Nitefinder Mod

A little bit Star Wars, a little bit Blade Runner 

 This is the Nitefinder. It's still a current Nerf model, and is prized by modders for the ability to turn the thing from being merely a serviceable weapon in the time-honored cubicle wars to a paintball-like dealer of pain and humiliation. But that's not what I was after. I wanted to have a gun that I could tote around with two upcoming costumes: Thareen Penumbra, Republic Scout Service Lieutenant, and Thareen Penumbra in the New Jedi Order. It turns out this puppy may serve me well for a third costume which I am contemplating, one which will have absolutely nothing to do with my Jedi alter-ego.

Around the time I was preparing to sink my teeth into this project, I saw Blade Runner again. Amazingly, KCET, the local LA PBS station, ran the whole movie uncut. Including a few salty lines, naked breasts, and a bit o' the ol' ultraviolence, O my brothers. Through the movie, I watched, one eye on the screen, one eye on my project-to-be.

Note the "dart rack" at the bottom of the gun. When most people mod this gun, they cut it off. However, I began to think...what about putting a couple of hoses going from the front of the gun to somewhere near the grip? What if this gun needed a liquid cooling system to keep it chilled down to allow it to be fired by a human? And you know how one's mind plays tricks on you when you are watching a movie...I could have sworn that there were twin hoses coming out of Deckard's gun. Oh well, after the project was finished, I found pictures of the real gun Harrison Ford wielded in Blade Runner.

Here's a link to pictures of the real prop,

and here's a contest where some really obsessive fans tried to create their own take on it.

No hoses. However, you wonder whether Blade Runner was an inspiration to the toymaker who designed the Nitefinder. Deckard's gun is blocky and kludgy but graceful at the same time. It has a "target painting" LED to give that laser sight effect, something which was actually quite novel in 1980-82 but now is everywhere. And it is more or less a pistol rather than anything carbine or rifle-like.

Anyway, you know what the thing looked like when I got it. Now, witness the transformation.

The blue stuff is blue masking tape, masking off all the things I didn't want painted. The terra-cotta stuff is the Bondo ding filler that comes in a tube, pre-mixed. This is not the stuff that comes in a can. However, the tube is more than enough to mod not one, but two Nerf guns, and still have tons left for future mayhem.

The cocking ring in the back got cut off with my little Wen rotary tool, using a Dremel "high speed cutter" tool designed to cut plastic and wood. 

The cutter is not a graceful tool for these purposes...it leaves lots and lots of feathery plastic debris which must be ground or sanded (or both) off. However, what you are left with is a serviceable little knob you can put between your index and middle fingers and pull, just like drawing an arrow in archery. It does the job and it doesn't look as cheesy. Particularly after you paint it. Next step? Sand the plastic and Bondo to rough it up a bit, then spray on the primer.

Next comes the flat black. Note that I redid the masking tape after checking out how the masked off areas were doing.

Matte clear coat protects the paint, and gives the gun a kind of "stealth fighter" finish. Not too shiny, but a little satiny sheen. Just enough to say "this is metal."


I'm sorry I don't have step-by-step pix of the final assembly and the "weathering" I did using "steel" metallic model paint. The hoses and the hose connectors were gotten at Luky's Hardware in Burbank, a place that H-Wing designer and all-around kewl guy Obi-Shawn Crosby introduced me to. The place is not your ordinary hardware store...it is where old aircraft and aerospace parts go to die.

Why did I keep some of the orange parts orange? I live in Los Angeles, CA, US. We have cowboy cops here. Leaving some of the visual clues this is "just a toy" was very prudent. Besides, it's Rebel Orange! 

Anyway, the hose is actually "split loom" used to keep wiring together in a neat bundle. I liked the texture of it. I could have gone with a little "fatter" diameter of the stuff, but this turned out fine. The "split" portion of the plastic bundling stuff is hidden by orienting the seam towards the body of the gun, out of casual view.

The "weathering" is done by brushing on the paint, then very quickly rubbing it off with newsprint. I might have overdone it. I was trying for the effect of doing the weathering on parts of the gun likely to rub up against things, bump up against things, etc. etc. Maybe I could have followed the maxim of "less is more." However, this looks like it's seen the Galaxy. I like it.

To refresh your memory, here's what the gun looked like in its pristine state, then after getting my "treatment." I think I did pretty well, all things considered. And yes! It DOES shoot Nerf darts! 

Oh yeah, that third costume idea? A female LAPD Rep-Detect unit officer, or Blade Runner. You only see Deckert and Gaff in the movie, and their fat fsck of a boss. But there has to be more of them. Considering how many women there now are on the force, in 2019 there would probably be quite a few more. And some of them would be dealing with the consequences of Tyrell Corporation's experiments in "skin jobs." It could be a lot of fun to do. Detective Carbone, Rep-Detect? Hmmm...

I decided to get a little closer to the Blade Runner aesthetic with a mod of the plain gun you see next to the first Nitefinder mod. Follow this link to see what I did.

Proceed to Rebel Fleet Trooper mod     Back to Cosplay page