Skip to main content

How QE made the Mass Effect M8 Avenger

Two weeks ago we interviewed the prop maker, Zach, or Quantum Entanglement Props. This week he is here to tell us about building props and how he made the ever popular M8 Avenger of Mass Effect! - VF

Making the M8 Avenger

First you’re going to need to know what you want to build. Should be easy to choose, there’s only an infinite number of possibilities out there for you! Mass Effect weapons are still a very popular commission for my shop, so I’ll be using the M8 Avenger from Mass Effect here. This particular build included a moving trigger and LED lighting. 


If you can’t find an actual blueprint of the prop you want to make, a side view of the weapon works nearly as well. Scaling it to the size that you want may take a few tries but it’s well worth the time. Above I have used the side view of the N7 Hurricane to make my trim templates. They’re all marked on the MDF board and the pieces are cut out one at a time. 

Once the pieces are all cut out, you have a pretty good idea how big the finished prop will be. Label your pieces so they don’t get lost or accidentally thrown away thinking that they’re scrap.


As I started assembling the prop I’ll make a notch in the center layer for the trigger and springs to sit. I’ll also use this opportunity to mark where the battery pack, wiring, LEDs, and switch will be. These paths will need to be routed out to make room for the wiring and components. I usually drill holes in line through the main body for guide pins. These pins allow me to repeatedly install and remove the layers to make sure they fit together and line up nicely.

Lighting and wiring is done in sub-assemblies. Here the upper barrel and scope are fully finished with enough wiring sticking out the bottom to run it through the main body to the switch and battery pack. The lines in the side of the body are done with hobby and utility knives, chisels, and files. There’s really no easy way to do these, it just takes time and patience. Each of the black dots are locations where I will later drill holes for the “assembly” screws.

The internal areas are the hardest to do. Areas like the back of the stock that pass all the way through are easiest to do after the layers have been glued together. Round files are the best tool I have found to finish the corners.

Continuing through the assembly, making sure that the wires are long enough to work with when it’s time to solder.

The barrels, scope, and side rings are made from PVC tubing. A lot easier than trying to make a piece of wood round without the use of a lathe. Styrene sheet is used to make the flat details, and the texture sheet that is wrapped around the scope ring. 


After the grip and stock areas are completed, I like to use a textured spray paint. Most guns have a texture on the grip and stock to help keep the weapon from slipping. And in the case of the MDF it also helps hide any areas that you may not have sanded perfectly. You can also see a few areas on the upper body where I have started using spot filler to make a few repairs and fill gaps. Spot filler is nice to work with on small holes and it dries faster than body filler.

All those hours of sanding will pay off when you get to paint. A nice clean coat of paint that requires little to no sanding is priceless. I start with a basecoat of silver for the entire gun and then work through the masking to add black on top of that later. Make sure you give the paint plenty of time to try before you start with the masking tape. Nothing worse than spending a lot of hours sanding and paint and then have your masking tape leave a texture in the paint, or worse, pull the paint off.

Some people prefer vinyl decals for their markings. I actually cut a template into masking tape and then place the masking tape on the prop for spray paint or airbrush. I prefer the paint method over vinyl decals because the vinyl leaves a noticeable step, where a thin coat of paint is nearly flush on the surface. It does take quite a bit more time and patience. You can also see the “assembly” screws in place here. I like to just use actual screws, usually cap head or countersunk allen screws. They only cost about $0.15 each, and it’s much easier than trying to make something that looks real.

After the painting is all done, unless you want a prop that looks brand new, you’ll want to weather it to make it look a bit used. I use a mixture of airbrush, dry-brush and wash methods. The key is using different colors to give it depth. If you just use an all-black wash to weather the prop it’s still going to look a bit flat. My standard colors are silver, aluminum, and steel for the dry-brushing. I’ll use black, grey, orange, blue, red, and yellow acrylics for airbrushing and wash. 

Last step is to enjoy your work! Put it on display or go cosplay!

- Zach - Quantum Entanglement Props

Popular posts from this blog

Shining Sakura's Guide to Sewing Machines

Finding the right sewing machine can be a real pain. Some machines are very intimidating, while others make you wonder if they will last during your project. Also, how do you take care of one once you have it? Shining Sakura is very passionate about her sewing machine and has been doing research on how to find the right one. She also has some great advice on maintenance and repair.  Here is what Sakura has learned. Enjoy! * There are pro/con cards throughout the article. If you have any questions about what you see here feel free to contact VFire on the Contacts/Links page. Sakura's Sewing Machine Guide Sewing machines come in all shapes and sizes. The one question many people ask is which one should I buy? Well that all depends on your budget and purpose. Here is a simple guide to help you determine which machine is best for you! You do not have to follow this advice perfectly but it can give someone an idea of what to look for in a sewing machine. All That is Old is

Episodes 73 - 76!! Catch up blog post!! Part 1!

 Time to get these posts caught up to the podcast! - cracks knuckles - here goes something! this first grouping covers a lot waxing strong about conventions and good memories!! Episode 73 - Cosplayers in the Time of Corona This episode aired back when quarantine was in full swing here in the states and we really had no idea what the rest of this year had in store. I feel the overall message is still the same: "It is okay to feel the way you feel. Take your time; you are not obligated to be creating during this time." Episode 74 - Making Friends at Conventions As we wax fondly over conventions, we had a listener question come in about how to make friends at these big events. What are your thoughts on this? Episode 75 - Convention Traditions We miss conventions a lot! We share listener and personal traditions that have become near and dear to us over the years. What are your favorite convention traditions? Episode 76 - How to Play the Ribbon Game Rennagade Cosplay joins us t

How to Make Auron's Blade - The Cosplay Armory

As promised, James of the Cosplay Armory shares his knowledge on how to make Auron's Katana from the game, Final Fantasy X.  I have been very excited for this as I followed his page as he worked on the blade. I hope you enjoy it! - VFire Auron's Katana Build by James A note before I start. I will be mentioning the use of several machines that I have the luxury of having in my shop that I am well aware not everyone has. This project is definitely easier with them than without but everything I describe can be done without them or with simpler tools. I will also include steps that I do that are not necessary in parenthesis() I was commissioned to build the Auron Katana by Lolita Zombie Cosplay and knew immediately that I wanted it to be light, yet durable. The first step to building any prop is figuring out what you’re going to make it out of. A lot of prop makers use light woods like poplar and MDF and while I have used some wood I decided it would be my first sword t