Cardboard Samurai

Watakushi no ninja! 
        ~ Frank Chickens

This year young master Fossling wants to be samurai - so after looking through my Turnbull and Osprey books with him, hoping he really wants some cool Ashikaga style box armor, he spies a plate with Date Masamune and Ii Noamasa. "Papa, I want this style armor with the crescent, but in red like this one..."

Well, I can't blame him.  So to the sketchbook and the Internets I go, researching later period Do style armor and Kabuto. I hit a trove on ebay of all places that had antique armor for sale, showing in depth lacing, and individual pieces.  Now we had a plan. With a quick jaunt down to the local halloween party store for a few supplies the project commenced.

 Cardboard Powers Activate!

Glue and lots of duct tape hold the Do body armor together
Sode made of layered cardboard.

Kusazuri tassets. I cheat the layering of plates by drawing lines.

Field tests for movement, durability and fashion-sense
A Samurai must be able to ride!
Kabuto made of plastic helmet, cardboard, foam and duct tape

Don't be afraid of using duct tape. And then even more.
The first thing you need to know about cardboard art, is there is no exact measuring. The whole approach is kinda fast and loose, or it takes all the fun out of it. If I were to spend more time on this... well it wouldn't be cardboard art, and it may not be as much fun to do. There are plenty of crooked lines, and the paint is table top quality at best, but really what I strive for is something that can be completed in a day, is 6-year-old sturdy, and will last a good while.  The same can be said about the painting. Most of the lacework is fast x's, many done by my son. There is not one rivet on this suit that is actually round...and it doesn't matter. You wouldn't believe the freedom in that!

  • Two cardboard boxes - one thicker than the other (free from recycle pile)
  • Toy rescue/fire-fighter's helmet with visor removed. ($3 at the local party store) 
  • Roll of blue duct tape ($4)
  • 1 sheet of that cool dense bendy foam ($1)
  • Wood glue (had it)
  • Red and Black spray paint, gold, blue, and black acrylic paint (had these)
  • Box cutting knife and straight edges (I used a piece of 1x3 because it was longer) 
  • 3 feet of  fake silk cord (found in my wife's gift wrap box)
  • real Japanese sash (...wife's  again from travels in Japan)
  • fake katana ($3) 
..absolute joy in such a rocking Halloween costume (Priceless)
Samurai confronts an Oni... no - it's just the cat-bus-wearing-little sister
Kanji is supposed to read "Kaiju no kariudo", or big monster hunter

I love the robot on his shirt peaking out!
The entire project took about 4 hours (at least 30 minutes of that was trying on pieces or "field testing") and cost under $15.  Young master Fossling likes it, so I think we are good to go! Let's hope that by next year he does not find my Maximilian armory collection books!

Now, for the Wee Fossling, who has decided to go as a purple minion from Despicable Me 2. The Mrs. is in charge of that costume - phew.

Happy Halloween everyone!!


  1. What an amazing costume! I'll bet it made the Master Fossling's day.

  2. That is terrific, for 4 hours work! Great stuff.

  3. Absolutely fantastic costume. Truly a great costume and memory for the child.

  4. Thanks Gents.
    Simon, in 4 hours you build and paint a cohort- I've got nothing on you, man :)

  5. Superbly done! I used to make Greek hoplite armor out of cardboard when was a kid - not nearly as nice as this samurai outfit though. Best, Dean

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