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Unread 01-28-2013, 02:25 PM   #1
ShadowCharizard
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[PROTOTYPE] -- Alex Mercer Blade; Tips?

Oh Cosplay.com forums, it's been too long.

**BEFORE we get into this**, I have searched the forums for any related threads, and they aren't of much help to anyone. The other tuts for large swords are also difficult to adapt, as Mercer's blade is meant to be worn on your arm rather than closed-up and held.

With my exams being finished, and having the next two days completely free, I wanted to start working on props for an Alex Mercer cosplay. I'm beginning with his blade, though I'm not sure how to go about it.

I'll usually start swords and such in cardboard. As I came up with some designs, the issue of supporting the blade has occurred to me. It's an odd kind of blade that is essentially an extension of Alex's forearm & elbow. My forearm would be inside the blade, and I would obviously need to make some sort of skeleton. I drew up the following concept:



The blue is where my arm would be, inside the blade. My first thought was that wooden dowels could easily support it. As I pondered further, I ended up believing that 3+ dowels would be necessary for 100%-safe mobility. (The dowel parallel to the blade would fit through the gap between my middle and ring fingers, and a perpendicular dowel makes a "+" shape that I can grip.) I made a triangular / A-shape knowing that triangles are some of the sturdiest shapes in terms of support. Thing is, I should also be considering the weight increase...

Any and all tips / forms of advice are welcome!!
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Unread 01-28-2013, 02:29 PM   #2
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The more research I do, the more it seems that a foam sword would be the best option. However, I'm thinking that it will be rather difficult to figure out how to build a foam blade literally around my forearm... *sigh*
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Unread 01-28-2013, 03:04 PM   #3
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To build foam around your forearm, you can glue together multiple sheets/blocks of foam in such a configuration that there is a forearm sized cavity in it. This also lets you imbed any dowel rods as you build up layers. Once all the layers are glued up, you just carve away the excess until you are left with the proper exterior shape for the sword.

If you harden the outside with something like heavy paper mache, fabric+glue, or fiberglass+resin, you should only need the one dowel rod serving as a handle.
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Unread 01-28-2013, 03:41 PM   #4
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Dang, so much good info in one post. I considered fibreglass + Bondo on the outside, but I'm trying to avoid making the blade too heavy. After all, it's supposed to be roughly the same size (length) as the wearer. Not to mention, I don't want to cause any convention concussions XD

Side note--what type of foam is best for giant blades? I see talk of (pink/blue) insulation foam, others speak of polyurethane... Not sure what I should be looking for.

Last edited by ShadowCharizard : 01-28-2013 at 03:46 PM.
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Unread 01-28-2013, 04:28 PM   #5
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pink/blue insulation foam works just fine. Polyurethane insulation foam behaves similarly, only you don't have put down a barriercoat before messing with polyester resins (including Bondo putty).

Don't use Bondo autobody filler putty to wet fiberglass. The putty is too thick to properly saturate the fabric. Use polyester or epoxy resin instead. Once that layer is cured, You can use Bondo putty overtop if desired to smooth it.

The layer of fiberglass and resin is very thin and lightweight. The exact same technique is used to create surfboards and surfers run around with them all day.
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Unread 01-28-2013, 06:08 PM   #6
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Sorry, I don't quite follow a couple things...

Quote:
Originally Posted by verdatum View Post
Polyurethane insulation foam behaves similarly, only you don't have put down a barriercoat before messing with polyester resins (including Bondo putty).
I'm not too sure what this means. "Barriercoat"...?

Quote:
Once that layer is cured, You can use Bondo putty overtop if desired to smooth (the fibreglass).
By this, do you mean cover the whole blade in spot putty? Or the actual autobody filler itself? I've used Bondo before, but not the spot putty, so I'm curious if you're suggesting to do the whole blade in spot putty.
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Unread 01-28-2013, 08:46 PM   #7
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polyester resins dissolve polystyrene foam (regular insulation foam). To avoid this, you paint the entire surface with some sort of water based paint, such as gesso, or latex housepaint. The paint acts as a barrier between the foam and the resin.

I was referring to regular Bondo autobody filler putty. The spot putty is meant to fix tiny pinhole flaws. You spread the putty across the entire surface and then sand it smooth in order to hide the texture of the fiberglass cloth. A product called gelcoat, or resin thickened with colloidal silica are other options. If using paper mache or fabric+glue, this step would be done using water-thinned paperclay, wood putty, or jointing compound.
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