Making a Zaphod Beeblebrox Costume for Halloween

My British husband Rob wanted to be Zaphod Beeblebrox for Halloween.  Zaphod is a character from Douglas Adams’ Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series who has two heads and three arms.  There is a great biography of him available at Wikipedia.

The version Rob planned to make was the BBC TV series version, whose two heads were always visible.  I agreed – the 2005 movie version of Zaphod kept his second head hidden most of the time.  BORING.

I thought I’d tell you all about it, since it has been fun creating this character – and because I found no directions anywhere on the web for creating this version of Zaphod.  Let these be the first, then, to enlighten others!

Here is a photo of the original Zaphod Beeblebrox, played by Mark Wing-Davey:

Mark Wing-Davey as Zaphod Beeblebrox (courtesy of Wikipedia)

A fun-looking guy, eh?  😉

Here’s what to do:

STEP 1: Collect Body Parts and Clothing

Rob scoured the local thrift store for two matching turtlenecks (these are Underarmour-type,  nice and stretchy).  We bought a Styrofoam head at a craft store, and found an extra hand (plastic) in the Halloween section of Target.

Zaphod Costume Step 1: Assemble extra body parts

Rob primed and painted the head to be closer to his own flesh color (since he is not Styrofoam-white).  It is still a little pale, but more life-like.

In later photos, you’ll see that we outlined the eyes with brown eyeliner, added eyebrows and eyelashes, and put just a tinge of pink on the lips, to add some more realism.

STEP 2: Prepare the shirts

Per Rob’s instructions, I cut the seam open at the LEFT shoulder of one of the t-necks, from neck to sleeve.  I cut right along the seam, but left the original stitching intact.    This is the hole through which Rob’s real head will fit.

Then, I cut both sleeves off the second turtleneck.  Rob will wear this shirt underneath the other.  I took one of the sleeves and sewed it to the RIGHT side of the first turtleneck, underneath the armpit.  I didn’t worry terribly about neatness (I did it by hand) because the sewn portion will be hidden.

Zaphod's Three-Sleeved Shirt

Zaphod Costume Step 2: Sew third sleeve onto matching color turtleneck

Third sleeve closeup

Zaphod Costume Step 2: Sew third sleeve onto matching color turtleneck (closeup)

STEP 3: Position the Second Head

Rob had attached the head to piece of thick fabric with screws, of all things (from underneath).  The fabric he used was an old cloth napkin, folded in half.  A thick piece of canvas would work well too, I think.

He put on the sleeveless turtleneck, and stuffed the head through the neckhole of the three-armed turtleneck.  Then he held the head on his right shoulder in the position he wanted, holding the rest of the shirt out of the way, and I carefully safety-pinned the head to the sleeveless shirt.  (By the time we got to this step, we’d lost power in a freak snowstorm, so no sewing machine was available.)

Finding the optimal placement for Zaphod's second head

Zaphod Costume Step 3: Put second head through 3-sleeved turtleneck, and position head. Use safety pins to secure to sleeveless t-neck underneath.

Rob then tested the position.

Test position of head for optimum Pan-Galactic Gargle Blaster imbibing

STEP 4: Stuff the third arm

I had a stroke of brilliance for this one.  I rolled three hand towels together lengthwise and shoved them into the other, cut-off sleeve.  That held the towels together and gave the third arm some substance.

Next, we actually STAPLED the plastic hand to the towels inside the sleeve (at the cuff area).  4 staples each in four spots on the wrist.  It seems to be holding very well.  When Rob pulled the inner yellow sleeve down over the wrist, you couldn’t see the staples at all.

After that, we shoved the resulting big, yellow sausage arm-hand into the sleeve I’d sewn onto the turtleneck.  It filled it nicely, and I carefully safety-pinned the wrist of that arm to the chest area of the shirt, so the arm doesn’t just flop.

Rob put on the three-armed shirt (with my help), putting his own head through the shoulder slit I’d cut, and his real arms into the real sleeves.

STEP 5: Add finishing touches – wig, shades, and drinks!

Rob had found two matching “rock star” wigs and had two pairs of shades that matched well enough.  We put those in place.  (The original Zaphod’s second head wears an eyepatch, but Rob decided shades would hide a little more of the fake look.  I like how it came out.)

The drinks are called “Pan-Galactic Gargle Blasters“.  In the books, the PGGB is an extremely-potent beverage that Zaphod himself invented.

Zaphod Costume Step 5: Add wigs, shades, and Pan-Galactic Gargle Blasters

Looking good there, Zaphod!

Step 6: Add a hideous outer jacket.

Zaphod is many things and has done lots of stuff, but among his many achievements is the fact he’s been voted the “worst dressed sentient life form in the known universe” – seven times.  Check out the thrift store jacket Rob found, which he will be wearing with burgundy-colored trousers.  It is an orange camo hunter’s jacket.  I feel queasy just looking at him!

Zaphod Costume Step 5: Add horrible jacket and become ... Zaphod Beeblebrox, who was 'voted "Worst Dressed Sentient Being in the Known Universe" seven times'.

So!  There you have it – a BBC-style Zaphod Beeblebrox costume.   Because of that aforementioned snowstorm, Trick or Treat was postponed to Sunday, Nov 6, in our town.  Can’t wait to see what reactions Rob gets, and if anyone actually knows who he is.  😉



8 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by rzzmg on November 1, 2011 at 3:06 pm

    BRILLIANT! That is a fabulous job done! I lurf lurf lurf the idea, too! 🙂


  2. …ugh, we have so much deer-hunting camo shit lying around these days… I suspect another hunting trip is imminent. Srsly, Dad stormed Fleet Farm before work (in full uniform!) because he just HAD to buy some blaze orange backpacks that were finally on sale… I was riding shottie. Fine, so he also did something with some tractor tires, but he was CLEARLY there for the friggin’ bags.

    Interesting, nerdtastic costume idea… but I forsee getting a faceful of styrofoaman awful lot.


  3. Hmm, but I bet if you position the fake head just so, or consciously turning your body instead of your head, he can do it without making out with his styrofoam twin when he looks that direction to talk or track kids. Maybe a bit of Velcro to make sure the neck stays flush?

    But yes, the only thing it lacks is sequins 😉


  4. I think the original Zaphod did the “whole body turn” most of the time. Heh.

    Oooo, sequins!


  5. Posted by moochmuldoon on October 18, 2016 at 12:32 pm

    I knew someone would have done this somewhere! Thanks for the ideas, I shall raise a PGGB (and feel the effect of being hit on the head with a gold brick wrapped in velvet) to you on 27 Dec when the outfit will be worn.


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