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The Beginners Guide to Modding Nerf Guns in Australia

The Beginners Guide to Modding Nerf Guns in Australia

NOTE: This guide was written late August 2011. I had maybe done a half dozen mods, it was written through the eyes or a total beginner for other beginners. I will update from time to time and date / mark the updates (*Update).

The Beginners Guide to Aesthetically Modding Nerf Guns in Australia – Regular readers on any of my social networks (*Update Feb 2012: Links added Twitter / Deviant Art / Facebook), or here at my blog will know I’ve recently gotten into Nerf modding. At the moment it’s the design aspects and external modding I’m playing with (I’ll move onto internal mods at some point no doubt). I’ve found Nerf modding to be fun as well as a fairly arduous task at times, mainly because of the overwhelming amount of information about Nerf Modding out there and just how much of it is utterly useless.

Nerf Modding in Australia brings up its own issues, not least is the problem of looking up tutorials and materials information, only to realize the stuff you need is not on sale in Australia. I’ve gone through a multitude of paint types for example, trying to find what works and is cost effective, because US Nerf modders use Krylon paint and that isn’t available in Australia (*Update Feb 2012: I have found some craft stores in Australia stock Krylon spray protect and also Krylon mini craft sprays, still no full sized cans). This guide to modding Nerf guns will work best if you’re in Australia, because I will be talking about materials available in Australian stores.

Nerf Mod Tutorials on YouTube

There are a wealth of Nerf modding tutorials on YouTube, sadly the vast majority of them seem to be utterly useless. Nerf modding it seems is most popular with little boys, with adult Nerf mod videos being few and far between. Those that I have found are too advanced to be of any real use to a complete beginner like me. That’s not to say there’s nothing of use, but the time it will take you to find useful info will hopefully be cut down by what’s written here. This will hopefully save you trawling hours of useless YouTube Nerf mod tutorials like I have, where little Timmy is so excited he just got a new Nerf gun and drew on it in permanent marker or sprayed it bright red with a gloss red rattle can and filmed it for your delectation lol.

The Basics of Nerf Mods

Right let’s just look at the basics of Nerf modding to get you started. Here are some basic materials you will need to aesthetically mod your Nerf or Buzz Bee gun:

  • Nerf / Buzz Bee Gun
  • Sandpaper of different grades
  • Screwdriver set
  • Good masking tape (NOT normal cheap stuff)
  • Spray paints
  • Model brushes
  • Model paints
  • Spray coat protection

It looks a lot, but keep in mind if you want to literally do a spray paint mod, you won’t need anything under where it says spray paints, other than the sealant.

Getting Started on your first Nerf Mod

Now I suggest your first mod is a basic gun, the Buzz Bee Doubleshot, or Nerf Reflex are ideal. It’s up to you whether you take the gun apart, it’s suggested you do, though not completely necessary (it depends how fancy you want to be and how sure of your own abilities).
*Update Feb 2012: I’ve found you can usually get away with dismantling the main parts of a gun, so for example removing the slide, pump handle, sheathing etc, there’s really no need to dismantle the gun fully. I did this in the early days, but getting an even and perfectly matched finish works better if the gun is in one piece.

Take the sandpaper and sand ALL the gloss surfaces away, this will take some time, but you apparently need to do this for the paint to stick properly. I start with a semi rough paper and then do an extra sanding with very fine paper. Once you’ve done that (all over) you need to clean the surfaces, if you’ve taken the gun to pieces you can dunk the parts in soapy water to wash them, if not you can use a warm cloth with some detergent and make sure you are thorough and rinse with non soapy damp cloth. This removes all the sanding debris, so the paint doesn’t have issues.

Beginners painting guide for Nerf modding

Once your gun / pieces are dry, time for the real modding to begin! Lay the gun / pieces out on a tarp or somewhere it’s safe to use spray paint (well ventilated) grab whatever paint you’ve opted for and give a light even coat (you can start with a primer, I use black vinyl / plastic safe paint). If you’re spraying a gun that you did not dismantle you will do one side, then the other, so be sure and walk around the Nerf gun, light spraying from all angles. Leave to dry and then flip and repeat for the other side, wait to dry and do at least another couple of coats. The entire gun should have at least three coats, you’ll know yourself by looking at it, but given the coats should be thin, I’d go for 4+ good coats (double that for misty coats).

*Update Feb 2012: Wow seriously I can’t believe I used to do them like this. Firstly laying them on a tarp.. no no no, buy a cheap clothes rail, get some strong wire and start hanging them outside by bending the wire around the horizontal bar of the rail and on the other end bend it up so the gun trigger hole or other gap slots over it. Using this method means you can walk around and spray evenly on all sides, they also dry better because the breeze can get to them from all angles. If you can flip them when you’ve done a few coats (when dry!), do so as you will miss little areas dependent on the angle (by this I mean if you hung it butt down at first, do a few coats and then hang it so the butt is upward).

Tips and Tricks for Nerf Modding / Painting

If that’s you happy, I guess you just need to give it the protective clear coat, put it back together and you’re done. That was easy! The real fun though comes in personalizing your Nerf weapon. You can do this in various ways as a beginner.

Nerf Modding Guide – Taping

Basic Nerf mod 101 – You can tape off bits of the gun and use different colored spray paint to spray it. Simple! You could also use stencils, I’ve seen this done for camo patterns, though I am yet to try it myself. If taping, make sure you cover ALL the parts you don’t wish the new color to appear on. You may also need to touch up with a small brush and matching color.

Nerf Modding Guide – Dry Brushing

This is a great technique for getting that metallic look and also highlighting edging / fine detail. For the metallic look you will need model brushes and some sort of acrylic metallic model paint. Dip the brush and then dab the brush on some kitchen roll until it looks like almost all the metallic paint is gone, this is a dry brush… quick swipes across the surface will bring up the upper levels of the gun, leaving the lower levels the base color (this is why I use black as my base). Repeat this over whatever areas you feel it needs done on. There.. it was a plastic gun, now to look at it… it’s metal. Sweet!

*Update Feb 2012: Re detailing, edging etc, the same rule applies, but hit the edges in the one direction as opposed to back and forth, swipe the dry-brush toward the edge you want to highlight. Using a lighter version of the base color works well as it looks like light is hitting the parts that stick out.

Nerf Modding – Australia spray paint types

I’ve bought a multitude of Australian paints to test during the Nerf modding phase. I’ve listed them below with short results so you’ll know where and what you’re looking for:

Needless to say, money talks, the best paint I’ve found so far has been plastic model paint “Mr. Hobby Mr. Color” from a hobby shop. The problem is it came in a small can (50ml) and cost $14, not very worthwhile, but the flat black (33) gave a perfect finish (2 cans for a Stampede).

Someone told me to buy M3 acrylic bumper paint from an auto store, so I did (“3M acrylic bumper black”), BIG MISTAKE. Bumper paint does stick to plastic, but it’s thick and rubbery, not ideal for detail and no good at all for guns in sections. It leaves a really interesting rubbery / thick texture and comes in a massive can (400g) for those that want to try it, but I don’t recommend it. May work well for shoulder stocks though (on the part you lean into) though I am yet to test that idea.

Bunnings “Fiddly Bits” enamels come in a 250g rattle can for about $3.50 each. “Fiddly Bits” are for a multitude of things, including toys. Most of them are full gloss and thus not ideal if you’re looking for realism. They give an even spray, but it’s fairly thick out of the nozzle. Again, you get what you pay for, at $3.50 though, not too bad and Bunnings is a huge chain, so easy to find.

“Australian Export” paints are available at Supa Cheap Auto and they’re cheap! $3.50 for a 250g can. This is the make I’ve gone with because it’s mega cheap and not as thick and sticky out of the can as “Fiddly Bits”. Australian Export isn’t the best, but for the price it’s pretty good and comes in a fairly large range of colors including matte black.

“Ironlak” paints come in a fancy can, with fancy nozzle options, but I’ve only found these in one art shop on the Gold Coast. At $15 a can, they’re nice and the colors I’ve tried very vibrant, but for the additional $11.50 over the Aussie Export, I’d stick with the cheaper option, unless you’re doing something really special.

I hope that helps you get your Nerf modding on here in Australia. The main thing to remember is, the more time you take, the better the result (generally speaking). You should also pick up new tricks as you go. I’m really enjoying the challenge and as my eyes aren’t what they used to be when I painted 25mm RPG figures, Nerf guns are perfect to get my paint on!

*Please remember I am a beginner, I don’t suggest this Nerf modding painting guide is anything other than from one beginner to another. I took time to write it up in the hope of helping other people / adults – like me – who are just getting into Nerf modding / painting / remodeling in Australia, as I thought this might save them some time and effort. This is by no means a be all and end all guide to aesthetically modding your Nerf collection.

This post was written by GirlyGamer for if you want to comment, see my other Nerf reviews etc. do so at You can comment at posterous, tumbler or my other social networks, but if it’s a blog post comment about Nerf you’re wanting to leave and expect a response, my main site is best as is my Facebook page, as I don’t check my posterous and tumblr.