Adam Savage’s One Day Builds: Totoro Costume!

Here’s how Adam Savage built his amazing Totoro cosplay that he wore at New York Comic Con! In this One Day Build, Adam shows us how he designed the costume to be lightweight and collapsible, how he formed Totoro’s iconic shape, and the little details that brought the huggable character to life!

Shot and edited by Joey Fameli
Music by Jinglepunks

Comments (59)

59 thoughts on “Adam Savage’s One Day Builds: Totoro Costume!

  1. What a wonderful costume, and a fun build to watch. That’s so cool he would send the user something for suggesting Totoro, very thoughtful.

  2. I love watching Adam build things. Seriously, he could have a show just where he builds something at random every week and it would immediately be my favorite show. I LOVE the ODBs.

  3. Now that’s one of the most awesome builds I’ve seen! Not only the process in making it, but that camera-work, damn… good stuff.

  4. I was just thinking, “Wow, Adam knows all sorts of cool ways to build stuff. He has a whole library in his head.” 🙂

    I do often watch your builds and think to myself, “He’s making this up as he goes, right?” I think you often try to sell that you know what you’re doing — where the build is going. I suppose no one wants to watch you expressing constant doubt as you go, but it is refreshing to see someone express, “This is how I think this is going to work, if not, I’ll go to Plan B.”

    +1 on using the dollar-store foam-core to dial in the shape of your costume. I don’t see enough of that sort of easing in from other people’s builds.

  5. Hi Adam,

    Its really cool to see that we built our Totoro cosplays in a similar way, I added a layer of upholstery foam on top of the rings though to make it more ridged though. This did in turn make the costume much heavier than it probably needed to be though.

    I liked the placement of your camera, I personally had eyes that could move and a thumb controller so hid mine in one of the pupils. This gave me the ability to look around without turning my whole body, but it did mean that the image was offset making it a little more difficult to judge my movements.

    There are so many things that I want to add to Mk2 of my Totoro, which includes sound, a mouth that moves a little, and making the legs/head look more fitted in to the body.

    Loving your version of this, and so excited to see what you do with it next.

    Below is a link to some images of my go at this amazing character, if you’re interested.

    Much love, keep up the incredible work and inspiring us all to keep making.

  6. Great build video! I have missed this type of content on Tested. Obviously, the crew has had a lot of changes the past 18 months – but this is the type of content that keeps me subscribed to Premium.

    I would also really love to see some more hard edge build videos pop up on the site too.

  7. You should maybe post a total material cost of your one day builds. Just to give folks a better idea of what they are getting themselves into when they tackle a project.

  8. Hey Adam, it’s awesome to see you build this 🙂

    I was just wondering, why did you decide to build Totoro in a different way then your bear? I can see and read that you have had a lot of fun with it and i hope i’ll get as much pleasure out of it as you did 🙂

    I’m going to start building mine asap and i’ll keep you poster on how i did it. (For starters, i don’t want to use a camera to look out of the suit)

  9. This is cool. Both as a reference video and as a “how it’s made” kind of way. I can’t believe how simple the design is.

    Thank you for posting this video Adam and Tested

    As a side note:

    I’ve been sulking over the Bear poster, trying to figure out a why to make a Jabba the Hutt costume out of it for next year (though it would be smaller then the full sized puppet used in the movie).

  10. This is such a good video. Where else on the web do you get a 45 minute video with this amount of actual building, this amount of enthusiasm and humor, and this production value?!

    Also, I got my bear poster yesterday 🙂

  11. Hi Adam and tested crew,

    I love the videos. I have been a fan since the first mythbusters. Since then i have had even more curiosity and a willingness to try. Ive been making costumes for about 5 years now. Recently i kinda lost my way and the energy i had diminished. Then i found i have binged all of it….. and i have to say i am grateful i did because im back in the game. I finished another costume and having done so sparked more ideas for future projects. Watching the video of your build of totoro allowed me to reminisce on my early stages of builds, made me smile and in a sense humbled me. It also made me laugh a bit since there was a time in which i humored the idea of creating my own totoro cosplay.(may still happen)

    Thanks for the one day build vids its nice to have them when building and seeking inspiration.

  12. Dammit, beat me to it:

    You like it in there? Is is ‘kinda private’? 😉


    Totally love this build! I’m amazed at how well the paper-lantern construction works for something like this – just received my bear poster too (thank you) and I liked that costume as well but I think it’s even clearer with this one how versatile, yet light-weight, cheap and robust you can get with this method. As long as there’s some “soft-ness” to the character shape to mask the outlines.

    I noticed that the ear support struts were soldered on, makes more sense to me that one broke off during transport – I think I would have probably used some twisted 2-mm fence wire, but then I use that for everything. Even made a couple of candelabres out of the stuff! 🙂

  13. Hey, Adam, loved the build! You and the tested crew are inspiring me to make things of my own, with my kids and we are even looking into starting a Makers Club at school.
    Two questions:
    1) I don’t know anything about rattan, but it looks like a really cool material. What size or classification did you use?
    2) Did you say “gaffers tape”? I’ve heard of that, too, but I don’t know anything about it.

    Great work! Thank you!

  14. Flawless! I’ll repeat what I said in the past: build videos like these are the reason why I’m a premium member.

  15. Lovely build! Thank you for sharing how you built it.

    Allrdy googling reference pictures of Totoro and trying to find a nice fake fur available here in Sweden. Kinda wish this was the poster over the bear 😀 Such an inspirational video! When I have time to spare I’m going to build my own, that’s for sure!

  16. So happy you all love this video. It was such a fun build/cosplay experience. Not the last time I bring him out.

    In response: yes I agree I should have done something stronger than soldering the ear supports on . I agree. In my defense it was late in the day and my problem solving suffers at the end of a build like this. Clearly.

    A costume maker in NY overheard my story about the broken ear and she shared with me her technique: which is to use a bleach bottle. She glues the cap into the ear and attaches the threaded in and Voila! a properly threaded and travel-able ear arrangement. It’s brilliant.

    As for what is gaffer tape, it’s a cloth tape used in the film industry. So any film supplier carries it. Comes in every color. Fantastic stuff.

    Lastly a big huge shout out to Joey Fameli — I think this is one of the best build videos we’ve yet done. I’m so happy with the whole team’s work on this. More coming!!!

  17. Loved this build Adam, such a simple solution to the problem of shipping. I am wondering, what is the tool used to cut the foam, the bosch thing? Sounded like a saw, but I’ve never seen one like that. I’ve been looking more into model making tools like hot wire cutters, but that thing looks super handy.

    Nice work (nice shooting Joey!), love the enthusiasm of everyone as always.

  18. I love seeing the pure joy Adam experiences when stuff starts coming together 😀

    Also, Nice work Joey, this video was amazing. And that part where you grabbed Tiny Totorro and held him in front of the camera with Adam working in the background was brilliant!

  19. Great build Adam! And the ability to watch the reaction and record is a gift that keeps on giving… Thanks for the inspiration and ideas.

  20. That Bosch foam cutting saw is one of my stupidly useful but dumbly expensive tools. Bought it on MythBusters. It’s for car upholstery and cost somewhere around $350.

  21. A question for Adam. I’ve noticed in your shop the billiard table gets used for a lot of things, very few of them billiards. The table takes up a lot of space, do you prefer working on it compared to a large work table? or are you just enough of a pool player that it’s worth the space in your shop, and you play on occasion? I think LadyJade414 might have touched on this.

  22. Excellent build as always Adam! Amazing shooting and editing Joey! I too loved when you showed the little Totoro with Adam building in the background.

    Question for What type of blade do you use in your band saw? I’ve noticed you use it for all sorts of soft ish materials, do you just use a general wood blade?

  23. Fun video, ingenious design. Some things I might have tried (and maybe failed at):

    1: I might have tried to mount the camera in the nose and then stretched a piece of sheer black fabric over it. That might have been closer to your actual eye height, and made the camera invisible.

    2: I might have tried a larger computer fan pointing upwards toward some small slits in the fur at the top of the head. Maybe get a bit of a chimney effect going drawing in cool air from the bottom.

    Thanks again for doing this build and making a great video!

  24. I would really love it if Adam tackled a Jabba the Hut costume. Now that he has mastered the big costume creations.

    Not only would it probably be very unique and cool looking. But also it would be a nice nod to his old ILM days wouldn’t it. 🙂

  25. I have the same question as ScienceTeacher. What caning jargon/ keywords/specification that a caning supplier will understand describes that bundle of rattan you purchased.

    1) I don’t know anything about rattan, but it looks like a really cool material. What size or classification did you use?

  26. What is the approximate diameter of the rattan? Suppliers might refer to rattan as “round reed” which is labeled #2 through #9 based on diameter.

  27. Loved watching this build and it’s going to help me perfect my Totoro costume for this weekend! 🙂

    Can I make a little request? My husband is deaf and was very disappointed that he couldn’t watch this video. Some Tested videos have auto captioning available and some do not, and I hate seeing him get frustrated when he sees a video on the playlist he wants to watch but can’t. I’m curious why some videos have auto captioning included and others do not. It’s not perfect but is better than nothing, and it requires no real effort on your part to have that enabled when uploading. Thanks!

  28. Amazing as always. Like mentioned above, I enjoy Adam’s joy the most entertaining thing about Tested. Keep it up guys!

    Also, I like ignoring Tested for a few days and revisiting. It’s like Christmas! Tons of content.

  29. We made a similar revelation in regard to not putting the weight of your costume on your head. There’s a local bike ride with a theme / costume contest and one year we went as mosquitoes and fastened our mosquito builds to our helmets. It’s a windy ride and by the end of the 22 miles out necks (and heads from helmet pressure) were definitely sore. The next year we went as brine shrimp and used backpacks as the support mechanism. WAY more comfortable.

    Thank you for this! This stuff makes me so happy and excited to make things. Plus, Totoro!

  30. Thank you so much for making this video Adam! I’m planning a costume with a similar shape and would greatly appreciate info on what size rattan you used, and if possible where you got it from.

  31. Awesome build. I think the thing I like the most is the sheer enjoyment Adam derives from the design/build process. Reminds me of an old saying, it’s not always the destination, but how you get there.


  32. I love watching you sew things. As someone with training in pattern making who makes her living with a clothing business I have a fairly rigid way I approach projects. This inspires me to loosen up the way I think at times when I want to throw something together for myself. 🙂 Thank you.

  33. Adam is amazing at these builds. He should do Grunt from Mass Effect next for Mass Effect Andromeda coming out soon.

  34. This was the greatest build I’ve seen to date.

    I particularly enjoyed the method you used to size him and to create the space for his “Tummy”. (Using that Mark 1 Eyeball to extra effect there)

  35. Thank you Adam for documenting this build. I have several costumes in my head, and while I am a very good seamstress and have made many theatre costumes, I’m not that good with tech stuff and some components of structure. I needed a way to simplify my design, make it easier to transport, and lighten the framework. Check, check, and check. Fantastic!! I love one-stop shopping!!

    Any ideas on a fabric that is textured to look like stone or even coconut skin? I’ll try to attach 2 pics to give you a visual. I can figure out the green grassy parts in pics (with fabric, batting, quilting, etc.) but it’s the faces I need help with. And each face has a different texture. I need costumes finished for Awesome Con in DC June 16 to 18, right around corner, yikes. And collapsible for easy transport in my suitcase on the train. And where did you get your small black fan? All I can find are bright orange ones.

    Adam, if I can ever offer assistance with any sewing projects, please don’t hesitate to ask. I can sew just about anything and have specialized machines like a serger, embroidery machine, etc. I managed a total of 120 costumes for 60 kids on a budget of $1500 for a high school production of Beauty and the Beast. If I did that, I can do most anything. I live in Virginia, but that’s nothing FedEx and UPS can’t remedy. : )

    btw, I agree with another comment made a while back in this section. that if you had a show with just one day builds, I would fill my DVR with it for sure.

  36. Hi Adam. Regarding my fabric question on my last post, I’m not sure my 2 pics attached. Here is a link to Pixar Lava Short on youtube instead so you can see the faces better. Hopefully link works.

    And please anyone who read my last post, I am open to suggestions. : )

  37. Hey Adam!

    I was inspired by this costume build to create my own version. So, I made a Gengar costume! I wore it to Wizard Con STL and I plan to wear it to Anime Blues Con in Memphis this July. I even rigged up my own holster to wear it. LOL. Thanks for your inspiration! Hope you enjoy the turn out of this!! (hopefully my photos attached)

  38. Would anyone be able to suggest where I could get the electric components used in this? My sister and I are in the process of building a similar large costume and I’d love to be able to see and breathe. 🙂

  39. I didn’t actually end up using ratan on this. I bought .25″ Pex pipe that bends and used refrigerator tubing to connect it. I had a difficult time finding ratan that would work and hold up like Adam’s did. I had to improvise! 🙂 There is a lot of restructuring I would do now to this costume if I wanted to redo it for another show. But for a first time and improvising the whole way through, it turned out pretty good. I hope this helps for you and others looking to create this!

    Good luck!

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