For a long time, I’ve been interested in starting some prop making. Sites like the RPF get me really motivated to start a prop project, but I didn’t want to bite off more than I could chew at first. I also love having Nerf gun battles with my kids, so I figured that’d be a cool way to start to build up some of the skills that are often used in prop making.
I’ve only done one custom painting project like this before, customizing an Optimus Prime figure. I really enjoyed it, and had pretty good results faking metallic wear on the surfaces. I figured a gun would also share some of the same types of wear and materials, so I got out my silver, black, and grey paints and got started. Check it out!
Here’s what you’ll need:
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- Nerf N-Strike Elite: Strongarm Blaster
- Apoxie Sculpt
- LED strip
- 2xAA power inverter
- Dremel tool
- Metallic silver spray paint
- Metallic dark gray spray paint
- Gray primer spray paint
- Acrylic model paint set
- Soldering iron
- Wire strippers (not the ones I have, but good ones)
- Thin solder
- Solder tip cleaner
- Tekton Precision Screw driver kit
- Fiskars cutting mat
To be fair, I started with the same blaster that my kids each have 🙂
The gun comes apart very easily, with a precision screw driver.
There are lots of small springs and screws inside. Be sure to take photos of everything before disassembling.
I used a Dremel tool to sand off all of the names, logos and warnings.
Then I smoothed out the surfaces (kind of) with a sanding block.
I laid all of the parts out to paint.
I used a gray primer made for plastics, for the first layer.
Then I put down two coats of metallic silver spray paint. Some pieces were black instead.
After the paint was all dry, I started the first layer of detailing.
As a first pass, I pushed acrylic flat black paint down into the recesses of the surface, and wiped away the excess.
I added minimal color to a few parts for highlighting and detail.
I stole the inverter from some EL wire that I had.
I chopped off the end, and stripped the wires.
After disassembling it, I unsoldered the wires, and re-soldered them so that they came out the back side of the inverter.
I drilled a small hole to allow the wires to pass through the case.
I cut a single section from a long LED strip.
This strip was soldered directly to the power inverter.
Now I had a very small strip of lighting to use in the barrel.
I drilled a hole in the bottom of the gun for feeding in the wire.
I used a Dremel to cut out a channel, from that hole, to house the wires.
A little hard to be trimmed from the barrel to allow the wires to come through.
I stuck the LED strip in the barrel using it’s adhesive back.
Now the barrel had a light!
I fit the barrel back in place, making sure the wire/LED stayed in place.
Using a small tool, I pushed the wires into the channel I’d made so they wouldn’t get in the way of reassembly.
Then I put everything back in place and closed the gun.
Before moving on, I tested the lights.
To mount the inverter and sculpt the gun, I used Apoxie Sculpt.
It’s a two part, 1-to-1 mixture. Be sure to mix it thoroughly, per the instructions.
I used s small amount to mount the inverter to the gun body.
Then I added small amounts to merge the surfaces and slightly customize the shape. You could go crazy here and make the gun totally different.
I added a big block to the handle to make it fit an adult hand better.
Using a little water made it very easy to modify the shape and smooth out the surface.
It takes 24 hours for the Apoxie Sculpt to fully cure.
Make sure you’re safe when sanding the Apoxie Sculpt, the dust is VERY fine.
I feathered the edges of the material with some flexible sand paper.
Large flat areas were sanded with a sanding block and orbital sander.
I even re-sculpted a little with the Dremel tool.
I used compressed air and a tack cloth to remove all of the dust.
After masking off most of the gun, I primed the new sections.
They also received the same paint as before.
I should have masked along body lines where possible to minimize touch up. A little sanding and paint blended it well.
Then I began dry brushing all of the edges.
Dry brushing creates the illusion of worn off paint, giving it a “used” look on high spots and edges.
I used a light silver on the high spots and flat black in the low spots.
I also brushed on LOTS of black/grey paint, then smeared and wiped it off with paper towels. This fills small gaps and gives it a dirty/greasy look.
The more layers and variation, the most aged and distressed the item will look.
Here it is all finished! It turned out great for a first try (I thought).