Tag Archives: Superhero

Chris Pratt: Using Star Lord to Make a Difference

Chris Pratt Charity

Chris Pratt is offering the chance to hang with him on set. Check out his fundraising campaign for details. Seriously. I bet he’s awesome to hang with. 

Thanks to my Star-Lord project, I’ve developed quite an affinity for all things Star-Lord. I’ve grown to appreciate the complexity of his character, what he stands for, and Chris Pratt’s depiction of him in the movies and public appearances. I get particularly excited when someone, particularly the actor himself, uses the character for charitable purposes. Chris, more than many other actors, recognizes the power of his character to advance charitable causes, raise money, and lift the spirits of those around him.

Yesterday, I was excited to see that he’s at it again. In an effort to raise money for his hometown Boys and Girls club, Chris is offering some awesome goodies and a chance to visit him on the set of Guardians 2. How cool.

Boys and Girls

From Chris’ site, here’s a picture of kids from his hometown who utilize the club. In his words: “who you’ll help.”

For me, the value of this campaign isn’t the in the rewards. It’s seeing Chris Pratt trying to make a difference by utilizing a character that people love. It’s in him using his fame to improve the world in a small way.

I’m going to support that. Speaking as someone who ran a fundraising campaign for charity, the number of donations matters as much as the total money raised. I don’t have much money to spare, but I’m going to scrape together to do what little I can.

Let’s spread the word and help Chris out.  If you appreciate Chris and managed to scrape something together for a donation, leave a comment!

Rocket Booster Controls: Part 2!

These were a fun little art project. Let me remind you what they looked like when I received them:

As you can see, it needs some finishing work.

As you can see, it needs some finishing work.

Using an X-ACTO knife, I cleaned out the grooves and tried to smooth out any rough parts on these props. Once I was satisfied with the grooves, I spray painted them flat black.

Spray painting the booster controls. I made sure not to fill the grooves with paint by overdoing it with the paint.

Spray painting the booster controls. I made sure not to fill the grooves with paint by overdoing it with the paint.

Using a brush this time, I slowly applied a layer of silver Rub-N-Buff to give it a dirty, metallic look.  I left the center button black to match the film used prop. When I liked the look, I sprayed it with a coat of glossy Deft to protect the paint.

One thing I noticed with the Rub-N-Buff is that it NEEDS the clear coat. With paint, you can get away without the protective coat.  You would be taking a chance that the paint chips, but you could handle the prop carefully and get away with it. Not so with Rub-N-Buff. Because it is wax based, a thin coat never really seems to dry completely. It will rub off and blemish if touched with enough force. Just a word of caution there.

Anyway, here is a step by step look:

Finished product on the right. Thoughts?

Finished product on the right. Thoughts?


The Walkman. THE Walkman.

Star-Lord cosplayers have found various ways to deal with Peter Quill’s Walkman. Although it seems like an ancillary prop, it is definitely part of what makes Star-Lord…well, Star-Lord and most people have been loathe to ignore it.

You might ask (as I did), “Aren’t Walkmans obsolete? They should be easy to find and cheap to buy, right?”


Well, depends. Depends on the Walkman.

I’m sure there are plenty of cheap, portable cassette players which one could find on eBay for pennies. But Star-Lord’s Walkman was no cheap player.

When Peter Quill was snatched by the Ravagers, he brought with him his Sony TPS-L2, one of Sony’s earliest models. The first Sony Walkman, actually. Made in 1979, the TPS-L2 was sought by audiophiles long before Guardians of the Galaxy was even pitched.

Moderately expensive even before Guardians, screenshots of Chris Pratt wearing the TPS-L2 drove prices through the roof. Guardians fans and Star-Lord cosplayers were desperate to get their hands on it. Prices on eBay ranged from $200 (for broken devices) to $800 (for working versions). Wow. (check this article: Price for “Guardians of the Galaxy” Walkman Skyrockets on eBay).

This is a graphic from http://www.80sretrotoys.com. It's a cool site. You should check it out.

This is a graphic from http://www.80sretrotoys.com. It’s a cool site. You should check it out.

This was a quandary. I wanted an accurate prop, but didn’t want to sell a major organ to get it. After doing much research, here were the options:

  1. Get a cheap Walkman and go with it. Trust that no one would know the difference.
  1. Stickers. Fans have created stickers which can make a box of the appropriate size look like Peter Quill’s Walkman. I actually received some stickers with the headphones I ordered.
  1. 3D printing. I could order a 3D printed Walkman (available on Etsy) and paint it the appropriate colors. Fun. Maybe.
  1. Buy an actual 1979 Walkman. A broken one would set me back about $180 and a working one, well, probably around $400 minimum.

So, which way did I go? I bought an actual Walkman. Yes, yes, it was expensive. Before you judge me, here’s how it happened…

At first, I had decided to go with a 3D printed model for the costume. It would have cost about $30. Just for fun, though, I decided to keep my eye on eBay to see what the actual models were going for. Many working Walkmans (Walkmen?) were selling for $300+. A few sellers had listed theirs for around $500 or “best offer.” I annoyed a few of them by throwing some $100 best offers out there and crossing my fingers. No dice.

These are a few TPS-L2s that sold within the last 90 days on eBay. If you see one of these in a thrift store, buy it.

These are a few TPS-L2s that sold within the last 90 days on eBay. If you see one of these in a thrift store, buy it.

However, last week, I got lucky. A gentleman from Florida listed a working 1979 TPS-L2 for $195. I saw the listing 30 minutes after it went up. Hmm. I looked the listing over…

Most sellers realize that their device is not only a collectible piece of audio history but a highly sought after prop necessary to produce screen accurate Star-Lord costumes. Consequently, they list “Guardians of the Galaxy” somewhere in the title or subtitle. This seller didn’t have “Guardians of the Galaxy” anywhere on his listing. Maybe he didn’t know what he had? Anyway, I bought it.

I know what a lot of you are thinking. $195 for a prop? For a piece of a costume? Seriously? I know, I know…but consider this:

This was a deal. Honestly, I could turn around and list this device for double what I paid for it on my eBay store…and it would sell. Fast. Yes, it is expensive. But it’s also an investment. With the release of Guardians of the Galaxy 2 coming, the value is not going down any time soon. I figure, if I need the money, I can sell this, make a profit, and donate the profit to CASA.

So, after a few days of waiting, I received the Walkman. Today. You can check it out in the video below.

Unfortunately, it isn’t working perfectly, at the moment. I tested it with one tape and the sound is coming out a little warped. I’m really hoping it’s just the tape.  I’ll keep you posted!

One Month In…

So here I am, about 30 days in. I can definitely say that this project has been far more work than I imagined it would be when I started. I considered the time and money each piece would require to find, but didn’t think about the hours and hours I would spend customizing each item. The sanding, gluing, painting, sealing, etc. It adds up. The money adds up too. I doesn’t seem like a lot when each item is purchased days apart, but when I add it all together, and take into account the cost of crafting materials, the cost is significant. Quite significant. It’s a little stressful, honestly.

However, I have to follow that sentiment with this one: all my backers have made this project worth it. I’m blown away by the generosity of all those who have donated to the campaign thus far. Every time I get a little stressed out by the work I have yet to do (and the money I’ve spent) thus far, I remember that together we’ve raised $1000 CASA over the last 30 days. That’s incredible. So, thanks to my donors, blog followers, and everyone who has supported me thus far.  Let’s keep the train rolling!

I recently purchased a few new items that I can’t wait to share with everyone. As soon as I get them, expect some awesome updates. Stay tuned and spread the word!

Raised Progress

Rocket Booster: Part 3

The first booster is finished! Here’s how it went…

After the paint dried, I used a black wash (black paint mixed with water) to darken the silver and bring out some of the details. It makes it look dirty, old, and used. I then dry-brushed silver rub-n-buff on the edges and raised surfaces.  If this booster were real, black paint would have rubbed off on these areas.  To further add to the used look (and replicate the screen used prop), I gashed the black paint in a couple of places and then filled in the gash with silver paint.  This was designed to simulate the booster being dinged and battered during use.

To finish it off, I applied a clear layer of Deft (Satin Finish) in order to protect the paint job.

Here’s how it turned out:

Booster Bottom 2



Here’s the progression, from start to finish.

Rocket Booster Progression

I would love to hear thoughts, comments, and suggestions. Leave them below!

The Rocket Boosters: Hello Etsy

For my next project, I decided to work on the rocket boosters. Here’s a reference screenshot:

Marvel's Guardians Of The Galaxy..L to R: Peter Quill/Star-Lord (Chris Pratt) & Gamora (Zoe Saldana)..Ph: Jay Maidment..?Marvel 2014

These are the screen used rocket boosters. 

The best way to acquire these is by having them 3D printed. As the movies was coming out, members of the RPF spent time creating a 3D print file that’s fairly accurate. I could have downloaded the file and brought it somewhere for printing, but decided to order them from Etsy instead. So, a few bucks and a few days later, I received two of these in the mail:

The size and shape are pretty good. The problem is the texture.  For those unfamiliar with 3D printing, the printed objects require a finishing if you want them to be smooth.

I did some research on finishing methods and settled on the one which I felt was the easiest.  Using Elmer’s Wood Filler, I would fill the grooves and then sand the hardened filler to a smooth finish.  Out of all of the finishing methods, I felt that this is the one I could most easily undo if I were to mess it up. This is my first time playing with 3D printing, after all.

This is the booster with some of the wood putty applied.

This is the booster with some of the wood putty applied.

I have to say that this method requires some work. Smoothing out the the large areas is easy. However, it takes some effort to file some of the smaller details and areas. It definitely takes time. I bought some needle files to help with this.

As of now, I’m letting the wood putty dry some more. Hopefully, Ill be able to finish the first booster tomorrow.

Chris Pratt Visits a Children’s Hospital

A few days ago, Chris Pratt reminded me that it only takes a small amount of effort to make a child’s day.

On June 20th, the Guardians of the Galaxy star stopped by Our Lady of the Lake Children’s Hospital in Baton Rouge, Louisiana to visit with some of their patients.  Despite his busy schedule, Chris spent hours lifting the spirits of those in need. These pictures come from the hospital’s Facebook page and tell the story of his visit better than I ever could.

Is this a wonderful picture, or what?

Is this a wonderful picture, or what?

The Jurassic World lead brought some goodies from the new hit film and personalized them for the kids.

The Jurassic World lead brought some goodies from the new hit film and personalized them for the kids.

For those who have seen Jurassic World, you know what this picture is...

For those who have seen Jurassic World, you know what this picture is…

I'll bet this patient will remember this visit forever.

I’ll bet this patient will remember this visit forever.

Chris poses with the kids.

Chris poses with the kids.

What an inspiring story.

For me, this served as a reminder of how small efforts and actions can have a huge impact on those who are in need, especially children. In a weird way, it makes Star-Lord feel like a real life superhero and not one that exists purely in the Marvel cinematic universe. I’m excited to finish the costume.

For anyone who would like to donate a couple of dollars to my fundraising effort for CASA, they can do so here!

Star Lord Nerf Blaster Modification: Part 2

Turns out, it takes a while for spray paint to dry completely. After letting the paint set for 24+ hours, I began phase two of the gun conversion.

After doing some research, I decided to use Deft Wood Finish for a clear coat.  If you’re doing something like this, make sure to wear gloves and a mask.  The mask is key. The fumes go to your head quickly and – as the bottle nicely points out – can cause brain damage. Yeah.

I had a little debate with myself when choosing what type of finish to use: gloss or satin. I liked the idea of using satin as the gun is supposed to be worn and dirty. I was afraid, however, of losing the metallic look of the rub-n-buff. I ended up applying the satin to the back two sections of the outer shell to see how it looked. I have to say, I loved the way it made the black paint look. However, I did lose the metallic luster of the rub-n-buff and so decided to go with a gloss for the rest of the gun.

After applying the first coat, I was worried that I had ruined my paint job.  When the sealer goes on, it often clouds up, making the underlying paint job very hazy. To my relief, it became clear again as it dried.  I took the advice of some online forums and did not touch the finish for 24+ hours. Apparently, the oils in your hands can soak into the finish before it is dry, leaving it with a sticky texture forevermore. We certainly don’t want that!

My reference pictures helped during reassembly. I did have to break the blaster down again after discovering that one of the charging slides didn’t function properly. Other than that, it was a fairly straightforward process.  As complicated as the inner workings looked to me, I managed to get it back together with minimal confusion or difficulty. And it functions perfectly!

And so, without further ado, here are the before and after pictures:

Before and after. I was worried that the gold paint didn't make that much if a difference, but it definitely does.

Before and after. I was worried that the gold paint didn’t make that much if a difference, but it definitely does.

You may notice that I didn’t paint the barrel bluing onto the blaster. I actually tried a couple of different methods, but couldn’t get it right.  I think an airbrush would be the way to go, but I don’t have that kind of airbrush skill. Or an airbrush, for that matter.  And so, I elected to ignore that part of the paint job. I mean, at some point, Peter Quill’s blasters were new, right?

It looks ready for action!

It looks ready for action!

And it still works!

And it still works!

As always, I appreciate any comments, suggestions, or questions! If you enjoyed reading about the project and have a couple of extra dollars, I (and CASA) would appreciate you supporting my fundraising effort! You all are awesome!

Star Lord Nerf Blaster Modification: Part 1

Time for my first big project: modifying the first Nerf blaster. If you haven’t watched my video showing the blaster and it’s cool features, you should check it out!

So, you’ve seen the Nerf blaster. Here is a shot of the actual prop and what I’m going for:

This photo came from The Nova Props post on Instructables. You should check it out.

This photo came from The Nova Props post on Instructables. You should check it out. Click the picture to go there!

The first thing I did was consult numerous tutorials and guides.  There are no shortage of them when it comes to customizing Nerf guns. It turns out, this is a very popular hobby! Instructables.com is one of numerous websites that feature templates and guides. Nova-Props created one for the Star-Lord blaster that I found particularly helpful.

After buying the paints and supplies that I needed, I began by disassembling the blaster.

Nerf Blasters come apart fairly easily. Getting it back together...that's the tricky part.

Nerf Blasters come apart fairly easily. Getting it back together…that’s the tricky part.

I made sure to take meticulous pictures along the way in order to help me get it back together again. It’s important to take it apart before painting, otherwise the paint can gum up the mechanics.  It also results in a better overall paint job.

After breaking down the gun, I sanded off the Nerf logo and other plastic text. I then sanded off the silver paint and the finish on the shiny plastic to help the paint adhere to the gun. For a base coat, I decided to use a metallic, “carbon mist” black primer & paint. I thought the shine would give it a little more pop.


I taped up one particular part I didn’t want to cover and proceeded to paint.

(right) A part with an area I wanted unpainted covered with painter's tape. (center) Parts after painting. (right) A close up of a painted component.

(right) A part with an area I wanted unpainted covered with painter’s tape. (center) Parts after painting. (right) A close up of a painted component.

Now, I have to admit, I’m not very good at spray painting. If you’re going to do this, read some guides. Most pros recommend a few different, very thin coats. My first coat went on way too heavy. It didn’t run or gunk up any of the details, but I’m sure it could be better.

After letting the paint dry, I began to work on the metallic details. Some people have used metallic spray paint on these parts, but, honestly, I didn’t trust myself not to hit parts I didn’t want silver. So I took some advice from Nova-props and used a product called rub-n-buff. It’s an interesting product.  It’s like paint combined with wax. As the title implies, you rub it on (as opposed to “painting”) and can buff he paint into a shine. It’s a wonderful product.

I, however, was not going for luster on the metallic parts.  I wanted more of a weathered, worn, and stained look. Using a sock, I applied it a little at a time to achieve the following look:

Silvered 1

Now, you can see where the paint didn’t come out smoothly on the side. This was a result of poor sanding before spray painting. The other parts came out better, I swear. Still, I think I achieved the worn look successfully.

I also applied the rub-n-buff to some of the corners and raised details. It helped with the worn look.

Silvered 2

This picture shows my silvering efforts “in progress.” The next thing I did as give some attention to the gold parts of the blaster.  Some people leave this part of the gun alone as it is the right color already.  However, I didn’t. I took some gold rub-n-buff and applied it to give this part of the gun a little more pop.

The gold rub-n-buff has been applied to the bottom picture.

The gold rub-n-buff has been applied to the bottom picture.

I then applied silver to the middle portion.  I put a black wash over this part to bring out the details and make it look dirty. Now, I’m waiting for the paint to dry before applying a protective coat and reassembling the blaster. So, this is where I currently stand:


This was about four hours of work! Stay tuned for the finished product. If you enjoyed reading, I would appreciate any support for my fundraising efforts. CASA would too!

A Study in Pants

It’s fair to say that I’ve had Guardians of the Galaxy on the brain for the past few weeks. I’ve spent hours scouring the internet for helpful screenshots and digging through fan forums for costume ideas. I’m pretty sure I’ve had a dream about talking trees and raccoons, at one point. So, of course, when I was looking for something to watch last night, I quickly settled on Guardians.

Naturally, I paid close attention to Star-Lord’s costume and props while watching and was rewarded several times with some excellent looks at his clothing.  I wanted to share two particularly helpful screenshots which show his legs in detail.

This shot shows some of the details on his legs and his gadgets.

This shot shows some of the details on his legs and his gadgets.

Leg Diag

I thought this shot was interesting because it shows his rocket controls and where his blasters sit while holstered. Getting these props shouldn’t be hard, but figuring our how to secure these to the pants effectively and securely may be difficult.

One more interesting screenshot:

This shows Chris Pratt as he is detaching his rocket booster to attach it to Gamora.

This shows Chris Pratt as he is detaching his rocket booster to attach it to Gamora.

This action shot shows Peter Quill twisting the rocket booster to detach it. This is a hint as to how it mounts to the side of his spats. Maybe some sort of cell phone mount would work here? If anyone has any thoughts, feel free to share! Attaching all of these gizmos is going to be a chore…