarge those a bit, though, because it was tricky getting my hands through them while I was wearing the gloves. Other than that, I think they're ready for details, heat gun, plastidip, then painting.

THIGHS: Not even built out of cardboard yet.

GLOVES: I glued small bits of foam over the thumbs, so they'd match a bit better with the plastic that lies over the finger knuckles. I plan on taping off the plastic and foam parts and painting them blue.

SOME PHOTOS of me trying on a few things to check fit:

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And here are a few shots of the insides of the legs. I did decide to build a supporting beam across the inside of them, after all:
2018-09-01 13.07.47.jpg 2018-09-01 13.07.53.jpg 2018-09-01 13.07.59.jpg

I did have to cut a bit out of a "flap" of foam that exists right below and behind the knees, to allow for more freedom of movement, since taking these pictures.

Also, I bought various cans and colors of spray paint and did a bit of test-painting onto some pieces that I'd already heat-gunned and coated with Plastidip:

2018-09-01 14.24.56.jpg 2018-09-01 14.25.30.jpg

I read a book by Svetlana about Cosplay painting and she takes a crap-ton of time to hand paint every piece. She would probably start hand-painting the center of, say, the front piece for one of my shins... and just start dabbing paint at the center and work outward in order to sort of develop a color gradient. But that would take me forever!

But regarding paint colors, there four left-most pieces in the photos are actually only two paint colors, just a light coat for the first two swatches and then a fuller coat. I like the less-bright one... which I believe is called hammered...something.... I want it to look like heavy metal, only slightly shiny. And as for the two blues, the flat blue looked really way too dark. The brighter blue, which is a metallic blue, looks about perfect to me. (Not sure why it looks so bright in the photo on the right.)

So, I'm going to buy more cans of that.


I still have to buy some cardboard or PVC tubes to make the exhaust pipes. I need 4-6 small lights with orange lenses in order to design "cab lights" (to be placed at the top of my chest). I still need to come up with "windows" for the cab, though I may be able to use those acrylic dollar-store photo frames with that. I also need to come up with headlights. I was going to find something that would look like a "grill" for the front of the truck. But now I'm thinking I may just custom-cut one out of plastic.

1) Work out the strapping system / skateboard support issue.
2) Solidify that body piece.
3) Put on strapping system / skateboard, body, forearms, shin-pieces and feet (and maybe the crotch-piece, if it's far enough along)... and test the transformation. Identify issues.

OK, gotta run! Real life is calling!


-= Dave =-


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Well-Known Member
Here are two quick pics I took this morning of the body: One with the "drawer" pulled-in and one with it extended. Of course, since the "drawer" has a "bumper" on it that hangs down a bit lower than the rest, the angle is a bit off, so it looks a bit contorted when extended.

2018-09-06 05.45.02.jpg 2018-09-06 05.45.33.jpg

I intend to sketch in exactly where features like windows, doors, and lights will be positioned, just for my own benefit. I plan on putting a layer of foam over the whole thing. And I may have to cut off a piece in the back... not sure... so that, when I lie down with this on top of me, it lays a bit more correctly. We'll see.


Well-Known Member
Just got the charcoal grill wheel "samples" I ordered last week. I only ordered two, because I really wanted to see what they were like "in person" before committing to buy a total of 6 (plus probably 2 spares). I think they'll work nicely! Here are some pics of the front and back of one of them.

2018-09-07 08.14.27.jpg 2018-09-07 08.14.19.jpg

The wheel is almost exactly 7 inches in diameter. It's made of that blowmold plastic stuff, but it's actually more rigid / stronger than I thought it was going to be.

Keep in mind that these are going to be purely decorative. If they actually touch the ground and spin ... in other words if they're actually "even with" the skateboard wheels on the actual arm or leg piece that they're built into... then that's a bonus.

My big concern here is how to attach them so that if somebody or something brushes against them, it doesn't rip them off or damage the costume. They need to be attached in a way where they're rather firm and don't wobble.

And, of course, I need to figure out exactly what hardware I'm going to use to mount them (bolts, nuts, washers). I will probably have to add in a piece of plastic and glue it to the main supportive plastic board of the arm or leg. Superglue seems to bond this stuff really well, but I may want to put in some sort of angled supports as well.

Gotta run!



Well-Known Member
Wow! I guess it HAS been 4 weeks since I posted. Well, we're getting down to "crunch time". Here's a status update.

First, let me post some photos that I intended to post about 2 weeks ago. These are some "in progress" photos of the upper arms and the lower arms:
View attachment 847461 View attachment 847462 View attachment 847463 View attachment 847464 View attachment 847465

As you may recall, the fore-arms have skateboard wheels (screwed into a plastic sheet as a base) because those will provide a bit of support to my arms when I'm in "truck mode". (And, remember, a powered-skateboard will be strapped to my chest to provide primary support on that.)

Here are some photos I took today of several pieces that are in the final stages of painting:

View attachment 847471 View attachment 847470 View attachment 847469 View attachment 847468 View attachment 847467 View attachment 847472

OK, so now I'll refer to those photos as I tell you where I'm at on various parts:

FEET -- I want to give these another coat or two of clear-coat. But they are basically done.

LOWER LEGS -- Sorry for the upside-down photo. I finished with the blue metallic paint on those yesterday. Now I just need to clear-coat them. There is a bit of "cosmetic decorating" I will still need to do on those: I have two plastic "plates" that I've cut into rectangles and spray painted silver. I will be attaching these, using rivets, to the back of each leg-piece. The plastic has a pattern on it. (I wish I'd have taken a photo of it. But it's a sort of raised pattern similar to what you find on pickup truck truck-boxes, and truck running-boards.) Oh, and in the photos, you'll see that I had taped over the wheels for painting purposes. I need to attach the truck wheels to them as well. (Those have all been painted already.)


GLOVES -- Need some clear coat. But I may need to touch-up a bit of the blue paint on them first.

FOREARMS -- Painting is basically done. Just need to clear coat...and remove the paper from over the skateboard wheels. I then need to screw on the actual truck-wheels.

SHOULDERS -- OK, so there are two photos above that deal with parts that will be on the shoulders: One is of the exhaust pipes that I've made. Those are built from PVC (1.5 inch diameter and 3/4 inch diameter, if I remember correctly, with a "reducer" in between them). The funny "circular grill tube" on each one is actually some strange plastic thingies I found at a thrift store. (The paint didn't seem to like sticking to them very well.) Not sure what they were for. Seemed like maybe something exercise-related. Anyways, those were super-glued into place. I was debating on whether or not I should paint the PVC "beneath the holes" black. (Honestly, I should have remembered to spray-paint things that way before I glued those things into place.) But I may not do that.

The other photo related to the shoulders is the two Autobot logo cut-outs. Those are made of thinner foam. When I took a heat gun to them, they seemed to warp a bit. And when I painted them red, that warp seemed a lot more obvious. So I'm probably going to take those two, flip them upside-down, take a heat gun to them again, but put something heavy on them in an attempt to flatten them out. While they are now painted red, I have yet to apply the metallic red flake overcoat to them, followed by clear coat. (More on that in a sec.) The idea is that these will be glued over some clear plastic. The plastic has already been cut to fit into the front of each shoulder piece. So these foam logos will then be trimmed so as to fit into place across the front of the shoulders. Then, behind the clear plastic, I'll shove the EL paper.

I don't have any updated photos of the shoulders at this time, but they're basically three sided foam cubes/boxes that have a top but no bottom. I'm working on gluing buckles inside them now and I'm attaching straps to the body that the shoulders will buckle onto. So, the shoulders still need to be assembled, painted, and attached. Plus I need to figure out how to attach those slightly heavy exhaust pipes to them.

REGARDING THE PAINT I HAVE CHOSEN: The blue is Rustoleum Metallic (Cobalt) Blue. The red...well, I had quite a time choosing a red that I liked. I painted like 6 different varieties onto foam samples. Some looked darker, more burgundy. And I was leaning towards one of those. But NONE of them looked metallic, even Rustoleum's Metallic Apple Red. But then I looked at some of my reference photos...and I found one where it looked very, very RED, like an apple, but somehow, it didn't look super-"cartoony", like I was afraid of. It was painted onto a metal toy and it looked pretty good. So, in the end, I decided that I needed to "honor the character" by going with an apple red. Now, how to make it metallic? Well, a nearby AutoZone had some Plastidip Metallic red over-spray. It basically sprays something like red metal flecks onto things. So, my red parts are basically coated with Rustoleum Metallic Apple Red, followed by an overcoat (or two) of that Plastidip Metallic red. (And then clear coat. I still need to clear-coat the forearms.)

Just yesterday, I posted a photo of the parts drying in my garage to a group of friends. And one of them, who apparently forgot that I'd told them what I was building for this year's costume responded "Are those Optimus Prime parts?" She was very excited when I said yes. So, that let me know that I'd chosen the right thing to do about the red: If she could instantly recognize the character from seeing this photo on a cell phone, then I guess it must be alright:

2018-10-06 11.58.45.jpg

BODY -- I don't have any photos, but basically, I got my 14" metal ball-bearing drawer slides attached. I have cut some cardboard to be the "drawer sides". Just need to attach them, then size, cut, and attach a "drawer front". That front piece will have a lower part that makes up the truck's front bumper...and sort of sits in front of my waist-piece. I'm working right now on attaching the shoulder-straps to it. After that front drawer is built, I intend to create a "flap" of cardboard that hangs down in front of it. This flap will have a "fake truck grill on the front of it. The real front grill will be on the front of the drawer, hidden behind it. When I pull the drawer out, I'm hoping this "front flap" will end up being the "top" that covers the "drawer", when the drawer is extended. I think it will work, especially if I add a bit of weight to the bottom of that flap. (If you haven't figured it out by now, this "drawer" will be where my head lies when I'm down on the ground "in truck mode".

SHORTS / COD-PIECE AREA -- Built out of cardboard, covered with plastic. Needs a bit of work. I have a "flap" cut out of it so that I may use the restroom. But I haven't yet attached this to my belt. I find it seems to confine my movement just a bit.

THIGHS -- I have barely started building these out of cardboard. Need to make them out of foam as well, then attach them to straps that will attach to my belt. Honestly, I kind of wish I had some metalish-looking or circuitry-patterned pants to wear instead. I'm concerned that between these and the "shorts", bending in them will be difficult. I actually did search eBay for a while for pants that might "work" instead... but found nothing.

HELMET -- I have glued a couple of pieces on the back and rear sides of it in order to hide my neck and hair a bit more. Still lots of work to do there.

Gotta run! Don't have time to write more tonight. THANKS !


Well-Known Member
Forgot to upload one photo yesterday:

2018-10-07 13.46.27.jpg

I've made "marker lights" for the top front of the truck cab. I ordered some 3V orange diffused LEDs. They came with these short plastic tubes that you could slot them into. Around those tubes I wrapped a "tube" of foam, but I only glued about the first third of it. Then, to form the rear of the tubes, I wrapped them around small circles of foam, and then just cut off the bottom of those circles so that the overall effect is that the flared-opened bottoms of the tubes will be lined up with the flat cut of the bottom of those circles.

I spray painted the tubes, clear-coated them, and then inserted the LED's yesterday while watching a football game. These will run off of 3v disc batteries. You can see the small black plastic battery case there with the built-in switch in the photo.

Now, all i need to do, once the chest is in the final stages of being built and painted, is to glue these into place, running the wires inside the body to the switches. These marker lights will remain on full-time while wearing the costume, so using tiny switches is okay.

Oh, and THANKS for the vote of encouragement, George !!

-= Dave =-


Master Member
You bet.Transformers G1 is still frequently being viewed here and I am no less a fan,so I can't wait to see your project come to life.


Well-Known Member
Here's a snap shot of the main body that I took this morning:

2018-10-08 18.21.19.jpg

I just finished with the shoulder attachments. And I have pulled out the drawer slides here so that you may see their full extension. I'm actually painting the drawer sides before attaching them. Again, yes, he sticks out quite a bit, looks sort of overly "fat", because I'm going to have a skateboard strapped to my chest. (Part of me is really not looking forward to supporting that weight.)

That hole in the top, of course, won't be so big, when all is said and done. I just left that open so that it's easier to work on stuff inside. After I get the "drawer" attached fully (plus a magnet to help keep it closed), then I will start attaching plastic "windows" and covering this thing with foam. The upper hole will get smaller, but, admittedly, there will still be a hole there for my head / helmet to move up and down through. Of course, I'd like there to be a "flap" over this hole, so that when I transform, it disappears. But this will probably be done last, at this rate anyways. I would have to somehow rig such a flap to close when I lower my head down in and reopen when I pop up. At this point, I'm thinking that maybe just adding some weight onto the front lip of the flap and preventing it from opening more than 90 degrees may be my best option.

Gotta run! Thanks!


Well-Known Member
Minor update:

OK, so I wasn't finished in time for a costume party that I was invited to for last Saturday by a coworker. Not a huge deal. I hadn't been pushing for that goal.
I still think I'm in a "fairly good place" right now. I will have Wednesday through Friday off of work to finalize things.

Here are a few progress pics.
First, I added the wheels onto the arms and legs. A minor thing, but I think they look pretty good:
2018-10-15 19.15.58.jpg

Next, I repainted the "blue parts" of the helmet with the same paint I've used for the legs. I did NOT repaint the "silver parts" of the helmet, for fear of screwing things up with overspray... and therefore losing time by having to repaint.:

2018-10-20 14.51.32.jpg 2018-10-20 14.51.45.jpg

And finally, where all the major remaining "to do work" lies: The main body / chassis.
Now, as you may recall, I talked about creating a sort of "drawer" that would pull out from the stomach area... so that when I lay down on the floor (but on the skateboard that will be attached to my chest), my head will end up inside this "drawer". And the drawer becomes the "engine housing" of the "truck". (Yeah, it's not quite a G1 truck, but no one will care if all of this works.)

I had started by making the "sides" of the drawer out of cardboard, because I was afraid that the plastic sheeting that I had on-hand was too heavy (6mm thick). Well, after making them out of cardboard, I felt that they were too flimsy. So, I shelled out another $35 for a 3mm sheet of plastic. And this past weekend, I cut out and assembled the drawer out of that. I did my best to attach things and reinforce them using extra plastic triangle pieces, some plastic shelf brackets that I had lying around, and some PVC adhesive and super glue.

2018-10-20 13.21.29.jpg 2018-10-20 15.45.43.jpg

(And yes, I had prepainted the foam pieces that go over the front windows, so I've glued those on already.) I think the drawer will still need a little bit more reinforcing.

Regarding the windows: On the front, I put down a layer of thin black foam, then cut my plastic windows out, and glued them on. But to my surprise and annoyance, the superglue left a WHITE FILM on the plastic. So, to cover things up, I traced some slightly-smaller window openings onto more of that thin foam, cut those out, and then painted the remaining frame. The result is that the actual plastic underneath those windows are slightly larger than the openings, but the white film was disguised.

Knowing this, I decided to cut the thin black foam out to the precise dimensions of my side windows and glue them onto the plastic... THEN glue everything onto a layer of the thick gray foam. Of course, that still doesn't solve my white glue-edging problem, but I made sure to use very thing glue lines this time. But I still have to work out how I'm going to cut and lay foam on those window edges and basically work out how the sides will look. A bad side-effect that occurred on the side windows a lot (and not so much on the front) was that there are large areas where there are these white splotches. I think they may be condensation. Not sure. Haven't examined them too closely. But they are annoying. If they annoy me enough, I may just paint over the windows with black spray paint or something (saw some Plastidip that is supposed to be used to make plastic and glass look "smokey"... but I'm not sure I want to spend $$ on that).

Gotta run! Thanks!


Master Member
D, thanks for sharing your progress.
However,there's a lot of text though,sometimes a bit too much.
Just a personal observation,no offense meant
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Well-Known Member
Well, tonight's the night.

I didn't quite get everything accomplished that I wanted to. Some of the final "body / chassis" was a bit of a rush job. Here are some pics:

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I forgot to add some "fake rivets" to the front of the unit. I had to end spray painting early, since the sun had set and it was getting quite cool, so I don't have that "silver bar" across Prime's mid-section, like there should be. (I may paint that... or at least the front part of it... late this afternoon, by hand.)

But I did get the transformers and battery packs installed for the EL paper inside the shoulders and helmet. Plus, as you can see, the "truck" has four orange "running lights", LED's running off of those coin-batteries.

Not sure if I said this the other day, but I did try transforming in this thing ONCE, while wearing the 9 pound motorized skateboard strapped to my chest. It was very difficult/ hard to do in a clean and quick series of motions. The skateboard wanted to move a little. And of course, it's kind of important that I center myself on that thing once we are on the ground.

The drawer doesn't open so smoothly. On the one hand, that's a good thing, because then I don't need a set of magnets to keep it latched. And it won't accidentally extend just because I tilt my body. On the other hand, it may be a bit fussy about "closing all the way". And it gets very tight against my sides. I'm still debating about whether or not I want to chop a couple inches of it off on the inside, since they go all the way to the rear when closed. That MAY make the drawer open and close more smoothly and make it seem less confining. But then again, it may do very little to improve things.

I'm very concerned about how frequently I should attempt to "transform". There will probably be about 4 hours between when I arrive at the local bar with the big costume contest and when the judging takes place. I also wish I could remove and reattach the skateboard quickly, because I COULD take that out for a while, to give myself a break. But I can't reach it hardly at all while in costume.

We'll see how this goes.

At the very least, it will look good in robot mode.
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