Now my first one was an RGB pack and it was out of household items. It was small and odd looking but it really got the idea through and I won a costume contest. With the wood and paint I probably spent about 15 bucks tops.
My second one was an EGB pack done with Irricanian's plans. It was a smash hit and even though it was from the short lived cartoon with the suit on everyone knew what I was going for and LOVED it because it was just outrageous looking. I loved that pack and sold it for 70 bucks; It only cost me 45 so I made a small profit for my next one.
This newest one cost me about the whole 70 bucks and was a custom RGB pack. Little movie, little cartoon, little me and I think its great. The big cost here was electronics but everything else would be cheap still.
All of these packs took me from one weekend to a week or two in time as well.
If you manage things well, hit the right stuff, its easy!
So here is what we do!
If you are not wood or metal savvy then the right materials can help ALOT. The motherboard will always have to be wood so it can hold the weight accordingly. I suggest a large piece of MDF as its cheap easy to work with, light, doesn't look silly like plywood and you may get more then one pack /prop out it thus saving money. Now for alot of the other stuff you have of course heard of people using cardboard and if you have that lying around thats a great idea because its now free and with the right glue work you seal the edges and no one is the wiser. If thats not an option go buy foam board. One or two pieces should be enough to do a pack and its rigid and light. For either one make sure you have a sharp KNIFE to cut the stuff with, no scissors or dull butter knifes or some crap.
GLUE! Make sure you have the right glue. I buy Household welder, its not too expensive goes a long way and HOLDS real well. If you use too much though the stuff can never dry so be careful. But when used to fill gaps it paints over well once it really does dry and can help hold your pack down even.
Don't be afraid to think outside the box. If something on the pack looks like something else...try it! A well placed and painted white out bottle, film bottle, hose cap, or lid can replace a lot of little things.
All of my packs have used these three things, nuts, hose caps, and found plumbing materials.
Hose caps for a pool that are used to winterize your pump are soft rubber/plastic that can be cut and used to run hoses on your pack to. They hold paint well and easy to cut a hold into with a knife. Before you go buy them ask a friend with a pool if he has a few extra!
Nuts make great connectors for those small tubes! They look authentic and are real cheap and don't need anything done to them. I'm sure you have tons laying around.
Plumbing materials also make great knobs, connectors, and other things. On my new pack I took a nut hider for a toilet, painted it silver and attached it to the cyclotron. It looks real cool and thus looks like its hiding a nut that holds down the bumper. Those type of things can also be drilled with a loose screw and painted to look like a knob on the thrower. Go check out my pictures for more ideas with that kind of stuff.
A lot of the stuff on the packs are very box like or hell are boxes. Think about what is the same size, a project box, a Tupperware box, and card box, etc.
If you set one hour a day aside to do this you will be done quick but make sure you use the full time. Turn off the TV if you need to. Work slow and work smart and it will smooth out well.
I could go on so its better that you ask questions and I answer. So get asking!
The Original Spooky
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