Sunday, November 3, 2013

Halo 4 Master Chief Costume

I decided to try to kick it up a notch for Halloween this year and attempt a Master Chief costume. Unfortunately I waited until the last minute and only had a month to knock it out. It was a bit of a rush job, but overall I am fairly pleased with how it turned out.

The majority of this suit was a scratch build out of anti-fatigue foam mats and craft foam. The craft foam you can find at your local craft store in a few different thicknesses, and the anti-fatigue mats you can generally find at hardware stores. I used two different thicknesses of anti-fatigue mat, one of which was the thicker interlocking type like this, and the other was a thinner type which came in a roll (sorry I cannot find a handy link to the type I picked up - will update later if I find it).

I started with the chest and upper arm, using the thick flooring foam for the base of the arm piece and the craft foam for the raised details. I shaped the arm piece using a heat gun, and then hot glued a curved section of hanger to the back to maintain the curved shape. For the chest piece I cut small sections of the thinner flooring foam and glued each piece together to form the more complex shape of the torso. The base is a leather motorcycle jacket, which was very thick and rigid due the armor pieces embedded within it. This made for a great frame on which to attach the foam pieces.

The arm pieces were hot glued directly to the jacket, but the chest piece is connected via plastic snap buckles that are attached to the jacket by nylon strapping at the top, and velcro strips at the bottom sides. I attached the chest this way so that I could easily remove it if I needed, and because the jacket zips in the front, so it would have been tough to put on at all otherwise. The next step was to build up the shoulders to cover the plastic snaps, and build the cod piece.

The shoulder pieces ended up being much larger than I intended, but I didn't notice until it was too late to change it (goal was to finish by Halloween, and I made the mistake of starting the last week of September). I used more of the nylon straps and plastic buckles to attach the cod piece to the bottom of the chest and underneath to the butt armor on the back. After the mass effect suit I learned that it was important to be able to easily access your important parts for bathroom reasons (that was definitely a complicated trip to the mens room...). Next up came the forearms.

The forearm pieces were essentially just a slightly conical roll of the thin floor mat the length of my forearm, with pieces of craft foam glued on to form the embellishments. Once they were complete, I sprayed on a layer of black plastidip to act as a sealer and primer for the paint. 

At this point I decided to tackle the booster pack on the back. Like the shoulders, these ended up being much larger than I intended, but time constraints kept me from restarting them once I realized it.

I started these by sketching out a template. then building out from there using the foam. I used PVC pipe for the thruster tubes. To mount it on my back, I bent some 3/16 inch steel rods into a hook shape to go over my shoulders underneath the foam shoulder pieces on the jacket and attached that to a sheet of the thick foam. I made a tongue and groove piece out of the foam (which I forgot to take a picture of - will add later if I remember) so that each thruster pack could be removed easily from the frame piece. I did this so that LEDs that I would later mount into the backpack would be easily accessible for changing the batteries and such.

I had intended to build the helmet from scratch using the Pepakura method, but it was taking way too long, and once I got about halfway through the paper craft portion of it I could tell that it was going to be too big for my head. So... I cheated a little bit. I took one of the Halo 3 Legendary Edition game cases that was shaped like a Master Chief helmet (albeit a very small one), I took it apart, dremeled out everything except the outer shell, and hot glued it all back together (with additional spacing between the pieces to make it a bit larger). I also cut out a section of the front visor and glued in a paintball visor inside it so that I could see.

Sorry about the poor picture quality, I did not take a close picture before I painted the helmet. 

At this point it was the week before Halloween and I had a three day business trip coming up for work, so I figured I had better slap some paint on what I had and I could stress about completing the entire lower half in less than a week once I got back from my trip.

I used Rustoleum Oregano for the base color, then dry brushed with black acrylic to age/distress it, then I went over the edges with some silver Rub 'n Buff for wear and damage. I got back from my business trip on Saturday the 26th at one o'clock in the morning and had a Halloween party to go to at five PM the same day. I rushed through the leg portions and just wore the boots from my Mass Effect costume. Unfortunately (or fortunately since the boots didn't look that great), I did not really get any pictures that night of the lower half of the costume. Instead, here is a shot of my to reaction the wife getting a little too friendly with a David Tennant cutout.

After the party I decided to make some better boots. Unfortunately, Master Chief is much taller than I am. Supposedly he is about seven feet tall in his armor, and I am only 5'11'' on a good day. I decided to try to meet him in the middle a build a pair of boots that would add seven inches to my height, making me six and a half feet tall in the armor.

I built the frame out of two by fours, making the length of boot longer than necessary so that it would look as though my foot sat all the down inside it. I made the "toe" portion as a separate piece, and attached it with a hinge on top and rubber band in a groove in the bottom. This gave the boot a more natural looking walking motion as the toe of the boot would flex forward and back down as I walked in it.Some additional foam and paint and they looked halfway decent.

Here is a short video showing the motion of the boots as I moved in them.

That is about it for the Halo 4 Master Chief build. I will do a short post soon going over the Battle Rifle build. Thanks for reading, and let me know what you think in the comments!


  1. Great Costume. :) I was wondering if you could share or link the pep files you used to make the foam armor as you have very simple ideas and techniques which yield Great results. Everything i have found is a bit complicated for Foam and I am still searching for simplified templates for Foam. So if you are feeling Generous, Please do share. If you Scratch built this, then even more Kudos. :) Keep up the Building. :D

    1. Thanks man! Sorry for not getting back you sooner, I did not see the comment! I started out using pep files, but was runnning out of time so I did most of it from scratch. I honestly cannot remember if I found the pep files I started with on or the I would be happy to share my google drive folder with you that contains the files or email them or something - just send me a message on google with your email address and I will them.

  2. Chief is 9 feet tall by some tails. Also your walking video is 404. Not available.