In my infinite wisdom I decided, on the high that I rode all the way home from the Steampunk World’s Fair, that I should try my hands at prop crafting to round out my costume. In particular I wanted a steampunk gun of my very own, dammit, and something convinced me that I would be capable of it. Turns out I was around 90% right.
If you do a Google Image Search for “steampunk gun” you’re going to get a metric ass-ton of images back, as there are a ridiculous number of incredibly talented crafters out there. While a good many of them make prop guns from scratch out of wood, copper, brass, or PVC pipe painted to look like it, a more popular (and less time-intensive) tactic that quite a few crafters use is to buy a cheap Nerf dart gun and simply modify the hell out of it instead. Not being in possession of large amounts of patience I opted for the latter.
Now most people, on beginning their first-ever project like this, will decide to start small – when it comes to choosing a model to base a Nerf steampunk gun off of, the Maverick Rev-6 is the industry standard, though Nerf has since discontinued it and replaced it with the similar (but slightly less cool-looking) Strongarm. I considered the Strongarm, or even trying to find a Maverick somewhere, but instead decided to go whole hog and possibly bite off more than I could chew: I chose the Stockade instead, a beefier looking gun that comes with a detatchable stock. Not so large as to resemble one of those insane, badass looking Nerf rifles, the Stockade is kind of like a carbine with the stock attached. It meant I had more to modify, but I figured the payoff would be worth it.
After bringing the thing home (and “accidentally” shooting my wife in the ass with it a couple of times) I gathered the supplies I would need in order to transform the goofy-looking toy paintjob into something that looked more like it had been designed by Nikola Tesla’s less insane gun nut of a cousin. Here’s a list of my implements of destruction.
- 1 can of dark brown spray primer
- 2 plastic bottles each of several different acrylic metallic-hued paints (brass, silver, and copper)
- 1 package of several different sized paint brushes
- 2 sandpaper blocks
- 1 roll of painter’s tape
- and a three-pack of disposable face masks (my wife insisted)
To this I added a Phillips head screwdriver, several plastic baggies to keep parts separated, and a curious combination of eagerness and anxiety to get started. I prepped the patient:
Next, I removed the screws holding the casing together and cracked her open, taking plenty of reference pictures along the way since I knew I’d have no chance of putting it back together correctly otherwise.
If you’ll notice the gun is battery powered, which means I couldn’t remove the two halves completely thanks to the wiring. This would make prepping and painting more difficult, but I was up to the task:
Surgery complete, I snapped the case back together and put all the screws in carefully-labeled plastic baggies. This pleased my wife to no end.
Next, I moved outside – braving the Adirondack black fly season, mind you – and prepped for paint. This included not just masking off areas that I didn’t want painted but also giving everything a quick sanding to rough up the plastic so the paint adhered evenly.
Finally I set down some newspaper on the back lawn and sprayed the hell out of everything. My wife needed to remind me three times to wear my face mask.
After two coats of primer (and 24 hours of drying time) I began my quest in earnest: to turn a cool toy with an ugly paint job into something that you could imagine an airship pirate using to cause trouble. I started with silver and began my first coat of color:
As you can see, just one or two coats of paint won’t do it – you need several. Here’s the same gun after more silver has been applied, as well as some touches of copper and brass as well:
I kept piling the coats of paint on, adding more detail until one entire side was almost done:
Finally, I completed one whole side! Or enough to say “fuck it, looks okay for now.” I’ll obviously be going back in and touching up in a bunch of places, but it looked pretty good at this point.
Thankfully the second side went a lot quicker, owing to all the practice I got on the first one. It wasn’t long before I was satisfied with how that looked as well:
It was moment of truth time, now: I had to put everything back together – and hopefully in the right way. I slapped the turret and trigger assembly back into place and screwed everything down, only to realize I had forgotten to paint the fucking trigger!
Of course there were further complications as well – for some reason the trigger mechanism wasn’t making the turret rotate as it should. After deconstructing it, turning it this way and that, and failing to get it working on my own my wife waltzed over and pointed out two screws that I had put in the wrong holes. I switched them and the gun worked like a charm.
So the majority of the work is, thankfully, done on this piece. Sure, it still needs lots of little touch-ups, detail work, and neat little doodads added on but the bulk of the project is done. On top of that it still shoots. As far as I know it’s the first Nerf Stockade that’s been Steampunked up. I kind of like that.