Custom Nerf Guns

Lately I’ve been watching a lot of videos about prop making and cosplay. I’m not sure I’m bold enough to dress up myself but I really like the idea of making amazing looking costumes and props from such cheap materials. Unfortunately living in London means our flat is tiny and there’s no space for a workshop or even a spare room. Fortunately my wife is awesome and she suggested that we take a long weekend off work so that we could scratch our creative itches. Leave was booked, craft shops, builders merchants and toy shops were visited and a number of Amazon orders were made.

My original plan had been to replicate a large rifle from Borderlands 2 using foam and PVC pipe. However after watching Adam Savage’s video where he built a custom Nerf rifle in a day I decided to give it a go.

The first attempt

Nerf Strongarm

I picked up one of the cheaper Nerf blasters on sale in a toy shop for under a tenner. It’s called a Strongarm, and it seems pretty oversized for a pistol so I thought it would probably make a pretty cool looking Sci-Fi weapon.

Strongarm colour scheme

First I had to decide how I wanted to paint it. I found a template on the web, and using a pallet of the spray paint colours I had available planned out the colour scheme. The project finally gave me a chance to use my Dremel so I got to work removing the raised Nerf logo, Strongarm branding and the safety instructions from the blaster. This left the plastic a bit chewed up so I tidied it up with a few different grits of wet and dry sandpaper.

Nerf Strongarm with black base coatNext up I disassembled the blaster making sure to take lots of pictures of how the internals fitted together. Then I sprayed the whole thing with a matte black spray paint as a base coat.

Spray paint having a bad reactionOnce it was dry I sprayed the entire blaster with a bright blue spray paint. This is where I hit my first problem. The paint started curling and creating a weird scaly texture. I jumped on to the Facebook group for The PropTarts of Punished Props (a group for fans of the Punished Props YouTube channel) to ask for some advice. Amazingly over thirty people replied to give me advice, what a great community!

It seems the most likely cause was that I had used a solvent based paint for the base layer and the blue acrylic paint had reacted to it. Lesson learned. When it was dry I smoothed out the worst of it with some wet sandpaper and it didn’t look too bad. One of the other suggestions I was given was that spray paint works best if both the can and the surface you’re spraying are warmed up first. So I gently warmed one of the two pieces that make up the slide using a heatgun. It promptly melted and deformed. Second lesson learned. After a bit of heating and bending I managed to get it to fit back on the blaster but it was still pretty mangled.

Next up I masked off the sections I wanted to stay blue leaving only the grip and the “tactical rail” uncovered and sprayed them gloss black. In hindsight I think I probably should have gone with a more matte black but it was beginning to look like my plan.

Custom spray painted Nef Strongarm

As you can see from the image above I chipped quite a lot of paint off of the cylinder while trying to fit the two halves back together. It took a considerable amount of force to get it back together and in the end I resorted to covering it with a tea-towel and hitting it with a rubber mallet. There’s got to be a better way.

With the blaster reassembled I gave the whole thing a coat of a matte clear top coat. Once it had cured I started work on the weathering, touch-ups and finer details. I was pretty proud of the end result.

Custom painted Nerf Strongarm

The second attempt

Nerf Firestrike

Having discovered what not to do and armed with some actual primer I figured I’d give it another go. So the following weekend I started work on a smaller pistol, a Nerf Firestrike Elite. It’s a single shot blaster with an integrated “laser sight”. It has a very futuristic looking silhouette and I thought I could probably get it done fairly quickly as it’s much smaller than the Strongarm above.

I looked around online for an existing template to work out the colour scheme on. I was unable to find one so I threw one up together in Illustrator. It’s not perfect but it’s good enough fo figuring out a colour scheme. Please feel free to use it if it’s useful to you, the outline image to the right links to an A4 transparent version.

Firestrike colour schemeHaving bought a few more colours of spray paint I decided to go with a lighter and more muted colour scheme this time to see how that would work out. I also wanted to break up the shapes of the gun a bit so I used the moulding of the gun to separate the sections of colours.

Nerf Firestrike prepped for spray paintingAs before I ground off the NERF logo, Firestrike branding and the safety instructions. I used a much lower speed this time and that left me with a lot less sanding to do afterwards. Then I roughed up all the surfaces of the blaster with some wire wool to give the paint something to grip into.

Spray painted Nerf FierstrikeThe whole thing got painted with a grey primer and left to dry. Once it was dry I sprayed the whole thing once again with a slightly different shade of grey spray paint. Then the masking began. It took quite a while to cover all of the sections I wanted to stay grey. I used 3M blue painters tape and a scalpel to mask as accurately as I could and then sprayed the ivory coloured sections. When I peeled off the tape I was pretty pleased with the results (and confident I could hide any mistakes with weathering later on). The grip got sprayed matte black and the barrel got sprayed silver.

I decided that I didn’t want to mask up the whole thing again to spray they cylinder at the front silver so I painted that in with a brush along with the screws and  the plaque. I did the same thing for the black dial above the grip. The handle got a matte clear coat and the rest of it got a gloss clear coat. Then I had to reassemble the blaster and reconnect the wires and laser, again taking lots of pictures before made this a lot easier than it could have been. Next up came the weathering and a final clear coat which left me with this.

Custom painted Nerf Firestrike

…and the rest

So I got a little carried away and won an eBay auction for someone’s Nerf collection. So now I have thirteen more blasters of varying styles and sizes to work on. I’m sure I’ll post the finished versions online as I get them finished.

The Nerf Arsenal

Building a Custom Forge Minecraft 1.6.2 Server

Note: This post was originally published on it’s been moved here for archival purposes.

Having played through Tekkit Classic, Voltz, YogCraft and Tekkit my friends and I decided it was time for a custom mod pack. This of course meant that I had to figure out how to build it. After reading a bunch of tutorials of differing quality and reliability I was left under the impression that I would need to use a PC. Fortunately for us Mac users with Minecraft 1.6.2 and the new Forge installer this is not the case.

Installing Minecraft Server 1.6.2 and Forge

Head to the minecraft site and grab a copy of minecraft_server.1.6.2.jar. Make a folder to store your server and copy the jar into it. Double click to run the server and continue passed any warnings that may pop up. Once the server has finished loading type “Stop” in the console.

Now we need to install Forge so head over to their site and grab the latest installer. Download it to your desktop or anywhere else that isn’t your minecraft server folder. Double click to the launch the installer. Chose “Install Server” and then make sure it’s got the correct path to your server folder. Hit Ok. This seems to take ages, I have a 70mb connection and yet the bar still crawls along and stops repeatedly. After waiting a while you will probably receive an error like the one below:

Error downloading
These libraries failed to download. Try again.

If this happens WontWorld on Youtube has got you covered. For me it only failed to download one of the libraries but his instructions fixed it.

Now you will need a launcher batch file so that you can configure how much RAM is assigned to the server at launch. Open up textedit (or similar), make sure you are in Plain Text (Format > Make Plain Text), then copy and paste the following code.

cd "$(dirname "$0")"
exec java -Xmx4G -Xms4G -jar minecraftforge-universal-1.6.2-

This will assign 4Gb of RAM for your server but you can change it accordingly for your system. My server runs 24/7 on a Mac Mini with 8Gb of RAM that I use as HTPC as well so I leave half the RAM free for other applications.

Save the file as launch.command. Now you need to set permissions for the file so that it can be executed. Open terminal, navigate to your server folder by typing “cd” without the quotes, then a space, then drag and drop your server folder onto the terminal window. That should complete the command with the full path to your server folder. Hit return and then type the following code.

chmod a+x launcher.command

Excellent. Now quit terminal as it’s scary in there and we won’t need it anymore. Next double click on launcher.bat and your MinecraftForge server should start. This would be a good time to test that you can connect to your new server.

Installing Forge for your Minecraft Client

Before connecting to the server you’ll need to install forge but before you can so that you must run Minecraft once. You’ll need a copy of Minecraft 1.6.2 from the Downloads page. Install it as normal and then open it. Once you get to the screen with a button that says “Play” you can quit and then install Forge.

This is fairly simple, just run the Forge installer you downloaded earlier choose “Install Client” make sure that the installer has the right path to your minecraft install and hit OK. This is generally very quick and painless.

Now open Minecraft again, choose the new Forge profile at the bottom left and hit Play. In Minecraft click Multiplayer, then add your server and test that it works.

If you’ve got this far and everything is working then it’s time to move on to the fun bit.

Installing Mods into FML in Minecraft 1.6.2

So now that you have your list of mods, download them all into a working directory somewhere other than your server folder. When you download them be sure that your browser is not unzipping them, if it is you should be able to find the zips in the trash.  All of the mods will be either ZIP files or JAR files.

All that’s left to do now is install the mods by moving the mod file into the mods folder inside your server folder.  It would be nice if you could just drag them all in at once and it worked but that was not my experience.  I found that it was best to add one at a time and check I could still login. Remember that any mod installed on your server also needs to be installed on your client.

Some mods have different files for server and client but most are universal.  So add a mod to your server, start the server, add the mod to your client, start your client and join the server.  Sometimes after adding a mod to the server it will die horribly and throw a SEVERE error. If that happens read the log file, read the forums, check for dependencies and try again.

You may need to copy the contents of the server’s config folder to your client’s config folder if you encounter ID mismatches between client and server.

It would also be a good idea to make backups of your server every time you successfully install a mod. This may seem like overkill but I finished this project once and was happily playing online when I decided I should add one more mod.  It threw a severe error, removing the bad mod didn’t fix it neither did reinstalling the server and copying the last backup of mods. Moral of the story backup everything all the time.

In the end I managed to get the following mods installed and living happily side by side.

  • Advanced Repulsion Systems 56.0.0
  • Advanced Machines 56.0.0
  • Arhimede’s Ships 1.6.2
  • BuildCraft 4.0.2
  • ChickenChunks
  • CodeChickenCore
  • ComputerCraft 1.5.6
  • Dimensional Anchor 56.0.1
  • Dyeable Beds 1.6.2
  • EnderStorage
  • Greg’s SG Craft Mod 1.6.2
  • Immibis Core 56.0.5
  • Immibis MicroBlocks 56.0.5
  • Industrial Craft 2
  • Infinitubes 56.0.1
  • Iron Chests 1.6.2
  • IC2 Charging Bench 1.90
  • Not Enough Items
  • Teleport Pipes Mod 1.6.2
  • Timber! 1.6.2
  • Twilight Forst 1.19.3
  • Useful Food 1.6.2
  • Weapon Mod

Now it’s up to my friends to play test it and see if it breaks horribly.