I was asked by my neighbor's daughter (who knows I am a steampunk maker and repairer of many things) if I could make her a Maka Albarn Scythe for Halloween and anime cons. We worked out a trade deal where I bought all the materials and tracked my time, and she traded me hour for hour for some babysitting of my 7 year old son. I was given this reference still from the anime, and off I went. Let's make a giant scythe!
Step 1: Cutting Out the Blade, Sealing, and Plastidipping
I wanted to keep this build cheap and light. I looked at several types of foam, but since the scale of this prop was to be large, and the person carrying it was a 14 year old girl, I wanted it to be as light a possible. I decided on using pink insulation foam sheets because they are very light and inexpensive (a 4x8 sheet was about $25.00 at my local big-box hardware store). The scythe would need to tower over the person carrying it, so the blade was made just shy of 4 feet long and would be attached to an 8 foot long 3/4" PVC pole with a larger diameter top and bottom section for stability.
I traced the design until it looked right and used an electric meat carving knife to cut the rough shape of the blade section from the pink foam. I used a small handheld orbital sander to shape the blade and contour it. I then took a break to eat this delicious taco.
The entire surface of the sanded and shaped pink foam blade was given several coats of brush-on MOD PODGE matte finish to seal the blade to receive several coats of spray-on PLASTIDIP. If I put the plastidip on the pink foam without the several layers of mod podge, it would simply melt the pink foam on contact and ruin the entire blade.
Plastidip will provide some protection from damaging the light foam blade, and since the blade's final color is black and red, it provided the base coat for the black part of the blade. I used 2 cans covering the scythe blade. Apply plastidip in a well ventilated area and wear a respirator! This stuff stinks.
Step 2: Masking and Painting the Scythe Blade
Masking the blade off proved to be challenging to match the zig-zag pattern on both sides. I used my cutting board and a protactor to get the starting angles at 60 degrees, and slowly transitioned to 45 degrees at the end of the blade. I did 13 zig-zags in all for no other reason than that's what it worked out to. I used paper painters tape to mask the blade off, covering the rest of the black plastidipped areas with newspaper, then gave it 3 coats of Krylon high gloss cherry red paint for the details. I let it dry overnight before removing the masking tape.
I then flipped it over and repeated the process on the other side of the blade. I used a piece of painters tape to measure the height and valley of each peak on the painted side, then I doubled the painters tape length and ran it over to the other side to position my tape marks in chalk to match on both sides. I then did 3 coats of glossy red paint, let dry overnight, & removed masking tape.
This masking and painting took a very long time to set up and complete but it was worth it. On every single homemade Maka Albarn scythe prop I saw online, the blade and the eye were usually the weakest part of their projects. Spending extra time on these details is what sets a really well made prop apart from the rest.
Step 3: Scythe Staff Section, Topper, Heel, Eyeball, Details
The 8 foot section of 3/4" PVC was spray painted with metallic fusion krylon paint (2 coats) and then a coat of Mod Podge matte acrylic spray over that.
This 8 foot long 3/4" PVC section would be attached to a 9" section of 1.5" PVC pipe that would contain the staff details such as the eye, and the screwdriver top. I used a 3/4" to 1.5" PVC coupler and used 5-minute epoxy to glue it inside of the top section about 5" in. (it would rest against the lower threaded rod I used to later connect the blade to the staff, in step 4).
I added a small section to the staff bottom so she could use the staff to lean on when at the cons. The 3/4" staff bottom was a little bendy, so adding a 6" bottom section made of 1" PVC pipe tightened it right up.
I used a hole saw and cut two 1.5" circles of pink foam and using a hot foam knife (available at hobby stores) cut the staff top to match the anime picture I was given. It was mod podged, plastidipped, and then painted with a Krylon flat silver. It was then trimmed to the correct thickness and hot glued to the top of the staff.
The eye was made in Adobe illustrator and took about 10 minutes to make. It's 5 ovals layered on top of each other with two small rectangles used on the top and bottom. I printed out several copies and just scaled it until it was a good match to the staff section. I cut them out with a razor knife and mod podged one to each side of the staff. It came out better than I had hoped for.
The heel has a large metal (almost axe like) section. I cut it out of 1/4" MDF (medium density fibreboard) and used a really old 1" drill bit to cut the 3 vent holes (I couldn't find my paddle bits!). It was painted flat silver, then hit with several coats of clear, then 2 more coats of silver to cover it properly. It was distressed a little bit after with some black wash. It was attached to the staff topper with 5-minute epoxy.
Paint choices: I used the Krylon fusion metallic silver on the staff for a little sparkle, and the flat on the topper to make it easier to mod podge the eye on since the metallic paint is textured. Black wash was just some flat black testors modelling paint I thinned down with lacquer thinner.
Step 4: Attaching the Scythe Blade to the Topper
I had a lot of ideas on how to attach the blade, but I knew it had to stand up to the rigours of the con floor, so I got some 1/4" threaded rod and hardware and set to work.
I mocked up how long to make each section of threaded rod, and cut it to length. I drilled two holes to receive the rod and used washers and nuts on both sides to attach. I used those two attached threaded rod sections to mark and make the holes in the pink foam. I then used a wooden dowel that was marked to the depth of each rod and shaped the hole in the foam. The foam was filled with white modelling glue (elmers, tacky glue, etc) and the rods were inserted and left to dry. If I had to do it over I would have shaped the receiving end of the foam to have a slight curve to receive the pvc pipe, but it still looked good when it was done.
Step 5: Finished! Happy Con Goer
And here is the completed scythe with the happy new owner. My 7 year old will receive several nights of babysitting allowing for date nights with my wife, and a young woman gets a very nice prop for her cons! She sent me these photos from Nakacon after her debut.
The more observant of you will also see in the second photo I added the detail trim missing in the first photo (the band of triangles). I printed it off in Adobe illustrator and mod podged it to the bottom of staffs topper. I also trimmed the top section of the staff on my mitre cut circular saw to match the reference anime still. I also trimmed about 3" off the bottom to get the height correct for the person who'd be carrying it all day long.
I never would have made anything like this if not for my neighbor's daughter, it was fun trying my hand at something new and I would definitely make more anime props based on this experience.
Go forth and make things and be awesome to one another.