My not so accurate flamethrower from John Carpenter's The Thing

Discussion in 'Replica Props' started by CB2001, Dec 22, 2011.

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  1. CB2001

    CB2001 Master Member

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    Well, if you've been paying some attention over at the costume forum, you'd know that I'm currently working on a not so screen accurate R.J. MacReady costume. For those unfamiliar with John Carpenter's The Thing, I definitely recommend you check it out. But one of the most important tools used throughout the film are flamethrowers, which are useful in combating a creature that can't even die through normal means.

    This post is here to serve as a bit of a placeholder and build thread for the flamethrower prop I will be constructing. I'll be posting some pictures here and possibly even do a video of the build (I don't know if I could submit it to the RPF's YouTube channel, but still, I'll be shooting it).

    I should point out that despite my attempts at trying to be as screen-accurate, I may not be able to do so due to the limited amount of money I'm investing into the costume and prop together. And since my dad is insisting on helping out, my wanting for screen accuracy may be difficult due to his belief that "no one's going to notice" mentality (despite the fact I keep telling him that we're most likely to run into members of the RPF at MegaCon).

    Enough about me, now it's time for some reference material and info.

    Now, the flamethrower is an item that carries over from the original novella. Many have asked why a research outpost would have flamethrowers for. The answer is really simple: back in the time the novella was created by John W. Campbell Jr., flamethrowers were not only used to help melt ice and make it hard to create patches of runways for plans, they were also used to de-ice wings of cargo plans (back when they were made of metal). Below are several pictures of the flamethrower used in the film (NOTE: There is a second one featured briefly in one scene, but I'm focusing on the one used primarily in multiple scenes).

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    Now, according to the Internet Movie Firearm Database, the flamethrower is listed as a M2A1-7 Flamethrower, as pictured here.

    [​IMG]

    As you can see with the picture, this is only partly correct. After comparing the flamethrower, the pack appears to belong to the M2A1-7, but the thrower pictured on the site was not the same one seen in the film. After searching around more, I came across this picture below.

    [​IMG]

    This flamethrower unit is called the M9 Flamethrower. As you can see, the pack is different from the M2A1-7, but the thrower's gun is the same one used with the packs in the film. Apparently, the production swapped the guns for the M2A1-7 for the ones for the M9, which (in my personal opinion) looks better than the too sleek design of the M2A1-7. The M9 itself was used primarily during the Vietnam War.

    Additional Edit: After looking around, I came across a website that had information about Vietnam Era Flamethrowers. Basically, the army actually used a M2A1-7 with the M9 thrower gun during the Vietnam War (and having to seen a picture of the pack and thrower gun, it matches what is seen in the film). It could very well be possible that the production found a surplus of these particular packs with thrower gun combo.

    So, in closing the M2A1-7 (which is a WWII flamethrower) pack is paired with the M9 (Vietnam War flamethrower) gun to create the flamethrower used in Carpenter's film.

    This will be the pack I will attempt to assemble. So far, I have purchased an A.L.I.C.E. frame and will be purchasing and using PVC to create the pack and gun (my dad already has a hose in mind to use for the thrower). It will be assembled in a way where I can attach and detach the "tanks", so being able to use the A.L.I.C.E. frame for other purposes.

    If anyone else wishes to make a flamethrower prop (of unique and similar design), Indy Mogul's Backyard FX did a video tutorial on how to make one.

    If anyone else has any information to contribute about this particular prop weapon, please feel free to include it. This post will serve as both a resource and as a build thread. Thank you very much for your time, thus far.
     
    Last edited: Dec 22, 2011
  2. Mr Webber

    Mr Webber Sr Member

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    Im sorry i cant offer anything to help but i think its an awesome project.:thumbsup
     
  3. CB2001

    CB2001 Master Member

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    Thanks. I'm hoping that the build will go smoothly. I've seen this film a lot, and I'm hoping to make the flamethrower as close as possible.
     
  4. CB2001

    CB2001 Master Member

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    After watching the film a few more times, I've come up with a basic design that I'm going to construct for the flamethrower's gun. The gun will be constructed from PVC piping (I say 1 inch in diameter, 1 1/2 at most, because its not too big around. I found a male to female screw adaptor and a female to female screw coupler that can make up the business end of the thrower (and still have the ability to unscrew, like how seen in the film when Childs was forced to put his flamethrower down after MacReady breaks into the supply room). The adaptor's thread will have to be cut down a bit because of the length, so that in a few simple twists the coupler can come off. Below is the basic diagram I've had made in Photoshop. I've got two different handle designs. The first one is primarily for a more easily securable handle, which can be made from a piece of wood and use screws to drill in from the top of the PVC standard coupler at the back. The second one would be made of wood and styrene sheeting to simulate the handle seen in the film where the, but the odds of it being securely mounted to the PVC may not be as great. But, this is the basic design, without any additional detailing.

    [​IMG]
     
  5. CB2001

    CB2001 Master Member

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    Here's a bit of an update: I've bought some PVC piping and fittings that I think are going to work well for the flamethrower's "gun". I came to realize that 1 1/4" is the best and correct size for the diameter of piping to use for the flamethrower. I tried to get a 1 1/4" Wye piece (which I know the companies that manufacture them), but neither Home Depot or Lowes carries them (the guy at Lowes tried suggesting that I used 1 1/2" Wye and use brushers to get it to fit to 1 1/4". But, with all the pieces it would have taken to make everything fit, it would have costed more to do the wye and extra fittings, so I opted for a T-joint that was 1/4 through and through with a 1/2 socket on the side).

    So far, with pieces from both Home Depot and Lowes, I've spent a total of $8.50 (rough estimate).

    I almost got two 4" diameter pieces of pipe to use for the tanks, but they were $5.97 each (same pricing at both stores), but I decided to hold off on them for now, as I felt getting the "gun" assembled first is a higher priority due to the amount of pieces going into the building of the gun portion (while the pack assemble will be simple to do in comparison). Plus, I'm not even sure if the T-joint I have will work for the thrower. But after consulting with my dad to see what he thinks and to check to see what PVC pieces he has (as well as what kind of hose he has that can be used with the pack), I'll begin working on the gun.
     
  6. Knightjar

    Knightjar Sr Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    If it helps, I've got a small collection of flamethrower images that I collected for my 'Munny Thing' project while I was researching the tank configuration.
     
  7. CB2001

    CB2001 Master Member

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    Shoot 'em over to me. I'll PM you my e-mail address. Never hurts to have too much reference than not enough. :)
     
  8. CB2001

    CB2001 Master Member

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    New updates: My dad and I bought some more PVC pieces, this time for the tanks for the flamethrower. He actually listened to me with what I want to do for the "tanks", which is to make them look like real tanks. So, instead of using PVC piping and end caps, we've bought a lot of couplers and end caps, enough to make two separate big tanks and one smaller tank. We're going to glue the couplers together with small sections of piping in between then, so that we can get them drastically close enough, and then use bondo to fill in the cracks in between them, sand them down and paint them to look like one solid piece.

    BTW, My dad got his hands on two green bottles that look like wine bottles, which means that I can print out the J&B label to stick onto one of them. I may not bring it to MegaCon, but I rather have it as a backup in case I can't get the flamethrower done in time.

    That's about it for now, but I will be posting pictures and possible video when it comes time to working on it. That will be guarantee. But in the mean time, I'm going to get all the articles of my not so accurate MacReady costume together and take some pictures (as well as buy the wig). But since that's more costuming, that'll be in the other topic.
     
  9. C0mmand3rC0dy

    C0mmand3rC0dy Sr Member

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    The level of research you put in is quite impressive! It will be neat to see your progress pics!

    I'll have to watch the movie again, but maybe when I can afford to lose the sleep :sleep
     
  10. CB2001

    CB2001 Master Member

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    Well, like I said, it may not be screen accurate, but I'm trying to get as close as possible and when it comes to research, I tend to do the best I can at that.

    Totally watch it. Honestly, I can't tell you how many times, when I was younger, that my father and I have watched the movie with the lights off, the A/C at full blast and a bowl of popcorn. It's totally worth it.
     
  11. terryr

    terryr Sr Member

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    A/C blasting? Oh, Florida.

    I just have to go outside and live it. Although this year is very mild so far.

    Usually, I could use that to de-ice my car.
     
  12. Kerr Avon

    Kerr Avon Master Member

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    Since this clearly won't be used to shoot actual flames, how about installing in the gun one of those paper flames that have a light and fan behind them so it blows around looking like a flame? It might look cool, might be silly, but worth a shot.
     
  13. CB2001

    CB2001 Master Member

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    Keep in mind, yes, I am in Florida. And some of the times my Dad and I watched The Thing in the past wasn't always during the winter. There are times we watched it during the summer months, too. But the fact of the matter is film is one of mine and my dad's personal favorites that we both happen to like.

    One of the primary factors is time. I'm already cutting it close as it is, since I'm planning on having during this ready to use during my one day in costume at MegaCon. Believe it or not, my Dad suggested almost the same thing, but using a ribbon with a small fan built into the thrower, so when the fan is turned on, it blows the ribbon out to make it look like it's shooting flame. But, you never know, I may decide to do a 2.0 version of the flame thrower and go that route.
     
  14. terryr

    terryr Sr Member

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    Or a smoke maker with a flashing light.
     
  15. CB2001

    CB2001 Master Member

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    That'd be a bit of a challenge, I'll admit. :)
     
  16. CB2001

    CB2001 Master Member

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    Just giving a bit of an update: My dad and I got the tanks fully assimbled and the thrower gun partially assembled. With the weight of the tanks, my dad said that the thrower's pack is going to weight almost as much as the real thing. We still have a ways to go. I'll take pictures of what's been assembled and upload them sometime tomorrow.

    But I have posted a picture up of myself in half of my not-so-screen accurate R.J. MacReady outfit over in the my thread in the costume forum (I had gotten the wig, and I wanted to try it out).

    That's about it for now. Tomorrow, there will be updates. :D
     
  17. CB2001

    CB2001 Master Member

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    I apologize for not posting these up yesterday like I said I would, but I had a little bit of a crisis. But here are the shots. I included my cellphone in two shots so you guys have an idea on the size of these things.

    The first image is of the "tanks" for the pack.

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    My dad and I constructed these tanks out of couplers and end caps, using regular PVC piping in between them. We're planning on buying a small can of Bondo, filling in the cracks and then sanding them down so that they somewhat look even. In fact, my dad informs me that due to the piping we used on the bigger ones (which he thought were thin-walled pieces), the pack is going to weigh almost as much as the real thing.

    [​IMG]

    Here is the top half of the thrower's gun. Basically, it includes the business end, to the back end. I have an end-cap piece for the back-end, but I'm going to cut a piece of sheet styrene to stick on it (as its an adaptor piece for the pipe and it has holes in it) and glue it on. I haven't decided on what type of handle to go with it just yet.

    The business end.
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    The back end (without end cap).
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    Inside the business end.
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    I should note that I actually had to cut the threads on the adaptor piece on the business end because the screw-on cap wouldn't even go half way. Despite cutting it down and gluing it, I'm worried about it coming off (I tested it by dropping it business end first on a carpeted floor to see if it would crack or pop off, and it didn't). However, I may attempt to re-enforce this and cover up the re-enforcement with a piece of styrene cut to fit into the hole and painted orange (so to make sure that people know it's not a functional one). But so far, things are looking up with the project.
     
    Last edited: Jan 18, 2012
  18. Knightjar

    Knightjar Sr Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    Looking good!
     
  19. CB2001

    CB2001 Master Member

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    Thanks. :)
     
  20. CB2001

    CB2001 Master Member

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    New Update: Earlier today, my dad and I spent some time sanding down the PVC tanks. I came to discover the small one wasn't completely sealed up (so, I redid the PVC glue on it). We managed to sand down all three, but have only gotten one tank filled in with Bondo (to which we will sand down), possibly tomorrow. I know its not much of an update, but I figured, its better than nothing.
     
  21. CB2001

    CB2001 Master Member

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    An update: Still working on the tanks, but I happen to have some cool news. Earlier today, my dad and I went to the flea market in Tallahassee. And guess what? We found and bought, for $2, a J&B bottle! That's right, an actual J&B bottle. The woman said she washed it out and had knowingly peeled the label off, but we happen to know its a J&B bottle due to the red cap, the shape of the bottle and the J&B logo on the bottle itself (near the neck). So, all I have to do is print out the label I picked up from here, and you may be seeing this R.J. MacReady walking around Megacon with a flamethrower and a bottle of J&B (empty bottle of course).
     
  22. CB2001

    CB2001 Master Member

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    New update: My dad and I have the tanks bondoed up and I'll be sanding them down tomorrow. We also bought some pieces to attach the tanks together.

    Also, we've got the flamethrower's gun completed, with the handle attached to it. I'll get progress pictures of it up sometime tomorrow.
     
  23. ob1al

    ob1al Sr Member

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    Nice to see some love for this movie around here. One of my favourite flicks.
     
  24. CB2001

    CB2001 Master Member

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    You think this is love, I've also been working on a not so accurate R.J. MacReady custom (link in the first post).
     
  25. CB2001

    CB2001 Master Member

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    New Update: My dad and I got the flamethrower tanks fully assembled and attached to each other so that they can be hung and attached to the A.L.I.C.E. After that, we took the tanks and the thrower gun and have started the paint on them. We discovered the original camo green paint we got wasn't military-like enough, so we ended up buying some more paint that matched the A.L.I.C.E. frame. I'm going to also need to purchase another can of gun metal black paint so to do a second layer on the thrower gun. I'm going to attempt to use some silver to add some worn spots on the thrower gun (as my dad was opposed to allowing me to do it on the tanks, but if he sees what I can do on the gun, he may be more open minded to adding minor detailing to the tanks). But, here are some WIP shots of the the tanks and gun.

    The tanks, after being bondoed up and sanded down some (did some more sanding after the picture was taken:
    [​IMG]


    Assembled thrower gun (minus connector for piping):
    [​IMG]


    The business end of the thrower gun. As you can see, we drilled some holes into it to sort of match what was shown in the film:
    [​IMG]


    The tanks bolted together with the knob and hose attachment already attached to simulate the piping between the tanks:
    [​IMG]


    The first layer of gun metal gray on the thrower gun (will have to spray a bit on the inside of the gun's "mouth", possibly glue in a piece of styrene:
    [​IMG]

    The first layer of green on the tanks, after we discovered the green wasn't dark enough:
    [​IMG]
     
  26. CB2001

    CB2001 Master Member

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    New update shots. Tanks assembled and attached to the A.L.I.C.E. frame. My dad was opposed to me metalizing the tanks, but he compromised with me doing it with just the knob. But, he talked me into adding some minor detailing with the rub-on letters (which looks pretty good to me). He also took a shot with me in the pack temporarily assembled.

    The thrower's going to go through one more coat of paint and then I'm going to metalized bits and pieces of the thrower gun, such as the business end of the thrower gun and adding some minor scorch appearances (with flat black paint). But, here's some new shots.

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  27. tain669

    tain669 Sr Member

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    Looks great
     
  28. CB2001

    CB2001 Master Member

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    Thanks, tain. :D
     
  29. CB2001

    CB2001 Master Member

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    NOTE: This has been copied to both related threads. What better way to end both threads on the same note, eh?

    Well, here it is, the end results for both my flamethrower and my MacReady outfit. So, click here, minimize the YouTube window and enjoy the viewing of these pics. And note: I'm not wearing the grey T-shirt that I have in my closet. I'll be wearing that on Saturday at MegaCon (Feb. 18, 2012)

    "I know I'm human. And if you were all these things, then you'd just attack me right now, so some of you are still human. This thing doesn't want to show itself, it wants to hide inside an imitation. It'll fight if it has to, but it's vulnerable out in the open. If it takes us over, then it has no more enemies, nobody left to kill it. And then it's won." - R.J. MacReady, "The Thing" (1982)

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  30. CB2001

    CB2001 Master Member

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    New update: I have come to realize that R.J. MacReady may be doomed for obscurity. On the second day of MegaCon, I walked around for hours and only three people out of the 500+ there recognized me (and only after I began talking to them). I even had one guy walk by with wearing a T-shirt with Carpenter's The Thing movie poster art on it and he didn't even look at me. I was hoping that there'd be a few old-school sci-fi fans who'd recognize me, but there appeared to be no one.

    But, thanks to my dad after the first day, he talked me out of wearing the leather jacket, so we went to a nearby Wal-Mart and bought a long-sleeved shirt that looked like the thermal shirt, and I wore it underneath my grey shirt and went as the "causal MacReady", still sporting my hat and flamethrower (I even had the J&B bottle with me, but decided to keep it in my bag. The funny thing, is most people did a double take on my flamethrower pack after walking by.
     
  31. CHROMIUMDIOXIDE

    CHROMIUMDIOXIDE Active Member

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    great work!
     
  32. chuckyAPP

    chuckyAPP Sr Member

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    Can't believe I missed this thread, the wip pics are amazing, the tanks came out phenomenal, you and your dad make quite a team. Are you going to add any "battle damage" to the tanks like scratches and chips? I really think that would bring that extra realism as shown in the film. Great hat btw and a little longer on the beard and your Mac ready to go.....:)
     
  33. CB2001

    CB2001 Master Member

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    I apologize for not getting back to you guys on these replies. Just been rather busy on my end of things.

    Thank you. :D

    First of all, thank you for your comments. Both my Dad and I appreciate this (we even got a few people performing double takes when looking at the tanks at MegaCon). Well, I wanted to add some "battle damage" to anything that had an edge to it (such as the edges of the tanks where it went from the domed tops and bottoms to the straight cylinders of the tanks), telling him that it would have helped adding detailing and some more realism to it. However, he was opposed to it the whole time, saying that for a real military flamethrower, they would have repainted it every time it even got a small scratch (despite my explaining to him that Outpost #31 was a research facility, not a military complex, despite Mac and Garry being former military). So, he allowed for compromising and allow me to "metalize" the knob on the tank and add some "metalizing" on certain parts of the thrower gun. But as for if I'm going to do it now, I'm leaving it as it is.

    And about my beard, I let it grow out a month and a half in advanced. The picture you see of me at MegaCon in my costume thread is as far as it goes.
     
  34. Mr Webber

    Mr Webber Sr Member

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    You did an incredible job on all of it, congratulations to you both.:thumbsup
     
  35. CB2001

    CB2001 Master Member

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    Thanks. :D
     
  36. lovelyandy

    lovelyandy Well-Known Member

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    Awesome work !
     
  37. Noeland

    Noeland Sr Member

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    Did you wear the hat? Because that threw me at first, and I love that movie. Seen it many times.

    Great build, great costume. Only thing it's missing is some weathering.
     
  38. CB2001

    CB2001 Master Member

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    Thanks. :)

    Yeah, the hat you see in the picture is what I wore at the convention. In fact, got a picture of me at the convention with it on (without the jacket, of course. Like I said, it was very humid in the convention center, and I probably would have fallen out if I had).

    Thanks. Like I said previously, I wanted to weather the tanks a bit, but my Dad wouldn't budge on it. He was former Army and stated that any scratches or dings would have resulted in the tanks being freshly repainted right away (thus why it looks fresh and clean painted), even though I told him that the group at the outpost weren't military but did have former military with the likes of Mac and Garry (the only thing he did allow me to weather was the red knob for the tank, which I showed him how a little silver paint can make it look a bit metal, the bottom of the grip as you can see in some of the pictures above, and the bits of the thrower gun, making it look a bit burnt at the end with some slight streaks of silver to give the "scratches into metal" appearance).
     
  39. lharles

    lharles Well-Known Member

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    I don't know HOW I missed this thread before. :) Glad someone dug it up for me to stumble upon it. I'm gonna' use your thread here as a starting point for makin' the thrower 'gun', if nothing else. :D Looks great, even if I am a few months, (at a minimum), late in saying so.
     
  40. CB2001

    CB2001 Master Member

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    Thank you. Granted, the thrower gun doesn't look close enough to the one in the film, but I'm still pleased with it. :)
     
  41. lharles

    lharles Well-Known Member

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    :) - It's a good jumping off point for me - at some point. - :D
     
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  42. CB2001

    CB2001 Master Member

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    Post Update: for anyone else who is reading this post, there's a new tutorial I've come across where you can make a flamethrower prop that is really light weight in case you're doing one and especially for conventions. I'll post this over at my flamethrower prop build thread as well.

     
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 8, 2018
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  43. Sean

    Sean Sr Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    Somehow I missed this thread. great work!:thumbsup
     
  44. CB2001

    CB2001 Master Member

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    Thanks, Sean. :)
     
  45. Sean

    Sean Sr Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    your very welcome.:thumbsup
     
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  46. nick daring

    nick daring Sr Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    Yeah, great work!

    You definitely should have sprayed yourself with a layer of fake snow before walking the convention. That would've sold it for me. :)
     
  47. funboy1013xx

    funboy1013xx Sr Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    looks great!! now just make the dyn-o-mite!! :thumbsup
     
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  48. CB2001

    CB2001 Master Member

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    I would have, but the problem that I had at the convention center was humidity inside the building. It was pretty freakin' hot that Friday, which is why I didn't opt to wear the jacket and went with the causal MacReady look for the costume). But if I ever do the cosplay again, I'll consider the fake frost. Thank you for the kind words. :D

    LOL! Well, making the dynamite would have been easy (brown shopping bags wrapped around wooden dowels), but I decided against them because I was worried about the convention rules regarding prop weapons (and I was also worried that the cops and guards would mistake them for actual dynamite sticks. Heck, I also had the empty J&B bottle with me, and I had to ask them if it was okay if I took the bottle in as it didn't have any alcohol, just to make sure). Thanks for the kind words. :D
     
  49. funboy1013xx

    funboy1013xx Sr Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    LOL your caring a flamethrower and you were worried about the J.B. bottle?? you just made me spit beer bro :lol
     
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  50. CB2001

    CB2001 Master Member

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    Well, from what you can see in the photos, at first glance it may look like a real one, but when you do a double take and look closer, you can see its not (as its missing some details). Plus, how often do you hear of people bringing in real weapons into a convention (not including sword sellers), especially a flamethrower? I was worried about the bottle because even at close distance, it looks like it could be filled with some sort of liquid (it wasn't, but the bottle isn't clear enough to tell).

    But still, never hurts to check. :)
     

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