My Mal Reynolds (Firefly) costume


Master Member
I've been working on this costume for a couple of months and posting my progress in this thread:

I decided to start my own thread and will be posting over here from now on.

So, after working on it for about 6 hours today, I've finished my holster. (minor color tweaks aside, it could be redder)


It's not lined like the screen used version due to the complexity of doing so, but neither is the QMx, so I'm pretty happy with it. I did give it a good coat of gum tragacanth and slicked the inside pretty well before stitching it up.

The pants will be done tomorrow, I just have to hem them. The ribs in the boots are done and I'll be cutting into the leather just as soon as I've ironed out some weirdness in the pattern. I got my liner leather and it's unfortunately a bit smaller than I expected, so I won't be able to completely line my boots, I'll only be able to make it just about down to the shoe and have to cut the liner off about 2 inches early. The boot should still stand up on it's own and will basically be completely lined once glued to the shoe, but I won't be able to get the nice clean edge where the spat attaches.


Active Member
When you do finish the Firefly Malcolm Reynolds boots, I would really be interested in finding out how you did them and if you might be interested in doing me a pair as well. I have my own Firefly and Serenity Malcolm Reynolds costumes both. I somewhat did my own on the Firefly version ,but I purchased most for the Serenity one. Anyway, keepmeinthe loop. Thanks.
calibr1735 :)


Master Member
I had to buy a huge hide of the boot leather, so my plan is to do boot conversions for people after I finish mine. Basically you can track down a pair of Steve Madden shoes (or any pair that look like the originals) and send them to me and I'll make the spats and paint the soles. Send me a PM if you're interested and we can discuss it. As to how they're made, I've posted a bunch of stuff over in the other thread, but I'll post some of the pics here as well.

Here are my shoes with the soles painted and the tongue glued in place:

Here's my first (of 3) test spat:

The boot ribs:

And here are my finished suspenders/the costume as of a couple weeks ago:



Master Member
In addition to the costume, I'll be posting my progress on my gun repaint here. It's a Phil S. casting I picked up cheap in the junkyard a couple months ago. Here's how it looked when I got it:


Pretty gnarly paint job, the whole thing needs to be redone. I've had it soaking in easy-off for about 2 hours now. I tried scrubbing some of the paint off and I got a bit of the silver and a bunch of the brown off of the grips, but the black isn't budging. I'm not sure if that's the primer or a base coat of paint. The good thing is, the resin appears to be holding up nicely without any ill effects from the easy-off. In a couple more hours I'll give it another shot. Additionally, I ordered a set of thumbscrews that look pretty similar to the ones on the gun on Amazon. They come in a pack of 5, which is good because they have an extra ridge below the knurling that I'll have to dremel or file off and I might make some mistakes. I also finished my holster, mostly. I'll take some sandpaper to it in a couple days once it's completely dry and I might swap out the lace tie if I find a better one.



Master Member
The easy-off was somewhat effective, after 12 hours of soaking, the paint was starting to come off a bit, but it took a lot of hard scrubbing with a tooth brush to do it. I picked up some Power Purple to give that a shot instead and holy crap. It worked about a million times better than the easy-off. I had submerged the gun in it for about 2 hours and it was starting to evaporate, so I poured some more in and the stream wiped the paint right off of the gun.

Now it's nice and clean. Little bits of paint left in some of the crevices and poorly sanded seams, no big deal. Now it's soaking in cold water to leach the chemicals back out.

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Master Member
Here's a small preview of approximately how the boot ribs will look when the boot is worn. This is a test piece I made with the old straight ribs and the edges aren't mitered, but the basic look is the same.


Didn't have a lot of time today, so I just filled some damage on the gun with glazing putty. (the previous owner seems to have cleaned up the seams with nothing but a dremel sanding drum and some 80 grit sandpaper)


Master Member
Thanks! I'm pretty happy with it as well. I finished the pants, now it's just down to the boots. (although I think there were a couple episodes where he wore the pants over the boots, so technically it is wearable.)

The stripes:

And the whole ensemble:

I've got to bring the shirt to a dry cleaner and see if there's anything they can do to make the collar stand right, because this one just splays out and looks really disco. Alternatively, I'd love to just find a perfect linen shirt.


Master Member
OK, I sewed up what I had hoped was my last test spat, I'm not so sure now. I could really use some input on it. Does it need to be taller, and if so where do I need to add the height? To the top band, or at the ankle below the ribs?





I sewed the front seam on the band wrong (it will just be glued on the leather version, I accidentally put the small bit on top which made the edge dead center instead of 3/8" in.) Also, I think I accidentally made the seam allowance too large, because the leather ribs that fit the pattern perfectly were WAY too big for the finished spat when I traced them on. Theoretically, there will be more wiggle room in the final version for the larger amount of pants I'll have to tuck in and they should be as much as 1/4" taller because of the let out band seam.


This is looking good. I may just consider making myself a Mal Reynolds costume once I've finished my Colonial Marine gear.


Master Member
I could still really use some input on the boot height. It's impossible to judge while wearing them. I'm thinking I need to add maybe 1/4" to the ankle just to get the ribs up away from the wrinkles, and I might also bring in the back of the ankle a bit to give the boot more shape.

The gun repaint is turning out pretty bad. I couldn't get drybrushing to work for me and a black wash to fill in the wood grain didn't do anything either. Then I sealed the grips with Valspar gloss clear and, well, see for yourselves.


I think it looks terrible. Nothing I can really do but go get some satin clear and hope it'll dull the shine. The grips on the original were glossy, but not nearly that much.


Master Member
It took a while, but I've got what I need to work on the gun again. Painting the grips wasn't working at all so I decided I'd do it right the first time.


I went to a local lumber yard and got some walnut. I don't expect it to be easy to carve/sand the grips, so if anybody can help me in any way by providing an accurate blueprint for the grips so that they'll sit flush with the edges on the Phil cast, I'd really appreciate it. Also, any tips on carving wood with a knife to get the basic shape before sanding would also be appreciated.

Also, my thumbscrews from Amazon showed up today. As you can see, the threads are way too thick, so I'll be using various dremel bits to narrow them down before attaching them. The measurements of these screws perfectly matched the ones I cut off the cast, I'm just going to drill a pit into the center and polish up the surrounding area.



I also tweaked my spat pattern a little, more on that in a few days.


Master Member
I made the pattern a little taller and was extra careful to take out the correct seam allowance this time (although still managed to put the wrong piece on top on the upper band, I'll get it right on the real boots, I swear!) and the pattern is just about done. I still want to take out more of the back of the ankle because it bags up back there. The leather would sit nicer, but it's still unnecessary excess. Between wearing it and looking at the pictures, I'm really happy with the fit and height otherwise and I think they're going to look really cool when they're done. Here are a couple pics, a close up and one for a sense of scale.



As for the gun, I messed it up pretty good. It turns out walnut is REALLY difficult to cut with a dremel, I just don't have the tools to pull it off in the time I have left. I've already burred one of the grips off my gun, so I'll most likely use some plumber's putty to roughly sculpt something grip shaped, paint it brown, and glue it on the gun temporarily. No clear coat, no thumb screws. I'll have to do all that after SDCC. Or maybe I'll just build one out of solid brass and walnut instead, I don't know.

Any comments are welcome, especially from those who have expressed interest in owning a pair of these boots in the future, or even if you're just considering it. Or even if you just consider yourself an expert on Mal's boots and have some input, good or bad. I want to hear it.


Sr Member
Sorry to hear about the Mal pistol.
I did fake wood grain on the plastic sidkit grips on the Mal pistol I built for a friend.
I make the fake wood grain by rubbing a 24grit grinding pad in short swipes along the grip,
but only a few times.
If you overdo it, the individual grain gets lost.


For paint, spray a cheap Walmart brown first coat, let dry a day,
then lightly paint a coat of red mahogany stain with a stiff bristled brush.
I brush the stain on so that there is enough paint to pool in the 24 grit "grain",
but not so much that I lose the additional smaller streaking from the stiff brush.
I usually have to let the stain dry a couple of days.
I then add some very light dry brushing in dark brown followed by drybrushed gloss black.

This picture isn't very good either, but it sorta shows the subtlety of the coloring.


I'm thinking the phillipes Mal had the wood grain cast in it.
If you wanted to enhance that, a scriber would have a lighter touch than a dremel,
and might work a little better.
If you ground one grip off altogether, after your con you might want to consider just making real wood grips.



Sr Member
If the threads on the thumbscrew are way too thick, you probably ordered course thread as opposed to fine thread. You may be able to run a fine thread die over it again to fix the problem. The die would have to be one size smaller, or at least as small as the smallest diameter of the course threads.

And Oh BTW.....................EVERYTHING LOOKS GREAT!


Master Member
Mike: That paint technique looks and sounds great, but unfortunately I don't have enough time before the con. My plan is to do the wood grips later, but the removed grip, the scratches made by the dremel trying to get it off, and the satin clear coat ruining the semi-gloss black finish all add up to the gun being a poorly finished holster-filler for now. I'll have the time to make it look really great later.

Hogosha: Thanks! The problem with the thumbscrew is that the diameter of the threads isn't much smaller than the rod on the gun it has to be inserted into. If I can take a dremel to the screws and remove the threads leaving just the center rod part, it'll probably be narrow enough to fit inside a hole drilled into the gun. From past experience though, doing that kind of work on that type of steel will take multiple bits and more time than I have before the con. It would also be much easier with a vice, which I won't have access to until next month. (unless anybody here with a lathe wants to do me a solid. Anybody? :))

With some luck and another manic episode (read: luck) I'll have the leather shell for the right boot cut and the ribs glued in by the end of the night. Because of glue dry times everything has to be done in steps spaced out 8-12 hours, so things take more time than I'd like. I should have no problem finishing on time if I get right to work, though.


Sr Member
Did you hit up Robstyle for the thumbscrews? He has ones that are exactly the right size for the Phil gun.

Edit: I'd go a little higher on the boots, below the ribs.
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Master Member
Rob no longer has the thumbscrews unfortunately.

As for the height, I don't know if I can get away with any more height overall, they'd be really close to my knees. I might be able to add 1/8", but any more than that would make them closer to Solo boot height. I think that a lot of why the ankle looks a little wonky is because of the angle at which I glued in the tongue of the shoe. I've been thinking about ripping it back apart and gluing it in a little farther.
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Master Member
I didn't get quite as much done as I had hoped, but I did make some progress. First, I put some silver and antique gold rub n buff on the gun. It needs more gold.


And I noticed something a little weird:


The thumb screws I bought fit perfectly into the handle of an xacto blade, which also looks like a slightly oversized version of that part of the gun.

And last, I finally finished the pattern for the boots! I took your advice under advisement Ewan and made them 1/4" taller at the ankle, then took in the back about 1/4" at the skinniest point. I also reglued the tongues of the shoes down with about 1/2" more tongue overlap (if that's the right word). As a result, the shoe holds the foot better, has a more natural profile, and fits under the spat much better. I'm confident that I couldn't make the pattern any better than I have now.


First thing tomorrow I'll cut the leather pieces for the right boot and get to work.
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