Hmmm. I think you are on the right track. Perhaps that paper clay that everyone is using. Squished around some wire forms to make the shapes. Then your paper mache' on top, and then paint. It may not look as smooth unless you sand the final coating before paint.
And for the sucker things...maybe imbed beads into the clay? And press them in there with the toppings.
I think this is octopus or squid in origin.
How big are you wishing it? Because Fimo clay is really easy to work with, but has to be oven baked. Although you could probably do it in sections, and then fit together in the end.
Just some ideas. Hope this helps. $3500 is way more than I would spend, too
Whoops...new thought. Diamonds! For the squid suctions...boy would that not set this off!
not the real ones, but just jewels. Or any other kind of fancy type jewel beads. Put those on top. Who says it has to be all silver???