Firefly's VERA... One Final Revisit.


Master Member
Oh, the irony.

Interest in props from the Verse is pretty much nonexistent these days, and now we finally get a real Saiga12 airsoft replica (made by Tokyo Marui)!

Those of you who have known me the longest around here, know that Vera (or "Alice") was the first really big prop I ever took on. That first copy was in metal, done while Firefly Fever was still a thing. It's now about 4 revisions later, and I'm still not fully satisfied. And with an accurate (though expensive) Saiga replica available, how I can not have a go?

So, for those of you who are still interested in Verse props... here goes. (Also... feel free to leave a comment or a "like" to the thread, 'cause it'll help me determine how much energy I put towards documenting this build.)

The aim this time will be to raise the bar several notches from my earlier efforts. This time I'll print in resin, not PLA (and no aluminum, 'cause I can't do that myself). I've done a version before with removable mag, folding/locking barrel and such, but this time I want to see how close I can get to a copy that will disassemble and work exactly like the Showtime shotguns. I want to tap all the screws, try to leave the Saiga receiver intact and still able to shoot BBs. (The AK receivers I used before essentially had to be gutted, because they were so different to a Saiga.)

As many as possible of the "machined" Showtime and Firefly addons will interlock, so that I could disassemble and fix or repaint a single part if needed.

For the past week or two, I've been getting started, breaking down the Saiga, looking over all the old reference. (The airsoft was pretty hard to get hold of. Seems like TM are having huge problems keeping up with demand. And since it's a gas gun, not an AEG, it was crazy expensive.)

So far, I've discovered dozens of tiny details that I hadn't seen before... things I can't imagine anyone would really bother with. After frame-stepping through Showtime again, I've managed to work out more or less exactly how the mechanics of the folding barrel actually worked. (I've also noted that the Showtime hero guns were all different. It's like each one was machined with slight differences and you can spot where they obviously had to correct for mistakes in the design! The first redesigned parts are already in the process of being printed.

More later, but in the meantime, here's a sneak preview render of some of the barrel parts so you can see how complex this thing actually is. A lot of folks dismiss it as "just a bunch of Lego blocks" but it's pretty far from that. (Every piece in this render has been rebuilt.)

OK... I've been very quiet about this build. Lots of 'life stuff' going on so I don't have too much time to write a log of everything.

Most of the modeling is done, only the stock and magazine are left to do. I decided that some parts will be done in high-temp resistant PLA instead of resin, for durability purposes. Even if the resin I use is pretty durable, some areas of Vera get subjected to 'shock forces' and when the resin sits against the all-metal Saiga receiver, there's a risk of cracking.

So far, every single part is screw-on. Sure, it'll be more delicate... resin threads are nowhere near as strong as metal ones, but it's just gonna sit on my wall, and I'll be able to easily replace ANY part as needed.

And while I haven't test-fired the airsoft yet, none of the mods I've done to the receiver should stop it from working. (Well, except for the range being reduced since I had to shorten the interior triple-barrels.)

It's been a learning experience so far as figuring out some things I didn't know about how the originals were constructed. (Trivia: the barrel lock on Vera was broken, but it'll be working on my copy.)

There's one big decision coming- how faithfully to replicate the magazine. When you see the 'dummy' magazine up-close, it's VERY wonky. The sides are not flat, but bulge outward where they extend below the magwell! And the fake shells inside are just sloppily soldered sections cut from brass tube!

I've said it before, it's easy to overlook just how complex the Showtime shotguns are. You can see that each one is different, having needed individual modifications here and there. Some have screws that are not present on others. There are two VERY different magwells (one for show and one for shooting, I suspect- we only really saw the former on Vera).

In the future, I'll try to do more frequent updates, but here are some teasers of real parts...

Magwell attaches to the receiver via 2-3 screws on the center inside and one on each outside. I had to redesign the Magwell 4-5 times, as it was very hard to keep anbeough clearance for inserting the magazine, and still have it securely fastened. This will be a HTPLA part instead of resin. (I have a resin print of it too.) You can also see at the top where the "wood" foregrip attaches to the magwell, and where the foregrip fastens to the barrel via the M16 grub screw and connector plate.

The grip on Vera is much longer than the original Saiga, and since long-enough screws are difficult to find, an extension was made so that I could use the original M5 hardware. You can also see the cut-down trigger. Vera's larger trigger will slide over it and fasten with a grub screw. Same with the mag release lever, which didn't need to me modified.

I redid the grip 3 times to get the angle perfect, test printing at least once in PLA since it costs a fraction of resin! Still, printing in clear resin is great because you can see how the interior parts line up. Even though I made the grip SOLID, and it' should be fine when it comes to durability, I think I might print it in HTPLA too, because it's one of the parts that will be subjected to the most weight and stress.

Here's a better look at the rear foregrip. Note how the top/bottom pieces interlock so that they stay in place better. Wood grain was modeled into the bottom piece, and has been done to the grip sides as well. (If I ever come across someone who machines in wood, they can easily be swapped out!) <the black connector plate is HTPLA.

Here we see it slid onto the barrel. Note that the lower piece looks a little "chunky" compared to the top one (brass on Vera). That matches the real ones too as the wood pieces were much more rough.

Now for something special. This may not look too impressive, especially with all the parts taped and not screwed tight, but the amount of measuring, testing, re-measuring and figuring out how the folding/locking mechanism really worked was no small task. Getting the barrel to line up perfectly when folded, and even that little swiveling "cover plate" was a minor nightmare. I mean, it's not exactly an engineering miracle, but it was gratifying to see it all line up. Again, parts of the latch were done in HTPLA for durability (and they are also simple to swap out in case of a break).

Until next time...
Last edited:
Will you consider selling a kit at some point?
I'm not engineering this to be a "kit" that would be easy to assemble for anyone. Too many tweaks and things needed, fitting of parts and so on.

Ten years ago it might've been worth it, but there is virtually no interest in Firefly props any longer. That side of the hobby is all but dead aside from a couple old die-hards. That said, I might not be averse to helping the odd builder get a set of parts if they contacted me and asked, though the full set is very costly to print (and I'm definitely not going to be releasing any files).

Much of the magazine will also be a scratch-build around the functional airsoft mag, so that'll be an "as I go" build.

At this point I have all the parts modeled and printed... I just kinda stalled on the build due to other things getting in the way.
While only admitting to the old part, I will say I just picked up a Loot Crate 'Jayne Cobb Thrilling Heroics Rum Hip Flask' off eBay.

I don't think it'll qualify as a prop, but hope it does as 'interest.'

"Just like Mama Cobb used to make"

Your message may be considered spam for the following reasons:

If you wish to reply despite these issues, check the box below before replying.
Be aware that malicious compliance may result in more severe penalties.