So, even though its about 6 months after the fact, I’m finally going to write a post about my modified Dr. Grordbort’s Righteous Bison: The Buffalo Longbow.
A little background, first. In spring of 2011, the Replica Prop Forum paired up with the Weta Workshop and Weta NZ to hold a competition for the RPF’s members. The competition involved Weta making a limited run of unfinished Righteous Bisons, providing them to members of the RPF at half-price, and asking each member to modify the Righteous Bison as their individual imagination dictated.
We were given a few months, and in August of 2011, we were asked to submit photos of our final creations to be judged by a panel of Weta employees. I didn’t win, unfortunately, but I did manage to get my own self-designed steampunk raygun!
Now, for the process itself!
The Righteous Bison is probably one of the best known Dr. Grordbort rayguns, even being featured in the Grordbort Industries crest. What better candidate to modify?
I started with the creation of the above rough blueprint so that I could create my own unique variations of the Bison.
These were a couple of my better designs. Part of the requirements for the contest was that the raygun had to maintain a bovine-themed name. I had three paths of thought for this product.
The topmost design was meant to be a repeating rifle type of weapon, similar to a wild west era Winchester shotgun. I was hoping to pursue a more western variant of a traditionally British/Victorian styling, a design style I’ve rarely seen.
The next two designs were going to go by the name of the Chinashop Bull. I thought it a clever use of the phrase “Like a bull in a Chinashop”. The aesthetic of these weapons were meant to invoke a classical Chinese style through the use of dragons, thin paper screens, and Chinese lanterns. While I didn’t go with this design, I think that the style was very clever, and with a proper use of lighting could’ve looked very good.
The final two designs were meant to be a more utilitarian, soldier-esque design. The lore of the contest was that Lord Cockswain was trapped on Venus and required rearmament. With that in mind, these designs were also called the Chinashop Bull, but mainly because the weapon was meant to serve as more of a grenade launcher then a direct energy weapon. Making use of a metal stock, the gun was meant to have a lever on the front which, when pulled down, would eject a rather large vacuum tube. This was in part inspired by the modern day M203/M320 grenade launchers, in the sense that they were a single shot support weapon.
At around this time, my girlfriend made the Naptown Roller Derby team here in Indianapolis, taking the name Killamity Jane. I myself took the name Buffalo Kill, and I wound up selecting the Longbow Buffalo as my design of choice due to her western themed name.
The primary variation between the standard Righteous Bison and the Longbow Buffalo was the wood furniture, which I tried to split in style between the designs of classic lever action rifles and the Dr. Grordbort style. Cut out of layered pieces of wood, the furniture was the first part that was roughly completed.
With the way the Bison was designed, I couldn’t attach the furniture without taking the gun apart. After messing around with it for a few hours and giving myself a wicked scar on my thumb from the improper use of a razor blade, I was finally able to remove the obstructing pieces.
While I was happy with the furniture, I still felt that the Buffalow Longbow was missing something vital: a raygun theme. Part of my original design was to put a vacuum tube on the right hand side of the gun (which is missing from the final version), but even that wasn’t enough. Finally, I decided on utilizing a 1883 syrup bottle from the coffee shop I work at, and using it as an ‘aether vessel’. The bottle was to be frosted, then filled with a bank of purple LED’s to give it a nice glowing look. Unfortunately, due to a time crunch, I was unable to make said bank of LED’s, and instead I opted for using a product called Glowire, which was an electroluminescent wire that glowed with a continuous look.
Also, because the weapon was meant to be a sharpshooter’s weapon and a western themed gun, I needed a carry strap.
After assembling everything, the final product was fun to carry, easy on your arms with the strap, and an attractive piece that garnered a lot of attention at Gencon this past August.
Looking back on the project, there are a few things I’ve got planned to improve the design. Mainly the following:
- Add a scope to the top fin
- Add a forward sight
- Replace the glowire with an actual purple LED bank
- Add copper piping to the bottle to give the gun a unified look
- Add copper piping and detail to the front grip to make it appear like an actual weapon
- Add a copper plate to the butt stock
All in all, I had fun building the weapon, as it was the first time I was able to use my own creative license on a weapon.
And lastly, holy crap! 5000 views!