Halloween is here and the time has come once again to channel your creativity and come up with a unique and fun costume. Whether you are having a work party, entering a costume competition, or taking the little ones out to grab some candy, why not dress up as something authentic to who you are and expressive of your interests?

A brief history of metal armor

Metal armor dates back at least 3,400 years. In fact, some of the earliest records we have of metal armor come from a battle in 1457 BCE. The chroniclers of Egyptian Pharaoh Thutmose III describe the vanquished warriors of Kadesh (in modern Israel) wearing bronze helmets. Also, Thutmose III himself is described as wearing bronze armor and resembling the war-god Baal.

Eventually, lighter, cheaper, and more easily worked iron replaced bronze armor and weapons in the Middle East, North Africa, India, the Mediterranean, and Asia.   

Then, one of the most revolutionary developments in metal armor was invented: chain mail. Developed around the 4th century BCE in eastern Europe, this quickly spread and became one of the most popular types of armor in history. Made of flexible, interlocked rings of bronze or iron, this armor proved very effective at resisting slashing and stabs. It’s so effective that we still use chain mail in stab vests and shark protection suits. 

With the invention of water powered trip hammers in the 1200s, the famous Medieval plate armor became more common. As time passed, steel replaced iron, and armor became more complicated, effective, and elaborate. Stunningly beautiful ceremonial suits of steel armor from this period remain common in museums across the world. Plate armor remained common in European warfare until the late 1600s, at which point it began to be reduced and reserved for cavalry. In Europe, cavalry continued to wear steel breastplates until the early 1800s. Contrary to public opinion, plate armor remained effective against guns until about that time. Since then, metal armor has been relegated to decorative purposes. It is worth noting that some elite cavalry units continued to wear steel breastplates up until opening months of World War I, in 1914.

DIY metal armor costumes

Halloween is the perfect opportunity to revive these amazing pieces of human design and ingenuity. The options for incorporating armor into your Halloween costume are practically endless. Whether you are inspired by history, fantasy, science fiction, or some mixture of them all, there’s metal armor that you can use. Whether you’re a beginner in metal working or a pro, whether you’re short on time or looking for something to do, there’s a look out there for you!

Throughout the millennia, armorers have always tried to strike a balance between protection, mobility and cost. The more protection metal armor has, the heavier, less mobile, and more expensive it will be. The same goes for your DIY costumes. Plan ahead when making your designs, and consider how comfortable, mobile, and easy to take off it will be.

We rounded up metal-inspired Halloween armor ideas ranging from classic medieval and fantasy looks to more modern superhero looks. We’ve also included some resources to help you make your own. Dress to impress and show off your skills.

Get to it

Check out this website for some great ideas and armor-making help. It provides downloadable templates (with a small cost) for various armor pieces that simplifies the whole process for you. Just trace the templates onto your metal and follow their free “How to” videos, like the one below:

Looking to for armor that’s a little more 21st century? Then check out this amazing Iron Man costume!

But out of time to make the whole suit? No problem. We found a DIY guide for an arc reactor that will give even the simplest Iron Man costume a huge boost. And don’t think we forgot our favorite Avenger either. Here’s a DIY guide to make an actual metal Captain America shield!

What to use?

What metal to use largely depends on what your priorities are. Here are the most common metals for metal armor and their benefits.

Aluminum

Low weight +

Low cost +

Easy to machine +

Corrosion resistant +

Not as tough as steel –

Brass

Decorative and beautiful +

Strong +

Heavy –

Can be a bit pricey –

Bronze

Beautiful +

Strong +

Heavy –

Often expensive –

Steel

Strong +

Inexpensive +

Won’t shatter if struck hard by metal +

Easy to work with +

Can get heavy –

Rusts easily if not maintained or painted –

Stainless Steel

Strong +

Reasonably priced +

Can get heavy +

Corrosion resistant –

Stainless blades can shatter if struck hard by other metal* –

*If you plan on hitting things with a blade, don’t make it with stainless

We hope this is useful and inspires you to make great things! Send us pictures of any armor that you’ve made along with any tips or tricks you’d like to share!

Happy Halloween and happy armor crafting!