Growing up, my mom loved Halloween. We went all out with house decorations, costumes, pumpkin carving, and everything spooky. I had some of the most amazing costumes as a child, and most of them were DIY by my mom and grandma (Grandma had some AMAZING sewing skills!). With 4 kids, we’ve carried on the DIY costume tradition for a few reasons. My favorite reason is that with a little planning, most DIY costumes can be really cute and unique. Also important, though, is that DIY costumes tend to be way cheaper when you have a large family. This year the boys wanted to be Ninjago Lego Warriors. Thinking of how specific they wanted their costumes to be, we went shopping. There were a few cheaper options but they just weren’t what the boys were looking for. My oldest found a better made costume, but I had sticker shock when I realized it was over $50! There was no way we were doing $200 for family costumes that they would only be wearing for 2 hours! So, I set my mind to figuring out how to recreate the Lego Ninjago Warrior Minifigs they love so much.
All in, I think it cost us right about $40 for supplies… WAY better than $200! I’ll be honest that creating 3 Ninjago Warriors took longer than I anticipated, but it still made up for the money we didn’t spend. I knew trying to create something Ninjago for the youngest (5 months) would be difficult and probably not even seen since I’d be walking with him in the baby carrier, so we settled on a cute Lego block cover for the carrier and a Lego minifig head beanie. We think he’s cute and goes along with the Lego theme.
I realized about halfway through that I’m surely not the only one out there with kids that love Ninjago and would like a DIY costume, so I backtracked a bit to create a tutorial. Give me a little grace on a few missing pictures on the first couple of steps, but there really wasn’t too much to see anyway!
The first thing I looked at when trying to research Ninjago costumes was the mask. I did a few quick trial and error runs, and quickly decided that this was the one area we would splurge. So I ran off to Target, found each of them a mask for $7 (but on sale for $3.50!), and that part was done.
The first step in making the actual Ninjago bodies is gathering boxes. Luckily we had family on the look-out and my brother-in-law came through nicely with some unused large cardboard boxes that were perfect for the body. I essentially took a Ninjago Lego minifig the boys had in their collection and looked at the shape of the body. I measured the boys each from shoulders to mid-thigh, and drew out the shape on the cardboard with a straightedge.
After cutting out 2 (a front and back), measure the side height of the body and draw two rectangles as tall as the sides of the front and back (this is one of my missing photos, but it’s really just a rectangle!). It took a bit of trial and error to figure out how wide the sides should be. I learned that if it’s too snug, it’s hard to get their head through the costume to put it on. If it’s too large, it becomes difficult to keep in place. I ended up with 5, 6, and 7 inches wide respectively for our 3, 5, and 6 year olds. I think 5 or 6 inches would have been ideal.
Then, cut out arm holes about an inch from the top.
Next, I used a good quality masking tape to connect the pieces on the outside, and duct tape to secure them on the inside. I found that the masking tape created a nice smooth, finished edge on the corners, and was easy to paint later. I also made sure to cover all raw cardboard edges (including the top, bottom, and arm holes) to make sure the boys didn’t get any cardboard paper cuts later (we all know those hurt like crazy!).
Once the tape was on, we had the boys slip them on and check the sizes and how they fit with their masks.
Next, the legs…
To be honest, the legs happened by happy accident. I read a few other tutorials where they said their kids had trouble walking with big, bulky Lego-style legs. So I knew I wanted to do something just from the knee down that was lightweight. My husband was throwing out a 12 pack box and asked if I needed it for the costumes. The idea hit me to use them as legs!
First, cut them down the center (I cut some in half, some more than half for my oldest).
Then cut a slit on just the sides about 2-3 inches from the end and bend it up to create a “Lego foot” that will sit on top of their real feet. (I knew something that actually covered the end of their shoe would end up being a major tripping hazard, especially for my one son that has some vision trouble). Then set them on their feet, and cut the other ends of the box to about knee height.
Now for the painting…
Since I was short on time, I splurged just a bit and bought a good quality spray paint that I knew would cover well.
Lay out the body and the legs and put a few coats of paint on about an hour apart. It took 2 full coats and a few touch ups, but I was really happy at how seamlessly blended the tape corners became into the cardboard bodies.
Here are all 3 bodies completely painted:
To help the boxes stay on their shoulders comfortably and to keep the cardboard legs on their actual legs, I picked up some 1 inch elastic at our local craft store and grabbed my trusty stapler (insert Office Space stapler line here, haha!) I knew stapling would be quick and easy, but I was sure to staple from the inside toward the outside so if I ended up with any pokey, sharp edges, they would only be on the outside.
I had them put the bodies on and just estimated how much elastic to use, cut it, and stapled! (Be sure not to get the bodies too high or they will hit their masks!)
I repeated the same process for the legs, but realized that I liked the elastic a bit more snug to keep the legs in the right place. I also added a piece of duct tape to the inside where the staples held the elastic for a bit of extra security.
Next I tried my best to recreate the clothing decorations of each of the Ninjago Warriors using black, silver, and gold sharpies, and brown paint. The boys think they’re great… I just say not to compare it too closely to the real ones!
But finally, the hands…
To create the hands, I used simple supplies.
The hardest part for me was actually finding the can coozies. Apparently the only ones my town keeps were thinner, softer ones. After a few days of searching, I finally found the thicker ones I was looking for.
The first step is removing the bottom of the coozy, then cutting straight down one side.
Then cut the bottom off of a small styrofoam cup, and cut down the side just as with the can coozy. Next, I had the boys make a fist and shaped one of the cut sides over the other to make the cup opening just small enough to fit their fist through. Use black duct tape to secure the two edges in that position.
After shaping the cup to the correct size, trace the opening onto the center of the coozy and cut out the hole. Insert the cut end of the styrofoam cup into the hole in the coozy.
Use black duct tape to secure the coozy to the cup with small pieces, and then begin covering every surface with the black tape until the whole piece is covered.
Make 2 for each costume.
Combine all of the pieces and you have a handy DIY Lego Ninjago Warrior Costume!
Now for our last, quick part of the boys’ costume- the baby carrier Lego cover.
I needed something I could quickly add to my favorite Lillebaby Complete, and soft enough that it wouldn’t be cumbersome to walk around in and help my boys.
I grabbed some foam sheets from my local craft store and used scissors and rubber cement glue that I already had on hand. However, some trial and error quickly led me to realize that double sided tape was a much better option to adhere multiple pieces of foam together rather than the rubber cement.
To thicken the foam on the front portion of the block, glue (or tape!) multiple pieces of foam together. Since I had only 2 full size portions of yellow foam, I also used some white pieces on the backside.
While waiting for that to dry, I started making the circles, or front portion of the Lego piece.
To create the illusion of thickness, use multiple pieces of yellow and black foam for the circles. First find a good-sized circular object to trace around (for me, it was a kid cereal bowl!). I traced 12 yellow circles and 8 black circles. Then glue them together in 4 even stacks, with the black pieces on the back side. Arrange the stacks on the bigger rectangle sheet and secure them in place with glue or double sided tape.
Next cut rectangles for the sides and glue a few layers together. I just estimated about how far my carrier stuck out from my body with the baby in it and made the rectangles that wide. I believe I did them 4 inches wide. I did keep the sides slightly shorter at the bottom than the front rectangle of the Lego piece to keep baby’s feet from kicking the cover.
Finally tape the sides to the front of the piece. Secure it to the carrier with safety pins at the top and sides after placing baby in the carrier.
To accent the cover, I used this Lego head crochet pattern to whip up a super cute beanie. If you aren’t a crocheter or know someone who is, any hat to keep baby warm will work just as well. But really, this hat just makes me want to sing, “EVERYTHING IS AWESOME!”
Obviously it’s a very DIY family costume set, but my boys love it and so do I! We can’t wait to go trick-or-treating this Halloween. We hope you’ve enjoyed our tutorial… please feel free to share it, and let me know if you have any questions!