Mami's Musket Prop Build

Although this is my second post on this blog the following prop build was actually my first time building anything. My background and education lay more in the area of traditional 2-d artwork and 3D Animation. My girlfriend is very much into Cosplay and I suggested that I attempt to make a prop for one of her characters. She chose the character Mami from the anime Puella Magi Madoka Magica who is an angelic being of sorts that wields a large matchlock musket with swirly designs along the foregrip. So here is my process for making that musket a reality.

After finding as much reference material from an episode of the show as I could I began to do small design sketches in my sketchbook of various aspects of the musket.

Here is the sketch I decided to ultimately expand upon.

Using floral foam blocks and some PVC pipe wrapped in sandpaper I was able to fashion this stock.


I then wrapped the foam in a thermoplastic by the name of Wonderflex. This proved to be a bit tricky because Wonderflex, a semi-rigid sheet of plastic, becomes malleable when heat is applied. That same heat will melt the floral foam. Covering this became a delicate game but after a while I was able to get a hang of it and finish it off with acceptable results.

Because of the shape of the stock I was unable to cover the foam with Wonderflex without leaving seams. I filled in the seems with Apoxie Sculpt.

Part of the trigger housing area of the gun was deformed die to the heat and needed a fair bit of Apoxie Sculpt to re-form it.

This is a test curl that I made as a proof of concept to the technique I developed to make these. I rolled out a thin snake of Apoxe sculpt, laid it out in the basic shape of the curve, and then went along from end to end pinching the Apoxie Sculpt in order to give it a beveled appearance.  Once the material hardened a bit I would use cooking oil or water to smooth over the surfaces to get rid of fingerprints and help even the shape out.

After sanding the Wonderflex I found that the texture left by the sandpaper was less than desirable. I decided to cover the entire stock in a thin layer of Bondo in order to obtain a smoother finish.

After sanding the Bondo into a smoother surface I primed it in preparation for building the curls.

In order to get the best form fit curls I decided to lay out a barrier of painter's tape on the sides of the gun to mold the Apoxie Sculpt on top of.

I measured out the lengeths of each section and cut inch wide strips of duct tape to simulate the bands I would later make to secure the barrel to the stock. I then used pencil and marker to sketch the designs out on the painter's tape.

Here you can see the before and after pictures regarding the 'pinching' technique. On the left is one of the curls after laying it out in the shape I wanted. The one on the right has been pinched from end to end to give it the beveled effect.

Here is a detail of the bevel.


Here is the right side of the musket with the curls still drying.

While those were still drying I began work on the trigger guard by first fabricating a support out of a cardboard tube.

I refined it adding a curl at the rear and further shaping the front.

Using another trigger guard as a support for the new trigger guard I finalized the design with one more curl to set in between the fingers of the musketeer.

Here is a shot of what happens when the adhesive chemical in Apoxie Sculpt soaks through the painter's tape and rips off all of your primer and Bondo.

So I re-bondoed the affected sections.

And sanded them down to a smooth finish before re-priming.

For the other side I decided to try out Saran wrap as a barrier between the Apoxie Sculpt and the stock.

And it worked like a charm. They fell off after drying!

Here is a detail of the trigger guard after sanding and priming.

I then laid the curls out and labeled them on their bottoms in order to remember which went where.

After another layer of painter's tape and some time with a marker I had a batter idea of where I would be going with the trigger mechanism housing design. I also made a test curl for the hammer, which I would later end up actually using.

Here is a quick assembly shot before I began making the trigger housing plate. I also drilled a hole through both sides of the stock to house the bolt that would secure the hammer to the gun.

I began by rolling out a flat section of Apoxie Sculpt and adding an inside stroke design along the interior of the borders.

While that harded a little bit I pushed the bolt through the plate and began to add more detail to the hammer.

Once it had hardened enough for my liking I removed the bolt and sculpted the trigger mechanism housing plate design.

I then used a piece of dowel to create a mock ramming rod and attached it with the front most Apoxie Sculpt barrel band.

Here is an assembly shot before I began work on the butt plate.

Here is a rough shot of the butt plate in progress. I just free-handed the design for time's sake. I was not entirely satisfied with this piece in the end.

Here is the entire stock, barrel, and associated pieces after priming.

I decided to paint the entire stock white, and then tape of sections to paint the foregrip brown.

Here are the curls after painting.

After taping off the bands I gave the gun a few coats of brown.

Here is the gun just before I began attaching the trigger mechanism housing plate.

I used a small diameter bit to drill divots into the side of the gun through the layers of paint and primer to allow for better adherence of the side plate.

Here is the finished trigger and hammer assembly, the plate being attached with super glue and the hammer attached with a bolt spanning the width of the stock.

And here is the completed musket. All in all this project took about 3-4 weeks to finish. I learned so much with this build and this is what really drove me to want to continue making props and even research prop making as a possible career route.

Here is a picture of "Dustbunny" at Anime LA 2012 Cosplaying as Mami.

And another out-of-con photo shoot she did with Peter Roig.


Thank you for checking out the in progress post. My next post will actually be real time! I will leave you fine folks with a quick materials list. Feel free to leave any comments, criticisms, suggestions or question below!


Materials:
  • Floral Foam
  • Apoxie Sculpt
  • Rustoleum Paint and Primer
  • Bondo
  • Wonderflex
  • 1/2" Dowel

To check out more of Dustbunny's Cosplay costumes, check out her Deviant Art page!

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