Making of a Prop Rifle
A friend of mine was working on a new costume (or cosplay) of the character Yoko from Gurren Lagann . The character wields an overly large rifle and not much else. My friend’s cosplay was coming along very nicely. She told me how she has tried to be as detailed and accurate to the character as possible but with one exception She had no rifle! She wanted one but knew of no way to make one equally as detailed as her sewing and the accessories she made to match the character. There were some examples online but most where too complex or not accurate or proportioned properly. I was totally up to the task but not very confident, having little prop-making experience.
I found a few generic prop tutorials online that helped me gather ideas and I even found many photos of other people’s attempts to make the rifle. Some were better than others and the age of craftsmen also ranged greatly but I was only looking for ideas – and these helped a lot.
One of the first steps for me was buying the toy figurine of the character with her rifle. This allowed me to get all the proportions and scaling recorded properly. One thing I noticed in a lot of cosplay photos was that the scale was wildly different from prop to prop. I drew out the rifle and got all my measurements planned out on paper. Next step, Lowes and Home Depot. After looking at a lot of prop making tutorials for other props, I knew some essentials would be MDF (Medium Density Fiberboard) and PVC Pipe. While walking around the stores I found lots of other neat things that ended up really helping and worked great.
Sadly I was in such a hurry to build the rifle I didn’t take as many photos as I would have liked but here is what I have.
Workspace & Tools
Here are some progress shots of the prop and the mix of materials I used. Stacking the MDF with wood glue gave me a lot of flexibility for various parts of the gun since I didn’t have a table saw to do large cuts. You can see the PVC pipe used for the base of the gun, but for the barrel I used a thick wooden rod since the PVC pipe bowed too much when using longer sections of thinner pipe. I used acrylic on the back with a heat gun so I was able to bend it over the top of the body to give me a seamless rifle-stock. There were some mistakes like miss-drills and scratches throughout the gun that I later filled with putty and sanded.
That smaller rod in center (last photo) is actually the bolt that goes inside the body of the gun. I made the gun have working bolt action using a few other neat things found at Home Depot.
After the gun was painted up black, I added a plastic pieces on the back of the scope to make it look like a real scope. I used a dollar-store magnifying set and just popped out a lens.
Finished Prop in Action
Here are some photos took of her at the convention (my deadline).
The one item we were unable to complete in time was the strap. For time’s sake she made one out of fabric. I suggested just not having one since the fast make-shift fabric strap she made on the fly looked quite bad and distracted from the prop and her great costume. There is always the next convention!