Step-By-Step G.I. Joe Snake Eyes DIY Cosplay Instructions

I know, it’s a little bit of a divergence from my regular social media-focused content, but I’m in the middle of writing an article about the impact of social media on the world of cosplay and comic-cons, so I thought I would share one of my favorite cosplay creations. I’ll be sharing the link to the article about cosplay and social media in the next few days.


As some of you might know, I have been involved in cosplay for a while now and have built costumes for myself, friends and family.

I started cosplaying as a way to engage in crafting projects with my kids. We’re kind of a geeky family. My daughter is a big Harley Quinn, Ellie (from The Last Of Us), and Bucky/Winter Soldier fan and my son is a Nightwing, Green Arrow, and Star Wars fan.

As a result, I found that building costumes for each of us for Kansas City’s Planet Comicon was a good way keep us all involved in a project throughout the year.

 

 
 
 
 
 
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My daughter as Bucky Barnes – AKA the Winter Soldier

Planet Comicon is in the Spring of each year, so we would start thinking about our costumes in June/July (post-Comicon) and we would build with the idea that Halloween would be our dry run.

The kids would wear their cosplay costumes while they trick-or-treated and we would take notes of what worked and didn’t work so we could make adjustments.

While the kids’ costumes have always been the priority, they always wanted me to participate, as well, so I created costumes for characters such as Deathstroke (to go with Green Arrow) and Joel (from The Last of Us) to compliment their costumes.

This year, though, neither of my kids wanted to cosplay so I decided to start on a project that I have long wanted to do…but have been a bit intimidated by. This character is one of my all time favorites from my childhood, so I was a bit nervous to do it. Most of it was in fear that it wouldn’t turn out as good as I wanted it to.

The character of Snake Eyes from G.I. Joe is one of the baddest characters of all time. His ninja skills, combined with his mastery of modern weapons made him a force to be reckoned with. His self-imposed silence and ongoing feud with his brother, Storm Shadow, made him even more mysterious and daunting.

So…with that in mind, I decided that this was THE year for Snake Eyes.

Honestly, I’m really, really happy with the outcome.

Did everything turn out as good as I wanted? No.

Were the results of my work completely satisfying and made me really happy? Yes.

Did people keep stopping me at Planet Comicon for photos? Yes.

Is there still room for improvement? Yes…and that’s what I love about all good cosplay costumes. They are never finished and can always be improved.

To share the love, I thought I might start the process of documenting my cosplay costumes in order to help someone else out there who wants some guidance.

This tutorial has detailed instructions for anyone wanting get started with a Snake Eyes comicon cosplay or Halloween costume. I outline all of the items that I purchased, as well as the steps to create the items that I built from foam.

Please – If you create a Snake Eyes cosplay based on these instructions, send me a link and I’ll update the post with your photo or photos. Let’s document some of the baddest Snake Eyes costumes out there.

Snake Eyes Cosplays That I Drew Inspiration From

To start, I want to recognize all those that came before me and helped me visualize the version of Snake Eyes that I wanted to portray. If you don’t know, there are many options for Snake Eyes, ranging from the comic book full spandex suit to the heavily-armored, helmeted movie version.

After Google searches, these are the ones that helped me decide on my approach, which is the comic book version of the character. Some of the Google searches that returned the best results were:

Snake Eyes From the Comic Book Was My Chosen Cosplay

As you can see in the photo below, I have 5 comic books hanging on my wall at work and the comic book above is one of them.

 

 
 
 
 
 
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In addition to this badass comic book rendering, I used these cosplays for inspiration:

The common characteristics for these cosplays were basically:

  • Comic book character version with no helmet
  • Visor instead of goggles
  • Sword as the primary weapon
  • Pants
  • Tactical vest or armor

Important Note: This year, Planet Comicon announced that they were not going to allow freely-carried, realistic looking firearms replicas as props. The decision was made after working with local law enforcement agencies on the response to potential active shooter situations. Because the Law Enforcement Officers (LEOs) would have a difficult time distinguishing a prop rifle or pistol from a real one and, thus, identifying an actual shooter, they opted to not allow them. For this reason, I wanted my primary weapon to be the sword.

The Basics – Boots, Pants, And Shirt

Affiliate Disclosure – Before going any further, be aware the links below to the actual items that I used are affiliate links. When you click these links, I may earn a portion of the sale. It helps me keep the site going and creating and sharing great cosplays. The decision as to whether to buy the same items is completely up to you.

Let’s start from bottom up.

Finding A Comfortable Pair Of Black Combat or Work Boots

The boots I use are Black Brahma Work Boots that look a bit like combat boots. The biggest reason I use these boots is comfort. I have tried several different boots with my Deathstroke cosplay and by the end of the con, my feet were killing me.

So, after doing some research, I landed on these boots and I love them. They are comfortable for walking the con floor and they go really well with both my Deathstroke and Snake Eyes cosplays.

You don’t need to go expensive. If you find a really nice set of boots that you like but they don’t have comfortable insoles, just rip them out and buy a set of gel insoles from Wal-Mart. The key is comfort.

Boots I use for both Snake Eyes and DeathStroke Cosplays
These are the boots that I use for both my Snake Eyes and Deathstroke cosplays

The cost of these boots is pretty reasonable. You can find the boots on Amazon or at local shoe stores ranging from $45 – $60. The boots I have are discontinued, so the ones on Amazon and your local store might be a little different. 

Trust me though, invest in your boots (or at least the insoles). Your piggies will thank you after a long day at the con.

The Shirt Needs To Be Comfortable And Breathe

Cons get hot.

There are a lot of people packed into small space and if your costume is great, you’re going to get up-close-and-personal with people for photos. Make sure you don’t stink from overheating and sweating like crazy.

For that reason, I highly recommend you look into a lycra, breathable athletic shirt. For me, I went with the Starter Men’s Long Sleeve Tech T-Shirt in Black.

Starter athletic shirt for my Snake Eyes cosplay
This Starter athletic shirt kept me cool throughout the con, allowing for up-close-and personal pics with Snake Eyes fans.

I am 6’1″ and 170lbs and usually wear a large shirt, but I wanted the shirt to be tight, rather than baggy, since Snake Eyes wears a skin-tight suit. So, I went a size down and chose medium. It was just right and never came untucked, so I was happy. It also allowed air to flow, so it kept me cool…despite being tight.

The Pants Should Be Tactical AND Have Pockets

Let’s address the pockets element first.

Being at a con without pockets sucks. Sure, it might be canonical that your character doesn’t have pockets, but you need to carry a wallet, keys, con map, bottle of water, etc…For that reason, buy pants with extra pockets. They go with the tactical look and are functional.

The pants I chose are the RothCo BDU pants in black. Again, I use these for both Snake Eyes and Deathstroke (see a pattern forming here?).

RothCo Black BDU pants for Snake Eyes Cosplay
These pants were cost-effective and have help up really well over the years. The extra pockets are great for con gear.

These pants are comfortable, light, and have extra side pockets. They also have an adjustable waistband that allows you to “let them out” a little bit if you eat too much at the con.

One note on these pants. I ordered this pair back in 2014 and they have served well. The stitches and buttons have held tight and the buckles that adjust the waist still work flawlessly. The dark black color, though, has started to fade after all the washes. I will probably be buying a new pair this year so I can get that dark black color back.

Five years for a $35 pair of pants is pretty damn good, though.

The Tactical Vest, Utility Belt, Hood, And Gloves

Now that you’re pretty much dressed, the next group of items are the ones that go over your shirt and pants.

Get A Tactical Vest That Is Versatile And Comfortable

The utility vest that I use is one of my favorite items in my cosplay closet. It is very adjustable, has tons of pockets and clips, and allows for the use of pistols and swords (more on those later).

The vest I use is the UTG Law Enforcement Tactical SWAT Vest. As you can see in the photo below, it allows me to accessorize with faux shotgun shells, grenades, rounds of ammunition, and even has a pocket big enough to carry a water bottle. In fact, in the pocket to the left of the pistol, there is currently a 16oz water bottle. Can you tell?

This UTG Tactical Vest does a great job holding all of Snake Eye's gear
This tactical vest is one of my favorite, most versatile pieces of equipment.

Get A Comfortable Hood That Doesn’t Obstruct Your Vision

I went through two hoods before I landed on the right one. Remember, Snake Eyes has a visor but his mouth is visible. For this reason, you need a hood that covers your head, but allows your eyes to be open. I landed on a lycra hood with one big eye opening, rather than two, individual eye openings.

The first hood I tried had the two individual eye openings (think ski mask with no mouth hole) and it obstructed my ability to look right and left. Cons are busy and Snake Eyes already has a visor in front of his eyes, so do yourself a favor and go with the bigger, single opening.

The one I eventually went with is the ULTRA THIN Lycra BALACLAVA(Black). It was comfortable, didn’t obstruct my vision or breathing and was really, really cheap. The neck was not loose and baggy, so it worked well with the visor and fit around my chin.

NOTE: I have a beard and when I first put on the hood, my whiskers all poked through the lycra. It was hilarious, like little grey and black pine needles sticking through. Be aware that if you have a beard, you might need to shave it down so they don’t stick down.

Lycra hood and gloves that I use for my Snake Eyes cosplay
These are the gloves and hood that I use for my G.I. Joe Snake Eyes cosplay costume.

Get Gloves That Not Only Look Cool, But Work.

Okay, let’s talk gloves.

The ones in the photo above are really cool looking and they go well with the rest of the costume. To be honest, these are my motorcycle gloves and they are broken in and feel really comfortable. 

However, I wouldn’t really recommend them for your Snake Eyes cosplay. The reason is because they have no tactile ability in the fingers…which is a fancy way of saying they don’t allow you to operate the touch screen on your phone. This means that every time you want to text a friend or take a photo with your phone, you have to take your gloves off.

For this reason, I will be looking for a new set of gloves to go with both my Snake Eyes and Deathstroke cosplays that will allow me to use my phone. The key is to have a tactile finger pad that activates the touch screen.

If you find a good pair, let me know in a comment and I’ll check them out.

A Comfortable Utility Belt With Pockets And A Leg-Holster Rig That Allows You To Secure The Pistol

Along with the tactical vest, this combo is one of my favorite parts of the costume because it’s comfortable and brings out the bad-ass look of Snake Eyes.

The utility belt is fully adjustable and has several small pockets to hold any small items like your car keys. That can free up your pants pockets for the map of the conference, panel schedules, etc…

The utility belt is sold separately from the holster and is the CONDOR Tactical Belt (Black, Up to 44-Inch Waist).

This utility belt and leg holster combo are comfortable and allow for the pistol to be secured per con prop rules
This utility belt and leg holster are sold separately but work flawlessly together.

The leg holster is fully adjustable to a lot of various leg lengths and allows the pistol to be secured according to the con prop policies. It attaches right to the utility belt in a snap.

The rig that I use is the UTG Elite Tactical Leg Holster,Black (Right Handed). They do offer a left-handed rig for those lefties out there. I’m actually left-handed but shoot right-handed, so I chose the right-handed rig.

Again…I use both the belt and the leg holster in my Deathstroke cosplay, so the investment is worth it.

The Weapons – Pistols, Ammunition, Grenades, Sword, and Scabbard

As I mentioned earlier, cons have really started adjusting their rules about realistic looking weapons. Previously, realistic looking pistols and rifles. Any realistic looking weapon has to be zip-tied securely to the costume in order to be allowed in. Freely-carried realistic rifles/carbines and even swords that could be used as a blunt weapon had to be secured.

The Pistols

As you can see in this image, my pistols were realistic-looking. Even though they are rubber dummy training pistols in an active-shooter situation a police officer might not be able to tell the difference.

This rubber training pistol was zip-tied into the holster
Per the con rules, this rubber training pistol is zip-tied into the holster for security reasons.

So, to comply with the rules, I simply zip-tied them in. The prop check security personnel appreciated that I had done this proactively as it reduced the time they had to spend going through my gear.

The pistols that I use are the BladesUSA Rubber Training Gun Black With Orange Tip. They are realistic when unholstered, but it doesn’t really matter to me since they are always secured.

The Sword And Scabbard Should Be Able To Be Adjusted At The Con

The sword is something you really need to understand if you want to be comfortable at the con. For both Deathstroke and Snake Eyes, I used a single sword to keep things simple. Yes…I understand that there are times when both characters use two swords.

However, try navigating a crowded con with two swords sticking out to your sides. You’ll spend a lot of time apologizing to people for bumping into them with a blunt, yet pokey object. {AWKWARD}

So, for convenience, I went with a single sword in a scabbard that is easily adjusted. The adjustment part is important because you might want to sit down at some point. Maybe it’s lunch, or a con panel, or just to rest. With a sword that extends lower than your tailbone, you can’t comfortably sit down.

For this reason, I suggest you get a scabbard that goes OVER your tactical vest (rather than inside of the back of the vest) AND can be locked in place. The scabbard I chose is the Katana Bokken Shinai Foam Sword Mini Nylon Carrying Case.

It’s universal, it’s adjustable, it has clips to latch, unlatch…and it’s inexpensive. Even better, it worked perfectly with the tactical vest to lock it into place.

This scabbard and sword were perfect for Snake Eyes
This is the sword and scabbard combo that I chose. It worked well and allowed me to take it off so I could sit at the con. My cat really wanted to be part of the photo.

The sword is the BladesUSA 1802PP Martial Art Polypropylene Training Equipment 39.25-Inch Overall. It was just the right length and worked perfectly with the scabbard.

The Snake Eyes katana is plastic, but heavy and sturdy

One other note, rather than permanently attaching it to the tactical vest, I attached the sword to the scabbard. The prop inspectors at the con said that was okay since the sword couldn’t be removed from the scabbard.

I just passed the zip tie through the Tsuba (the hand guard right above your thumb when holding it) and through the carry strap and it locked it into place.

The Grenades

Snake Eyes is known for carrying grenades, so I wanted to incorporate them into the costume. Again, I had some from Deathstroke, so I zip tied them to the tactical vest and they worked well. Yes…even grenades have to be secured.

The grenades I ordered are the Lot of 4 Kids Toy B/o Grenades. They are plastic and make an annoying tick, tick, tick, boom sound when the lever is pressed, so that had to go. I simply removed the batteries and all was good.

NOTE: Many Cons do not allow props that flash lights or make noise. The prop check officer asked me whether the grenades made noise and I confirmed with him that I had removed the batteries. Be sure to do this prior to going to the con, so you get through prop check quickly.

The grenades are secured to the tactical vest with a zip tie
Be sure to understand the rules regarding weapons at your con. In this case, the grenades could not make any sound and had to be attached to an article of clothing.

The Bullets

The bullets are a minor part of the cosplay costume, but sometimes it’s the details that make the difference. The tactical vest has a spot on the right shoulder for ammunition, so I figured why not fill it up.

The cartridges that I chose are the UHC Revolver 131, 132, 133 BB Shell Set. They are plastic, lightweight, and fit perfectly in the tactical vest holders.

These plastic bullets fit perfectly on the tactical vest
These plastic bullets fit perfectly in the ammunition holder on the tactical vest.

Are they 9mm or .45ACP, which would fit the pistols if they were real? No.

Do I (or anyone else) care? No.

The Clan Insignia

One other important detail for Snake Eyes is his clan insignia. Snake Eyes is a member of the Arashikage clan, along with his brother and nemesis Storm Shadow. The clan has a distinct insignia that is present on each of the version of Snake Eyes.

Sometimes it’s on his shoulder and sometimes it’s on his sword. It just needed to be present.

I added the insignia to the front of the tactical vest where it was prominent. Honestly, I did this with black and red duct tape. I will be redoing this for the next rendition, making it a little nicer looking…maybe a custom patch. For now, this worked great.

The Arashikage clan insignia for my Snake Eyes cosplay costume
This version of the Arashikage clan for Snake Eyes was made with duct tape. I’ll be getting a custom patch for the next round.

The Visor

Okay…if you’re like me, this is the part you really geek out about. All of the previous gear could be bought, but I wanted to make the visor myself. Again, did it turn out perfectly? NO.

Did it work well? Pretty much (more below).

Did people want photos? Yes.

Is there room for improvement. A LOT.

This was the first round and this is the biggest area that I’m going to spend my time improving for the next round. In fact, I loved the concept of the visor so much that I’m going to create a fiberglass version of it so I can re-use it without worrying about the craft foam breaking.

Which it did. Right as I got to the con. GRRRRRR!

So, if you are wondering what the zip ties are in the top of the visor, they are because the screws pulled out of the foam and the visor detached from the headband. Luckily, the fine folks at prop check gave me two zip ties to fix it.

Here we go…steps for creating a Snake Eyes Cosplay visor.

Step 1 – Gather Your Materials

These are the things that I needed to create the visor:

  • Craft foam
  • Paper to draw the template
  • A flexible measuring tape
  • Sharpie marker
  • Pen/pencil
  • Good set of scissors or shears
  • A sharp utility knife
  • Mod Podge
  • Small craft paint brushes
  • Grey spray paint or primer

Step 2 – Measure Your Head And Create A Template

The first step is to use the flexible measuring tape to measure your head. The goal is to get an idea as to how big you want the visor to be. It’ll help to have another person because you need three hands.

With two fingers resting on your nose, measure the distance from ear-to-ear. The two fingers are going to give you an idea of how far the insider of the visor will be from your face. Don’t worry…nothing is set in concrete yet. This will just give you measurements for your template.

Next, draw out the template and cut it out. After looking at photos online, this is what my template ended up looking like.

My template for the Snake Eyes visor
This is what my visor template looked like to start.

Tip: When you are cutting out your template, mark which pieces you are going keep and which you are going to remove. The first time I created the template, I cut out the center piece of the visor because I wasn’t paying attention. Ooops!

Step 3 – Use The Template To Cut The Foam

Using the paper template, trace it out on a piece of thick craft foam. The foam I like is from Harbor Freight and it is marketed as Anti-Fatigue Mat Set.

I use this craft foam from Harbor Freight because it is nice and dense and inexpensive
I use this craft foam from Harbor Freight because it is nice and dense and inexpensive. It is marketed as “Anti-Fatigue Mat Set”

This stuff is really easy to cut. For the outer edges, use your scissors, but for the inside pieces, use a good, sharp utility knife. If you place the foam on a thick piece of cardboard, it makes it easy for you to cut all the way through the foam.

Trace the visor template onto the foam and then cut it out
Once you have the visor cut out, you should have some thing that looks like this. 

NOTE: These photos were taken during my mockup, so the cuts aren’t as clean as the final output. If you aren’t working through a mockup, be sure to make your cuts as clean as possible.

The top is the paper template, the bottom is the visor cut from craft foam
The top is the paper template, the bottom is the visor cut from craft foam

Cut The Center For The Angle

Now that you have the size of the visor set up and the foam cutout, you need to cut it in half. Yes…cut it in half. The reason is because Snake Eyes’ visor is pointed at the front. So, you need to cut it in half and then slightly cut the angles of the edges to they fit together at an angle.

Once you have it cut in half, you should be able to stand it up like this.

Cutting the visor down the middle allows you create the front angle
Cutting the visor down the middle allows you create the front angle

Next you need to do some cutting to make the pieces come back together. Just go slowly and cut small angles and you’ll do fine. Again, this is why I planned on doing it twice, a rough mockup and then the final. The final angles were easy once I had done it on the rough mockup.

Glue The Front Of The Visor Back Together And Set The Bends

Now that you have the angles cut, just use a hot glue gun to glue the front angles back together. REMEMBER that a little hot glue goes a long way. Don’t glob up the front of your visor with excess hot glue. Later, when you put Mod Podge on the visor, it will help strength the spot that you glued together.

Once the front of the visor is glued back together, the round pieces that go next to your ears are going to be sticking way out. You need to carefully bend them to where they should be and then secure them so they stay there.

TIP: BE PATIENT and let you hot glue fully cool. If you try to bend the visor too soon, you’ll cause the hot glue to release, undoing all your hard work.

To set the bends, I used a small bucket that was just about the same diameter of my head at the ears. I just taped the round parts of the visor to the sides of the bucket. Sounds weird, but it worked. Use a kickball, a watermelon…whatever has the same diameter as your head.

Apologies that I didn’t take a photo of this step. It seemed kinda silly when I was doing it, but it worked great and “set the bends” of the visor.

TIP: If you have issues bending your craft foam, just heat it with a heat gun or a hair dryer on high. Heating up the foam will make it flex easier. Just DON’T overheat it.

Paint On The Mod Podge To Hold It In Place

With the front of the visor glued together and the bends set, it’s time to paint on the Mod Podge so the bends stay there all by themselves and the front visor angle is strengthened

If you are a crafter or hobby cosplayer, you probably already have Mod Podge. This stuff is basically like white glue, but it hardens and keeps craft foam in place. It can be sanded and painted. I cover all my craft foam creations in it.

Tip: It’s called “Mod Podge” not “Modge Podge” or “Hodge Podge”. You can get this stuff at Wal-Mart or any big box craft store.

Use the Mod Podge to coat your visor and keep the bends in place
Mod Podge is great for making sure your craft foam stays where you want it.

As you can see in the background of the photo above, I set the angle of the front of the visor and then started painting it with three layers of Mod Podge, spaced 30 minutes apart. After the third layer, the visor stayed where I wanted it and I un-taped the back circles from the bucket and gave them three layers of Mod Podge, as well.

Paint It To Color

Once the Mod Podge has fully cured and the visor stays where you want it, it’s time to start painting. Since my craft foam was grey and I wanted to visor to be grey, I just hit it with a coating of grey primer to knock down the shine of the Mod Podge. One coat did exactly what I wanted.

Grey paint or primer will give you a flat grey look, knocking down the shine from the Mod Podge
This grey paint+primer took the shine off the visor after applying the Mod Podge.

Add Household Screen To Hide Your Eyes

Once you have let the visor dry, you should have a pretty cool looking visor that fits the shape of your head. Take some photos in the mirror…you’ll look bad ass!

One thing I noticed when I was looking in the mirror is that you could see my eyes. Since I wanted my Snake Eyes cosplay to be mysterious, I decided to pickup some window tint and glue it behind the visor.

Bad idea.

The window tint was waaay to dark and would have made it tough to navigate the con.

Instead, I just used a piece of household screen that I had used on another project. I cut it to size and used hot glue to secure it to the back of the visor. I know, the hot glue looks kind of crappy in the photo below, but no one else ever saw it but me.

Household screen glued to the back of the visor obscures your eyes from the front

The cool thing is this totally worked. I could see just fine, but people couldn’t see my eyes.

Attach It To The Headband

Now that you have a cool, mysterious visor the next step is to secure it to a headband. I picked up this Magnifier with headstrap and lights from Harbor Freight. It was on sale for $2.99 so I figured it was worth a try.

It worked….well…kinda.

After cutting it down and securing it to the headband with screws, all seemed to be good. That was until I got to the con. I made a couple of adjustments and the screws pulled through the foam. GRRRRR.

So, I had to use a couple of zip ties at the con to hold everything in place, which worked fine.

Did anyone point out the zip ties? Nope.

Did people still want photos? Yep.

Did it work good enough? Yep.

Will I be figuring out another option? Definitely.

The Outcome

Nice job getting this far. If you have read through all this (or at least scrolled through it), here’s what you were probably hunting for.

My Snake Eyes Cosplay at Planet Comicon

Perfect? No.

Am I proud enough of it to spend 3 hours putting together these instructions? You betcha.

And I hope they help inspire some potentially bad-ass Snake Eyes cosplays.

My Next Steps

These are the things I’m going to work on for the next evolution:

  • Incorporate knee and elbow pads and maybe some armor made from craft foam
  • Re-build the visor using a fiberglass mold process to create a REALLY amazing visor. This visor was also a little big, so I’m going to size it down just a little bit.
  • Create a derivative that uses goggles and a mask like this one

Final Thoughts

This was a fun one to put together and I will definitely be evolving it. Better visor, a few tweaks and tunes, and Snake Eyes will be back at the cons!

If you found this helpful, let me know with a comment. If you created a Snake Eyes cosplay or Halloween costume based on these instructions, shoot me a note with a link to a photo, I’d love to see it and add it to the post.

I will also be working on instructions for Deathstroke, Joel and Ellie from the Last of Us, and maybe even some Harley Quinn (including a full bazooka) instructions.

Just for a tease, here’s a little sneak preview of the bazooka work in progress.

Cheers!

–Sean


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