Functional "spider" legs, or quadrupedal stilts. Failed miserably, and need help.

Hi!

I am currently making a Baal costume from Diablo 2. First of all; I did actually make a "version one", but it was extremely rushed and did not even get a base coat of paint, and it looks terrible in som any ways. Regardless, my friends convinved me to display it anyway, which is why there ar at least some pictures.
Anyway; disregard the apprearance of the costume. About 90% of all parts are going to be replaced as they were "rush-destroyed".

Anyway. My problem is this: it has four legs.
First, I thought of making four dummy legs, and have cloth covering my own legs and move around freely.
However, I thought that it would be really cool if the legs were actually used for locomotion.

I have made a steel frame; four welded rods form two angles that connect to the center (an old bike saddle), which in turn goes straight down. On the back "legs", there are wheels on each end (that can rotate 360 degrees), and the center "saddle" ends in a fixed wheel (aimed forward). Thus, I sit on this saddle, and attach two stilts to my own legs, which are in turn covered by the "flesh" (foam, latex and paint). I move by dragging myself forward, and turn by setting my legs down, and twisting my hips in the desired location.

Here's where the problems start.
Frist off, it is very taxing to drag the full costume, especially on rough terrain.
Does anyone have any ideas of what kind of wheels I should use to make it easier to move?
During "crash testing", I could move around on concrete and asphalt. It was tricky, but it worked. However, I got completely stuck whilst moving around on a stage. A tiny crack in the floor was enough to anchor me completely.

Secondly: it is very, very unstable.
The risk of falling is very large, and falling is very painful. I have to keep balance perfectly, and I have to make sure that I have set both legs down in a wide arch before attempting to turn.
Does anyone have any idea of how I could stabalize the frame?
You can see how the frame looks like on the image below (The "flesh" was squashed during transport, so they have fallen down unto the steel frame in the picture). The center wheel is under the cloth.
The tricky part, as I see it, is to stabilize the legs, without making the frame too visable.

Thanks a bunch for any comment!

Comments

  • Chris EllerbyChris Ellerby Los Angeles Admin
    First off, very cool costume!

    As for the wheels, that is tricky as small casters are well known for having clearance issues, and are prone to getting stuck sideways and dragging.  One option would be to look for omnidirectional "ball casters"

    If you go the ball caster route just be aware that most use plastic balls that eventually deform over time or wear away on rough surfaces like concrete, so keep spares handy. 

    Anything you can do to keep as much of your weight on the center wheels (and off the casters) would help with mobility.  As the center wheels directly under you are concealed in your photo, it's hard to tell what that setup looks like, but making that base as stable/wide as possible should help with mobility and safety.  The challenge there is keeping it hidden.  With such a high center of gravity I can see how you are concerned about falling.

    Another option would be to extend the back legs a bit further from the center to spread out your weight a bit and lower the center of gravity.  This would add some stability, but put more weight on the leg casters which could reduce mobility. (everything is a balance with tradeoffs)

    One thought is that the steel structure of your legs can be cheated a bit (and padded to keep the same profile) to add some rigidity.  Here is a quick sketch.


    Having the front legs used for mobility is a great idea (and gives the character some life) but I wonder how having the back legs static/dragged reduces that impact or breaks the illusion.  

    An alternative approach would be to use your real legs for support and puppeteer all 4 character legs with your (hidden) arms and use dummy arms (holding a weapon or posed so one might not expect them to move a great deal) for the character.  Though puppeteering from the center could prove difficult, as quadrupeds use an alternating gait.  (front left and back right move in tandem, then front right and back left)


    Again, quite the awesome character.  Can't wait to see where you take it!

    /Chris



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