Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Making a Prop Han Solo's DL-44 Blaster from a Cheap Toy

If you've been following, you know my wife is with the Aurora 88s Roller Derby team. Her derby name is Hannah Solo, so for this year's photo shoot, we thought it would only make sense if she was holding Solo's DL-44 Heavy Plaster Pistol.

The Base Model

A quick search on Amazon showed us this beauty:

Photo from Amazon

At the time it cost me under $10 US plus shipping. Interestingly, if you check the comments, it looks like the only people who buy it are doing so to turn them into props!

Prep Work

The next step was to find a bunch of reference photos. Here's some of the ones that I found:
Also, I need to point out that this video by HappyTrooper was very helpful for some of the prep work and a couple of techniques:

Watching that video, I learned that the muzzle end cap could be removed. So I did that and then drilled out the vent holes, starting with a pin vise bit to center each hole and worked progressively upward to an 1/8" bit with an electric drill:

Since I didn't want to bore out or rebuild the scope, I measured each end and had a friend 3D print a couple of scope bezels:

The rear bezel is 30mm O.D., 26mm I.D., and 2.5mm thick. The front bezel is 23.3mm O.D., 20.3mm I.D., and 3mm thick. Since the scope is superimposed on the muzzle, I had to cut it to fit. I also cut a couple of slots in it to match the real scope used.

After gluing on the bezels, scraping off manufacturer marks, filling screw holes and part lines, I sanded everything flush as needed:

The next step was to hit it with a coat of black primer:

You can see I also started masking off the grip.


Now to start weathering!

Since the original scope is made from brass—and if you've seen the new Solo movie, you can catch glimpses of gold—I decided to weather it with Privateer Press Formula P3 - Brass Balls:

Checking the reference photos, it appears the grip is made from a reddish wood. So I basecoated it in Reaper Master Series HD Paints - Sunburn Flesh (29821), painting in the direction of the "grain" and making sure a little bit of the black showed through. Then I painted on some additional grain lines with Reaper Master Series Paints - Mahogany Brown (09070):

It doesn't show it here, but now's the best time to describe it. I wanted to knock back those grain lines a bit and make the grip a bit redder, so I used the same Reaper Mahogany Brown and glazed it. Glazing is a fancy word for diluting the paint with water and brushing it on so it puts a transparent film over the other colors. In this case I diluted it 1:1 and did one pass. After that, I did a quick drybrush with a more yellowish brown, Reaper Master Series Paints - Harvest Brown (09200) to make it look a bit worn.

Next, I masked off everything but the muzzle. I wanted the muzzle to look like it had seen some heat and grime, so I used (and happened to have) three different metallic spray paints. First, I basecoated the muzzle in silver. While it was still damp, I then hit the rear parts with a warm bronze, then I touched up the fronts with some gunmetal. Lookin' sweet!:
My wife saw this step and said, "Neat! Carbon scoring!"

At this point, I sealed everything with Army Painter "Anti-Shine" Matte Varnish.

One of the things I caught in HappyTrooper's video was using graphite to give the prop a gunmetal look. I happened to have a jar of Secret Weapon Miniatures Metallic Iron pigment and gave that a try. On a whim, I put a nylon brush in my Dremel and gave it a gentle buffing. It turned out really great:

Unfortunately..... putting on a coat of Krylon satin enamel made the look disappear. Bummer.

Well, push forward on the weathering!

I am fortunate to still have a bottle of Citadel's old Mithril Silver and Chainmail acrylics. (If anybody has a good suggestion for replacing these in the future, hit the comments below!) Using these two, I carefully silvered the various edges, following the various reference photos.

At this point, I also dirtied up the grip and muzzle with some slightly thinned Reaper Master Series Paints - Pure Black (09037) acrylic, mashed it in to the nooks and crannies, and wiped much of it off with a paper towel:

One more coat of Krylon satin enamel and we're almost done.

Since I wanted the scope to look like glass, I stood the prop on end, poured a couple of drops of Vallejo Game Varnish - Gloss (72072), and let it sit overnight:

You may have noticed the crosshairs... Before I glued on the bezel, I scribed the crosshairs in with a dental pick. Before I glossed it over, I painted the lines in with Reaper Master Series Paints - Pure White (09030) acrylic, then followed that with a Delta Ceramcoat neon green.

Since I wanted to get the feel of different materials, I decided to use a couple of different finishes. First sprayed the muzzle matte again, adding a quick pass across the grips to flatten them down a bit too. I also sprayed the scope satin a second time to kick up the sheen. Then I touched up the rest with Vallejo clear varnishes—a less satiny body, the matte mounting bracket, etc.

The Finished Product!

That silver medallion took way to long to get the brushed steel look, and you can't even see it in this photo!

Hannah's pretty happy with the way it turned out!:

Photo by Cloud Photo

Thursday, March 8, 2018

"I want a HORROR chainsaw!"

My wife is currently a member of the Aurora 88s Roller Derby team. Every year, they have a "FunD Skate" in which they do raffles, a silent auction, and other activities in order to generate some funds for the coming year. The silent auction is usually a series of themed gift baskets. This year the auction included a "Horror Basket". She hands me a plastic chainsaw Christmas ornament she picked up sometime during the holidays and says, "Could you paint this like a horror chainsaw?"

This is what she handed me:
As I'm writing this, you can still get them on eBay from this seller.

"Sure! I'll knock that out in no time."

I scraped off the silver glitter, masked it off leaving just the blade, hit it with a couple of passes of silver Krylon spray paint, and painted some blood effects on it with some red ink mixed with gloss medium. Done! Easy-peasy!

Done! Easy-peasy!
I hand it back to her, and she says, "That's nice... but I was hoping for more guts hanging off the blade and stuff. I want a horror chainsaw."

"Sure, I can use some glue to build it up some..."

"I know what you're capable of! I want a HORROR chainsaw!"

I don't watch a lot of horror flicks, so I'm missing something. "Um..."

"Like the chainsaw from 'Texas Chainsaw Massacre'..."

Those were the magic words I needed to hear. A quick Google search produces THIS IMAGE.

Now I know what I'm aiming for!

I head back to my cave and get back to work:
  • Scraped off the remaining glitter. (This should have been a clue...)
  • Found an old can of gunmetal colored spray paint and painted the whole thing, wiping off some of the fresh paint to reveal the orange plastic below.
  • Painted the handles with flat black enamel paint.
  • Tore thin strips of duct tape and wrapped parts of the handles.
  • Weathered the whole thing with diluted black enamel and acrylic paints.
  • Made the gore texture with 5-minute epoxy, very thin strips of plastic bag from a dry cleaner (for translucent stringy stuff), and a tiny bit of Secret Weapon Rust Red pigment.
That got me to here:

A couple more rounds of "gore mix" and a couple of passes of the red ink and gloss medium, and voila!

This made her much happier!

And we'd like to think the winning bidder is happy with the result as well!

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Cyberpunk Random Loot Cards

What's In Their Pocketses...?

Recently, I picked up Paul D Gallagher's Augmented Reality (Blog, PDF,  Dead Tree). It's a fantastic resource for a generating a living city in your cyberpunk campaign.

Inspired by Paul's "What's on the Corpse?" table and thanks to the Internet Archive Wayback Machine, I decided to resurrect my Random Loot page, circa 2001.

What you'll see below is a slightly edited version; updated for clarity, more contemporary cyberpunk genres, and to be more system agnostic.

In case you can't obtain the cards I reference below, I've found 30mil blank white PVC CR80 ID cards on Amazon (they also make phenomenal Aspect cards for Fate games!). You can also get 30mil ID cards in various colors!

Random Loot

If you've ever had a problem with coming up with personal items and things your characters find on victims' bodies, what follows is an interesting and fun solution.

See, when we get a new player in the game, I just throw the character into New Tokyo and have them fend for themselves. Unfortunately, more often than not, the character ends up killing random street thugs and looting the bodies to come up with some creds. I got tired of having to come up with personal items every time they asked, "so, what do I find on the body?"

I also have a problem with spending money at a particular adult video arcade/bar & grill.

So I came up with something that solves both of those problems. This "barcade" tries to soothe you as you walk through the door by handing you a complimentary game card (worth approximately 1.7 games...) Last time I was there with one of my players, we burned up the complimentary card in about 2 seconds flat. Jason bent his card in half to keep them from recycling it. He asked me what I was going to do with mine. I told him I'd find a use for it in Cyberpunk or something. He looked at me with this big grin and exclaimed, "CredSticks!" Next thing I know, he's bopping around the place looking for used cards left on tables. Eventually, he asked one of the managers what they do with the cards. The manager told him they just pitched 'em. So Jason asked if we could collect them (GOOD IDEA - ask before collecting). As an added bonus, every time the manager passed our table, he dropped off a handful of the used cards he found. By the time we left, we had over 40 cards in different colors.

So what's this got to do with anything? Well, I made up a list of, "things in your pocket for 500cr., Alex", including some useless items, printed them out on stickers, and stuck them on the cards. The more expensive, uncommon, or "elite" items I put on the green and blue cards, since I only had six of them. As an added bonus, the cards look cool with the caution stripes.

My favorite card - just because it looks funny.
So..... next time one of the characters pickpockets, mugs, or loots somebody, I have them randomly pick a few red cards. Usually 1d6 cards. If the poor victim is "well-to-do", I shuffle in the blue and green cards (shuffling the cards aint easy!).

Here's the list I came up with:
(Credits values are low because the player can pick more than one card.)

  • 2 Credits
  • 3 Credits
  • 4 Credits
  • 5 Credits
  • 6 Credits
  • 7 Credits
  • 8 credits
  • 9 Credits
  • 10 credits
  • 2 Drug Capsules (Random street drug)
  • 2 Maglev Tokens
  • 2 12 ga. Shotgun Shells
  • 3 Bus Tokens
  • 3 Subway Tokens
  • 5 Empty 9mm Casings
  • Aspertabs (1d20 in the bottle)
  • 5.7mm Backup Pistol
  • Cheap Plastic Vending Machine Pistol
  • Baseball Cap (With "All Saints Auto Repair" or other auto shop printed on it)
  • Bit of Wire
  • Music Chip (Some band one of PCs hates)
  • Burner Phone (Currently locked)
  • Cheap Digital Watch
  • Cheap Gold Chain or Earrings
  • CredStick (Locked)
  • Data Chip
  • Digital Cab Hailer
  • Disposable Lighter (d100% full)
  • Disposable Pocket Flashlight (d100% battery life)
  • Squeeze Tube of Nutritional Paste (1 meal)
  • Generic Pack of Smokes (1d20 cigarettes remaining)
  • Green Glowstick (25% chance of being spent)
  • Leather Belt
  • Loose Key
  • MirrorShades
  • Nice Pen
  • Nice Watch
  • Old Screamsheet
  • Pack of Caffeine Gum (1d8 sticks remaining)
  • Pack of Gum (1d8 sticks remaining)
  • Pager
  • Pendant
  • Phone Number scrawled on a scrap of paper.
  • Pocket Lint
  • Pocket Tool (Knife, Wrench, Screwdriver, etc.)
  • Cheap Tablet (Map of New Tokyo is loaded)
  • SkillSoft (Level 1 - Roll one randomly from skillchip table)
  • Small Flick-Knife (7.5 cm. (3") long)
  • Small Polished Stone
  • Ticket Stub
  • Emergency Evacuation Contract Card (10% chance accidentally broken while retrieving it)
  • Used Breathing Mask
  • Used Syringe (10% chance of getting poked while retrieving it)