Wednesday, 2 July 2014

We got nukes, knives, sharp sticks...

The failure of the thigh pads led to a week of sulky petulance on my part, where I didn't really try and build much of the costume at all. Instead, I decided to focus on the ancillary pieces: the Shep-Pistol and the Omni-tool.

Pew! Pew!
The pistol was easy. My brother had 'gifted' me two remote guns for his long-defunct GameCube. One fitted a rough shape of the many pistols that appear in the Mass Effect universe, so I severed its cord with scissors and spraypainted it white. 

The gun took another coat to obtain an even coverage and prevent the natural colour of the plastic (black and green) coming through. I then sat around with little pots of Citadel Miniatures paint, delicately tracing out the components of the gun in black and red. I didn't get this right first time, and had to patch up overspill several times with white paint. However, the end result created a gun that, while not the 'M7' standard armour of Commander Shepard, certainly looks like something Shep could have bought from the Citadel.

That left the Omni-Tool, and a serious problem. Working with foam was new to me, but working with transparent materials was something else. In particular, they were incredibly hard to source; Amazon didn't have a clear line on cheap transparent plastic, and while there were many companies offering custom shapes, it just seemed to expensive.

In addition, I didn't possess any power tools that could really tear through plastic and get the job done.

This is what a ring binder looks like,
for those who don't know
In the end, the solution came to me through blind luck. I was in town after a jog, and suddenly remembered that my local stationary shop (WH Smith) occasionally sold strips of transparent plastic - the kind you use in school plays. I popped in, and failed to see anything useful. I was about to leave dejected when I stumbled on the perfect solution.

Ring binders.

Orange transparent ring binders. I knew (from youthful misadventures) that they were thin enough to cut, and were just about perfect for Shepard's omni-tool. I snapped up three of the binders, and set about hacking them apart. 

Now more Omni-tooly
This was easy - a pair of scissors did the trick. From this, I traced out templates with my scalpel and followed the lines, creating three separate elements: a gauntlet (held in shape by a Velcro strap at the bottom, with two quarter-circle arcs cut out at the glove end), a perfect circle (I used a Mass Effect CD to do this - largely for my own amusement), and a sort of stabby-knife-thing.

After that, it was simply a matter of glue-gunning the elements together. The glue could be seen through the transparent material, so I was careful to trace out shapes that could be considered part of the costume. The final tool had a few rough edges and needed sanding, but it looked pretty good.

One issue I had was the stabby-thing was a bit floppy. However, with a little help from my finger it would stay upright.

Securing the Omni-tool was relatively easy. Rather than faff about with the Velcro strap that gave it its unique shape, I decided to stick it in place. I added some Velcro to the bottom of the circle, and a similar piece to the top of my glove.

The end result was a rather nasty, if short, Omni-tool perfect for my Shepard.

Omni-tooled up


  1. Did you consider 2 plying the transparent materials? It might make it stronger and less floppy.

    1. I considered plying, but the length of the binder meant I didn't have a lot of space to go with; the other problem was that the bend is more to do with the inherent problems with the plastic.

      One thing I'm considering is using a second piece on the underside as a rod to fix it in place.