Halloween 2013: Alien Invasion / Men In Black

My two qualifications for our Halloween themes are: not scary and instantly recognizable. My artistic limitations usually require themes that don’t rely on much facial details. This leaves specific characters or people only recognizable by their faces off the planning table.

At one of our family discussions, the idea we hadn’t done anything involving aliens came up. As long as we didn’t scare the little ones, the alien theme could work. We researched and found numerous sites involving people who had made UFO props. But nearly all of them were “crashed” into the ground. Only one that we found had made a full circular “flying saucer” that “hovered” above the ground. Challenge Accepted.

Making the Flying Saucer Prop

Wooden center spokes with pool noodles atop a metal A-Frame. Not so good.
Wooden center spokes with pool noodles atop a metal A-Frame. Not so good.

We fooled around with various constructs including wood and swimming pool “noodles” held together by wooden dowels. That quickly progressed into two, ½-inch PVC pipes. Three 10-foot sections were coupled together to form a large circle and secured to a single 10-foot ring by wood and brass fasteners. A small board was placed across the diameter of the smaller ring. Using a ¼” hole saw blade, I cut a hole through the center of the board, so it would lay with equal weight distribution when it was placed on top a 6-foot speaker stand.

With the top ring completely held up by the board and speaker stand, the larger ring kept its shape perfectly. And, it had the added benefit of being free-spinning, should I cared to hook a motor up to it. Maybe another year.

Next up, it was time to cover with a tarp. This was tricky. Using cheap $9 tarps left over from our Wizard of Oz Halloween experience, we certainly were able to re-use them to get our monies worth.

flying saucer construction
PVC “flying saucer” mounted on a speaker stand, getting covered in thin, cheap general-purpose tarps

Sound effects, fog, lighting and a few cheap aliens made from cardboard boxes, recycled grocery bags and a cheap Styrofoam mannequin heads counted on speaker stands completed the ensemble.

Finally, I had a weather-proof display!

Despite pouring rain, the event went well. The ship waterproofed the electronics and painted alien head and we still had nearly 100 visitors. Finally, I had a weather-proof display. The waterproof tarps kept the inside of the flying saucer dry and, by extension, all the electronics for the display. I would have preferred the saucer to be floating higher and the alien descending from a ramp, but black light logistics made me hang them within. As such, the lights and the neon glow paint on the alien’s head were also safe from the rain.

Thom as a member of the MIB
“You did not see a flying saucer or alien in my yard. You will have a happy and safe Halloween!”

Family Costumes

Alien themes are versatile. You can go with an Army/police unit and have a battle sequence. You can go crazy like in the Sigourney Weaver Alien films. I, however, opted for the simpler, white shirt, black tie, black sunglasses M. I. B. look. Complete with a spring-loaded book light “neuralizer,” I was on the scene, ready to let the trick-or-treaters forget all about the aliens they did not see.

The son was a SWAT cop and the wife donned CSI gear. They were tangential, but still appropriate for the scene.