Lock, Shock, and Barrel Life-size Characters – DIY

Tutorial of lock shock barrel

Lock, Shock, and Barrel are now full sized and ready to join the Nightmare Before Christmas clan.

If you follow my posts, you’ll remember I made the Lock, Shock, and Barrel masks about two years ago. I’m pleased to announce their full life-size versions are complete and am here to start sharing how I did it.

Since tutorials tend to be long, each character tutorial from The Nightmare Before Christmas, will be split up for easy reading. The first tutorial will be on Lock – the devil costumed character.

The very first thing you need to make – before body, clothing, etc, – are the masks for any character. The masks take a few days to harden, and then before putting outside, you’ll need to spray them with clear rubber. But if you do not allow the masks to dry correctly, they’ll trap moisture in, and you’ll end up with mold and degrading pieces.

For Lock, his eyes are dark behind the mask when he wears it – so after you follow the directions for making the mask, you’ll add a small dark piece of cloth, hot glued behind his eyes.

What You’ll Need for Lock’s PVC Skeleton:

1/2″ PVC Pipe (Buying a 10 foot piece is most economical if you plan to build trio)
1/2″ PVC Couplers as follows:  6 – 90 degree angle ones, and 4 – cross- shaped ones.
A way of cutting that PVC  – such as a hand saw, PVC ratchet, electric saw, etc.
Clear Packing Tape
2 Pool Noodles
Foam Pieces (found in shipping boxes), or anything else lightweight that bulks his torso, shoulders.

Directions: You’ll follow the same basic building techniques as I’ve done for Sally. The size cuts of PVC for Lock will be: 2 – 5″ pieces for shoulder to Cross Coupler to shoulder, 2 – 9.5″ pieces for arms,  a 13.5″ piece that will connect head to pelvic Cross,  2- 3.5″ pieces for hip to Cross to hip, and 17.5″ for legs. His feet will be made of a Cross each, with a 2″ piece of PVC placed in front.The neck piece that goes into the Cross, will be approx. 4″ long.

PVC skeletons for tutorial

From Left to Right: The PVC Skeletons of Shock, Barrel, and Lock.


PVC measurements

Cut each piece of PVC, add couplers as shown in images. I prefer to use clear packing tape or duct tape to wrap around connections because they will keep pieces together for years, but give a little mobility if you want to move arms or legs in different positions. It’s nice to have the ability to change prop positions from year to year. Glue tends to make a solid grip – making that tough for any possible movement.

After PVC Skeleton is put together, add noodles or blocks of foam to bulk up chest/torso area, as in image. Duct tape the foam into place. Since Lock is leaner than Barrel, add foam to legs, but not shoulder to shoulder (as I did with Barrel). Add a Styrofoam head to top of neck piece.

How to bulk up a pvc skeleton

Bulking up a PVC Skeleton example. Shock is the taller one on left, next to Barrel.

What You’ll Need for Lock’s Clothing:

A  size Large Men’s Red, Long-sleeved Shirt
A Hot Glue Gun/Sticks
Measuring Tape or Ruler

Place the red shirt over the PVC skeleton that has been bulked with foam. Cut the sleeves a few inches past where the arm PVC stops. Save the rest of the sleeves left over, for the legs. You will probably need to cut the bottom of the red shirt to hang just about knee length. I’m not giving measurements here, since you have the basic skeleton ones and the shirt cuts depend on the type/brand of large red shirt. A large shirt in one brand, may not be the same fit for another.

After you’ve cut the shirt to fit, pull any excess shirt towards the back and hot glue.

What You’ll Need for his Head/Hair:

A wig stocking cap or make your own(see below for info)
A Skein of Red Yard
4-6 Red Pipe Cleaners
Hot Glue Gun/Sticks or a craft needle (Choice is explained later)
A Styrofoam head

If you don’t have a stocking wig cap already, you can make one with directions I posted on Making Sally. The only difference I did for Lock, was I hot glued his groupings of hair on the cap that was on the Styrofoam head. It actually worked out better than I thought it would. I also added the pipe cleaners to the front of his finished wig to make it curl in front like his character.

What You’ll Need for his Shoes:

2 – 8 inch paper plates
Brown Duct Tape

Take an 8 inch paper plate and fold it in half. Then cut out the pattern (as shown in the image below). Placed the cut out still folded,over the cross coupler attached to the bottom of  the PVC leg. Take a piece of tape to secure the paper plate cut out to the leg. Then wrap brown duct tape around plate, and the back of cross, forming the pointed shoe. Make sure not to cover the bottom cross hole, which will be needed to stake your prop into the ground.

Teaching how to make a shoe

A diagram of how to transform a paper plate into a shoe.

His Hands:

4 Pipe Cleaners or Cut Up a Hanger
White Duct Tape

I used the same technique making hands as I did in The Ring Girl, Sally, Jack Skellington, and others. Since Lock and his gang are children, the hands need to be smaller. I only used 4 instead of 5 fingers because Burton often did the same.

Fold pipe cleaners in half, and place together, similar to a hand. ( with thumb lower, pinky a bit higher, and middle fingers highest). Wrap the pipe cleaners with tape until you form a wrist, palm and fingers. For anyone that needs an extra visual of this, I suggest going to Playing With Scissors. It has a more complex hand build that adds foil/filler, but works on the same concept of using hanger or pipe cleaner as a base.

I hope you were able to follow the directions with ease. If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to contact me. Also, if you decide to make your own character, please share a picture. I’d love to post your version. Thanks!

5 thoughts on “Lock, Shock, and Barrel Life-size Characters – DIY

    • Lock, Shock, and Barrel Life-size Characters – DIY is the title. The darker right square in upper right corner has my search engine option(but hard to see in devices other than computer, because my template won’t allow me to darken) Tap on that dark square, and put in keywords, and you should find. Please share your pics of your creations, and don’t hesitate to ask questions along the way. Take care!

  1. Pingback: Welcome, Dr. Finklestein! | Frugal Frights and Delights

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