Introduction: Star-Lord Blasters
It is not necessarily "hard" to make very awesome Star-Lord blasters... but it does take a lot of time... and tape. I am NOT a professional prop-maker, therefore this build functions as a "what to avoid" as well as a "what to do." I'd like to acknowledge also that my starting point was the great video posted by "Punished Props" on Youtube which detailed their own build. I recommend watching that before jumping into my walk-through to help illustrate the steps and the differences. I incorporated much of their process as well as tweaked details to be, in my mind, more accurate.
Decisions you need to make:
1. Which blaster toy to start with. There are several different makes available from Rubie's, Nerf, and others. I actually picked Rubie's because not only are they cheaper, but to me they are more accurate overall. If I had the money I may have bought a 3D printed version.
2. Which details you "need" for your blasters to feel accurate to YOU. There are various details missing and differences between the toys. I wanted to have the barrel vents, and wire mesh slots along the tops, as well as needing to add some "edge" lines to match the real prop. I also wanted some extra weight for the blasters to feel less plastic-like in the hand.
3.What paints you will use. Whether you have or will obtain an airbrush will determine your method of painting. This was my first airbrush project and I had very little difficulty getting started. Most of the paint is fairly simple, so don't feel intimidated if you haven't airbrushed before.
Rubies Star-Lord Blasters ($12-20 each depending on seller)
Wire mesh (I used Self-Adhesive Drywall Repair Patch)
4 Threaded rods (added for weight)
Rare earth/Neodymium magnets (Optional) - Ring shape (If you want to use them for your holster attachment)
Painters tape, usually blue (Do not use other tapes. They will leave residue, or worst case scenario, might remove layers of your fresh paint. )
Rubber shelf liner (Look for the specific pattern that will replicate the wanted carbon fibre effect)
Strong glue (I like Gorilla Glue)
5 Minute Epoxy
Sandpaper (Various grits between 180-1000 or higher)
Steel wool (0000 Grit)
Your preferred body filler/putty
Rotary tool (Dremel) with small cutting discs, and grinding bits.
Needle file set!
Airbrush with compressor
Utility blade or Exacto knife
Power drill/driver with small drill bit.
Medium and fine brushes
Paint: (See paint sections for specifics I used)
Primer-Black, silver or desired color (Rattlecan)
Paint - Gunmetal, silver of your choice, metallic black, pink, arctic blue, and transparent yellow/amber. Also gold if you follow my advice.
Rub n"Buff - Gold(Or "Antique Gold") and Silver leaf
Clearcoat - Satin AND Semi-gloss (Rattlecan)
Step 1: Dissemble and Start Modding.
Fairly small phillips screws hold the two halves together. Carefully pry it apart (the factory paint held one of mine almost like glue).
Adding weight. I wanted the extra weight for better hand feel. You can choose another weight, but threaded rods are cheap at home improvement stores and have lots of surface area for glue to hold. I used two per gun, top and bottom of one half of each. Use sandpaper to "rough up" the spots you will glue. Gorilla glue tends to expand quite a bit, which was perfect for encasing the rods to ensure they wouldn't fall loose inside the gun. Follow glue instructions. TIP: I found that spritzing water on the areas to be glued with a spray bottle was an easy way of adding water (as per Gorilla glues instructions) without it pooling everywhere. Let glue set overnight to ensure good hold.
Cutting out barrel tips. I preferred the exposed inner barrel rather than the flat plastic tip. Mark the area you want to cut, and carefully dremel the plastic. Take it slow or you risk biting too far into the plastic and removing too much. I used the cutting disc to cut the straight sections of the main barrels and the small rotary sanding bit for the curves. The small circular barrel tip was almost too small for the rotary bit I had, so I used it part of the way, and finished with needle files. Make sure to hold the two halves together to ensure your edges line up.
Hand guard fin. Both of these guns are right handed, and since humans mostly have a right and a left, the "fin" on the hand guard interferes with your left hand. I chose to simply remove it entirely from that hand. Use your cutting disc to cut as close to the hand guard as you can, then clean up the edge with the sanding bit, metal files and finally sand paper to your desired smoothness. Mine is still a bit "boxy" at the edge because I didn't want to grind too far into the plastic and risk cutting through. Its comfy enough but I would say its safe to round it off more than I did.
Step 2: More Modding!
Alright, so these steps are the most difficult part of the build. Take your time, and mind the pointy things.
Top vents. I see this part skipped a lot in builds. I think it adds a LOT to the look of the blasters. I think the wall repair patch I found is a great match for the wire mesh on the movie prop and it even has adhesive on one side to help hold it in place. To begin, you need to cut out the basic shape of the slim oval vent hole. Make a little template out of paper or tape and mark with dry erase marker so that they all are the same size. Use the cutting disk sparingly to cut the middle area out. Use any small rotary bits you have to refine the shape to your marks, then use needle files to round and perfect the edges to your liking.
Now you're ready to glue your wire mesh to the inside. You may want to wait to glue this in later so that you don't bend the mesh while handling the gun for the next mods. You will cut ovals of the mesh with enough extra material to glue inside away from the lip of the vent. Normal scissors actually cut the mesh just fine, although its probably not great for your scissors sharpness. I used Gorilla glue again. Remember to sand/rough up the areas of the interior plastic you will be gluing against. It expanded and encased the mesh nicely. You may need to trim the dried glue and paint it black to ensure it doesn't show from the exterior of the gun.
Side vents. It is important that your vents look even and uniform. Even more so than the top vents. You will need to pick the exact area you want your vents to lay and pre-mark them as perfectly as you can. Make pin-point marks at the top and bottom of each slot, then drill a pilot hole at each of your marks with a small drill bit. TIP: To ensure your drill doesn't stray to either side of your mark, use an ice pick or metal point to make a divot precisely on your mark first.
Next, use your Dremel cutting disc to score your slots. Line the disc up between your two pre-drilled holes and cut in. But be careful to not over-shoot your holes and cut above or below. You won't go all the way through the plastic at this step, you just want to score it as deep as you can. Now turn your blaster over and switch to a small Dremel bit with a rounded tip. You will remove material from the interior side now, trying to make as straight a line as you can between your holes. You still won't go all the way through the plastic here, but you will come close to your scored line on the other side. Be careful your working between the correct holes (Don't criss-cross like I did once).
NOW you can take a utility knife and slice through thin layer of plastic left between your pilot holes. It should slip through like butter. Slice away slivers of material to start forming your slot. If the slots you scored with your cutting disc aren't absolutely perfectly straight, you will fix it slightly at this step. Finally you will finish off your slots with needle files. Flat file for the straight edges, and skinny round file at he top and bottom ends. Don't make the slots too fat. Mine were barely big enough for the needle files to pass though. The finished slots might not be perfectly uniform. Don't be disappointed. Paint will hide the crime later as long as they are close.
Small detail: Use sand paper to remove the Rubie's logo on each gun. Make sure to finish with a fine grit so match the smoothness of the rest of the toy.
Lines. The toy has some inaccuracies with the lines between the silver and blue areas. The simple but slightly challenging way to correct this is the carefully etch the correct needed lines in their place. At the top front of the barrel, you will complete an edge line they for some reason did not. And you may, like me, make a more correct shaped line in front of that, leaning more towards the barrel tip. You may find a way of etching these lines in more precisely and better than I. I marked my lines with dry erase. Then I taped the edge of that line to help guide my needle file and prevent me scratching inside the line. I took my straight edge needle file and slowly scored the plastic at the line, filing deeper a little at a time. Make your line as solid and straight as possible. I recommend going just slightly deeper than I did as mine look okay from distance, but close up they are too shallow. I also did this on the sides of the gun where the silver metal finish changes to gun-metal with a slanted line.
Back detail. I didn't notice til later in the build how inaccurate the small nozzle like tips are at the butt of the blasters. A small way of making them look better is adding these holes/divots. Mark out your holes equally. I did six marks on each. Then use a fine tip Dremel bit to cut in just enough to make a deep divot, but not enough to go through the plastic(Or do if you prefer). I had a bit with a slim conical shape and rounded tip. The challenge here is making uniform depth and length of your divots.Try to hold you rotary tool at the same angle for each hole.
Step 4: Glue, Fill and Prime!
You should be ready to glue your two halves together. Double check that all your interior work is done and your weights and wire mesh are holding well, or add extra glue. I recommend painting the inside of your guns black/dark now.
Glue. I chose to use 5-minute epoxy to seal my two halves together. It doesn't expand like Gorilla glue which would make more work later. Rough up all your edges to be glued and make sure you know exactly where you want to glue. Mix up and follow the epoxy instructions and get the glue on one half of the gun with as much coverage as you can at the seam. My glue started trying and becoming gummy before I was done, so make sure to move quickly. Get glue on the important, crucial areas first so if you run out of time, you can stick it together before its too dry. As the glue sets, screw your two halves together for extra strength. This will functionally hold it in place but I still recommend clamping the halves as it dries. I wrapped tape around the barrels so all the seams stayed tight. IMPORTANT: Mix your 2-part epoxy as precisely as possible and mix very well. Part of my glue was not properly mixed and NEVER dried. Later in the process it tended to squeeze from the crack and try to ruin my paint job. Allow proper time to cure.
Fill. Now we take care of the ugly screw holes and seams. I didn't have any fancy fillers on hand and just used wood filler/putty. It sanded down nicely once dried, however, later I discovered it absorbs paint with a different texture than my plastic. Its not very noticeable in the end, but I'd recommend finding a better, less porous filler. Glob as much of the putty into the screw holes as you can and leave some extra "overflow" at the top so you don't have a dip. You can sand it down smooth later.
Now rub/scrape filler into any seam cracks. Again, leave a little extra to help blend later. Don't forget the original line at the front of the barrel will need to be filled in.To fill the tiny seam inside the ports at rear of the handgaurd, I mushed a small amount of filler into the small circle area, used my square tipped file to even out the filler, and rubbed with my finger to smooth the filler over the seam. Allow your filler to not only dry but cure according to instructions. If you try to sand while its still mushy, it won't become smooth and you will also depress the putty into the screw hole, creating a divot.
Prime. Finally we are almost prepared for paint! Lightly sand all surfaces of your blasters. You will need a medium grit sandpaper, maybe 240, to sand your body filler areas even with your plastic. When it looks straight and even, move to finer sandpaper till you have a very smooth texture. The higher you go, the better. You will likely use a higher grit paper or just steel wool on the rest of the surfaces. This is to provide better surface for your primer. If you overdue the sanding, you will round off details on your guns. Avoid that by only using fine grit around edges and details.
Now, get to priming! (Black satin paint + primer) I used tape to make a hanger from my hand grip area so I could hold it from above without getting paint on my hands. These tape hangers became my method of drying for most of the rest of the process, so use a couple layers of tape so it won't rip and fall later. My pull-up bar was perfect to hang my guns in the house where they wouldn't be bumped or attacked by cats. You'll notice I also made little covers for my top vents, but the rest of the gun is okay to prime. As coverage goes, you want even thin layers. I made a pass over all surfaces of one gun, then did the same on the other. Then made another light pass on the first, then again on the second. I made one more pass on each, mainly hitting areas that seemed thin still. If you make your coat to thick, you may get runs or wet spots.
Step 5: Prep and Paint Choice
You may not want to follow my lead with paint choices. My color picks were fine, but I used enamels for some and tried to use acrylics for others. Some didn't want to play well together. Do your research, and also find some plastic to "test" each of your paints on first. You can see I almost used a nice pink acrylic that did not work on top of my enamel silver.
Here are my final picks:
Testors Aluminum enamel for the silver.
Model Masters Gunmetal enamel mixed with some Testors Arctic Blue Metallic enamel (to brighten it slightly) for the main blaster color.
Testors Black Metallic enamel for the handle grips.
Then for the heat scorch effect, Testors Blue Flourescent enamel, Testors Gloss Hot Pink enamel, and Model Master Turn Signal Amber Metallic enamel.
Process: Using an airbrush is a lot easier than many make it seem. Look up tutorials if you're trying it out. Dilute your paint so it flows easier and test out your spray pattern on a piece of cardboard. If using brush or sponge for your paint, do your best to not leave brushstrokes etc.
I used painters tape to mask off the areas that will be silver, and the handle grip area. Then I painted the gunmetal sections with a small portion of the arctic blue metallic. Gunmetal on its own was too dark for my taste. Unfortunately, paint takes a day or two to fully cure. You can risk moving to the next color quickly, but I recommend taking your time and letting each cure.
I chose a satin finish for my gunmetal sections. So, I used rattlecan satin clearcoat now while it was taped off correctly. Once fully dry, unmask the sections to be painted silver(including the nozzles on the back) and mask off your newly painted gunmetal. Paint the silver, nice and even.
On to the "heat scorch." At the front edge, paint your blue fluorescent or arctic blue. I made my blue band a bit wide, so try to make yours a little slimmer. Make sure to match the shape on the heat scorch. You can move right into the hot pink. Overlap onto the blue slightly to help the colors fade together, but don't layer the pink so much that it looks solid. It should look almost transparent. Last step is your amber color. Test out your color to ensure it is diluted enough to give a yellowed bronze, but still transparent coverage. What I learned painting with these is that you can add more coats, or even other colors if you give it just enough time for the paint to start setting but stay within say a half hour window. Your experience may vary, but if you interfere with your new coat while its trying to cure, you can ruin it.
Before unmasking and moving to your handle grips or the I wanted to get that stained grime look without muddling the silver. I streaked black acrylic craft paint up and down, removing most of it but leaving slight subtle amounts in random spaces. For the more obvious grime, I diluted the paint and pooled it in clusters on the silver. Wait long enough for the edges of the paint to begin drying then gently pat off the wet paint. It leaves a sort of dark water stain I liked.
Step 6: Faux Carbon Fibre and Rub N'Buff
Unmask your grips and tape off your painted silver. I used the black metallic enamel paint for the base of my hand guards. There are a few options for the carbon fibre hand grips. I've seen builds with carbon fibre adhesive sheets that stick on like a decal. These can look very nice but come with the challenge of wrapping a flat sheet around the many curves on the hand grips and trigger guards. Lots of contouring, cutting, gluing and smoothing might turn out a good result but I was dubious. I also worry about the durability of essentially a "sticker." Hand sweat and wear and tear might ruin your hard work.
The most professional option would be to hydro-dip. I am not familiar with the process but it involves special film sheets laid on water. You then dip your object with all other parts of the prop taped off. The paint film sticks and wraps around your object. Research this method and it may be a great way to go.
Faux Carbon Fibre. I found a youtube how to with a clever, simple and cheap way to mimic the carbon fibre look using a common rubber shelf liner as a stencil. Look for shelf liner mat with the correct small rectangular pattern. I found a roll for around $6 at my home improvement store. You need to then contour the mat to your hand grips and airbrush evenly across. I cut the liner to fit the shape tightly and taped off the inner edges of the guard to decrease overspray through the stencil. Later I gave up taping inside because my diluted airbrush paint had no noticeable overspray (obviously your gunmetal and silver areas are still taped).
I used regular acrylic silver craft paint mixed with some black for a subtle dark silver. Gently press your stencil down as you airbrush and keep a consistant distance and angle as you cover every spot of the guard, one side at a time. I left the inner edges, front and back of the hand and trigger guard for last. Once that paint is dry to the touch, you need to lay down a second stencil layer offset from the first (forming a jagged diagonal line). Look up reference images if you are unsure what I mean. I mixed my paint slightly darker for this pass, but perhaps too dark. Mine is hardly visible, but enough to give the correct overall effect. It was difficult lining up my stencil perfectly with such dark colors, and it is easy to let it drift as you paint if you don't tape it down in some way. Some of my stenciled paint didn't line up correctly and it almost ruins the effect. I would recomment making "registry" marks to help line up your stencil more perfectly and guarantee perfect pattern. Maybe go ahead and tape down the stencil so it doesn't shift as well.
Rub N'Buff. So, for the metallic cylinders inside/under the barrels I wanted to get a very metallic luster. Rub N'Buff is perfect for this effect if done correctly. Typicaly you use this product to give metallic accent, but I used it almost like paint. Rather than paint these parts silver and gold, then rubbing the Silver and Gold Leaf on top, I applied it directly in basically two coats. I do not think this is how Rub N'Buff is designed to be used as it didn't layer in coats very well and it tended to glob in an almost rough texture. The product behaves almost like a metallic wax, so its difficult to remove at all and dries almost instantly in small amounts. When I got a somewhat even color and texture I buffed the finish with my palm and fingers to get a dull shine. With the right technique, this product can be buffed to an almost reflective shine!
My advise on this step instead of my method is to: Paint these barrel parts with normal silver and gold paint for a nice even texture, Then sand with 0000 grit steel wool, THEN apply Rub N'Buff with your finger or cloth in a thin accent layer which you can buff to a very metallic effect.
Step 7: Weathering!
Maybe my favorite step, weathering takes your very nice painted prop, and make it suddenly look amazing.You can weather heavily or more subtle. I ended up weathering mine just a tad further than Star-Lord's blasters and I did NOT screen match the weathering. This means, it looks very awesome, but if you held it next to the actual prop, you could spot many differences. You are free to find high resolution screen grabs so you can line up each and every scratch with the hero prop....Or you can have fun with it and make it look how you want.
Grime. To add grime to the cracks and crevices, just grab some black acrylic craft paint and some paper towels. Dilute the paint with some water just a tad to help it flow from your brush. Tackle one area at a time and brush/dab the paint into a crack. Then wipe away most of the paint, leaving just a thin residue. Make it look as natural as you can by dabbing the paint away or feathering. The basic concept here is to get the piece dirty, then do a bad job cleaning it to replicate its years of life. The acrylic dries quickly but gives plenty of time to wipe away, you don't need to mask or take any other precautions. I don't really add the grime to flat surfaces or spots that would be easily cleaned in actual use. If you aren't sure you're achieving the desired effect, look up reference images of historical weapons/artifacts.
Scratches/Wear. This is the most fun for me and its easy to get carried away. This is finally what Rub N'Buff is perfect for. There are two main results you want here. Rubbed/worn areas, and scratches. For the rubbed edges, I used my fingers, and a fine brush. I ran silver very finely along almost all the gun-metal edges. In some spots I used my finger to gently rub vertically away from the edge to create a feathered "scratch" from the edge. This included the silver painted areas on the barrel sides. I also used my finger to rub soft amounts of the Rub N'Buff on the easily reached edges. I made wider wear spots in areas I thought would be worn the most like around the hand guard the sides. Another spot to pay attention to are the side and top vents! I made rubbed areas small to big on my side vents as if the heat from the vents increases toward the rear-most vent. For scratches, take a very fine brush and feather small random scratches. These will occur and be most effective on the large flat surfaces of the gun-metal colored sections. You want straight and consistant lines. I had difficulty doing this myself, so I didn't make very many scratches. The Rub N'Buff can get away from you and you can easily marr your otherwise great paint job by smudging your lines. Don't forget to add wear and scratches to your "heat scorch" areas up front. Both along the sides and at the very front tips. Each barrel has one very defined wear spot to the side of the tip, presumably from firings the blaster.
Note. You can weather as heavily as looks good to your eye, but try to be consistent between the two basters and between each side. Look over each, several times, to ensure you don't miss spots like the ports at rear of the handguards.
Step 8: Take Aways
So, I feel like I have pretty great results for my first painted prop. But, there are a lot of things I would advise doing different. Here are my do's and don'ts that I would follow if attempting this again:
Do: Carefully cut mods into the plastic for more accuracy.
Do: If cutting new lines on the barrel, get them a bit deeper than mine, and above all, make them perfect. Imperfections and rough lines ruin the "machined" look.
Don't use wood filler. Use appropriate filler material that accepts paint more like plasic.
Don't under-mix two part epoxies. I didn't fully mix the epoxy that I glued one of the guns together with. As a result, parts of it NEVER dried. Even in my last stages of painting, there was occasional seepage from un-cured glue.
Do: Know which paints interact best with each other or stick to one specific brand to avoid bad finishes.
Don't use Rub N'Buff as full layers of paint. It behaves differently than normal paint and really should be added as a thin top layer and on edges.
Do: Use tape to hold your stencil as you paint the faux carbon fibre. Make temporary marks on your blaster (maybe with tiny strips of tape) to help you line up your stencil for your second pass. I tried "eyeballing" mine and wasn't fully successful making a straight diagonal pattern.
DO: Get a rag tag group of miscreants together to help save the galaxy at your next con!