My husband has pointed out that these are no more than dioramas (thanks honey!), and that I enjoy making them more than the boys do (again, big thanks!). But having made the Bat Cave, and the Fortress of Solitude, I was itching to make a bad guy lair. Who is a more fun villain than the Joker?
I really enjoyed make this one because it was a combined mom-kid effort. Yes, I had some help on the others, but I did the lion’s share of the work. While the main goal is to create a fun environment to enhance superhero play, I have an evil secret agenda- to teach my kids they can make things rather than buy them, and use items they have on hand.
With two small boys, I am time and budget restricted. I did not purchase anything to make the lair (although I did have to go dumpster diving for the box.) Everything used we had on hand. The lair took a bit longer to construct than the Bat Cave or Fortress. The lair was about 2 hours start to finish. The Bat Cave was more like an hour, maybe hour and fifteen, and the fortress was about 45 minutes. You can find them here:
The boys brainstormed some ideas for traps the Joker might use. They immediately wanted Smilex gas. I really would have have loved to use one of those old fashioned perfume spritzers, but I didn’t have one, so we went with a spray bottle of water with a Smilex label. Liam wanted stairs somewhere in the lair, so we decided to use them to get to the gas- of course, they are nothing more than wooden blocks.
I asked for other trap ideas, and Liam came up with the slinky trap- which is a great way to use up a slinky since kids want to play with them for about five seconds. I poked holes in the box with a nail, then wrapped small pieces of jewelry wire around a few points on the slinky. Popped the wire through the holes and twisted it together. Put clear tape over the top of the ends, so the kids would not get poked. The bottom of the slinky is unattached so they can get their figures out of the trap.
The net trap was my idea, and is- you guessed it- an old hair net. Attached the same way as the slinky, but created a trap door in the top of the box.
My favorite element is the big entrance for Joker. The boys love coloring, so I had them color and cut Joker pages (gotta get that fine motor skill practice). We used some on the outside of the box as graffiti. I glued one to a piece of cardboard to support it, and cut it so that it split in two pieces along the smile. I punched a hole in the top of the picture, and in the top of the box. I pulled a piece of yarn through each hole, so that if you pulled the yarn, the pictured could be raised up. When the picture is raised, it reveals the Joker inside. I then used an old t-shirt to create a red carpet tongue that could be rolled out.
I made a hook out of a pipe cleaner on the back of the lair, so the picture could be held in the air.
Ta-da! That is your DIY no-cost Joker’s lair. Wonder whose lair they will want to make next? I’ve already got ideas for Lex Luther and the Penguin.