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Plastic Space Guys

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Wednesday, July 07th, 2010
9:24 AM
Every now and then, I like to shake things up a bit.  So when my friend Jess told me she was making a steampunk costume for a wedding she'd be attending (you can see her progress over at Project Fancy) I used that as an excuse to start a project I'd had in the back of my head for awhile: creating a steampunk nerf gun.

I started with the humble, but very capable Nerf Maverick:

There are far worse things to spend $10 on.

I started by shaving off the Nerf logos, flavor text and, of course, the warning that said something about not modifying the gun.  Then I disassembled it and carefully saved all the screws and springs.

A simple layout and easy access make this a favorite among Nerf modders.

I didn't muck with the internals all that much.  The only thing I did was clip off two restricters that keep the cylinder from popping out as far as you'd expect it to (called a Russian Roulette mod).

Before I could start painting it though, I wanted to add some physical details to decorate the gun.  I used some jewelry parts bought at a crafts store to replace the "N-Strike" shield near the barrel.

While Jess didn't specifically ask for flowers I thought these looked to good to pass up.

As for the slide, well, I wanted that to be a bit personalized.  I spoke to Jess and she told me if she could pick a personal symbol it would be either koi (Japanese carp) or the Sun.  I toyed with both ideas, but finally settled on using Koi when I found this tattoo design through Google:

Wonder if anyone would ever get a regular carp tattoo?

I printed the image out and used it to cut out four koi shaped bits out of plasticard.  I then used greenstuff to shape the fins after they were glued onto the slide.

Perhaps I should have used plasticard for the fins?

After this was done, I started base coating the gun.  I broke the pieces out into two groups:  The main body would be gunmetal, while the cylinder, barrel and slide would be brass / gold.  I used metallic spray paint that was formulated for hard plastics to make sure it bonded well.

Actual colors used were brass and nickel.

I wasn't quiet happy with the nickle color, so I gave it a thin coat of Boltgun Metal to darken it up a bit.  After that I washed the body with Badab Black and the other parts with Ogryn Flesh and Devlan Mud. I also gave the grip a base coat of a 50/50 mix of Scorched Brown and Red Gore to approximate wood.  The trick to washing something this large seems to be to not over-think it.  You want the wash to appear natural, not planned - so I just slapped it on.

First time I had the gun back together - and it still worked!

The next step was to give the metallics a final highlight using Rub-n-Buff - a wonderful metallic paste that's great for making metal look worn or polished.

Rub-n-Buff silver and gold were applied to all the edges.

Next, I added a wood-grain pattern to the wood grip using a dark mix of the same base coat.  I than finished it with a dry-brushed high-light to simulate wear and tear and a (very light) brown wash to blend it all together a bit.

Before and after adding the grain.

The final detail to paint were the koi on the slides.  One would be a glossy black (I was imagining obsidian) and the other would be an orange gem (vaguely amber).  Using my experience from painting gems and lenses on 40k minis, I tried my best to guess how such a complex gem would shine.  I think I did ok, though I added perhaps too much white.  I also quickly added a few Japanese characters for "sun" and "water" (at least that's what they're supposed to be) just above the pistol grip. 

After this, the whole gun was given a few coats of matte finish, then individual parts like the grip and the koi gems were finished with Future Floor Acrylic (wonderful stuff, by the way).  Here are shots of the finished product:

The whole shabang.

The grip after it's been finished with a few gloss coats.

Demonstrating the "Russian Roulette" mod.

Overall, the project took me about a week of off-time work (not so bad really).  I think Jess will be pleased with it, and I definitely had fun making it;  So much in fact, that I've got some ideas for other color schemes (and I do have 3 more Mavericks).

See ya, Space Cowboy...