The Monarch Cosplay – Wrist Shooters

The Monarch’s Wrist Shooters are a deceptively simple piece, even though they don’t actually shoot (yet!). There are a startling variety of ways to go about making them – we’ve seen fabric, cardboard, pieces of PVC pipe, plastic cups, you name it. we’ll be detailing the 2 methods I’ve used.

METHOD 1: Cone & Tubing

This really only works if you want Wrist Shooters resembling those from season 1 or 2. In later seasons they took on a curved, pointed, tapered shape that’s incredibly difficult to reproduce using this method. In fact, we don’t recommend repeating our steps – it’s a pain in the ass, and the Wrist Shooters won’t stand up to repeated wear and abuse without maintenance. However, with only slight changes (which we’ll point out) it’s a simple, cheap, and easy to follow method.

Basically, you take a cone, attach tubes to it, and paint it. The rest is just details.

First off, you need a cone that fits correctly around your forearm. We made ours out of Wonderflex (WF). NOTE: Do not do this. You can easily use cardboard or something similar. We recommend the dense, non-corrugated kind, like from a cereal box. This is easily bent into the proper curve – just be careful not to crease it, as creases are weak points. Sandwiching a healthy dose of hot glue between a second layer of cardboard will make the Wrist Shooters hold their shape indefinitely while still remaining flexible. NOTE: Some thicker (around 1/8″) non-corrugated cardboard is actually many layers of  paper, and these layers peel off when things glued to them undergo any kind of force – things like fasteners to hold the Wrist Shooters closed.

Remember: Proper fit is extremely important. Do not make the Wrist Shooters too small. Our first set cut off circulation to our thumbs, putting them to sleep. The first Con we wore these we didn’t notice, and now have permanent nerve damage in our left thumb – we only have about 60% feeling in it 3 years later.

If making the cone from scratch, make a pattern out of paper first. This is much easier to alter and more accurate than using un-curved cardboard. Grab some newspaper or unsolicited mail ads, wrap it around your arm, tape in place, and draw the shape you want. A cone is not simply a twisted rectangle – both the top and bottom lines curve. Then trace your pattern onto your final material.

Another option is disposable drink cups – plastic big gulp cups are especially suited to the task and will take lots of abuse. NOTE: This option has worked very well for others, and we recommend it if you can find cups that fit.

Next, find some tubing that is the right size. We used flexible rubber tubing designed for aquarium/plumbing work because 1) it was the best match for the size we wanted, and 2) we intended to make the back end of the Wrist Shooters taper inward. There were several downsides to the flexible tubing:

 

  • It’s sold in rolls, and getting it straight was a nightmare;
  • The rubber it’s made of resists sticking to anything, including hot glue and paint;
  • Over time, the natural curve of the tubing reasserts itself and it comes loose;
  • Contact that would only scratch rigid tubing instead bends it, causing things to flake and come loose.

NOTE: The problems of keeping the tubing straight and its coming loose could likely be avoided if glued to a rigid surface – such as cardboard or a cup; WF deforms under hot glue, causing a whole cascade of problems.

Use rigid tubing if you can find it in a small enough size. NOTE: If you plan to make your Wrist Shooters curved like they are in Season 4, aluminum tubing is a good choice; while still sold in rolls, it is quite easily bent to the desired shape, is as light as PVC, comes in several diameters, and is still quite cheap (around $0.30/foot).

Once you have your tubing, and have all the pieces cut to the right length, glue them in place. Hot glue is typically best here, though certain plastics/rubbers may not stick to it well. In that case, either clean everything with Denatured Alcohol (available at hardware stores) to remove the top layer of oil, or switch to a different adhesive. Hot glue is great for its incredible ease of use, and immediate results. Remember:You can’t glue the pieces parallel to one another because the Wrist Shooters are cone-shaped – lay them out so you know where they’re going first. A few minutes of preparation here will save you hours of headache later. Draw some guidelines for yourself.

OPTIONAL: At this point, you can move on to painting if you’re happy with the Wrist Shooters’ shape. Or you can do what we did and fill the gaps between the tubes. This part is as easy or time-consuming as you want it to be.

Using household caulking (cheap is fine) fill in the gaps between the tubes. NOTE: Silicone caulking is more flexible, but very difficult to paint; Acrylic caulking is flexible enough, and paints easily. Smooth the caulking out with a finger. Keep some water and a towel handy – caulking smooths easier with some, not a lot, of water, and keeping your fingers clean helps. You can sculpt caulking almost like clay if you are patient – let it get tacky/slightly dry then shape it; a hairdryer helps with this, just don’t get the caulking so hot it bubbles/warps. The Monarch’s Wrist Shooters have a hard, crisp groove between tubes – this is difficult to reproduce with caulking, but possible.

You can also use clay of some kind. This makes creating those lines easier, but will make the Wrist Shooters very rigid – which may cause problems with getting them on and off. Make sure the clay you use won’t crack over time – Apoxie Sculpt is perfect here as you can sand/carve it further once it cures.

Alternatively, ignore those grooves and make the Wrist Shooters smooth, as we did.

The last step before painting is to fasten them closed somehow. We used elastic, stretching it taught and gluing it in place so that it would pull them closed. Other options include rubber bands, velcro, snaps, magnets, or clasps like those used in clothing – your method will depend on the structure of your Wrist Shooters. Get creative! Whatever you use, make sure it’s firmly attached and won’t come loose.

NOTE: Attach the fasteners before painting – many adhesives interact poorly with paint, especially spray paint.

Then it’s on to painting!

METHOD 2: Resin Casting

Unlike Method 1, this is not something everybody can do. Creating pieces from urethane resin is an advanced process, and takes much more time, skill, and money than Method 1.  We won’t address the details of mold making or casting here – the web is full of resources on that. We recommend starting with Smooth-On’s How-To’s.

To begin, create a positive sculpt of the Wrist Shooters – something to make a mold of. To make sure it will fit properly, sculpt this on a copy of your forearm. We made a plaster cast of mine because we had some plaster that we wanted to get rid of. Tape down some plastic wrap or similar to sculpt on – when you’re done sculpting it will allow you to slide the Wrist Shooter off the arm. To leave some wiggle room between your arm and the Wrist Shooter, start with a base layer about 1/8″ thick which will act as “air” later when you mold it.
Create the basic shape using bendable, rigid tubing – aluminum works well and is cheap (about $0.30/foot). You only need 4-5 feet, depending on the size of your Wrist Shooters. Cut the tubes to the right length – a little shorter than the total length of the Wrist Shooters. A pipe cutter is the easiest way – we found one at a swap-meet for a dollar, though a hacksaw also works. Remember: The Season 4 Wrist Shooters are tapered and come to points at the back –  leave space for that.
Make sure each piece of tubing has the curve you want the final piece to have, then attach them in place. You could glue them on directly, but if you make a mistake with alignment you’ll have to undo and then correct it. We used Apoxie Sculpt (AS). AS is a two-part epoxy clay that handles like Sculpey or similar clays, but cures into plastic. It is also very sticky, so it works like glue. Using AS allows you time to adjust each tube as you go, and to step back and readjust any of them you’re not happy with. The down side is you have to work in batches – you can’t go all the way around the arm without bumping other tubes and moving them out of alignment. Do a chunk, let the AS cure, then come back and do more.
This creates a solid foundation to work with. Next you’ll be sculpting the space between the tubes, as well as the points at the back. We used AS for all our sculpting because 1) we knew we could further smooth it with sandpaper and a file later, and 2) we wanted the option of removing the Wrist Shooter from the arm underneath to make a two-part mold.
After everything is sculpted to your liking, sand the AS until it’s as smooth as you want. Start with 120 grit, and finish with 220 or 300 grit sand paper. Files and rasps help tremendously with getting those lines nice and sharp. We used a hacksaw blade to score the seams between tubes before attacking them with a file.
When you have your positive prepared to your liking, coat it with a layer of primer. We use High Build primer because it fills in any remaining imperfections, and sands easily to a perfectly smooth finish. High Build primer is available at auto supply stores, or if you’re lucky, Home Depot has Rustoleum Filler Primer (which is much cheaper).
Next, create your mold. We use silicone for our molds. We made a one-part mold and slush cast the resin. Then we sanded the resin pull using a Dremel until it fit. We have plans to make a two-part mold, and cast the Wrist Shooters out of expanding foam for increased comfort, fastened along a seam with either velcro or magnets.

The downside to resin is that it is mostly rigid – we can barely get our Wrist Shooters on. Heating the resin with a hair dryer softens it slightly, and they can be bent to make removing them easier. Because they are rigid, we don’t need fasteners to keep them in place.

Next…

PAINTING

If you followed Method 2, then simply prime and paint them as you would any other resin piece.Remember: Always let resin cure fully, and prepare it properly – we failed to do so, and the results can be seen in the images. If you followed Method 1, you have a few more things to consider.

Always prime your pieces – it helps paint stick, and generally improves the appearance of the final coat. Make sure whatever primer you use won’t react adversely with your piece – some plastics and rubbers are very finicky. Try it on some scraps first. We prefer the Rustoleum brand of primers, especially their Auto and Filler primer – plus they’re available at Home Depot for cheaper than other brands elsewhere.

Cardboard will cause issues if it’s not the glossy kind. When painted, the tiny fibers you otherwise ignore will stand out, making the surface look fuzzy. Prime, sand, and prime again until the fuzziness is gone.

If you’ll have to bend your Wrist Shooters a lot to get them on and off, try to use a paint with some flexibility – avoid enamels; they are brittle when dry. Most spray paint is moderately flexible because it bonds so well to the material underneath, but will still crack if bent repeatedly. A top coat of clear polycrylic sealer will delay this, and make your piece more resistant to damage. If you need a lot of flexibility, Michael’s craft stores carry spray paint designed for painting fake flowers. It can even be used to paint boots, gloves, and belts without issue.

That’s it! Unless you want to put little lasers on your Wrist Shooters…

Written by Steven Meissner, SoloRoboto Industries

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Marc Ilagan, AstroBase Cadet

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