When you’re in need of an awesome Halloween costume idea, who ya gonna call? GHOSTBUSTERS! (now on Blu-ray, DVD and digital). Super inspired by these awesome Ghostbusters costumes (#squadgoals), I decided to make my own proton pack. I mean, when one of my favorite childhood movies is rebooted with several of my favorite actresses, what else am I to do? Dress up as a Ghostbuster for Halloween, of course! Don’t worry, I’ve got you covered, too – here’s my secret to creating a DIY proton pack so you can take Halloween by storm this year.
About a month ago I entered my local Goodwill® armed with a photo of a proton pack and absolutely no plan. Somewhat skeptical that I would find everything I needed in this one place, I wandered around the store for a minute unsure of how to begin. But once I made it to the electronics aisle, things almost instantly fell together! I raided the bins of random chords and gizmos and found a bunch of great pieces. My tactic was to study the picture I had and look for items of the same shape and size as the different pieces of the proton pack.
The accessory section rewarded me with elastic headbands to masquerade as more wires then I bee-lined to the bag section to grab a backpack. After another quick lap around the store for some finishing touches, I found myself at the register with a very awkward assortment of doodads including a cellphone case, a “windshield wonder” (I’m guessing it’s an ice scraper?), a snake light, a pie plate, and a bunch of miscellaneous wires.
At home, I collected a few other bits and bobs, then got down to business. Below is my full list of necessities for you to use as guidelines. Add or subtract other pieces that have a similar size or shape that you think will work well if you can’t find everything here. Don’t worry about matching color – we can fix that with some spray paint if necessary!
– Backpack (Black is best, but the back-to-school shopping rush left me with only green at the time I was browsing)
– Sturdy cardboard or something flat, light, and stable to attach everything to (I actually used a calendar!)
– Hot glue gun and glue
– Snake light
– Windshield wonder (whatever that is!)
– Pie plate
– Metallic silver washi tape
– Elastic headbands
– A phone case
– Random wires
– Washers in various sizes (which I spray painted black)
– A plastic suction cup shower hook
– Black matte spray paint
– Red and blue paint (I used acrylic craft paint)
– A strip of cereal box weight cardboard for the band over the pie plate (I painted it black)
– White paint pen
– Drop cloth
– Twisty ties
– A drill with a drill bit suitable for metal
– An awl or ice pick
Step 1: Remove price stickers, packaging, and unnecessary pieces. I removed the flat portion of the windshield wonder, the suction cup on the shower hook, and the front and flap of the backpack leaving enough fabric to still fold over and completely cover the cardboard I placed inside.
Step 2: Place your cardboard inside the backpack and fold the fabric over. Place items on top where you want them to go and make a plan for how they’ll be adhered. For light things (like the phone case, washers, and wires), I decided I would just hot glue them. For heavier things I planned to use a combination of twisty ties and hot glue. The twisty ties will need to go all the way through the cardboard and back pack, so make sure there’s room for one hole through the backpack on each side of the item.
For example – My pie plate has three holes in it – When lying open-side down, there’s one hole at the very top of the rim, and one on each side. The backpack has two corresponding holes going through every layer of the backpack/cardboard near each of those pie plate holes (six holes in the backpack) so a twisty tie can loop it all together and twist shut on the hidden side of the backpack that is resting against my back.
Step 3: The proton pack is mostly black with some red, blue, and yellow accents, so I had to paint a lot of things to match. I laid my drop cloth outside and placed everything that needed to be black on top of it. Following the directions on my spray paint, I coated everything with at least two coats (the back pack took a few more for even coverage).
Step 4: The arm of my windshield wonder needed a metallic tip, so while I was waiting for one of my spray paint coats to dry I used the metallic washi tape to cover the end of the arm.
Step 5: After everything that is painted has sufficiently dried, it’s time to start assembling! Heat up that hot glue gun and get ready to roll! First, I placed my cardboard inside the backpack and glued it down. Then I layered the fabric over as I had planned, and glued all of that in place, too. Unplug the glue gun for now (we’ll come back to it).
Step 6: Place everything down on top of the backpack as you had planned and mark all of the places that need holes or slits to be cut. I used my white paint pen to make really tiny dots and dashes everywhere that needed to be cut. For me that was six holes to affix the pie plate, two holes to affix the snake light, and one slit to slip the shower hook into. I also had to put three holes into the pie plate itself with a drill, so mark those holes at the same time to make sure they match up with the ones you’ve placed on the backpack.
Step 7: Remove all of the items again from the backpack and use your awl to poke holes through all of the layers of the backpack/cardboard in the designated places. For the shower hook slit I used the awl to make a series of holes then wiggled some scissors in there and cut it to the right size. Drill the marked holes into your pie plate.
Step 8: Guide your shower hook through the slit you’ve cut for it.
Step 9: Thread twisty ties through each of the backpack holes that will be on the inside of the pie plate and bend it in the back of the backpack so it doesn’t slip through while you’re aligning the other holes in the front. Settle the pie plate into place and send the twisty ties through the pie plate then through the other backpack holes and twist them loosely in the back so the pie plate still wiggles around a little, but is attached (we’ll also be hot gluing it down so we need to leave space to get the glue gun in).
Step 10: Using the same method as before, use twisty ties to attach the snake light. Since mine was so broad, I actually needed to attach two twisty ties together to wrap around it and give me enough room in the back to twist it shut. You could also use a really long twisty tie, but I liked the red accents these gave me.
Step 11: When all of the twisty tied pieces are in place, it’s time to heat up the glue gun again! Slip the glue gun under the snake light and pie plate and glue them down in sections, pressing it firmly as you go. When you have finished gluing these pieces down you can tighten the twisty ties as much as possible in the back to really secure them.
Step 12: Start adding the rest of the items carefully and gluing as you go. Before I glued down the washers on the pie plate, I dabbed some red paint underneath their centers so it would show through creating the red circular accents. I also put down squares of metallic tape under other washers for that reflective look. I glued the arm piece of the windshield wonder inside the bendy arm of the snake light then nestled it into its shower hook home.
Step 13: The finishing touches were the wires (some real and some hair elastics) that I glued down somewhat randomly. I also added two little “plaques” with text. The blue one is a little piece of painted cardboard that I glued down. For the red one I actually created a square with washi tape and painted the inside red. When it had completely dried, I peeled off the washi tape. The text on both (and the border around the blue sticker) are just paint pen scribbles.
And with that you’ve got your proton pack and you’re (hopefully) ready to catch some ghosts! Halloween can be a scary time, so you don’t want to be caught unprepared. Tracking down costume elements at Goodwill is a really fun way to create something truly unique and it also enables Goodwill to help save public dollars by investing the money you spend into programs that move people from public assistance to employment! And, hey – after Halloween is over you could continue to give by donating your completed costume back. Maybe next year someone who is short on time will be really happy to have your ready-made Ghostbusters gear!