As some of you may know, my son requested a Transformers piñata for his birthday. The following is an account of trying to meet that request…
Warning: It is lengthy and full of pictures!
So the first thing a parent might do, is hop on the internet and price one. After much searching, I could find a small one of Optimus Prime (the good guy) for just under $30. Ooookaaayyy, more than I’d like, but I probably would have paid it. I mean, what parent doesn’t want to give their kids such joy, right? The $27.97 to ship it, was the last straw, what are these guys smoking?
Have no fear, I’m sure there are plans on the internet to make one, right? WRONG. With a will to save money in one hand, and a dose of bravery, I set forth to create my own piñata from scratch. First I decided that the kids would have more fun beating up the bad guy (hereafter named Megatron). I did some research and printed out a picture of him and his face from one of the recent Transformers movies.
His body is very triangular, so I started making a box for his chest which would hold the candy. Using a pizza box as a straight-edge I marked and cut it out of a computer box, which was just large enough. (Tip: Tin snips, while not a precision instrument, go through cardboard with ease!) I used the front as a template for the back, adding tabs for gluing. Then, to fold the sides over, I scored the line with a pocket knife.
I married the two together with duct tape before gluing the sides with some trusty ol’ Tacky Glue. The glue had to set, so I decided to start on the head. I was a little baffled at first, until I remembered something I came across. A mom had made a transformers helmet for her kid and started with a band. The thought was a band would create a circle to which I could attach bad-guy-looking pointy pieces. (Luckily for me, duct tape fits in well with the whole metal robot motif.)
Once the head glue was setting, I refocused on the body again, now in the shape of a triangular cereal box on steroids. I decided the triangle shape would be advantageous for funneling candy to the bottom, so I left the bottom open with some weak filler cardboard meant to pop when struck well.
The next challenge was hanging. How is this thing going to hold pounds of candy, with its head, get whacked, and not fall. It’s a tough engineering feat to design a piñata to break and distribute candy without falling apart so much that it detaches from the rope or string. I decided to run two strips up as a neck, that the head could sit over. They would combine to make a yolk to be suspended from a fishing swivel to prevent twisting and subsequent tear. (This neck is where I would add the bulk of the candy later.)
Okay, that glue is setting up, back to the head. I decided he really needed to look sinister, so I gave him a signature jaw and jagged teeth. By the time I rolled and glued some legs, it was 11pm and time to crash for the night, whew!
Second build night, I had to rethink things. Many thoughts swam laps in my shallow mind:
“I should have started this LAST week!”
“I WANTED to do paper-mâché!”
“You couldn’t pay me $60 to do this!”
First, I filled the legs with little candy, and left a single layer of newspaper in the bottom, so they’d “pop” easily, spewing a small dose of candy to start with. This worked on the first one, but the second never popped. Next, I needed some gnarly-lookin’ feet, cut to size. Let’s fill and tape the chest, so we can paint this thing!
Luckily for me, it was still 59 degrees outside, so I had 9 degrees of warmth for drying the paint. A breeze kicked up as well, making application difficult, but re-application more frequent on touch-ups. Of course it would have REALLY been nice if I had done this in the daylight instead of after Tanner’s T-ball game in the dark
Next, I fashioned some claws out of pipe cleaners. Now I had to decide how to connect his legs and arms. I thought this would be an easy step, but found that his huge waddling feet kept his legs from being close together. I ended up running a strip of cardboard across the tops of the legs and attaching the body in the middle. It was also at this late stage in the process, that I discovered the miracle of a staple gun!
I found that it would stand on its own, but when suspended the heavy legs would sag, so they needed support. What better than arms? Ok, spray on more paint, add the claws, and it’s looking like Megatron.
Attach the yolk, test the real-time spinning action, and it’s time to decorate! I printed some logos from the Decepticons (bad guys) and placed in a prominent position. I used some red glitter-glue for his evil red eyes, then used some metallic paint for some miscellaneous markings on his chest. Behold, we have MEGATRON! Woah, 11pm again, that really is my limit
The Fall of Megatron:
Well, he was a big hit with the kids, though he proved a little too thick-skinned, and weak-jointed. It’s almost 11pm again, so I’ll just shut up and let you enjoy the pictures!