Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Plasti Dip = Prop Magic

I know we've had a number of occasions to talk about various methods for creating boffers, but we've never really had an occasion to talk about general prop making. Even in combat-oriented games, we often use props and objects as important tools for storytelling.

This topic started when I was making my character for the Wastelands portion of the Joint Game this weekend. I decided to play an Orc, as I love the rough and tumble culture that surrounds them in the Shadowrun stories. Before I went to buy some tusks online for an absurd amount ($20-30 after shipping), my friend Karin mentioned that she was just making foam tusks.

What a novel idea!

While I consider myself a tape jockey and I even have some white gaff tape available, I didn't think it'd look the way I wanted. So I finally broke the seal and bought some Plasti Dip for my tusks. The goal was to make foam tusks that are Plasti-Dipped and painted white.

The setup was pretty easy, all things considered. I carved a couple of tusks out of a part of a pool noodle, hung them on a wire, and dipped them in. While they looked pretty rough after the first coat, most of the imperfections in the foam were gone by the second coat.

The next day (it takes at least 4 hours to dry per coat), I busted out some white acrylic paint and gave them a once over. As I'm writing this, I'm waiting for them to dry to see if I need another coat. The black primer behind the white paint allowed for a grainy look, which actually looks pretty good on tusks.

I'm definitely going to be adding Plasti Dip into the rotation when I make my non-combat props from now on. If you consider yourself a prop wizard, I definitely suggest giving it a shot. You should be able to pick up at least the 14 oz. black primer at your local Home Depot/Lowes for about $7.

Anyone else have any experiences with Plasti Dip, good or bad? Let us know in the comments!


  1. PlastiDip is great for weapons, too... There are some weaponsmiths out there who are using it for entire weapons, but even if you aren't into trying to make your own "latex" weapons, I've used it with great success on detail elements like crossguards made out of camp foam.

  2. I don't use it for entire weapons, but many of the custom guards, pommels and decorations I make on weapons I use PlastiDip for, it helps maintain the detail of carved foam.
    I have also used it with masks and armor pieces. Very versatile stuff, just a little time consuming because of dry time and I am always in such a hurry.

  3. Since you're using them for tusks, do you know if the stuff is toxic at all? Just curious since your tusks will look much better than mine :)

  4. Most of the MSDS information is based on the solvent or vapor. But according to the Plasti Dip site:

    "Plasti Dip® does not contain any heavy metals, and when completely dry, is considered harmless. However, it is not recommended that it be used on items that may be chewed or inserted into the mouth as it may present a choking hazard."

  5. I know very very little about this sort of thing, but as a note on tusks; a guy I know uses Friendly Plastic. He softens it somehow (via heat I presume) and then sculpts it into tusks anchored to a teeth ring shaped base. After that he drops it into boiling water, if I recall correctly, and then you bite down into it to have the mouthguard part conform to your mouth/teeth for a custom fit.

  6. FWIW, these tusks will not be going into my mouth. They will be spirit-gummed to the corners of my mouth. Although the idea of building them into a mouth-guard sounds like a better, long-term solution.