Long term listener, first time poster - M41A Aliens Pulse Rifle

wgdesign

New Member
Howdy Makers!

Welcome to my first post here! Recovering Industrial Designer / Scale Modeller / Prop-maker, just making the transition into replica prop-making after spending the past 4 years predominantly making sci-fi scale models.

Decided to jump in the deep end and go for a big project - the M41A Pulse rifle from the Aliens franchise!

All parts were 3D modelled in Onshape, 3D printed on a Prusa i3 Mk3s, paints are from Mr.Hobby and Archive-X

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More pix to follow.....
 

Luv4Filmz

Active Member
Howdy Makers!

Welcome to my first post here! Recovering Industrial Designer / Scale Modeller / Prop-maker, just making the transition into replica prop-making after spending the past 4 years predominantly making sci-fi scale models.

Decided to jump in the deep end and go for a big project - the M41A Pulse rifle from the Aliens franchise!

All parts were 3D modelled in Onshape, 3D printed on a Prusa i3 Mk3s, paints are from Mr.Hobby and Archive-X

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More pix to follow.....
Does it have a working number counter? I'm not a fan of the Airsoft versions due to the readout counter problem, (and battery compartment needing tape), so 3D printed custom made is the way to go, well done.
 

wgdesign

New Member
Does it have a working number counter? I'm not a fan of the Airsoft versions due to the readout counter problem, (and battery compartment needing tape), so 3D printed custom made is the way to go, well done.
This one doesn't but subsequent ones will have all the bells and whistles.
 

wgdesign

New Member
Lots and LOTS of sanding and spray putty. I bought some spray putty as well as high build primer in a spraycan from the local car detailling shop as the hobby grade stuff was just getting too expensive.

My gap filler of choice these days is UV resin - the gloopy type you get and zap with a UV torch. It's totally awesome stuff.

I really wanted absolutely no layer lines to be visible on the finished item so filling and sanding took a long LLLOOONNGG time.


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joberg

Master Member
Very good work/results replicating that iconic prop (y) (y) I can see that you're a fan of "The Broccoli Forest";) as I am...bought "The Moosewood" almost 35 years ago and never regretted it;) But that's another thread for another site altogether:p
Eager to see your next update!
 

wgdesign

New Member
I did something a little bit different with my workflow with this one.

Instead of putting a protective clearcoat over the top of the complete finished product, I painted the rifle in it's base material colours, did some basic weathering on the steel parts, and then hit it with a 2k clear.

The plan was to basecoat lacquers > 2k clear > topcoat acrylics. That way, 'actual' wear and patina would hopefully be limited to the acrylics and not drill down into the basecoats.


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wgdesign

New Member
A bit of technique description on the 'Brown Bess' finish.

On the original prop it was apparently painted with 'bed liner' which is a thick, sound deadening finish. I didn't really want to go that route as I wanted the topcoats to be able to patina naturally, so I tried something different and added some single-part acrylic resin to Archive-X's wonderful rendition of Brown Bess acrylic. Ratio was maybe 1 part resin to 3-4 parts paint. You can't thin it or else you lose opacity very rapidly.

I ended up doing the whole thing in about 4 batches, and applied it literally by slapping it on with a big paintbrush and then evening it out with a sponge. Playing with mud as an adult? The fun cannot be underestimated!

After it had dried, I sanded it with 320 grit sanding blocks to get it somewhat flat, and that's it - done!

The chipping was emulated by applying Mr. Masking Sol NEO with a crappy old brush in strategic positions and then removing once everything is dry by either simply rubbing it off with your fingers or giving it a nudge with a wooden kebab skewer or whatever you have lying about.
Further chipping was added literally by......chipping more paint off.


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wgdesign

New Member
Adding the black topcoats.

This was done a bit differently than the Brown Bess, which I just applied over a basecoat of Tamiya's fantastic LP11 Silver.

After I'd painted all the 'steel' parts in a gunmetal metallic grey, I weathered the steel just simply using a silver Tamiya enamel as a drybrush. At this point all the basecoats were sealed in a 2k clear finish to preserve their 'materiality'.

The black topcoats are simply Vallejo Matt Black acrylic applied via the airbrush. The chipping and weathering is again Mr. Masking Sol NEO but this time used in conjunction with the 'hairspray chipping' technique.

On the actual props, the black seemed a lot more fragile a finish than the brown bess and exhibited more wear so I wanted to emulate that difference.


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wgdesign

New Member
The Devil is in the Details.

Thankfully, Thompson SMG drawings and spec sheets are easy to find, and in all honesty the reference materials were pretty thick on the ground so research was fairly straightforward.

Of course the key is how you put all that information together.

I won't go into all the nitty gritty here, but here's my 'Top Tips' for newbie replica prop makers like me:


1. Design weapons around steel or aluminium tubes.
Not only does this keep everything straight and locked in, but it adds some weight too which adds to the realism.

2. Use real bolts and screws.
No point 3D printing them, avoid it if you can. The real thing always looks better and is just plain easier.

3. Don't 3D print anything cylindrical or tubular.

Use the equivalent size in some sort of metal, where it be toggle switches, mounting pins, pivots, etc. They're stronger, better, and require less finishing.

4. Use 2 part epoxy adhesives where you can.
They're just so much better and tougher than CA (Superglue). Get the 5min curing one if you don't want to wait.

5. Add weight.
Weight means realism and adds to the experience when someone picks up your prop. Use metal tubes, add ballast where you can, do what you can to make your prop feel less plastic-y.

6. It's your prop, do what you want.
My M41A is really an amalgam of a few different versions, and I made some finishing decisions for my own aesthetic reasons that aren't canon. It really does bridge the gap between the 80's actual prop, and a slicker, modern version and I'm okay with that. And you should be okay with your decisions, too. It's your prop, so just have fun and roll with it, and let others make of it what they may.



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Pro Mod

Well-Known Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
What a fantastic recreation of this iconic weapon - brilliant!
Absolutely agree with your six points, particularly the never print anything you don't have to!
Don't know if you've seen these fantastic images from the Royal Armouries, Leeds in the UK.
 

DutchNibbles

New Member
Lots and LOTS of sanding and spray putty. I bought some spray putty as well as high build primer in a spraycan from the local car detailling shop as the hobby grade stuff was just getting too expensive.

My gap filler of choice these days is UV resin - the gloopy type you get and zap with a UV torch. It's totally awesome stuff.

I really wanted absolutely no layer lines to be visible on the finished item so filling and sanding took a long LLLOOONNGG time.


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It looks fantastic! What was the spray putty and primer you used?
 

wgdesign

New Member
Damn, I forgot another point:

7. Don't print holes

If you can avoid it, don't print small round holes. They're rarely round, they can complicate the slicing/orientation, and are generally more troble than they're worth. Instead, print a conical drill guide and drill the holes instead.
 

ID10T

Sr Member
Orientation helps-

I recently did some very small paddles for a tonearm damper and the center hole was designed on size but printed slightly small. I drilled the hole (really just opening it up) with the correct drill before I cured the resin n the UV light (so it was a bit softer), and that worked great. Keeps the drill from wandering off the correct hole.

But when I printed the hole horizontal, it closed up much more. Printing it vertical (pointing up) it printed quite round but was slightly undersize.
 

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