Building a Sci-Fi Cyber Octopus for 80’s Style Practical Effects

3D Printing & Imaging Art & Sculpture Craft & Design Digital Fabrication
Building a Sci-Fi Cyber Octopus for 80’s Style Practical Effects

I spotted this incredible mechanical looking octopus on the web and was delighted to see that there was a lot more information available. As it turns out, the octopus is a 3D printed prop developed for an indie film project called “Attack of the Cyber Octopuses”. You can find an official page, as well as a blog where the creators go over constructing these props.

I talked to Nicola Piovesan, the creator and got some insight into the project.

What exactly is this project?

“Attack of the Cyber Octopuses” is a retro-futuristic cyberpunk short film. The aim is to recreate the look and feel of the Eighties Sci-fi classics, without using CGI nor chroma key. Therefore it’ll be shot in real locations and use various original miniature models and handmade props. Everything is self-made, keeping the budget as low as possible!

The film is inspired by William Gibson’s cyberpunk landmark Neuromancer and by some of the most awesome sci-fi products of that 80s era, like Blade Runner, Terminator, Escape from New York, Aliens, etc.


What was your inspiration for the octopus

Initially I wanted to call the film “Attack of the Cyber Shrimps”, but then it was too silly… Then I moved to “Attack of the Cyber Crabs” because I wanted something more serious and the idea was to use real dried crabs with some tech implants. But taxidermic crabs are either too fragile or impossible to move… So I finally decided for “Attack of the Cyber Octopuses” and chose to make the octopuses with a 3D printer and some other electrical components (LEDs, RCA sockets, wires, etc). I wanted a creature somehow “weird” but that at the same time can be evil and with a cool design. The whole Sci-Fi of the 80s inspired me, especially the works of H.R. Giger. I don’t want to make a cheesy/trashy film like Kung Fury or Megaborg, I’d rather make a “serious” one that can have something involuntary funny. We love to define the project like “Tarantino meets Blade Runner” (are we too ambitious?).


What gave you the biggest problem in designing it? How did you resolve it?

3D printing is a completely brand new world for me. I started using a 3D printer for the first time for this job! But I’ve many years of experience in 3D modeling and animation, as you can see from this music video of mine.

YouTube player

So the big challenge was to design for the first time something that can be “printable” and assembled. The bigger trouble was the joints between different parts of the head. For the upper part that works also as a lid I solved it pretty well using superstrong magnets 5mm diameter. The other parts are connected with 4mm screws and I could have designed a more solid area around the holes, that might be a little bit fragile. Anyway, I was lucky enough to make everything work at the first printing!


If you were to do it again, what would you do differently?

I’m pretty happy with the final result. Maybe, as mentioned above, I can make stronger joints for the head and probably I will do a better paint job, for example avoiding the use of that “gold/copper” color that makes many people think it’s steampunk, while I want something cyberpunk (therefore maybe using rather blue-neon or silver colors).


How can people find and support you guys online?

At the moment the project is zero budget, I’m putting in it lot of energy and some little investment from my pockets, so any help is very appreciated, even a couple of bucks by using the PayPal donation button that you can find on the official website or on the making of blog (where you can also see some more details about the building of the Octopus). A big help for us is also sharing the project around, joining the Facebook page, Instagram or Twitter. Furthermore, in early January, we’ll launch a crowdfunding campaign to make the movie and generous backers might have a Cyber Octopus for themselves! Stay tuned!



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I get ridiculously excited seeing people make things. I just want to revel in the creativity I see in makers. My favorite thing in the world is sharing a maker's story. email me at caleb (at) or You can find me on tiktok, talking about my animals at TikTok

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