Photo by Mort Productions
Hello hello! See? I told you you wouldn’t have any problems!
Did…uh… did Foxy ever appear in the hallway? Probably not. I was just curious. Like I said, he was always my favorite. They tried to remake Foxy, you know? Uh, they thought the first one was too scary, so they redesigned him to be more kid-friendly and put him in Kid’s Cove. To keep the toddlers entertained, you know. But kids these days just can’t keep their hands to themselves. The staff literally had to put Foxy back together at the end of every shift. So eventually they just stopped trying and left him as some kind of “take apart, put back together” attraction. Now he’s just a mess of parts. I think the employees refer to him as just “The Mangle.”
So, Mangle! I found myself kind of fascinated with the Five Nights at Freddy’s games. If you’re not familiar, they’re a series of indie survival horror games created by Scott Cawthon featuring the animatronic characters of a fictional – but rather Showbiz Pizza / Chuck E. Cheese’s-esque – kid’s pizzeria. Turns out, they have a habit of getting up and walking around at night, and occasionally trying to murder the night guard (that’d be you.)
Mangle is a character from the second game in the series, and the clip above is pretty much the perfect description of exactly what Mangle IS. The character is known sometimes as Toy Foxy or Funtime Foxy, a re-imagining of the pirate character “Foxy” from the previous game (except FNaF2 is a prequel. Don’t ask, it’s complicated) who turned out to be just a little too scary for kids. But as the kids won’t keep their hands off, the poor mess of animatronic parts is known these days as, simply, “Mangle”. It roams the pizzeria at night, usually climbing on the walls or ceiling like some bizarre mechanical spider, all the while making a creepy, garbled static noise (by which you can track its presence).
It can and will attack the guard – with an upside-down jumpscare from the ceiling, naturally.
I’ve been wanting to make a “puppet costume” for a while, but couldn’t decide what character to do. Mangle was perfect! As you can tell from the photos, when I’m dressed in black on a black background, it’s almost impossible to see how this costume is worn – but it is indeed a full body costume!
I’m afraid this isn’t going to be a comprehensive build page. I was winging it through 95% of this costume and just trying things out until I found something that worked!
Can you see how I’m wearing it in that photo?
Okay, okay, this should be easier:
Each of the two heads is a puppet, controlled by my hands. The main head is by far the most complicated piece, comprised of an outer shell over an interior head that looks like the second, bare endoskeleton head. You can see the secondary set of teeth inside.
Sidenote: Why do both the endoskeletons and the outer facades have teeth? The answer to that, like so many things in the FNaF series, is… is… *big shrug* EhhhIdunno. Ask Scott. He’ll probably say, “Because they do.” It’s just his style. No, seriously:
OK. People have been asking me about Mangle’s gender for almost a year now, and I think it’s time that I finally answer the burning question about whether Mangle is a boy or a girl, so that this community can finally put the matter behind them. The answer is- Yes.
But back to the costume! The endoskeleton is a series of parts connected by wire so each section can pivot independently, and there are a few straps that connect it to the black outfit I’m wearing. The torso/ribcage looking bit – yep, with the hand on top – is the mask I’m wearing to hide my own face. It has a blackout mesh (this stuff) over it so you can’t see me inside, and I’m wearing a black balaclava to complete the look.
Here are some photos of the build process. One of the things I decided early on with this costume was to use as simple and inexpensive materials as I could get away with. The most expensive thing is the FreeForm Air epoxy putty – most everything else is just cardboard, pipes, wires and glue!
I started by making the puppet mouths my hands would fit into, the basis for the two endoskeleton heads. This is all just cardboard and hot glue.
Each head got a set of teeth, made of cast resin. The eyes are each a half of a clear acrylic Christmas ornament, like you can get from a craft store. They are painted from the back. The white stuff is epoxy putty (FreeForm Air, as you guys know I love to use), which is both strong and quite lightweight. Keeping the weight down was extremely important, especially on the main head!
You can also see the beginnings of Mangle’s eyelids in that second photo. They then covered in FreeForm as seen in later photos, like this one:
I had to wait until the main head’s endoskeleton skull (endoskull?) was mostly done before I could even start building the face shell, to make sure I got the fit and sizing correct. Again, the basis of the whole thing was simply cardboard.
Once I was satisfied with the cardboard base, I covered the whole thing in FreeForm Air, sculpting it to match Mangle’s features as closely as I could determine (with a little artistic license thrown in). By itself, FreeForm isn’t very smooth, so the next step was sanding. A LOT of sanding.
While I’m only really showing the construction of the head, all of the other pieces were made roughly the same way – the feet, hands, and torso-mask-thing were roughed out in cardboard, covered in FreeForm, and then sanded until plastic-smooth.
The endoskeleton pieces were a little different, and I struggled most with figuring out how I wanted to build this part. In game, the figure has completely spherical ball joints, and I tried a number of ideas to imitate this look, but was having a lot of trouble! In the end, I decided to make a series of parts from lengths of pipe and connect them with flexible wires.
(Y’know how geeks tend to have that box filled with dozens of old cables and wires from years of hoarding? Yeah. I have less of them now!)
The actual endoskeleton “bones” are simple PVC pipe, some of which I wanted to imitate the look of the mechanical “cage” you see on some of Mangle’s parts. This turned out to be very simple, if time consuming: I cut 2-liter bottles into strips, attached them together with superglue, and then used a little hot glue to make the final pieces look like they were rather roughly welded together. When painted silver and detailed, these simple materials really do look like metal.
Once everything was painted (a combination of spray paint and acrylics), I added a number of fun little details, like Mangle’s eyelashes and a bunch of loose wires poking out or dangling down from the joints.
Aside from the mouths on both heads opening, the main head also has a puppeteered blinking motion, and the ears can wiggle. The second head’s eye can move side-to-side, though that one is kind of subtle. I’ll talk more about the puppeteering and hopefully even have a video for you in a later blog.
The other feature – which unfortunately needs to be completely re-worked, is that Mangle DOES have sound. The initial sound system I set up used a chip from a programmable birthday card… it was unfortunately quiet in a crowded room, and stopped working soon after I installed it. 🙁
However, I’ve been wanting to play around with microprocessors for a while, so sometime soon I’m going to pick up an Arduino Uno and see if I can make this crazy critter sound as fun as it looks again!
To round things off, here’s a couple more amazing photos by my friend, Sam Mort of Mort Productions. It amazes me he said there was no Photoshop to these images, this was how they looked right out of the camera. I was wearing it at the time, but you can’t see me at all! I LOVE IT.
Edit 9/16/2016 – Check out my rendition of a Mangle Jumpscare!