12. The Walking Targets
Updated: Apr 10
In October of 2019 my Nephew, who was turning 7, had a birthday coming. I love making things for them by hand -- one-of-a-kind gifts that they will remember. Weeks earlier I had a plan in place for his gift but I had to scrap my original idea at the last minute due to a shady online retailer 🤬. With no time left and scrambling for ideas, I remembered that his parents were getting him a Nerf gun. So what do you get your Call Of Duty zombie-killing nephew? His own zombie firing range! This is a cute and fun idea that is made mostly out of cardboard and completely out of reclaimed items!
First, I needed to find a box. nothing too big or too small...I found this one rummaging through a pile of Amazon Prime boxes. The long lid flaps were great for giving the box a vertical scale that will help create a depth of field later.
The next step was to prep the box for construction. Doing things like removing tape and labels creates a clean canvas
Then using masking tape on the flaps to hold them in place. This will allow me to use a hot glue gun to seal the two ends together.
I need a three-quarters view so I removed one side of the box. This left the bottom flap unsecured to fix this I applied hot glue the bottom of the box.
Now to make the targets for the shooting gallery. I found some zombie silhouettes online and used the Cricut to cut them out of old gift boxes.
The first set was waaaayyy too big. I admit I didn't make any measurements the first go-round. However, it gave me an opportunity to see the details of the zombie shapes
This also kinda sucks because I wasted my only gift box 😥...no worries I had a box from a bulk purchase of sundae cones that would work just as well
After accepting I'd have to do a touch of math 😐 I worked out 3 heights of 4, 5, and 6 inches. The sizes will give a bit of difficulty and variety to the targets.
Using a $1 can of black spray paint I painted the front of my cut-outs
Once they dry its time to take them inside
Here I took some plastic straws and cut them into small sections.
I then attached the section of drinking straw to the back of the cut out with hot glue and used the scissors to cut across the length of the straw to create a clasp.
I glued the straws in place halfway to keep future calculations relatively easy. This will clasp the targets loosely to the string-- Foosball style.
Back outside one more time to paint the back.
Now that I've got my targets it's time to create the scenery!
My idea for the setting is an apocalyptic factory. Where the mood for our zombie hunt is anything but jovial. Fortunate for me I don't really do “cheery” and had all the colors I needed from previous projects.
Spray painting small spaces is tricky, I wanted to be strategic in the application of my colors. I worked with darker shades first then layered lighter on top. I did the inside-sides first; I colored them green and purple.
The center would be black and grey and to prevent overspray I blocked off the sides I'd previously painted. I figured it was my best chance to cover any green and purple that spilled over
the factory stencil was cut on a Cricut made out of an old hanging file folder
I used the factory stencil to the block the new layer of purple paint to complete the silhouette and the sky
Following some touch-ups with the grey paint on the bottom half and the floor I could remove my stencil and take in my initial pint job.
Themes are the best when they are detailed and immersive. I painted the outside a base coat of army green.
Using another old file folder I made a stencil on the Cricut... I can now spray paint bright orange biohazard images on the 3 external sides
Now it looks like an old military container. This goes perfectly with my zombie dystopian theme
Back to the inside of the box using black vinyl I made zombie silhouette cutouts to dress our scene. This way my nephew will feel the impending urgency of the zombie attack.
I added a little strip down the middle to both mark lanes in the road as well as hide the seam of the box lid.
Me tediously removing the chain link fence....soooo many small parts. some may say that I should have used the Cricut contact paper to remove the fence but that would have made applying the vinyl difficult in such a small space.
...and I still had to remove (weed) sections of the fence after applying. Note: I have since learned of better ways to weed intricate cutouts and applying vinyl.
It took a bit of time but the end result was worth it!
The scene is coming together and a touch of black ink pen helps define the outline of the factory.
The Zombies are on the loos the only way to contain them is to close the toge the factory
Lastly, adding the factory's front gate completes our stage.
Things are getting spooky.
The last step is the installation of the strings that hold the targets. Calculations were made to ensure that all of the zombies could make a full rotation without being stuck on the floor or other strings and targets behind them. This pretty much meant sizing it for the 6" zombies.
I had twine on hand and although not my first choice it does give a creepy tattered effect. Twine is very fibrous and easily frayed. So I took my lengths of twine dipped them in white glue, twisted the rope on its self tightly and left it to dry.
I inserted my stiffened twine into small incisions I made with an X-acto knife and held them in place with the smallest amount of hot glue both inside and outside the diorama
The final, and perhaps my favorite part of this build was the little touch of yellow paint on the "Danger Keep Out" sign. It's the only text in the design and the only use of the color yellow. I love details! 🤩
The final result is an eerie upcycle that despite all of the vinyl weeding took very little time to do. When I presented it to my nephew he immediately recognized the biohazard symbol and knew an adventure was on the horizon. So a last-minute box turned awesome one-of-a-kind zombie-killing birthday gift...
sounds like I crafted intrigue...🧟♂️🧟♀🎯