Halloween 2017: [How-To] King Kong on The Empire State Building

News Coverage This Year:


ABC News

New York Times

Fox 13 Utah

Salt Lake Tribune FRONT PAGE

Houston Chronicle



Times Union 

Connecticut Post

KBRQ Radio

Relevant Magazine

WINA Radio


Videos Of The Display:

Salt Lake Tribune

Inside Edition

…and my personal favorite news spot so far:

Toy Man Television


Building King Kong and ESB:

Here we go again, a month before October and building for Halloween! Our favorite time of year! (See our previous years if you haven’t already)

2013: Hellbrier Cemetery

2014: Pirate Ship

2015: Haunted Skeleton Train

2016: Dragons and Vikings

Every year we try to do something gigantic, and atypical for Halloween. We have never seen a King Kong themed Halloween, and the Empire State Building will give us a chance to make the whole thing really huge. Ok folks, here we go…


Four 2x4s will be the base. 8’x8′ should be a good enough scale. We’ll see though. I may have to add to it later on.



They’ve been tacked together with a framing nailer, leveled on all four sides, stakes have been pounded into the ground around the inside of the whole square, then nailed to the square. With this method, none of the sweet grass will die because the wood is hovering over the grass. Gots’ta keep the wife happy! I nailed the four vertical 2x4s in also, starting the box.





Hey, let’s support this thing with a few crossbeams, huh? Why not!





With all four sticks in place with two nails each and a little breeze going, I better get these wobbly things stabilized quickly!



*Sigh* They are much more sturdy now with more horizontal pieces in place.



I’m standing back on the sidewalk now and trying to visualize the scale. I think it looks good so far, but I swill have to add to it, of course.



This morning I put in a few more crossbeams, or “joists” (what I’m standing on), and the whole thing is really firming up nicely.  It’s important to me that this thing won’t tip over and hurt a kid that is just trying to get some candy! This upper level being stand-on-able will help later on when the rest of the building goes up and my ladders become too short to reach up high.



Because this is how we do it when creatively building, we decided just how much of the Empire State Building we wanted to do *after* we started. We are going to just do the last three main tiers of it, so my first “level” needs to be wider. I added in some furring strips and cutoff 2x4s to make the bottom-most tier 10 inches wider all the way around.





I love morning light for Halloween photos, but I hate mornings! Here’s where we left it last night with better lighting.



So today I have added on a third, smaller tier for the top level. I am just using junky scrap wood now, so you can see how I had to nail together two (laminated) pieces to get the length of wood I need.  This will be good enough for the top tier.  If it isn’t, I can always stand up on one of the two “floors” and sturdy it up.



I’m satisfied enough with the shape so far to move onto the spire portion of the building. I got four rims from my neighbors who run a bike business and have a junk rim pile. These should be good enough for the scale of what I’m planning on for the first part of the spire. I cut out the spokes and they are ready to go. I’m borrowing this build idea from myself via the Skeleton Train I built two years ago.

Building the Empire State Building spire


We will have lighting running through it, so I don’t want the main part of the spire to be fully covered.  I found from counting the spoke holes that I will have even spacing of wood sticks if I use every fourth hole to screw into the center of the wood. That should be good enough to light up well and have it nice and visible.

Empire State Building spire


I got this downspout gutter from a spring cleanup pile. I’m going to use it for the tip of the spire. I cut two holes out of it, slid two sticks of wood through, and screwed them to the bike rims through the spoke holes. It’s exceptionally sturdy!



Toss some black spray paint at this thing, and we’re more or less ready to go!



I stapled in some clear Christmas lights through the center, and for the top blinking light, I used an empty plastic jug of Simply juice, took off the labels, stuffed in a solar powered string of lights (that has a “blink” option), and screwed/taped it to the tip. It blinks pretty well, and since it’s solar powered with an auto on-off, I don’t have to try to get up 30-40 feet every night to get it going!



I ran two 2x4s through the spire tube and pushed this up on top of my pergola.  With the help of my brother-in-law, I successfully got it on top of the highest portion of the building and tacked it in place. It was very useful to have two people telling me when it was centered and straight before I secured it!

Build Empire State Building


Thanks to my wife’s coworker, we got a huge truckload of these styrofoam sheets for free.  How awesome! This is what I’ll sheath the building in.



Last night I finished all the styrofoam and got the base color painted on, which isn’t horribly different from the styrofoam. I’m not sure if the paint will be dark enough, but it’s what we have, so that’s what I’m doing!

Empire State Building Day


Looks good at night so far!











Ok, the painting is starting to feel “worth it” now, after seeing it at night with some lights!




Oh yeah, I need a couple of spire do-dads.


Now for Kong…



This is the beginning of his head.  Just an old box and some wood to hold it onto the body when it’s done.




A real quick table saw job on some scrap wood and a few finishing nails through the nail gun.



So, this is looking like a body, right?



Let’s puff out that rib cage a little.




Now a start of the shoulder.



Add some trapezius muscles in…



…and here we are.  The scale looks good so far, but we can always change the body to match the head if it is off.  Now that I look at it, we really could just stop right here.  It looks exactly like King Kong, doesn’t it?



I have just filled in his body a little with more wood strips and added some chicken wire to his shoulder.



“Why ssssso ssssserioussss? Yeah, he kind of looks like the Heath Ledger Joker, or some kind of clown.



Pool noodles are the coolest thing that Halloween ever figured out, aside from fog machines.



We added in some of the poly-fake leather stuff we had left over from last year’s Viking costumes, and now he’s beginning to look more like a gorilla.



Ok, now he really is looking a lot more like a gorilla.




Meanwhile, here’s how the body is looking.  Not so good thus far…



We tossed his head on today, added a few more pieces of chicken wire, and the fur fabric to connect his shoulders to his head.  Lookin’ a bit more legit now.  Not too legit to quit yet, but getting there.



Time to put this societal menace up on the Empire State Building where he belongs.  Since I don’t know where his arms or legs will be on the building, I am just going to throw him up, tie him down, and figure out the rest of his body up on a ladder.



Good Lord, getting him over that fence and into the front yard isn’t as easy as you may think!



With the help of my dedicated Halloween staff (haha, Neighbor Johnny and my brother-in-law Jason), we somehow got him up on top of the pergola without snapping his neck or ours.



Ok, this is starting to be a little cooler than I thought it would be.  I love the scale of him up there against the building.  He’s yuuge!



I threw on a leg for him tonight.  It looks a little to conical, but I’m going with it for now.



Same methods as the body at a different altitude.  Here’s the beginning to his arm.



The news is already onto us! We told them that James (my nephew) had come up with the idea so that he could be part of the clip!




God bless pool noodles, hot glue, and black trash bags.  Here’s his hand start.



Sweet.  Let’s attach it now.




What good is King Kong menacing NYC without a little 20’s-era firepower blasting at him? Here are the three biplanes I made for it.  These are just more scrap wood.  It literally took me like 20 minutes to toss these together.  No reason to overthink them.  They will be up high and seen mostly in the dark. Thanks to Johnny and Elva for the drone propeller loaners!



Arm up, leg up, foot and hand complete, so it’s time to really focus on lighting.



Biplanes up now, and I decided to shamelessly plug this website with one of those pull-behind ad streamers on this plane.



The building worked out well! I love the blinking light at the top.



The biplanes and Barbie doll look awesome, but they are hard to capture on camera!



I love Halloween so much.



Here’s a decent shot with my legit camera.



A lot of people are stopping to check him out.  This is getting to be a lot of fun!



I will keep this post updated as Halloween gets here and add the news links that are forthcoming.  Fox13 should be here again tonight and airing tomorrow!


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