I know what you’re thinking, “DAH–No Kidding! Of course I’m using props to go along with my getup!” In fact I would venture to say the weapon is probably the first thing finished or obtained before the costume is ready for showing off. This entry is about different ways to make and use your prop weapon as a way to save money and keep it light and safe, but also looking great. Not every weapon here is done by me. I’ve asked a couple of talented artists I know if I can feature their work here because what they did looks great and they kept it on a low budget.
One of the quickest and least expensive ways to get your weapon is to buy the toy and paint it to look real. My friend and terrific cosplayer Damaris Degen of Mystique’s World of Cosplay has done exactly this with the Hasbro Han Solo Blaster.
It’s amazing what spray paint and some dry brushing can do. She even took the time to drill out the many small holes on the flash hider at the end of the barrel giving it a more authentic look. Great Job Damaris!
Along the same idea as buying the form and then painting is purchasing an airsoft rifle or gun which is what I did for DragonCon one year. I got the airsoft to go with my viper suit in combat mode for the parade with The Colonial Fleet. It was an incredibly easy paint job because it was already black. I just dry brushed some silver highlights to make it look metallic and not plastic. Both the toy and the airsoft are light weight so carrying them around all day is a breeze.
Building your weapon from scratch is not as easy, but it is very rewarding and a lot of fun. The challenge is to find the right materials at the right price. Here is an example of an accessory my friend made for his son for Halloween. This is how he described
the process of fabricating it: “I drew the axe head pattern on a large sheet of paper and cut it out. I then traced it onto foam floor mat and flipped the pattern and traced it onto another piece of foam floor mat so I had two halves of the axe to sandwich the PVC handle between. I then glued them together with contact cement. I used a dremmel tool to shape the axe blade and pick. I wrapped the handle to look like a leather grip. The foam head was sealed with two layers of modge podge and then spray painted the whole thing black. Then I dry brushed the metal parts with silver paint, painted brown over the leather parts and dry brushed a lighter brown on the leather.” Thanks Jack…looks great!
Much of my work, however, was not so easy. Some how, I seam to end up doing things the hard and expensive way, but the pieces I’ve made are durable and can be made again because I make molds for about everything I produce. Having a mold means you could make several and you can experiment with casting in different materials. Fiberglass, pour resin casting, or foam are usually the choices of media to manufacture in.
It is a long withstanding or known rule that when bringing a prop firearm with you to a Comic Convention that you paint the tip red or orange for easy visibility to let Con folk and staff know that your piece is fake or harmless.
I hope that this may have been a little inspiring for you to get motivated and be thinking and executing your plans for the next convention you’ll be attending. Prop weapons are a must and there is nothing like posing for pics by excited Con guests wishing that they had a cool prop to go with their costume.