Most of the toy shops were I live are shit, only containing shitty toys from China. The main toy store is more of a generic sells-tons-of-crap store called Jumbo. But there is one good thing about these shitty stores. You can get TONS of shitty, fake, Chinese guns for low prices. And these cheap, shitty guns are perfect for making Borderlands weapons.
Why Borderlands guns? Because Borderlands guns are mostly random in shape and size. You could spend actual time and money making a specific Borderlands weapon from scratch but that might take far longer – and in the case of my brother (for whom I am making some Borderlands-related pressies), he’s the sort of person who leaves things until the last minute, so a quick paint job is easier than building from scratch. Of course this applies to any game with randomized weapons. It also works nicely with CS:GO guns, since you can buy a cheap, shitty kids’ SMG and paint that to match your in-game weaponry.
But another reason why Borderlands guns work so well when it comes to simple cosplay ideas is because, despite how random Borderlands guns are, they all have somewhat distinct branding and colours. Jakobs for example is a standard silver/grey gun but all Jakobs guns have wooden stocks. Hyperion guns are generally flat yellow/white/green with white or yellow strips running the length of the weapon (with rare ones having red strips). Dahl weapons use camo decor coloured based on their rarity.
The simplest weapons to do are Torgue and Bandit weapons. Bandit weapons are always red and black (with various amounts of wear and tear depending on rarity) and have the familiar white teeth painted on them. Torgue guns are generally grey with black and white (or yellow and white) checkered strips and highlights in red, green or yellow.
Of course, you need to take into account the type of cheap, shitty gun you have. If it’s particularly square and lumpy and looks home-built, then Bandit is perfect. More manufactured and you can do a Vladof or Torgue weapon. If it’s less square but still angular, Hyperion matches well. For a much rounder gun (e.g. a cheap water pistol), then Maliwan works best. Water pistols with the round, removable water bottles make for pretty good E-Tech guns.
The paints you use are up to you. But you WILL 100% NEED A BASE COAT. I used a grey primer base coat for my gun (and used it as the base in general) because many paints will just slide off the bare plastic. The cheaper the gun, the more layers you might need. When actually painting details and decorations, you can use any paint you want but I recommend acrylic paints and would avoid using water colours, because they probably won’t work. I generally tend to buy cheap ‘tempura’ paint in the same place where I buy my cheap toy guns. Remember that details in Borderlands generally have a high contrast, so shaded bits will be really dark.
You’ll also need a sealant when you’re done. A matte sealant is better than a glossy one unless you’re going for a particular look or are varnishing a wooden part.
A word of warning, if you’re painting a nerf gun or something similar with removable parts, try to avoid spraying the bits which connect together. Too much paint and your gun can’t be put back together properly. I’d also recommend not painting any nerf gun darts or pellets, since it affects how they fly. It’s also worth keeping in mind that many conventions don’t allow weapons with firing parts – many won’t even allow strung bows – so check before you go.
If you do decide you want to make your own Borderlands guns, below is a link to a PDF with logos and basic designs, that you can print off, cut up and glue on.
Anyway, fingers crossed brother likes this gun I made him. Happy birthday, bro.