M-98 Widow Mass Effect sniper rifle Nerf mod tutorial
Featured Prop Tutorial: Hello Mass Effect fans! As I promised on my Nerfenstein Facebook page here’s the tutorial should you want to make my latest Nerf mod, the awesome M-98 Widow sniper rifle from Mass Effect. You’ll need an old Alpha Trooper Nerf gun for the base, some styrene, PVC pipe and all the usual suspects, glue, paints etc. This isn’t an exact replica of the ME Widow sniper rifle, but it would do for display / light cosplay. I use the M-98 Black Widow as my key weapon every week in our multiplayer game, it’s a wicked gun and looks monster because of its size and I wanted this mod to reflect that, so it comes in at around a whopping 117cm (that’s 3 feet 10 inches in old money)… OORAH!
Get your parts sorted and then let the sanding begin!
These are the parts you’ll need. A stripped out Nerf Alpha Trooper, flat stock (I think this came with a different gun), PVC piping, an old red dot scope, toy binoculars and styrene, you’re good to go.
Cut it down, fill it in. Add sight and sand!
You’ll need to take an appropriate saw to the butt stock, to give it that chunkier look of the M-98 Mass Effect sniper rifle. You’ll also need some styrene to fill in the triangular area and the hole left by the removal of the bottom area. Lastly you’ll need to use thick styrene or some other material to add that sight at the top of the stock (see above image of the triangular area filled in and the sight atop the butt stock).
As you can see in the parts image, you also saw off the front bottom part of where the priming handle was, do this on an angle, again to mirror the M-98 sniper rifle as best you can. This will also make space for the larger of the two PVC pipes you’ll use for the barrel. The bottom supporting barrel will use thinner pvc piping and to attach this I cut a circular hole in the under part and slotted it in with hot glue, in similar fashion to the main barrel. Both barrels need a spacer at the far end (barrel exit end) for this I used styrene stacked and sanded, but you could use any scrap plastic or even mdf / other material, so long as it parts the barrels to the same distance as where they are attached to the main gun body.
Front stabilizing fins… these serve no real purpose other than you can lay prone and fire, it’s a bit of a silly / bipod. I used thick styrene and angle cut 2 of them them exactly the same. Strong adhesive of hot glue and attach carefully and ensure the angles are correct (note.. use patience as this was a pain in the beep). To fancy it up I drilled the bottom of both sides and added rivets – prior to attaching them, needless to say you should sand the styrene or other plastic prior to gluing also.
Sniper sight… cheat a bit here, use an old red dot Nerf scope and toy binoculars. Saw one side of the binoculars off, take the grey area off the red dot and glue the eyepiece side of the binoculars to the side of the scope without the lens. Use styrene to make the shroud. I also used it to make a little ‘plating’ on the sides. I sawed off the connecting clips and sanded the red dot base flat.. left the picatinny rail for some texture, hot glued it to the top (look at the pictures, they explain it better than words).
Now it’s together, check it’s stable and strong….
It's all together, check strength, angles etc. Sand the whole thing if you haven't already
Time to paint the whole thing, needless to say the entire thing needs prepped, I sanded a few times throughout this process, but it’s up to you whether you do that or sand and clean the entire thing once it’s all connected. Do a base coat, I used black here, but you can use what you like. Make sure you let it dry between coats and don’t spray thick coats… patience. Finish with a black coat, this is with purpose. Dry brush with a metallic the entire thing along the bottom, butt, barrels etc. I always dry-brush the entire thing, even if I know I’ll be painting over it, but that’s because I’m pedantic lol. You just do the bits that looks black in the image below and you’ll be good to go.
This is to show you where to tape, a straight line along the bottom over the black... also the barrels, parts of the sight and butt. Anywhere that's black here, that's what you tape off.
Time to get that black vs whatever plating color you’ve chosen that runs the full length of the main body (I chose grey). The Alpha Trooper doesn’t have perfectly horizontal plating, so you need to use the paint to cheat. Tape off a perfectly straight line all the way around the bottom of the gun, along both sides as straight as you can get it, you’re essentially taping off all the black areas you see in the image above, so the bottom of the main body, the barrels, top bottom and side of the butt.
Spray the entire thing with a couple of coats of your chosen plating color (anything you like!). Wait for it to dry and dry brush the entire thing with a lighter color of the same ilk as that you chose for the plating… ie if you chose orange, a light orange, if you chose red, a lighter red / pink, a dark green use a light green to highlight the detail). Stand back and breath.
Stencils / decals / detailing
You’re almost there! Once you’re happy with the dry brushing (all those edges should *POP*), it’s time for the detailing. For the Mass Effect N7 and other artwork you can do this freehand, stencil it or decal it, totally up to you. I’ve ot a vinyl cutter so doing stencils is simple, most people wont have that though so you’ll be stuck using masking tape, just do it slow and precise and ensure the edges on the inside (where you’re going to paint in the detail) are pressed firmly to the gun, so no paint escapes leaving you with a splodgy stencil. If you’re using decals for the finer detail you can knock these up in photoshop and I used a filter (I think it was torn edges) to give them a worn look.
An Enterprising idea
When I was investigating this gun and being the uber-nerd I am, I noticed something amusing with one of the decal areas, here’s an up close pic of that part of the gun. You don’t need to add all this, but I wanted this to be as close as possible to the in-game weapon so as you can see I added it… someone on the design team is most definitely a Star Trek fan… me too! You can also see how neat that line is denoting the bottom of the gun from the grey plating.
The finished product is a monster!
Right I think that’s everything covered! I hope this helps you make your own Mass Effect M-98 Widow cosplay prop, if not you can always commission someone else to do it for you – *AHEM ME AHEM* – There’s a fair bit of work involved, but it looks so cool when it’s finished it’s worth it.
The Nerf based M-98 Widow Sniper Rifle from Mass Effect - Don't leave home without it!
Have fun folks!
This post written exclusively for GirlyGamer.com.au the official blog of Gold Coast prop maker / blaster modder Nerfenstein.