Oct 20, 2012

monster truck
halloween costume!

<<< psst! you can see a full list of my diy projects here! >>>

time : minutes...hours...days
difficulty  ★ ★ ★  ☆ 
would i do it again? : yes!

settle in and get comfy, folks!

i'm about to tell you 
...of how i made this monster truck costume for K.

K has never celebrated halloween before. we lived in a high-rise from before he was born until we bought this house earlier this year. there's no trick-or-treating in high-rises...at least the ones we lived in.

i didn't feel it was worth my time, effort, or money to dress him up and take him to a neighborhood that did trick-or-treat since:
   a. i wasn't sure he'd really understand it and
   b. i was positive he wouldn't remember any of it.

SO. this is K's first year trick-or-treating!

i asked him what he wanted to be for halloween.
he didn't really understand what i was getting at.

so, the decision was left up to me.

i went with the obvious: a *MONSTER TRUCK* of course!

there's a surprising lack of monster truck costumes for sale. FYI.
so i decided to make one!

you can too, if your little one is into monster trucks.
you should start today.
don't be scared by the supply list.

   > cardboard box
        - i bought the "small" moving box at {home depot} (16x12x12")
   > razor blade
   > 4x plastic bucket lids
   > 1/2" wooden dowel rod, cut into 2x pieces
   > handsaw
         - or ask the hardware store to cut the dowel rod to size for you
   > 4x 1/2" axel hat nuts
   > drill
         - no fancy work, just to make holes in the tires and truck body
   > rubber mallet or hammer
   > spraypaint:
         - black for tires
              - make sure you get the kind that adheres to plastic
         - metallic silver for axle
         - color for truck body
         - clear protective topcoat
   > coordinating duct tape
   > metallic silver duct tape
   > acrylic paint
         - black
         - white pearlescent
         - red
         - orange
         - yellow
   > detail paint brush
   > letter stickers
   > 2x red reflectors
         -i found them in the hardware store by the mailboxes
   > one sheet of white holographic scrapbook paper
   > circle punch
   > double-sided scotch tape
   > optional: iron-on laminate
   > one 12x18" sheet of black foam
   > child-sized suspenders

if you vary from this supply list, just remember to be conscious of the weight of your materials. K is only almost-three-years-old ((seems pointless to say he's two when his birthday is right around the corner)) and i didn't want him crumpling under the weight of his monster truck.


first things first! i spraypainted the box blue, the bucket lids black, and the dowel rod metallic silver. make sure you get the black spraypaint that bonds to plastic.

after the paint dried, i went to town on the box with a razor blade.

i used duct tape whenever i joined two pieces and also to strengthen any edges.

i then connected the hood to the truck body:

i was originally going to leave that top flap on the box as the truck roof...but i cut it off when i realized costume would not balance correctly with K standing in back of truck. i moved the roof piece to the trunk.

i used *fancy* silver duct tape to make the bumper. it also served to strengthen the bottom edges.

once i had the basic shape...it was time for the details!

for reference...an extremely well-loved book about monster trucks:

i translated the above picture into this:
i admit it's a loose translastion...

now it's time ((for fish)) to drill!
fish made 1/2" holes in the box to accomodate the 1/2" rods. remember to leave enough space between the front tires' rod and the back tires' rod for your child to stand!

i wanted the tires to spin freely on the dowel rods so fish drilled a little bit larger holes in the center of each bucket lid. 

next, i added flames on the hood, side panels, and back with red, orange, and yellow acrylic paint. you could also use flame or fire stickers if you're not comfortable painting.
once the paint was dry, i added "bigfoot" with letter stickers on the back panel. 
bigfoot was (is?) a famous monster truck --
i never heard of him before K got into these trucks.

at this point, i took the costume out into the garage to spray a clear protective topcoat over the whole thing. did you see those flames i painted?? works of art must be preserved!

i let it dry overnight...

then came the...circle lights? 
i punched ten circles of white holographic scrapbook paper. then, i used double-sided scotch tape to adhere two circles back-to-back to form one light. i repeated four times to make five lights total.

on the off-chance this costume lasts past the end of the year, i decided to laminate the circle lights before attaching them to the monster truck.

...aaand ended up doing the World's Worst Laminating Job.
seriously. LOL.

i reminded myself at this point:
"it's just a halloween costume, it's just a halloween costume..."

i made the frame for the circle lights out of a sheet of black foam.

i didn't think hot glue was holding the frame together well enough -- so i secured it with duct tape around all the edges. i used silver because that's what i had on hand, but i think it would look better had i used black duct tape.

i also stuck the red reflectors on the back as the "taillights" at this point -- but i forgot to take a picture.

progress so far:

next step: wheels!

now...breathe a big sigh of relief!

here's the costume in action!
K had a great time on his first trick-or-treating adventure!

the costume held up extremely well and we got many compliments.
...except for the one elderly woman who asked if he was an oven.

reader submission by aj:
look at how darling their version turned out!

* mari



  1. Thank you for posting this! My 3 year old wants to be a monster truck for Halloween this year and I wasn't sure how I was going to construct the truck. It turned out too cute!! Thanks again!

    1. hi anonymous -- thank you so much for letting me know. you've made my week! :D

  2. Ditto for me too! I just painted my box today and I'm hoping it turns out half as amazing as yours!

    1. this is seriously probably the happiest i've been all week! i'm so excited that other little guys are getting use out of this monster truck costume -- thank you so much for dropping by and letting me know!! :)

  3. I asked my nephew what he wanted to be for Halloween and he said "monster truck". Thanks for this, he's already so excited, I have to hide this for the next two weeks or he'll want to wear it all the time.

    1. anonymous, thank you so much for taking the time to tell me and good luck with your costume! i'd love to see it when it's done!

    2. I wish I would have hid the costume from my son, he is wanting to play with it everyday! It will be fun to see how long it lasts after Halloween.
      I haven't found a way to post a pic on here from the comments so we can show you how it turned out. If you know how to, let me know!
      --From 1st Anonymous :)

    3. hi anonymous #1! please email the pictures to me at crabandfishblog@gmail.com -- i will include them in my blog post as a reader submission. let me know if you have a blog link you'd like me to mention as well -- i can't wait to see the costume!!

  4. Thank you thank you! I'm am almost done and am so happy with it. My husband is in charge of putting the wheels on and i'm letting my son paint whatever he wants on the back. I hope to e-mail you a picture soon!

  5. Hey,

    Thanks for this how-to! We followed the instructions step-by-step and came up with a Monster Truck Jeep -which is what our 3-year old wanted. It turned out great! http://directr.co/m/58ta79

    1. aj, i LOVE your version! and i'm so happy your son was thrilled with it! i'm including a screenshot of your video in our post. :) thanks for the video, your children are absolutely adorable.

  6. Thanks so much for this blog post! My son is 4 and wants to be a monster truck for halloween. Would you suggest a larger box for a 4 year old? He's tall, but skinny. Thanks!

    1. Hi Sara, hope I'm reaching you in time! So sorry for the delay.

      This size box may work perfectly still. My son wore this costume as a 3yo and again the next year as a 4yo. (He wants to be a robot this year, ha!) You don't want to get too big of a box so it doesn't get too bulky or heavy. Let me know if you have any more questions! I'd love to see a pic when you're finished -- you can email it to me at crabandfishblog@gmail.com. :)

  7. Thank you for directions I was looking for a "Blaze"costume. I have one question. How long are the wooden dowels? Thank you.

    1. Hi Maria! it depends on how wide your box is. Ours was 12" wide, so I believe we cut a little bit longer (to allow the tires to be attached), maybe 14-15" long. Hope that helps! :)

  8. My son wants to be Blaze also. I better get to work. Thanks for the instructions!

    1. Belated you're welcome -- hope it was a hit! :)

  9. We made a great monster truck! We made the wheels out of cardboard but we added shocks to ours
    Thank you so much, our little boy was so happy!

  10. How did you do the shoulder straps?

    1. I'm so sorry for the late reply - they are just suspenders clipped onto the box! :)

  11. Hi! Thank you for this post! I made it for my son for Halloween and it turned out great! I'm trying to figure out how to post a picture but I can't figure it out. Any suggestions?

    1. Hi Sarah! Did you email me? If so, I LOVED it - it turned out so cute! Sorry I haven't replied yet, 'y inbox is a mess. I think if you upload to photobucket or imgur, you might be able to post the link or actual image in a comment! :)


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