Another post about fun stuff. Last year, I created a prop from the Trigun anime at zero cost, out of scraps.
This is Dominique the Cyclops’s weapon, the Heat Wave (Waves?) 187M. It’s possible to commission resin cast versions from some prop makers, but the cost is prohibitive, so I simply made it myself. The end result is maybe 90% accurate, give or take the size and certain details which I wasn’t able to duplicate (e.g. the engraving on the slide) or which weren’t clear in the references I used. Unfortunately I didn’t document the process too well.
Two of the more popular methods I found were to (a) carve the prop out of foam blocks (b) stick together a dozen layers of craft foam. I decided to try a combination of the two.
I’m firmly of the view that styrofoam is underrated as a crafting material. It might snap easily when used by itself and make a ghastly mess when being cut up, but I’ve found that if you sandwich it between two other materials, the resulting composite – like foamcore board – is unexpectedly sturdy. A friend who’s better at physics than I am explained it thus:
“Styrofoam is strong in compression but not in tension. By sandwiching it, you create a composite material where the hard, brittle outer layers spread out the impact pressure transmitted to the over core, while the inner core prevents too much deflection of the outer layer.”
I therefore decided to create the prop from a styrofoam core, braced by a layer of craft foam, and with more craft foam for detailing.
First, I had to develop the base shape. I spent several days looking through images of the gun and finally sketched out a longitudinal cross section. I sized this to my own hand, and the final measurements are roughly 13.5cm x 41cm x 2cm. This is probably smaller than the canon size, but the proportions are as accurate as I could estimate.
EDIT: I’ve since found an image from the Trigun artbook which shows the details very accurately:
Next, I broke down the 3D shape into layers – which parts were elevated, which parts were indented, again following the proportions from the artwork as closely as I could. Unfortunately I didn’t document the sketch and it’s since disappeared.
I cut out the base shape from a piece of thin styrofoam, leaving allowance for the barrel – a bubble tea straw, one of the tough transparent ones from the branded franchises. The trigger guard and trigger were part of the base shape, but I added the trigger later.
This base piece was very fragile, so I immediately braced it with craft foam glued to both sides. I also added the barrel at this point.
Next, I added more layers of craft foam to create the various components of the gun in 3D, mostly the slide and the grip. I capped the slide with pieces of craft foam glued across the top, stuffing the hollow around the bubble tea straw with bits of craft foam and styrofoam to prop it up. Then I filled in the uneven sides with wood filler and sanded it smooth.
Note: Wood filler on craft foam is generally not a good idea as it tends to crack. However, if the craft foam has been rendered rigid, e.g. by gluing it to styrofoam, it works very well.
For the fine detailing, I made pseudo-screws with small plastic beads and yes, that’s a sequin in the photo. I poked dents in other places with the tip of a ball-point pen to simulate rivets. The design on the grip was created from a piece of string.
It looked really crude before painting, but when everything had been glazed black, it looked a lot more realistic.
Finally, I stuck a bead on the grip to complete the eye design.
All the materials used for this prop were basically scraps that had been lying around the house. Even the styrofoam and craft foam I used were leftover pieces from other projects.