Let your kids ride in style this Halloween on a working Mario (or Luigi) Kart. These easy and inexpensive props are sure to be a Halloween hit. You can use any ride-on vehicle or toy to create these Karts. It's best if you can use matching carts and go with friends as your favorite Mario characters: Mario, Luigi, Bowser, Yoshi, Princess Peach, and more. My son and his best friend covered a lot of territory in these carts. They really made it a Halloween to remember.
Step 1: Step 1: Pick a ride-on toy
I wanted sturdy pedal cars for the boys, and my son had outgrown his Kettle car so I found these adult sized Pedal cars on Craigslist. I saw some a week later at a thrift shop and I've seen some here and there at garage sales. My advice is to shop in your garage first, a Big Wheel or ride-on battery powered Jeep works just as well. If you don't have something in your garage, start shopping at the end of summer for some great end-of-season sales or buy used carts like I did. After Halloween you'll be able to remove the Mario chassis (if your kids will let you) and you'll still have a fun ride-on toy.
Step 2: Step 2: Gather your other supplies
For one Kart you'll need these supplies:
1. 2-3 cardboard boxes - I bought 2 medium and one small box from Home Depot. I spent under $10 dollars and had left-over cardboard. You may need to adjust this estimate based on the size of your ride-on vehicle.
2. a roll of duct tape
3. a box cutter (or strong scissors)
4. 1.5 yards of Colored felt (red for Mario, green for Luigi, Pink for Princess Peach...you get the idea), and 1.5 yards of white felt for the bumpers. I used the left-over scraps to make the trick-or-treat bags shown in the picture. Felt is cheap, I used some from Walmart and spent about $10.
5. Spray adhesive (or a glue gun, or a tube of glue)
Step 3: Step 3: Cut your body parts from cardboard.
Use the general templates provided here and size the pieces to fit your ride-on vehicle. Start with the hood, it will determine the size of the bumper so it has to go first. You must allow enough room for the rider's legs to fit underneath, so start the hood just below your steering wheel. Slope it down just enough to create a pocket large enough to accommodate a full range of motion for pedaling legs. Next, size the Bumper so that the center top piece is slightly larger than the front of the hood (so that it fits around the hood). The rear fenders can be adjusted to fit your ride-on vehicle, they do not affect the size of the other pieces other than for aesthetics.
Step 4: Step 4: Assemble your chassis
Now that you've sized, cut and folded your pieces, tape the edges together. If your pieces are not quite the right size or shape for your ride-on vehicle trim the pieces now to get a good fit. You can make adjustments as needed to the pattern. As you can see in the picture, I started with a solid rear bumper but eventually created two separate bumpers because we thought it looked better. I also had to trim down the hood sides to fit the ride-on vehicle. When you are happy with your chassis's fit remove the pieces from the vehicle and set them aside.
Step 5: Step 5: Add the felt.
Take the completed body parts and set them in your yard (on dry grass) or in your driveway. You will be spraying adhesive onto these pieces so pick a spot where the overspray will not create a mess. Start with the hood. First dry-fit the colored felt by laying it over the hood, press the felt down the sides to be sure your hood will be completely covered by the felt. (If your material is short don't panic, you can cut shapes for the individual sides of the hood from the felt and glue it on that way.) Now that you know how to position your felt, spray the top of the hood with adhesive. Affix the felt to the top of the hood allowing at least 1 inch to wrap around the edge for a clean finish - you don't want any cardboard showing. When the top is set, spray the right and left side (but not the front) and fold the felt down to affix it, again allowing a 1 inch wraparound on the edge. With the top and sides in place, trim the felt from the right and left front sides, leaving only the front piece. Then fold the front piece down and trim it to cover the front piece making sure that the right and left felt edges meet the felt edges from the front piece. Spray the front piece with adhesive and press it into place. Use the same method to cover the bumper and rear fenders.
Step 6: Step 6: Add the emblem
To add the emblem on the hood, find a circle that is approximately the size of the circle you'd like for the emblem. (I used a jumbo frisbee) Lay out the leftover white felt and trace your object onto the felt. Now cut out the white felt circle. Use the leftover colored felt to cut out an appropriate letter for your character, M for Mario, L for Luigi, etc. I used a ruler and traced the edges to make my letters nice and straight. If you don't have enough leftover colored felt you can just cut out the letter from the center of the white circle, the underlying color will show through. I find that method a bit more complicated plus I like the look of a raised letter so I used a colored felt letter on top. Spray adhesive onto the back of your letter and press in onto the circle. Then spray adhesive onto the back of the circle and press the emblem into place on the hood.
Step 7: Step 7: Secure the body parts onto the ride-on vehicle.
Place the body parts onto your ride-on vehicle. I used duct tape on the underside of the body parts to secure it to the tubular metal frame of the pedal car. Luckily, the pedal car had a bumper and rear fenders to secure the parts easily. The duct tape was plenty strong enough to hold the parts in place for Halloween and several weeks following Halloween (all the neighborhood kids came around to borrow the Karts.) If your ride-on vehicle does not have a separate front bumper, secure the bumper to the hood to make it one solid piece. The best way to adhere the parts may depend on the specifics of your ride-on vehicle. Duct tape worked like a champ for me.
Step 8: Step 8: Accessories
The boys wanted a way to carry their trick or treat bags and odds and ends, flashlights, phones, etc. To accomplish this I added a simple wire frame basket to the rear of the Kart. I attached two 2x2 wooden rails to the frame of the ride-on vehicle by screwing a mending plate across the two pieces of wood sandwiching the metal frame. I then attached the other end to the basket by screwing a mending plate into the wood sandwiching the wire frame. It was quick and easy. The boys were stocked for the night and were able to go and go without having to dump their booty and reload at home. After this picture was taken I also added a bike safety flag and two battery operated tap lights secured to the front bumper. They looked like headlights on the Karts. Between the flag and reflectors from the ride-on vehicle in the rear, and the front headlights it was easy to see them coming and going in the dark (our neighborhood is well-lit but being cautious never hurts).
Step 9: Step 9: If you have leftover felt...
If you have left over scraps of felt don't throw them away. I used our extra felt to make a simple trick-or-treat bag to match the Kart/costume for the boys. Just take a reusable grocery bag or a gift bag (white if possible) and trim it with a simple strip of felt on the top edge and handle. Cut out a colored circle and a white letter for an emblem to match your Kart. You are now ready to win Halloween! Have fun!