The main challenge here is that the wetsuit has a zip running up the back. I wanted to create a disc holder that could be attached to the back of the costume once it’s zipped up, and removed before unzipping.
But first, I needed a mechanism to hold the Tron disc on the disc holder. This tutorial suggests using magnets inside the disc and inside the disc holder. I bought some strong 5mm Neodymium disc magnets from eBay for quite cheap. So, open the disc again, and stick down two or three magnets onto the inside of the back of your Tron disc, directly behind the four ‘notches’ that you can see on the back of the disc. Then tape them down with some duct tape. I orginally used two magnets in each corner but it wasn’t strong enough. Seal up your Tron disc and pop some magnets onto the outside back of the disc just to test they’re attracting.
Next, make the disc holder out of the packaging that came with the disc. Stick some more magnets down in the corresponding areas and tape them up. This piece of packaging actually makes a great place to store the battery pack and inverter which will power the EL lighting in the costume. So trim the edges of the disc holder before sticking some cardboard on the back of that holder, then tape the battery pack and inverter into the hole in the middle. Spraypaint the whole thing matt black.
To attach the disc holder to the suit, turn it over and superglue two velcro strips onto it. Then superglue the reverse velcro strips onto the back of the wetsuit. The disc holder should now sit on the back of the costume, with your Tron disc held safely in place.
I bought the Tron Legacy Deluxe Identity Disc for around £20 from eBay. It’s not really as exciting as the Tron disc in Tron Legacy; out of the box, the on switch starts a pretty unimpressive sequence of LEDs lighting up sections of the disc. (There’s another button to activate a sound that’s supposed to be somehow related to the film but to me sounds pretty naf so ignore it.)
I wanted a Tron disc with lights that remained on.
I followed this tutorial which showed how to open up the disc and modify it so that the lights stay continuously on. You need a small Phillips screwdriver, a soldering iron, some solder and some thin electrical wire. Unscrew the six screws on the back of your Tron disc and gently lift off the back plate. You should now see the chip which controls the sequence.
Here’s the science bit: connect pins R3, R4, R5, R8, R9 and R10 to the battery in series. That’s it.
Right. Here’s what you’ll need for your very own Tron costume:
- black gloves
- black boots
- Tron Legacy Deluxe identity disc
- 2m2 black sheet foam
- matt black spraypaint
- electronics: 2x 40cm light blue EL tape, 2x 12cm light blue “L-shaped” EL tape, 4x EL hoops, 3x 3m light blue EL wire, splitters, inverter, battery pack. Get it all in a bundle from EL Wire Craft
- 8x AA batteries, 1x 9V battery, 1x 9V battery clip
- 25g superglue (I used 8x 3ml Loctite Superglue Ultra Gel)
- 40x 5mm diameter Neodymium earth magnets
- black duct tape, white adhesive reflective tape, soldering iron, solder, screwdrivers, wire strippers, electronic wire, scissors, box cutters, tape measure, pliers, marker pens, 1m velcro strip, Blu-Tack, candle
- 1l Famous Grouse
It starts with research. I spent hours reading about others’ attempts to make Sam Flynn’s Tron costume, mostly on Instructables, Cosplay forums and YouTube. Just to be clear, the 1982 Tron film had very different clothing to the 2010 remake/sequel. I wanted to make a Tron Legacy costume. I was so impressed with the time, effort and amount of money people spent on trying to make their costumes. Some wanted something to wear to a fancy dress party, others were attending a Cosplay forum where very high standards of custom clothing are always expected, and then there were just people who fancied the challenge of making the costume, with no particular event in mind to showcase their craft but just the prospect of owning a Tron costume motivating their hard work.
I’d like to credit them all but there were simply too many. Off the top of my head, the following people are responsible for giving me the most inspiration for my Tron Legacy costume:
Battle Angel Productions
But I salute you all, fellow Tron costume creators.
Onto the costume itself. A lot of attempts seemed to use a boiler suit or leather biker clothing. In my opinion those costumes looked too baggy. If you look at the costume that Sam Flynn wears, it’s pretty tight fitting, obviously custom made. I saw a behind-the-scenes clip once of Garrett Hedlund putting on the costume (actually someone else had to put it on him) and that cemented in my mind that it needed to be a tight fit. So I thought of using a wetsuit as the base. For the lights, I’ve seen some pretty amateur efforts using glow-sticks – the kind that you see at raves, but they’re quite inflexible. The obvious choice of technology is electro-luminescent wire (or EL wire) and EL tape. This was the actual technology used in Tron Legacy, so why not? I’ll tell you why not – EL wire and especially EL tape are expensive. But it’s worth it. Next, I decided to use sheet foam for the panels that would be worn on top of the wetsuit and house the EL wire and EL tape. The foam would be attached to the wetsuit using a mixture of velcro, superglue and fastenable straps. Finally, the Tron identity disc. You can buy the toy from Disney online. Some modification would need to be made to get the lights to stay continuously on – then the real challenge would be how to mount the Tron disc onto the suit.