Friday, December 28, 2012

Sword Art Online Review

Before I begin this review I'd like to mention that this is going to be a pretty harsh review. I was a little shocked at first to see that people were rating this anime 10/10 when they had only watched about 3 episode or not even half the series, so I decided to see what the hype was all about. This anime was honestly hard for me to watch as I started to lose more and more interest as I continued the show but for the sake of others, I ended up forcing myself to finish this series just to be able to write an honest opinion for you guys. Be aware that there will be spoilers below. Feel free to comment or question also.

For those of you that don't know Sword Art Online (SAO), it is an adventurous story about a boy who gets trapped in a virtual reality game with thousands of other players and the only way to win your freedom is to clear the 100 floors of the floating castle Aincrad. The consequences of dying in the game result in dying in real life. So the game offers players the basic fundamentals of any MMORPG but with life-like functions to create a realistic fantasy world. As players work together to clear the floors, the players themselves also adapt to the virtual world.

Overall review

Overall Score - 5/10

Plot - 3/10 - I never asked for cheese with my anime.

A survival online game themed anime similar to .hack . Although the story at first seemed interesting, it slowly got off track and became more of a romance. The focus of the story was to complete the game and return back to the real world but very few of the episodes showed any progression towards clearing the castle floors. Most episodes consisted of fillers, this was shown by how many floors were skipped so fast and not showing any progression towards Kirito getting stronger. The side characters were given arcs in the early episodes of SAO and those characters would be disposed of after 1 or 2 episodes at most. This was disappointing in the fact that fans who enjoyed those characters would never see them again after their arc. These characters were only there to reveal and develop Kirito's characteristics as well as a little back story behind his RPG experiences and such. Some of the arcs were actually far more enjoying than the main story to be honest, but i felt that with such limitations they could only put so much into a single episode. The dramatic effects were really weak, characters that were killed or meant to create a dramatic feel did not provide enough effect because those characters were either not important enough or the scene was not as powerful as it could have been. What was worse was the fact that they made it seem somewhat like a harem, where Kirito won the hearts of many girls only to let them down and focus his true love on a single girl which would be introduced later. Even so, the later episodes became somewhat mixed as it would go back and forth between a comedy/romance filler type episode to an action packed dungeon raid, it was bad transitioning. The ending for the first half (SAO) was somewhat disappointing as I didn't really feel the final fight. After knowing he was capable of beating Heathcliff in the duel, the fight would be a win already but they had to go about with that final stand and "heart of my friends make me stronger" bullshit to make him overcome the situation. It really didn't help that they poorly set up that final scene and transitioning. Also some illogical nonsense to the fact that Heathcliff is an experienced one handed sword and shield user, so it defeats the purpose if Kirito managed to kill him if he had a sword already through him and that his foe had a shield in his other hand with full health.

The second season of SAO which is Alfheim Online was really a mess up. Having returned to the real world, he was already entering a new online world in search to save his precious Asuna. I felt this season was a little better in the fact that he was heading straight for his goal of reaching the World Tree, but in between he would bump into pointless enemies and conflicts that would only last so short due to the god mode they decided to give upon Kirito loool. New characters were introduced and thus disposed of right after and soon enough Kirito would once reach the top and clear the game. Although what I did like about this season was the drama occurrence between Kirito and his sister, Suguha. I felt like you could really feel the feels of the two and at least add some extra flavor to the story. Instead of facing just one conflict now, he had a real life situation he had to deal with his sibling, and it made it all a bit more interesting. The final fight was terrible, and by that I don't mean Sugou's sexual abuse towards Asuna. I mean I don't support that shit either but I felt like Kirito could finally lose for once. I was thinking this was a good chance to have him do that memory lane type crap of him and Asuna and his will and strength would prove to pick him up once again and have him really fight against Sugou. Something that would prove epic and have everyone cheering him on to win, but once again I was truly dissapointed. Having Kirito put in his place, blacked out and seeing the light which would be none other than Kayaba's ghost giving him admin powers and a seed to create a world of online worlds... Yeah that's right, the man who died in SAO somehow his ghost came and gave Kirito admin powers just to let Kirito log in and beat the shit out of Sugou and make him as pathetic as a Level 1 player versus a final boss. This was simply a sign of luck, and it was terribly done. I don't even know what to say after, oh wait...fight scene in front of hospital, Sugou has the chance to kill but apparently kicks him to humiliate him, then Kirito realizes real life can be like game? God modes in real life and wins again.

Characters - 6/10 - I like Liz, Klein, and oh wait what's his name?

Don't get me wrong, I do like the characters as they are very enjoying and show different personalities but the problem was you wouldn't ever see them again until the very last episode. You would think that those characters on the image of the official Sword Art Online title picture would be like the friends who venture to the very end with Kirito, but no. It was really disappointing and defeated the purpose of having them in the first place. In fact, some of those characters added a lot more to the story itself rather than the main hero and heroine. The side character arcs were there to mainly develop Kirito's characteristics but the arcs themselves were fun and touching to watch. I got more feels watching Liz's episode in the dragon's den than all of Asuna eps combined, that Loli was a little annoying but got her dragon back, Klein was the cool and supportive guy, and Sachi (﹏╥).

Kirito was made out to be too overpowered and perfect that it was really boring. He was the godly beater who knew his stuff and really could just slash his way through or overcome the impossible with little to no effort. He was honestly too predictable to the point that you knew he would conquer the game no problem. Hell, it felt like he was trying to be a Simon or Kamina from Gurren Lagann, but without the epicness you get from those guys. When he jumped into ALO, he was killing players who already joined awhile back and even the strongest of the salamanders who had a god like weapon. Felt like that guy put all his effort in the game to be defeated by some measly little kid who just cheated his way in with broken stat points. I guess the thing with Kirito was that he had pretty much no flaws, making him absolutely predictable and boring to the very end.

Asuna on the other hand, she was similar to Kirito in terms of skill but more in speed and was very supportive. She was pretty much a dere dere and only cared for Kirito period. She added some weak ass dramatic effect, acting as if they were about to battle some large scale war and that there was a good chance they wouldn't make it out. Right... because they knew they could lose somehow even with an overpowered team, an admin NPC that can one hit reapers, and Kirito who is the only player capable of dual wielding weapons. I couldn't stand Asuna in terms of romance because she had no history or romantic build up towards Kirito, unlike Lizbeth, but since she was a main character and Kirito was always there to save her then it only made sense to have her fall for him and just play that till the end. More to say, this romance was half assed. Maid Sama has better romance, and that was a shitty romance. 

I won't bother with Kayaba but Sugou was a dumbass for having number code door locks  and a mirror in the same prison room. Not to mention not killing Kirito at the hospital when he had the chance to. Other foes such as that Assassins guild in SAO didn't even have a chance to appear. There were very few scenes where it showed an emblem or some sort of sign where they were there but that was it, you never saw them or what they could do. Lets not forget the fan service they decided to throw in cause you know that was really relevant. I mean having your company workers as snails with tentacles was a great idea in representation of a elf king's subordinates. Why couldn't I think of that, would be a lot better than having something majestic like a minotaur, or Cerberus. Recon's relevance was bothersome to me as well. They played him out as some idiotic, and useless tool of a character throughout the 2nd season. It really bothered me when he has his time to shine and be a badass, sacrificing himself in the World Tree to create a large enough explosion for Kirito to fly through but instead his cause was wasted and only to be laughed at when you realize that backup came 2 minutes right after. It was truly sad when they gave characters like Recon absolutely no chance at all at anything. All in all, can't really appreciate the side characters for such little time they had and the main characters ended up creating a Kirito x Asuna bandwagon which everyone and their little sisters are hopping on these days. 

Animation - 8/10 - A-1 Pictures, what's not to like?

This studio is great for making their cute character designs. Background scenery was really impressive and the effects were up there as well. The animation was very crisp and smooth, having watched all of it on 720p. The fight scenes were really enjoying for the short time they lasted but there could have been more detail in certain aspects. I give more credit to the OP and ED videos as they were highlights for me.

Music - 7/10 - LisA, can't go wrong with that.

The opening of season 1 caught my attention, mainly for the fact that it was LisA but the flow and lyrics made it my type of song. I wasn't really into the ending of season 1 but the ending for season 2 was my favorite. The opening of season 2 was alright but nothing too great for me. As for the actual soundtrack used in the show, I didn't find myself really feeling the OST but I wasn't annoyed by it either. It may just have been that I was too annoyed with the plot and other various things that I didn't pay much attention to the soundtrack. The dramatic scenes didn't really have a soundtrack that would improve the effect and feel of the scene, so it was a little disappointing in that area as well. 

Entertainment - 4/10 - The most rarest thing to find in all of Sword Art Online!

I can say that I was not entertained at all with how this anime went. Normally I would be downloading the next episode as soon as the Saturday came but in this case, no. I was honestly asking myself if i should be doing this and had a small bit of hope inside telling me that this show would clutch and pick itself up. In the end I should have just left off at around episode 13. The plot was messy, rushed, mixed, off track, it was plain out terrible. I know hundreds of you guys are telling me the novel is 100x better but honestly, I find more entertainment value in animation so it shouldn't be as bad to the point that everyone is telling me to read the novel instead. I could say the only thing entertaining in this show was how ridiculous it got. This is definitely one of those watch it once and never again type animes.

A good representation of how this anime turned out
One last tear dropped as she was never seen again

Extra comments - Why is this anime so hyped?

I am honestly curious to know why people find this anime to be very amazing. I mean surely, it's not the worst anime I've seen but It's somewhere near there. This started out to be an anime I was hyped to look forward to but in the end it turned out as worst as I could have possibly imagine. Maybe my expectations were too high but I'm harsh on scoring every other anime I watch as well. I honestly think that this show was hyped due to the fact that many could relate to mmorpgs and the such. To compare solo players with actual rpg players who like to solo really isn't that hard and thus the masses of Kirito's which you find now on almost every mmorpgs and these guys are seriously trying to follow the footsteps of a hardcore elitist. Where is the originality in that? Other than that thought, many people seem to ship this whole Kirito and Asuna deal but I honestly felt the romance was half assed. If you looked at Lizbeth's arc, she worked her courage up to ask Kirito as they went through that touching scene in the dragon's den. Even Kirito himself opened up to her, and I felt that very episode that he himself developed a good amount of character, enough for me to say I actually like the dude. But it was imminent for him to be with Asuna so he turned her down and even Liz was nice enough to put herself down to help a friend. Its a shame they really didn't have any other romance conflicts since they had taken the subject pretty far. I mean, they could have other girls have a chance at least, giving Asuna the chance to fight and develop her romance toward Kirito and not just have the two perfectly shipped to begin with. But what am I saying, this anime wasn't a romance to begin with. Hopefully they don't bring out that Gun Gale Online, as I want to officially be done with this series.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Review and Comparison: Atelier Meruru, Totori, and Rorona

Just finished the review and comparison video between the 3 Atelier games on PS3. I platinum'd all 3 a few weeks ago but the whole editing process took longer than I thought. I tried to keep the video short but honestly It ended up being at around 10 minutes but that isn't so bad for reviewing 3 games at once. Anyways here is the video.

Timestamps are here:
1:32 Atelier Rorona: The Alchemist of Arland
4:35 Atelier Totori: The Adventurer of Arland
6:46 Atelier Meruru: The Apprentice of Arland

Thursday, August 09, 2012

Nendoroid review: Inori Yuzuriha

This Nendoroid is Inori Yuzuriha of Guilty Crown, her original design is made by the one and only Redjuice of Supercell. I'm a huge fan of Supercell so I don't really need to go into why I ordered this. I pre-ordered her back in April from AmiAmi for about 2800 yen which is around $35 and she was released in late July. With SAL shipping, took about 2 weeks time to arrive which isn't that bad. Anyways, lets get on with the review.

Looking at the box, I feel this color scheme matches her really well. I honestly like this box better than my other Nendos only because it's not as plain as the rest. My box came with a slight scratch on the plastic screen but It doesn't bother me as much as it would some hardcore collector who likes everything sealed and still in full wrap
┐(‘~` )┌

From left to right: Void Face, Serious Face, Surprised Face

Inori comes with 3 different face plates, an extra pair of arms, angled joints, and multiple hands for making poses. One of her faces is the default innocent surprised face which has a little "o" for a mouth. Another face she has is the serious face for serious business. Her last face is a void face which is similar to the surprised face but with eyes closed and a little blush. For her accessories, there are 2 hand guns, her void, and a scarf like garment. What makes this Nendoroid nice is that she also comes with her robotic companion, Funnell, which is pronounced Fyuneru in Japanese. Sadly my Funnell came with a semi broken leg but it still attaches fine and I can just fix it with glue (´A`。). I will explain more in detail about the poses in the pics below.

A perfect representation of Inori herself. I can
see her asking something like "Shu, what are feels?"
just because she is moe and inhuman.
Inori's gangsta pose with side wielding dual pistols.
One of my favorite scenes in the anime itself.
@#$% accuracy when you can look bad ass, right?

Inori making a cats cradle with string. This is symbolic
in the anime but I'll leave the details out in this review.
This is her Void pose. In Guilty Crown, a void
is an object which is sealed inside a person
and its use and shape is represented by the
person itself. Inori's void is a large blue sword
that can cut through the toughest of metals.

I really like the way this pose looks altogether. There
is no attachments or anything with the void parts so
it all stands nicely, especially with Inori floating on
the stand like this.
"Please use me". One of Inori's popular lines in
the anime where she asks Shu to take and use her
void. The scene itself is somewhat fanservice but you
don't see me complaining  ┐(‘~` )┌

Inori Yuzuriha with Funnell

Funnell, you can rotate his eyes and he opens up too.

This pretty much shows how much I love this character and series. Inori Nendoroid
on top of Supercell's My Dearest CD which is the opening theme to Guilty Crown.

Overall, I really like this Nendoroid and it is one of my favorites as of now. This makes my 4th authentic Nendoroid in my collection, and yes i do have a fake Shana of Shakugan only because she was my first Nendo and I couldn't tell from shit to legit (´・_・`). I do plan to get more Nendoroids in the future but I usually eye out my favorites or ones that have interesting traits. For those who don't know I am strictly limiting myself to Nendoroids. I do have large scale figures I want but I'm either too ghetto, lacking space, or ending up with my conclusion that 1 large scale figure = 2-3 Nendoroids xD. I hope you guys enjoyed my review and I plan to have more reviews in the future and not just on Nendoroids (`・ω・´)

My collection as of today.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Summer Update - dance, video games, and cosplay plans.

So now that AN is over, there isn't much cosplay work for me as I might only be attending a single day at Fan Expo for the first time and I don't plan to attend any other anime conventions as I'm running short on monies and need to plan out my 3rd year of college. So what exactly am i doing these days? Well, I have been working on other things and hobbies. Mainly dancing, helping building the basement, and playing a bunch of video games along with trophy hunting on the PS3. I also started to work out a bit more and get my exercise as I haven't been doing so within the cosplay months. As for what games I am currently playing, I just recently beat and platinum'd Atelier Totori so now I am on to Atelier Meruru. I will later post a video review and comparison of the 3 games after I have played Meruru enough. Also on a side note I am training my IIDX skills and will be posting a review on my DJ DAO IIDX controller as it has been almost a year since I've had it.

As for dancing, I decided to put more time and effort into break dance and locking. My popping hasn't been improving much lately but I am still training that slowly. I set myself a 1 year goal so that I can push myself harder and compare my progress as of now and then. I wish I had someone else who was interested in learning with me as it could be a great help to learn with a friend. Anyways I will be posting dance videos again on my youtube account once I get everything settled.

For future cosplay plans, don't expect much at the moment. I'm really picky when it comes to costume choices and Its hard enough for me and my friends to all come to a reasonable group cosplay decision. I will be scoping out new animes and cool looking characters but I probably won't be getting down to working on it until I start working more. Currently I do have someone on mind to cosplay, which is Sousei Kurogami of Persona x Detective Naoto. I really like his design and he is the first male anti-shadow unit. Right now there is very little reference pics to work with and theres a slight chance the manga won't have enough to start it, so I can only hope. I'll leave a picture of the character below. Also if anyone has any cosplay suggestions then feel free to comment.

Sousei Kurogami on the Left next to Naoto <3

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Valkyria Chronicle 3 cosplay - Imca's "Var" and Tutorial

The weapon shown is called the Var, it is used by Valkyria Chronicles 3's Imca, who is a tomboyish looking girl with tsundere traits and is the ace of the "Nameless" squadron. Yes, thus why she has this massive gun sword that is taller than her in height. In animu terms, this gun sword can either be held one hand on each of the smaller handles, with a trigger on the white handle that activates a grenade rifle round or the weapon can be held as a two handed sword from the longer handle. I won't be having the two handed sword wielding functional due to weight reasons but if someone managed to rebuild this and replace the wooden blade with a lighter material then it could work. So for statistics, this weapon took me about a whole month to work on. I spent 20 days mostly planning and working on the front end as that would determine the entire size and outcome of the rest of the weapon then 10 days on the rest splitting each day between different parts and then attaching them together. Here is how the weapon turned out in the end, these pics were taken after Anime North 2012 including its damages:

Before we begin what you're seeing here might be something you'd say gad dayuuum this guy must be some experienced cosplayer but I will be absolutely honest with you that this was my very first weapon I worked on in cosplaying. I'm not trying to brag and say I was born to make huge epic weapons but I'm trying to prove a point saying that it is possible for anyone who is new to cosplay and weapon prop making to make something like this. I did not have any previous experience in vinyl and foam and my only experience was making crappy Fate/stay Gilgamesh armor using thin foam, coating it with mod podge and then spray painting it. You don't need thousands of tools either but I'll go into that later. I won't be going off for hours on how exactly I built this piece by piece but I will explain the various basic steps and difficulties i had with making this. It wasn't an easy task and I can admit that If I hadn't taken proper drawings, measurements and thoughts then this prop would've broke down fast.

The first thing that came to mind when making the weapon was how to make a 1:1 scale weapon from very little resources. After having seen the 3rd Valkyria art book recently, I probably could've fixed this up a bit more but In all honesty it's just a matter of using whatever references you can find, your eyes, and trial and error. You won't get a dead on 1:1 scale of this bad boy directly from the series but you can at least get something similar and importantly something to your liking. The trick to making something like this is also planning it out well, don't just attempt to build it all at once and that it's just consisting of one rectangular piece and adding on pieces to that for detail, I mean some people have and you can do that but I wouldn't advise it. It's ideal to cut it down into separate parts and build each part then put them together, why you might ask? well basically because if you make an error on one of the parts you can simply scrap that and rebuild it or make small changes to that piece alone. If you have already glued everything together to one giant piece then all of a sudden you realize something isn't working out then get ready to rage quit then cry like a little bitch, become depressed forever, and start back at one cause it won't be easy fixing that. But If you are hardcore in exact measurements and got all the extra goods and gizmos to make it flawless then go ahead and prove me wrong.

I will be re-posting my previous posts which is how I planned out how to start on the weapon and the how I started on building it. Materials list will be including and such

Part 1: Materials List and the Master plan

To begin with the project I decided to first work on the weapon as it would be the highlight of the cosplay. I searched up the net for as many Imca reference pics and luckily there was already detailed concept artwork on the var. Using the images found I decided to make a 2D draft of the weapon to get an idea of how large I wanted the weapon to be so I threw everything into SolidWorks which is an engineering design program I use in my course and made a simple 1:1 scale draft.

SolidWorks isn't necessary but definitely helpful.

Now that I got the 2D draft up to scale I got it printed out thanks to my sister who got her college to do it for cheap. Other local print shops were charging me like 60 bucks for poster quality when I only needed a simple paper print to use as template. Now to actually start working on making the Var, I went out and picked up some supplies in which I'll list in detail below and specifically where I get them. You do not have to use a computer program or cut out template to start on this as I only used the template for making my front barrel piece which will be shown further below. Afterwards I made every other individual piece by eye and trial and error. You can just make an assumption on the first piece and scale the rest to your likings. For exact dimensions on my front barrel, it turned out to be 27½ inches long, 6 inches high, and 4¼ inches wide.

-EVA Foam rolls/sheets. I have some experience with foam as my last costume, Gilgamesh of Fate Stay Night, was made purely of it. I used to buy the $9 rolls at Micheal's Craft Store that came in about 50x30in or something like that and were incredibly thin but instead I found a better and (possibly) cheaper foam roll. Wall-Mart and Sears sell Best-Step Anti-Fatigue Foam Floor that are 46x93in EVA foam rolls and are lot thicker than the other rolls. These rolls cost about $20-30 but I only found myself needing 1-2 compared to buying multiple amounts of the other roll that were not as thick and stable. In the end it all depends on your wallet and what you're making cause it still worked out fine for my Gilgamesh.

-Heat Gun. This is what I use for bending my foam parts to hold for curve and such. It's not a mandatory tool but will make work much easier in some cases. They are incredibly cheap also, you can pick them up at local tool stores for $19.99 or less.

-Cutting Tools. This is straight forward. You're likely going to need some scissors and exacto/x-acto/utility knife to cut foam and other sorts. I have a variety of saws also but won't really need that for the foam.

-Sand paper/Grind Tools. Need this for smoothing the foam for flat and even surfaces. Using the template will pretty much reduce the need of excessive sanding but you'll still need to sand down curved parts and mistakes. Use whatever grit paper that won't destroy your foam and having a rotary grinder or dremel is nice too.

-Hot Glue Gun/Glue Sticks. I bought a good pack of 50 large sticks including a large glue gun. I prefer a larger glue gun because the smaller gun doesn't melt the glue fast enough for me to work on a large scale project. The more watts the gun, the better and faster the progress will go.

-Adhesives. I did end up getting contact cement, super glue and 3M super 77 as after researching a lot, many have said 3M super 77 works well for foam + vinyl but I will confirm from experience that it only lasts maybe a day or two before the vinyl starts to peel off. You can push the vinyl back down but it will constantly re-peel itself after awhile. Contact cement works better but you have to buy the right one or else it might not work as well as you think (weldwood brand is what most suggest but I couldn't find any of that locally). Although this could just be what kind of vinyl I'm using or the type and brand of adhesives so experiment if you have to. In my case, I had to use a mix of 3M super 77 or contact cement with hot glue gun to attach the vinyl flaps to the back of the foam piece with hot glue. this would make it so the flaps would be more secured and the spray adhesives would hold the visible ends nicely. By all means, avoid using hot glue gun entirely to attach vinyl to foam as hot glue will make bumps appear on the vinyl so that is why you only use hot glue on vinyl for the non visible parts such as flaps. 

-Measuring Tools. This should be self explanatory.

-Tape. Preferably duct tape, lots and lots of duct tape.

The handle end of the Var
Middle of Var
The front end of the Var
That is approximately how long the Var is going to be.
Mainly what I'm using to build the Var.
Heat Gun and Glue Gun

Part 2: How I started on making the weapon
So I did start with working on the barrel end of the Var which is probably the hardest part to start with the weapon but will make it easier for me to scale the rest.
Nothing too great but at least I'm getting somewhere xD.
I have to fix the inside and then start adding vinyl.

Using the paper template, I cut out the specific parts I needed for the barrel out of foam and then went ahead to do the other side and so on. Even though I only had a template of one orientation, my SolidWorks drawing was able to help me make all additional pieces to create the angled parts and such. I cut the holes using an x-acto knife and smoothed them out with a dremel. I layered the inside of the foam with cardboard as it supports the foam to be more hard, and flat. I also layered the other pieces that I felt were a bit bendy and then glued everything together with a hot glue gun. This is currently where i'm standing at right now but it gets a little difficult here since I have to work on the inside of the barrel before finishing up touches and moving on the next part.

While I was out, I got some Vinyl fabric which I will be using to overlay on top of the foam. Vinyl is beneficial as it will usually come in the solid color you are looking for (NOT ALWAYS THE CASE), not be damaged by weather conditions, and provide a smooth look depending on the texture. Its a lot less tedious than doing the traditional multiple layers of coating and then painting but the disadvantages are that they are quite limited in selection and unmerciful to your wallet. You tend to be a lot more careful with vinyl since wasted pieces are kicks to the face. I also tend to resort to finding my vinyl fabric locally rather than online since the pricing isn't all that "cheaper" as I thought it would be and the shipping costs tend to be overkill especially for Canadians. Anyways here they are:

Dark grey which will be the main color of my weapon
and some of my clothing parts. Even though the foam
comes in a grey that is slightly lighter than this,
leaving the foam for color would create an unclean
look. This dark grey costs about $6.99 per yard (`A`)

Royal blue vinyl, the main color of Imca's armor and
on half the parts of the var. It was difficult finding vinyl
with this kind of blue and especially a flat and solid
look so I was in good fortune finding this at one of the fabric
shops downtown. $11.00 per yard but worth it since other
places were selling blues I didn't need and at
$15-25 per yard ┐('`)┌

Black vinyl for the armor,clothing parts and
a few spots on the var. Got this at $10.00 a
meter at fabric land as black vinyls tend to be more
expensive due to it being a popular color, so this
is actually a good find. Black is easy to find but
not always in a smooth and flat look.  
Since they only sell vinyls in either per yard or meter, its always good to buy more than what you actually need rather than less to cut it off cheap. Also when you use vinyl, try to Tetris as much of the fabric as possible so you don't leave big gaps that waste the vinyl. Most importantly try to be consistent with the vinyls as having multiple vinyls and all different looks and textures will effect your costume greatly.

Part 3: Frame and Mechanics 

Before starting to work on the other parts you should also consider what uses you want it to have and its frame. This is what matters the most because if the prop doesn't have good frame and mechanics then it's going to break down fast. The frame of the weapon should be something of light material but can hold the entire thing together without snapping with small amount of force applied, I used a wooden frame in the inside because the weapon is long so people are bound to accidentally bump into it and yes they have bumped into mine at AN2012.
This was my front end of the Var. As shown I added a
foam piece with cardboard in between the 2 pieces and
attached strongly to both the sides. The frame piece of
wood sits on the bottom half with the cardboard and was
glued to it. For the reason that when the frame wood is
lifted it picks up the front end of the weapon from the
foam instead of dragging it from the top part attached
with glue.

Using a long piece of thin wood as frame for connecting the
other pieces and making the weapon durable. The two pieces
on the floor are the middle part of the weapon I was working
on after finishing the front end. Although you are using a
frame, make sure you prioritize your steps and what you want.
More wood was attached to the end of the frame wood to make
the other handle and the long handle that isn't used. For the 2
pieces on the floor, the cardboard has a slit which
 lets the frame sit inside.

By mechanics I mean handles, dynamic parts and extra cool functions to completely swag out your prop for people to go ape shiet crazy for. The handles are important as they will be the only things making it able to hold properly in your hands. I made my handles out of wood so I could nail or screw them to attach to other wooden parts that can be screwed on to the frame which holds the entire weapon. You can also screw from the bottom of the frame or use miniature "L" brackets (clamps) to secure both ends.

Made 2 openings but covered one with
vinyl.The smaller opening is for the
handle and theother is a small storage
 compartment i made for keeping my
wallet or camera since I didn't want to
have them in my pocket.

The storage compartment which can
be removed but has stubs at the bottom
 to prevent it from easily removing
itself if turned over and such. I made
 the compartment slightly tight so it
wasn't able to slip out and required
using your hands to pull it out or push
it back in.

Sticking a piece of wood through
the vinyl and adding some support
underneath to make it stay.The
wood also goes past through the
 opening and will sit on the
frame of wood.

Attaching the handle which is made
out of wood to the piece of wood sticking
 out and then adding vinyl to the handle
 to make it not so ghetto.

Lastly added the extra foam to cover
the woodand make it look clean. This
would then sit on the frame of wood
and be screwed from underneath the
frame tomake the handle completely
attached with the entire weapon. Having
 the storage compartment made it easy
 for me to removeand fix the
inside of the handle if needed so.

That is just showing where the piece
would be sitting after the middle part
was completed and then attach to the
wooden frame from the bottom.

 As for the other handles such as the two at the end, I just attached blocks of wood on the top and bottom side of the frame at the very end then attached wooden dowels much similar to the process shown above.
Attaching wooden handles to the end of the frame.
You can see from the previous picture that there wasn't
 a pop out part at the top but that part is a wood piece
attached to the frame and then handle to that wood piece.
 Same with the bottom longer handle as it is attached to a
wooden piece which that piece is attached to the bottom part
 of the frame. Sounds confusing but its just making sure they
 all connect wood wise. Then adding foam and
vinyl as cover and details.

So that concludes making the frames and mechanics which pretty much makes the entire weapon now holdable by 2 hands from the 2 smaller handles. All that is left to do are basic shape constructions with foam, adding the vinyl to them and then putting it all together to its appropriate spot. I won't show the step by step of making each and every individual part as I felt some of the parts I made weren't as clean or satisfactory but most of the parts are really simple to make and just require a short bit of time and dedication. I ended up attaching the pieces with super glue.

Part of the end handle which was probably a bit confusing
to make at first but worked out later. The top part has a
hole where the handle would go through and then its glued
from the inside. the long handle would be attached to the
large hole but with additional foam support and such.
The canister attached to the left side of
the var. Just stacking shapes then attaching
it with 2 extra foam supports at the top and
bottom made to look like brackets.

The construction of the ammo drums in foam
one of the circular sides is bigger than the other
so it was a little complicated making the cylinder.
You could just make them equal but sometimes those
extra small details get to me.
This is the piece that holds the ammo drum
and attaches to the Var.

Adding vinyl to the foam and then putting the
cylinder together. I kinda messed up the vinyl
job having those pointy parts on that circular
foam piece but that was due to not really knowing
how to foam the circular parts which
was really getting on my nerves.

Both the attachments and the drum rolls being put
together, all that is left is to add details.

The two ammo drums complete with extras and details, I left out brackets since I was somewhat lazy and wanted to rush to the next parts. The more nicer looking ammo drum would be the one attached to the left side of the Var since that side is more visible while the other side is partially hidden between my leg and the Var. A little unprofessional but seeing as I was timed each day to finish one part, I had to make some sacrifices.

I left the bottom part of the Var opened so that I could attach the blade to the wooden frame. Since the blade is really huge, it would be ideal to make it out of something light such as pink foam you find at home depot but I chose to make my blade out of wood for the reason that the blade sticks out past the front end of the cannon and if someone bumped into it then it could easily snap and would be non repairable at the convention. If you're really careful then you can try it but I just rather be safe than sorry because the weapon is what made my costume really. Using wood makes it durable and stiff but will make it heavy to carry around and apply more tension force towards the handles making it possible for the handles to unscrew themselves and become loose if not take proper precautions on. AN doesn't exactly have a weight limit at weapon check so other conventions may differ. My Var weighed about 20 lbs. Anyways once you got your blade done then attach it to the bottom of the frame with either miniature "L" brackets and screws or whatever adhesives if you're using light material. Then just add foam to cover the openings at the bottom and you're pretty much almost done.

I honestly did try to add in the extra small details such as the patterns on the handle but because I made it out of vinyl and decided to wrap it around the handle, some parts would stick out and then as you hold the handle some of the patterns would come apart. I didn't have time to make the whole wrap with fabric so I took it off and left it blank.

This was supposed to wrap around the white handles but it
didn't work out well so I had to scrap this.

Now that everything is pretty much made and set to be attached together it all just comes down to your accuracy in attaching parts and making it symmetrical to the other side. I attached almost everything with super glue as that would hold the best to the point that you'd have to rip the parts for it to come off and it would have to tear the vinyl from the foam. You can choose to add or leave out extra details, it's all up to you to how satisfied you are with your weapon and how creative you are too but do take note that with more extra details means that you will also be taking more extra maintenance with your prop as things are bound to happen to annoy you at the convention.