Saturday, October 26, 2013

My Blade Runner-inspired blaster

For those of you who don't know, I decided to go as a generic blade runner for Halloween. Since I didn't have $500+ to drop on a decent replica, I decided to build my own. The result was... well, you be the judge.

This is what the gun should look like:

Adam Savage's ultra-accurate build... see it here

So here's the gun I started with:


And here's the gun I ended up with:



Saturday, October 19, 2013

I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream (PC) is $4.99 on Steam

I miss The Sci-Fi Channel, which was actually really kooky and cool in the early nineties. The station introduced me to Harlan Ellison when I was no more than ten or eleven years old. (Ellison was hired as the channel's version of Andy Rooney. You can watch the segments here.)


Another significant part of the nineties: video game magazines. It seems all of them covered I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream, a game based on Ellison's short story of the same name. I remember looking at the pictures with envy because I had no way to play the game. I owned it once in the early aughts, but I don't think I could get it to work with my computer.

I was going to buy the game on GOG.com (which really needs support far more than Steam), but $9.99 seemed a little high. Thankfully, it appeared on Steam at $4.99. How's this for an awesome Saturday morning: crackers, cheese, summer sausage, Dr. Pepper, and I Must Scream? Answer: pure heaven. Well, "heaven" is the wrong word for it, considering the subject matter.

If you haven't read the story, it's pretty much required reading before you play the game. Ellison himself assumes the role of AM, the future supercomputer which exterminates all of humanity, save a handful of humans it immortalizes for the purpose of torturing forever. The game deviates widely from the original story, but not so much you don't get what you wanted: a wickedly refreshing horror game. 



I wasn't far in when I innocently flipped a "motivator switch" just to find its sinister purpose: the torturing of six caged animals. The player character reacts appropriately with shock, but you've pretty much got to do it in order to progress. It's grim choices like these that makes the game as uncomfortable as it is fun. Like a lot of games of this type, I Must Scream requires some hit-and-miss puzzle-solving, but so far when I stumble across a solution that initially seemed impossible I slap my forehead and say, "Of course!" It may seem silly removing the sheets from two bunks, but here's a hint: they make a fine rope.

So it's a lot like Alone in the Dark, but it looks much better. The artwork and the music are fantastic. The voice work isn't the best I've ever heard (Ellison hams it up), but for some odd reason it simply works. Here's one of those games I wish I had played much sooner, but better late than ever.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

My generic Blade Runner-inspired costume idea

Today I have new appreciation for prop builders, costume designers, and the fine men and women who cosplay at conventions. As I said in my last post I decided to build a Blade Runner costume for Halloween. I've looked at a lot of people's costumes online and I can already tell you: because of limited funds, my costume will be shittiest of all. I'm going to hate the way I look—I guarantee it. I can excuse myself by saying the other people who chose this costume probably spent a shit-load of money and months (even years) piecing together their costumes, and that'd be true, but the reality is money and time are limited for me.

I remember a making-of featurette which reported the makers of Killer Klowns from Outer Space, to save money, had their propmakers, costume designers, and SFX people approximate the concept designs they had on paper rather than make the details accurate. Since I should have planned my Blade Runner costume a little sooner, this is the route I've chosen as well. I'm not necessarily broke, I'm just extremely frugal.


If you ever played the Blade Runner video game you know that you don't even assume the role of Rick because he's just one Blade Runner of many. That's kind of the way I think of my costume: maybe I'm a different Blade Runner with a really shitty-looking, spray painted gun and a coat even older-looking than the noir-ish trenches worn in the official media. Maybe I'm not even in the same universe. Maybe it's just a "generic cyberpunk costume."

Yesterday I hit a ton of different stores looking for a trench coat, at both new and used outlets. What I found is trench coats have gone out of fashion for men. If you search popular clothes stores online, you'll likely find more trench coats in the women's departments than the men's. I mentioned this to my best friend who's my go-to guy for all things hard-to-find and he suggested an army surplus. As usual, he was right, and here's what I purchased for $25:


Close, but no cigar. I chose a light color in case I got inspired enough to dye the thing, but I probably won't do that unless I get a more accurate collar. Don't get me wrong: I can sew. I just don't like doing it.

Now. Here's what a Blade Runner blaster is supposed to look like:


And in my haste, here's what I purchased after getting bored of visiting five different toy departments:


I'm not sure what I was thinking when I bought it. Rick's blaster doesn't have a hammer, the gun is way, way smaller, and the cylinder is closer to the butt. I should just remind you this is the first time I've ever tried anything like this, but I've already gotten off to a poor start. I sanded off the raised lettering and in the process broke two Dremel attachments, masked off some of the details, and hit it with a layer of spray paint.


Kind of looks like the Millennium Falcon, yes? No? Whatever. I next hit it with some chrome paint, which I later sprayed over with about 90% black, which I hoped would give it a gradient look. I followed this with a couple layers of lacquer hoping it would keep the paint from scratching.


The ventilation holes have been darkened with a Sharpie and I masked off the cylinder to keep it shiny. I then took a step back to admire what I'd done and decided it was all shit. I've since taken the gun completely apart and there's no telling whether or not I'll be able to piece it back together. This is why I don't choose many hobbies outside of writing and Counter-Strike. I like the challenge of working with my hands for a change, but it's just not something I have the desire to pursue. I'm pretty hardcore about the hobbies I already have and any free time I lose doing something else tends to make me grumpy.

In case you're wondering just how detailed you could get if you really wanted, check out this video about BR blasters:


I fucking love his guns. I'd kill to have almost any of those.

I'm still on the fence on whether I want to call my current blaster a practice-run or if it'll be what I actually wear on Halloween. I'm hoping it won't look too bad in a holster, but as of right now, I'm just not happy with it. Next I'll be looking for a tie, a shirt, shoes, and a watch. I know the watch isn't important, but it's been a long time since I bought a watch. If I manage to find a similar Microma, I'll probably get it. The tie I might actually order from a prop shop because it's way cheaper than a gun and I freakin' love that tie.

In the meantime, here's the best looking Rick Deckard costume I've seen yet.



Wednesday, October 16, 2013

My Halloween costume ideas. Take 'em or leave 'em.

I'm not a cosplayer. I haven't dressed up for Halloween in something like ten years. That's not to say I don't enjoy it. There's just something fun about staying home when every movie on television is a horror film—it's kind of like staying at home as a character from the movie Halloween... and about twenty or thirty other slasher films that came out after it. There's that and there's always the fear that if I don't stay home and hand out treats, kids will toilet paper my house.

This year I've decided to go out. Here are the costume ideas I ran through...

Walter White


For over a year I planned on going as Breaking Bad's Walter White. I would shave my head, find a pair of White-ish glasses in my prescription, and possibly wear the Heisenberg hat. The shirt, pants, and jacket wouldn't be an issue; I already dress like Walter White. Unfortunately, I already shaved my head not too long ago and got sick of waiting for it to grow out to its present length. Also, there was the realization that everyone was probably going as Walter White.

But yeah, the idea is pretty simple. Grow a goatee, lose your hair, and hit the thrift store. Blue "candy" in a baggie is optional.

Man-Thing


The problem then was finding a character to portray that A) I like and B) non-geeky people would actually recognize. So while I would love to be a character from Fargo or classic science fiction novels like The Stars My Destination or Neuromancer, very few normal adults would get it. So I thought about being a comic book superhero, but there are remarkably few such characters I both have a connection with and the average Joe would get. I thought about Man-Thing, but costumes I've seen online range from incredibly phony to incredibly complicated. I would also grit my teeth if anyone asked if I were Swamp Thing.

This idea is ridiculous. If you want to be Man-Thing, you might complete your costume in time for Halloween next year, but it's going to take some dedication.

Magneto


I thought about Magneto and to be honest this is my favorite idea of the bunch, but the one affordable helmet I could find comes with a hokey costume. User reviews say it's pretty shoddy. If you want to be Magneto, you're probably going to either drop three or four hundred bucks on a helmet or make one from scratch. Watch how to make a helmet from scratch here. I don't think the rest of the costume would be too big of a deal. You could always find a purple robe and wear some red sweats.

Snake Plissken


Then, an epiphany: I'll be Snake Plisken! There's absolutely nothing wrong with this choice as John Carpenter's one of my favorite directors ever. Unfortunately, a friend recently told me he once went as Snake and, knowing him, his costume would likely make mine look like a piece of shit.

You'd need an eyepatch and a five o' clock shadow. The rest shouldn't be hard to find at a thrift store. Bonus idea: Jack Burton.

The Punisher

 
The choice after this, for a few hours anyway, was The Punisher. It's a character I like and it seems really simple: all you really need is a black T-shirt with a white skull, black pants, a few guns. Sure, that's more or less a movie version (none of which I really cared for), but at least people would get it. All seemed good, but for one reason or another I decided against it. The biggest reason being I knew I would probably wear the shirt for weeks after Halloween, which would no doubt lessen the memory of the night itself.

You can see why I haven't worn a costume in so long? It's because I complicate the hell out of it.

Ash


Again, nothing wrong with this choice, other than the fact I used to go as Ash when I was a kid. All I did was tape a toy chainsaw to my arm and tear up a similar button-up shirt. Man, I was a fucking nerd back then... but not now, right? RIGHT?

Spider-Man



I love Spider-Man, but let's face it: I'm not going to win any sex-appeal awards in a stretchy, one-piece suit, particularly the type I can actually afford. Unless you're lean and ripped, you should pass, too. Or not. Who gives a shit? Do what you want. Stop being as neurotic as me or else you'll spend a month just choosing a costume, too.

Rick Deckard


This is the one I've decided to go with, partly because Blade Runner: The Final Cut is my second favorite movie ever, but mostly because I forced myself to stick with the plan by buying the trench coat and a Nerf gun. I'm sure it's a popular (read: overused) choice at fan conventions, but I'm pretty sure I'll be the only one at the party I'll be attending. I might post some progress about my costume as I piece it together over the next few days, but don't hold me to it. I'm notoriously cheap and have already seen fanmade costumes that'll whoop my costume no matter how hard I try.