What have I been up to on the costume-making front in the past couple of weeks? Quite a lot actually! So let’s talk guns shall we?
Guns, blasters – you might have noticed I was calling them null-rays in previous posts on this topic. Null-rays are the iconic Seeker weapon and the guns that Starscream and all his clones – including the lovely Slipstream – are packing in TFA look pretty similar to how the null-rays look in other incarnations of the franchise, such as in the War for Cyberton game. But, having done some digging, apparently it’s not confirmed that the TFA guns are null-rays. It’s one of those (many) inconsistently signposted Transformers things. As TFWiki summarise it:
There is some confusion as to precisely what weapons Starscream has… His toy packaging declares that he has “twin sonic shock blasters” rather than the null-rays of his Generation 1 counterpart, while a bio on the Hasbro website declares that Animated Starscream does have null-rays… while otherwise being a direct copy of the press release text, which doesn’t mention them anywhere.
So yeah, confusion, controversy. “Twin sonic shock blasters” just doesn’t roll off the tongue like “null-ray”does, But whatever the hell these things are called, I needed to make some for Slipstream, and here’s how I’ve been getting on!
It will, of course, look a lot better when it’s painted but I’m really happy with the progress on this so far.
The shape comes from a plastic bottle. B and I had the rather surreal experience of finding ourselves in the soft drinks aisle of our local Tesco asking, not “what would we like to drink” but “which of these bottles would make the best blaster base?” Fortunately, the answer was Tesco low-calorie bitter lemon, which was quite tasty too, so we didn’t have to force ourselves to drink something gross just in the name of cosplay (although I’d probably have done this if required!)
I’ve not put any electronics in a costume before but I am trying to up my game a bit this year and I loved the idea of having blasters that glowed pink like they do in the show. I’m not electronically minded at all but fortunately B is, so this build was very much a ‘go team’ effort, I designed the overall shape and put it all together, and B build the circuit I needed.
I bought a length of white ABS waste pipe for the barrel – and yes I took the bottle along to B&Q and confused staff there by trying various lengths of pipe in-store to see which fit best through the bottle neck!
The pipe goes about three quarters of the way up inside the bottle to add stability and it’s secured with hot glue and circles of foam (which also help the bottle keep its shape) and I used cardboard to make the cuff detail on the neck (which also hides the join!)
I built the top ‘shark fins’ out of foam and this is secured with a tab that goes into the bottle to keep it firm.
The electronics component is a very simple flashing (Velleman MK147) LED kit bought from Maplin but we replaced the default toggle switches that came with the kit with larger push buttons so that I stand a chance of actually being able to turn these on and off while wearing gloves and the rest of the costume! The red button is located just the the side of the fin on each gun – obviously this is not an authentic detail but needs must. I do have some really cool looking shiny Deceptiocon logo stickers from Reprolabels so I might put one of those on each button after it’s painted to make the buttons more of a feature.
The lights in the kit are white, of course, but I made them pink by putting some coloured cellophane over them (actually the wrappers from the strawberry cremes in tub of Cadburys Roses we had for Christmas).
The gun muzzles are built of foam. I wanted to use a material with a bit of give in it as they are likely to take a fair bit of wear and tear when the costume is being worn. They are a little fatter than the ones in the show but I was restricted by the fact that these have to be hollow and wide enough to house the LEDs. I think the overall effect is still fine. I lined the inside of the muzzle pieces with aluminium foil better to reflect the light from the LEDs forwards.
I cut off the base of the bottle with a craft knife so and built a foam cradle to hold the circuit board and battery snugly in place at this end. The bottle is sealed up again with a foam panel which I’ve taped rather than glued so it will be possible to get in and change the battery if needed. It’s good because the battery and electronics act as a decent counterweight to the pipe and prevent the overall thing being top heavy.
In terms of attaching these to me, I included two silver elastic straps inserted through the bottle which can tie to my upper arms. My sleeves will be silver so the straps should be invisible on the final costume. But I’m also going to add a large strip of velcro right down the underside of the bottle that will affix to the sleeve piece of the costume. Hopefully this will provide sufficient stability.
And although I’ve been talking in the singular throughout this post there are of course two of these
null-rays sonic shock blasters so all of the above was done twice!
So these are pretty much ready for painting now – do you like them? I think I’m going to have fun wearing these!