When we were at Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween party, we were in line to meet Donald Duck, and behind us was a man dressed like Buzz Lightyear. I only noticed him in the melee of costumes because it was dark out, and the plastic wings had green lightsticks taped to them. Nice touch. But I had this flicker of a thought: Buzz is a good costume. A really good costume. And I couldn't shake it. I tried to shake it, but it wouldn't let go. I don't have TIME, I thought, to make this costume. A little alien? Sure, I can swing that. But a Buzz frigging Lightyear? He has WINGS, among other difficult-to-design parts. But still the idea lingered.
I love Buzz Lightyear, and that proably had a lot to do with it. He's funny and courageous and hilariously arrogant. Whereas Woody always struck me as a whiny fatalistic prima donna, Buzz is so honest and earnest in whatever he believes, and an eternal optimist. (The latter is the reason That One Scene You Know The One I Mean Is Someone Cutting Onions In Here Dammit in Toy Story 3 is so touching, when he knows it's over)
As an aside, I prefer the original Tim Allen voice, but Patrick Warburton's cartoon & game work gets a nod from me as well, because he's also Kronk and the Tick. Kronk may be my favorite 2D cartoon character of all time.
As an additional aside, the Mrs. Nesbit Scene in the original movie is on my personal list of "best scenes in a movie ever." "YEARS OF ACADEMY TRAINING, WASTED!"
So Buzz is an interstellar badass with a heart of gold. AND he has a really really awesome Space Ranger suit. The costumes online were really expensive, really terrible, and in a lot of cases, both. I didn't even start thinking about the Buzz costume until after I finished Jessie and the alien, my reasoning being that DJ wouldn't get to go to as many Halloween functions as M and I, so his costume could wait. And also I had no idea who to attack the construction problem. I've never made anything even vaguely space-suity, unless Rainbow Brite counts (it doesn't).
I sketched and I thought and I sketched. The weekend before Halloween I went to Woods of Terror in the 'boro with some friends and my brother. We consumed some adult beverages, and I ended the evening (ok, early morning) sketching madly on a paper towel at my in-laws' house, no doubt gesturing wildly, while explaining the pieces of Buzz to my brother The Artist. Said artist helpfully suggested that DJ just go as Sid Phillips because it was an easier costume, here less than a week from the holiday. I let him know that was a cop-out solution that he was welcome to blow out his ass, so we poured another glass of pinot and went back to the sketch, deconstructing. To the left is the drunken, wingless, from-memory sketch in question. It isn't impressive, but it at least gave me a starting point.
Monday at lunchtime I started gathering parts. I went to the used sporting goods store and confused the hell out of the clerk by purchasing all manner of clearanced baseball gear. The main scores were a catchers' chestplate ($7) and some batting gloves ($4). Then on to the consignment store, where a shaft of light shone down from the very heavens and blindingly illuminated a pair of men's ski bibs, white ($4). I also picked up several random sets of kneepads, elbow pads and some shinguards ($6 for all).I also picked up a tai kwan do practice pad for some reason; although sized for a child it looked promising as part of a space suit ($2).
After work, M and I went to Lowe's for pipe insulation and some other odds and ends. She was very helpful, choosing paint colors and providing comic relief, as 3 year olds are wont to do. Total bill: $7.
I got home, shoveled some hastily-prepared dinner into my family, and set to work. I used all the terrible political pre-election ads we were recieving in the mail as a dropcloth, and started painting. I already knew the foam wouldn't take normal acrylic paint, so I'd bought a quart of some sludge called "EXTERIOR SUPER ADHESION LAQUER," pausing only long enough between coats to paint mustaches and devil horns on the drop-cloth candidates (esp Soucek because he strikes me as a total douchebag).
The armbands for the laser and the Space Ranger insignia are repurposed beer coozies I found in the cabinet and dismantled mercilessly with my x-acto blade. GREEK WEEK '99? GONE! DIXIE LANDING RESORT? YOU DON'T EVEN EXIST ANYMORE! No foam item in the house was safe; several tub toys were sacrificed to bring us this costume.
While that was drying I dragged out the sewing machine and mulled over the the cowl. (What color is Lightyear's hair? Judging by his eyebrows I'll guess dark brown. My hsband is a ginger and not inclined to let me dye his brows. Oh well.) I'd bought some purple fleece and cut it in the general shape of a three-piece hood. While DJ sat on the couch trying to get his daily West Wing fix, I made him try it on, adjusting and sewing and velcroing and pinning and hemming as he attempted in vain to hear the words of his president, Jed Bartlett. I was eventually satisfied with it enough to leave him alone and go back to my painting. (Note: I can't sew. This minor detail has never stopped me from finishing a project.)
At some point during that first night of construction it because painfully clear that the costume, with its Omaha Steaks cooler-based jetpack, was going to be very underwhelming without wings. I fired up the computer and started google image searching to check their construction. I'd yoinked some fome core boards from work out of the scrap bin, and started eyeing them with a new respect. Flimsy, but possibly workable. I glued 2 lengths together back to back (for strength) and started cutting them in a general approximation of Buzz wings. By the end of the night I had a rough approximation of the jetpack and wings, but definitely not worthy of a Space Ranger yet. Zurg would just laugh his evil laugh at this point in the process.
I would have been worried about the costume's progress were it not for the star of that first evening of construction, the gloves. Oh the glorious gloves. Who knew that if you put paint on the existing stretchy parts of batting gloves they look just like Lightyear's hands? I suspect someone at Pixar knows this, because they looked almost perfect with very little effort on my part. I bet they were originally modeled after batting gloves. Or at least at 3am I was pretty sure of it.
Part II coming up in a jiff. I just have to take a break for some darjeeling.