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Building a (Big) Cosplay Prop

Posted by Jeff Hendricks

My oldest daughter is really (I mean really) into Cosplay. Usually this takes the form of dressing up as a favorite character from an animated show or video game. We're both fans of the show RWBY from Rooster Teeth, because it has great music, a great story, and some really fantastic visuals and fight scenes. I even did an article on "Becoming The Character" for one of their characters, Sun Wukong. (I'll be re-publishing that soon!)

One of the best parts about the fight scenes in RWBY is that they all have weapons that are both melee and powered ranged weapons, i.e. every weapon "is also a gun." Somewhere along the line, we decided to build an actual weapon prop. I've been wanting to test my chops building one, anyway. After watching guys like Volpin Props and Punished Props make some amazing stuff, I wanted to see if I could pull off something even halfway impressive.

Prop scale reference

The first order of business was deciding which character's weapon to build. Doing Ruby Rose's (the main character) scythe/rifle would have been doable, but it would have taken a LOT of work, and my daughter didn't want to cosplay as Ruby (just yet). Plus it would have cost a lot to build! And it's HUGE. If you make it even somewhat realistic looking, it will weigh fifty pounds and nearly be impossible to realistically carry.


There were plenty of characters that use simple gun/blade combinations, like Blake or Ren. But those could be recreated with what are essentially just modded Nerf guns. She and I finally settled on building Magnhild (a play on the mythical Norse god Thor's hammer) while she would dress as the character Nora. This would be both a challenge to build physically, and a challenge to use simple and/or inexpensive materials.

First, I had to figure out what scale this thing was going to be. According to this render from the show, and adjusting the scale for my daughter's height (she's taller than the character in the show), we figured out the hammer would end up being right at six feet tall if we built it to scale for it to look right.

I started scrounging the internet for still shots of Magnhild in action, and thankfully, the RWBY Wiki had them in spades. With a little bit of magic and some manipulation in GIMP (a free graphics program), I was able to take some shots of the hammer at different angles and scale them to where I could measure them.