So we have a competition related to firefighting and one of the tasks is to retrieve a PVC figure known as the "mannequin." It is composed of PVC pipes for limbs and a PVC plug with end for a head. There is rope that holds the components together. At the end of the limbs, washers hold the knots together.

Manny the mannequin

We were hoping that we can make a human sized version for someone to wear. Granted that a scaled costume may not look exactly the same, are there any suggestions to go about this? We don't have many resources, but we may be able to buy typical materials if necessary. Thanks.

3 Answers 3


I believe the closest analog you'll find for human sized PVC pipe that wouldn't be PVC pipe is called concrete form tubes, sometimes under the brand name Sonotube. The Home Depot version is called Sakrete form tube. It's going to be lighter than PVC of human size, but that doesn't mean it will be light. As it is constructed of cardboard, it would be easily painted white with matching lettering. If you wanted to hide the joints, fabric could be glued at the knees, elbows, etc, but you're going to have a challenge finding a skinny enough human torso to fit inside the typically-available Sonotube diameters.

You could use some sort of cording that runs from the knee joint through the thigh bone up through the torso to a shoulder support to help manage the weight. If you're using a healthy firefighter for the inner-human, it would not be too heavy, I believe.

The torso could be a suitably sized plastic rubbish bin, also painted white. If you plan to encase the human's head as well, a portion of a smaller cylindrical rubbish bin would also work. It's starting to look a bit like a lego character in my alleged mind.

This photo is the 8" size, although other smaller sizes are also available. Some larger construction businesses may have discards if you have contacts in the area.

sakrete form tube

  • Instead of painting white, you might cover with white fabric, like the one used for stretchy bedsheets.
    – Willeke
    Nov 25, 2017 at 9:46
  • @fred_dot_u Thanks! This is really useful. By the way, is there any alternative to trash cans for the torso?
    – Ian L
    Nov 25, 2017 at 16:56
  • what do you think of small hula hoops with a fabric wrap?
    – fred_dot_u
    Nov 25, 2017 at 17:39

How about making your tubes from large pieces of cardboard? That way you can size them to fit, spray paint them white, and fasten them together with the red cord, like in your photo. A local furniture and appliance store or lumberyard may be able to supply you with cardboard for free.


Cardboard tubes and air conditioning duct flexible and or rigid.

  • 1
    Welcome to Arts & Crafts. Can you add a little more detail to your suggestion? I'm having trouble visualizing exactly what you have in mind.
    – Erica
    Jan 26, 2018 at 1:56
  • flex duct at all the joints and lengths of cardboard tube to cover the long areas of the arms and legs. Feb 9, 2018 at 17:52

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