My son loves Thomas and all of his train engine friends. So for a costume parade at school, I set out to make him a Thomas the Tank Engine costume.
Step 1: Finding a Train Body
I started with an empty Pampers Cruisers Size 5 132 Count box.
It's about 20" (L) x 11" (W). I ended up leaving a 10 x 11 opening to roughly fit around my 40 lb child.
Step 2: Planning and Measuring
To get a mental image of what I was about to build, I listed all the measurements and sketched out the rough shapes of the finished product. Also good to have this when shopping for materials.
Step 3: Gathering Materials
- red duct tape
- red Scotch tape
- yellow masking tape
- thick black card stock
- 8" round cake separator plates (3)
- 14" round cake separator plates (3)
- X-ACTO knife and saw
- tape measurer and straight edge
- Elmer's all purpose glue
- hot glue gun
- packing tape
Not pictured: paint (blue, black and white primer)
Step 4: Building the Cab
- cut the top flap of the train body box 5" from the edge
- cut the middle portion of the 14" cake plates to match the width of the train body
- use the cake plates and the flaps to create the walls for the cab
- to make the structure strong, I created an "H" shape using cardboard and taped between the two cake plate walls
- cut a 5" wide piece from the middle portion of the third 14" cake plate, and fit across the top of the cab
- use packing tap or glue to put this together
Step 5: Cutting Out the Boiler
Home Depot carries these 8" x 48" cylindrical tubes in their construction materials section. You can cut it down to a more reasonable size at the store with a hack saw they let you use for free. I cut it to 8" so that I can keep a rough 10" opening for my kid to stand in.
I then cut 5" into the tub roughly at the half circle, and cut this to shape the front of Thomas.
Step 6: Putting in the Boiler and the Smoke Stack
I glued on the boiler and the smoke stack using tape and hot glue gun.
Step 7: Adding the Pilot
For the pilot, I found a plastic wrap box and took one end apart to make it shorter and fit the width of the train body.
I then attached it to the front side of the train.
Step 8: Priming
I used a spray paint white primer. Took multiple coats to cover up all the pictures and writings on the boxes.
Step 9: Painting (blue)
I then put on several coats of blue with spray paint. It's not an exact match for Thomas but good enough after adding other accents.
Step 10: Painting (black)
I would recommend using acrylic paint for the black areas (top of the cab, around the front boiler, and the bottom edge of the train), to make the lines more exact and less chance of bleeding onto other colors.
Step 11: Adding Accents
I used the red color duct tape for the bottom trim of the train. It's way easier than painting and created a cleaner edge.
Step 12: Adding Windows
For the windows, I used thin black card stock and cut out two rectangular shapes, roughly sized to fit the open space. And for the yellow trimming I used yellow masking tape. The finished windows were glued on with Elmer's.
Step 13: Adding Finishing Touches to Train Body
I used red scotch tape for accents and created the yellow number 1 with the yellow masking tape.
Step 14: Printing Out the Face
I found a high resolution Thomas face here: http://www.kevincooney.com/images/blog/halloween2010/thomast.png . They also had a slightly different way of making this costume, way more advanced than mine! :)
I printed the file at 9 x 9" at FedEx Kinko's.
Step 15: Cutting Wheels
I spray painted three of the 8" cake plates and then cut them into half circles that would fit under the red duct taped area.
Step 16: Adding Carrying Straps
I found these carry-on straps at a travel store, and fastened them to Thomas so that my kid can carry Thomas on his shoulders.
Step 17: Finished Product
And after 2 days of work, this is what I was able to come up with. A bit rough around the edges but my son loved it. Totally worth it! :)