Hello, and welcome to my first Instructable! In this "-ible" I'm going to be demonstrating how I gave my Nerf Fusefire a custom paint job. Before we jump in to this I wanna make one note of caution: Modifying your own toy guns can be very dangerous! Please understand that by painting over and removing warning labels and orange tips of guns can put yourself in danger if used in the wrong environment. I only recommend doing this kind of modification to use for props, cosplay, etc. Alright now, enough with the boring stuff, let's get started!
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Step 1: Visualization
The first thing to do when modifying a Nerf gun is to, well, pick out a Nerf gun! When choosing a toy gun it's important to try to envision what the end product will look like. Look at the structure of the gun, how its put together, different textures one gun and of course how it functions. Does it have moving parts? How does it load? Is it a spring loaded gun or does it have a battery operated motor? I really liked the look and function of the Nerf ZombieStrike Fusefire, which is the one i chose for this -ible. It is a spring loaded, disc firing gun, but it is also battery operated that lights up with LEDs to "charge" the glow in the dark discs so that they are glowing when fired out of the barrel.
Step 2: Disassemble
As many of you may know, Nerf guns come with many small screws that hold it together, it's important to keep track of all the screws you take out and keep them in a safe place until you put it back together. It's also important to remember which size and kind of screws go in which places. A helpful way of doing that is to take as many pictures as you can throughout the process. Also, remember to take note and pictures of the small pieces inside the gun the help it function correctly due to the fact that many of them will fall out during disassembly and are not needed to be painted and will be put aside until reassembly (Pictures 4-6). This particular model uses batteries to power the LEDs, therefore I needed to cut the wiring from the battery pack to the LEDs in order to completely disassemble the gun. Take it from me, taking apart the gun is the easy part, and when putting it back together it's easy to realize that you photographic memory may not be as reliable as you wish it were.
Step 3: Sanding
This brings us to sanding. I prefer the guns I paint to have a clean, finished look. In order to achieve this I like to remove all Nerf logos and warning labels (Again, please note that by doing this you are taking your safety into your own hands). I start this process by using a Dremel to get the majority of the logos off, I don't know the exact grit of the sanding drum but my guess is that it's around 60-80 grit. Be careful that you do not dig too deep into the plastic! It's a lot harder to fix, so take time, and sand lightly when using a power tool. Due to the low grit of the Dremel, after removing the majority of the logo I sanded by hand using first a 120 grit sandpaper to start smoothing it out then a higher 220 grit sandpaper to achieve the finish I wanted. I recommend using at 220 grit if not higher for the final sand. This process can be tedious, but be patient! The more time you take with this step will directly translate to the final look of the gun.
Step 4: Priming
After sanding is completed, I like to take an extra step which I feel helps in the priming and painting process. Using acetone on a rag, I wipe down the plastic of a the gun that helps smooth the surface of the gun and also removes the clear shiny coat of the parts that weren't sanded. Using acetone also "softens" the plastic which helps the primer adhere to it better. Be sure not to use too much acetone, it will sort of melt the plastic if using a heavily doused rag. When that's done, it's time for the first coat of primer. I used a Rust-oleum primer made for Plastics. After spraying the first coat, it's a good time to look for rough spots and imperfections that weren't visible before. Paint has a great way of pointing out flaws, which is, again, why the sanding step is so important. After my first coat there were also small fibers left from the rag that used for the acetone wipe down that caught paint as well, so I took this time to use the high grit sanding paper once again to smooth out the rough spots. As you can see in pictures 4-6 I show the comparison of the before and after sanding of the primer. Of Course this process will remove some of the paint as well but that is okay because I follow this process with another coat of primer which should go on smooth. If, after the second coat, you still see imperfections, repeat the sanding and priming process as necessary.
Step 5: Paint It!
This is where your vision of what you want your gun to look like will start to become reality. The color pallet you choose is, of course, up to you. I like to stick to black and grey and used some of the guns originals colors to add some flare. I prefer the look of flat paints and chose a flat grey for the main body of the gun and a flat black for the smaller attachments for the outer part of the gun. I chose not to paint the clear green mounting rail so that the LEDs will still shine through.
As for the orange tip of the barrel, the slide, and the trigger I chose to do something a little different. For these parts I did not sand, wipe with acetone or prime. I instead chose to spray with a thin coat of my clear black spray paint and then sand off most revealing and maintaining the safety orange, while giving it the "grungy" look I was trying to achieve (pictures 2-3). Note: As seen in pictures 4-5, I used painters tape to cover the LEDs as to not paint over them.
For the now grey body of the gun, I also wanted to give it a grungy look. Basically, in order to give it a dirty/used look, I wanted it to look like dirt and grime had built up in the smaller spaces that wouldn't normally be wiped off form normal use. In order to do this, I used an acrylic craft paint to fill in all the nook and crevices on the body (pictures 6-8). After letting it dry I used a damp rag to wipe off the excess paint leaving only a dirty look in all the small spaces. As you can see in picture 9, after wiping off the majority, the only black paint that resides is in all the small spaces.
As for the black outer shell pieces, I chose to leave those alone as they were. After finishing each of the pieces, I coated everything in Rust-Oleums Flat finish Clear spraypaint to seal everything.
Step 6: Reassembly
Now comes the fun, putting it back together! The first steps I took was reattaching a few of the outer shell pieces. Following that it was time to reattach the wires from the battery pack to the LEDs. I don't claim to be any sort of electrician, but reattaching the red wire to the red and the black wire to the black is pretty self explanatory. After finishing it's important to check your connections by making sure the LEDs light up (pictures 3-5).
After that is completed, you can then reinsert the main firing mechanism. Now is the time that all those photos you took earlier come in handy! It's time to start reattaching the internal screws that hold the firing mechanism the the frame, as well as all the small pieces of the trigger action and all the springs that make it work (pictures 5-6). I promise, the more pictures you take during disassembly the easier reassembly will be! After all the internal pieces are put in place, and every spring attached, it's time to put on the other half of the body of the gun. This is a great time to check to make sure that the gun functions and fires like it should, before you reattach the rest of the gun. The reason for that is in case, for some reason, the gun does not work, it is easier to take apart to fix. If the gun is working properly, it's time to finish reassembling!
Step 7: Done!
The final product. This is where you can finally enjoy the results of your hard work. Wether you decide to find a nice place for it on a shelf, add it to a costume, or use it to attack small humans in your family like I do, enjoy, and most of all, be safe. Please vote for this Instructable in the Paint It! contest. If you really enjoyed it please feel free to comment below, and thanks for for viewing!
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