What would you do if your 12 year-old son announced that he’d like to dress up as the armor-clad Emile character from the game Halo: Reach for Hallowe’en? While many parents might just take a cursory look for a cheap, ready-made costume, that’s not what Steve Sobchyshyn did. Instead, he spent an estimated 150 hours and a couple of hundred bucks building his own from scratch. The end result, we’re sure you’ll agree, was well worth it.

Sobchyshyn works as a video editor in Edmonton, Canada, and has no formal training in design or the fine arts. He is, however, a skilled tinkerer, and has previously created some very impressive costumes for himself – these have included characters such as Wolverine, Captain Jack Sparrow, and the Vampire Lestat.

For the Emile costume, his son Brandon told him about a Japanese computer program known as Pepakura Designer. “Video games and CAD drawings are all 3D models based on polygons, and those are always flat,” Steve explained to us. “What the program does is it takes those flat polygons and unwraps them, so you can print them out on your computer. It puts little glue tabs and fold markers on the paper ... It’s like a giant arts and crafts project.”

Sobchyshyn downloaded an image of Emile from 405th.com, a website set up specifically for hobbyists who create such costumes. In the case of some characters, already-unwrapped models are available on the site, and can be downloaded for immediate printing. Emile, however, had to be unwrapped on Steve’s computer, using Pepakura.

After printing out the plethora of actual-size polygons on heavy card stock paper, Steve then had to cut them all out and glue them together. For tear- and water-resistance, he subsequently added an exterior coat of automotive fiberglass resin.

This left the armor tough, but still too floppy. In order to add some structural integrity, the inside of the paper/resin shell was then coated with a liquid plastic compound that dried hard. Finally, an exterior paint job was added.

Brandon wore the completed costume while trick-or-treating last night (despite Edmonton’s unseasonably cold Hallowe’en this year), and it received rave reviews. For Steve, however, it wasn't the promise of praise that motivated him to build it.

"How many times in our adult lives have we had to tell our kids we are too busy to do something for them? I'm too busy with work. I can't." he said. "This time, I decided that whatever it took to do this, I was going to be too busy with my son to worry about all of the other stuff."