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Quantum Entanglement Props

Here is Zach posing with his master for the
Mass Effect Executioner pistol kit. This is
currently his only resin kit but he plans on
making another version with a movable trigger
this summer! Also, check out the awesome
Jayne hat from Firefly. 
The thing I love most about cosplay are the props. Creating a replica from a video game or anime can be really difficult but incredibly fun at the same time. Zach, creator of Quantum Entanglement Props, started making props about two years ago. His most popular props have been mostly from the Mass Effect universe, but Zach has been branching out into other guns from series like Firefly and Warhammer 40K. What drew me to Zach's work was his incredible attention to detail and the methods he uses to create his props. As a woodcrafter myself, I really enjoy seeing his use of MDF board and plastics like styrene, sintra, and PVC to make a really legit looking gun. Zach is also an engineer and his designs really show off his knowledge of how things are put together. He really pulls off art and engineering in his work!

Places you can find Quantum Entanglement Props
Etsy Store

Interview with Zach

How long have you been cosplaying and making props?
I've been making props for about two years now, I'm actually coming up on my second year anniversary on April 2nd.  I didn't start cosplaying until the spring of 2013.  I went to a little event, called Salt Fest, that summer wearing my jumpsuit that I had done up to look like a Vault Dweller uniform from Fallout.  It wasn't a very elaborate costume, but I had a lot of fun!  Later that year, at the inaugural Salt Lake Comicon, I had Legion ready and I really felt like I had started cosplaying.

What inspired you to start making props and costumes?
I've always been pretty good with my hands, I liked building model cars and aircraft.  I came across something on Facebook one day about a prop builder called Volpin Props and started looking at his builds.  I figured that I could start making something like that too, so I built an M97 Viper from Mass Effect (which I have named Zero Viper) in April of 2012. It was pretty popular with my friends, so I built a Black Widow and created a Facebook page to follow the build.  I actually had people start contacting me during that build asking if I could make other things, and it's picked up steadily since then!

Zach as Legion from Mass Effect. 
Photo by Megan Kennedy of Abuse of Reason Art and Photography
Legion is made of craft foam and Wonderflex. There are 68 LED's that
are powered by only eight AA batteries throughout the costume.
Why did you pick the name Quantum Entanglement?
I'm an engineer, and I've always been interested in quantum physics.  At the time there were quite a few sci-fi video games (notably Mass Effect and Portal) and movies being released that referenced the quantum entanglement phenomenon.  I wanted to pick a name that was somewhat scientific, and a part of popular culture to try and help people remember it.  I'm not so sure I succeeded on that part.

I think you succeeded very well! I see that you work as an Aerospace Engineer, which is really awesome. How does this add or take away from the costuming and prop making experience?
A little of both.  The companies that I work with on a regular basis are on the cutting edge of manufacturing technology.  I deal with machine shops that are manufacturing structural assemblies for new aircraft that are still under development, companies that produce composite and bonded metal skin panels, and even a company that manufactures the window panels for commercial and fighter aircraft.  I have learned a lot from them, and I try to incorporate their methods into my manufacturing.  It also helps to have access to some pretty neat tools and materials!  I have quite a bit of knowledge about drafting and 3D modeling, making blueprints, machine design, fiberglass and other composites, molding and casting, vacuum and stretch forming, machining and welding.  With all the hands on experience between high school and college, I feel like it puts me at an advantage for building and designing special features into these props! 

If you follow my props page on Facebook you'll notice that I comment quite a bit about traveling and being out of the shop.  Obviously when I'm traveling for my day job it's very difficult to work on my latest project, so there is definitely a down side.  Plus, some days I come home from the office just worn out and I don't really have the energy to work in the shop for another 3-4 hours every night.  Sooner or later you need a break!
"Mass Effect weapons are still very popular, and will probably remain so for another few years now that Mass Effect 4 is in work.  I seem to be one of the few prop builders that will make and sell the larger weapons.  Either that or my prices are just that much lower than the pro builders!  (haha)  The Black Widow rifle was my second build.  I learned quite a bit on my first Viper and put all of that into this rifle.  This was the first one with a working trigger and LED lighting.  I now put working triggers in everything I build (except for the resin kits) and try to add lighting whenever possible.  Lights make everything cooler, moving parts are fun to play with also.  I also like to use real hunting scopes on my rifles whenever the design allows.  Every little bit helps when trying to make the prop you're holding feel real." - Zach

Why did you decide to be an Aerospace Engineer?
Growing up I used to watch reruns of Star Trek: The Original Series while playing with my Legos.  I've always looked at Montgomery Scott (the Chief Engineer for the non-Trekkies out there) as a great role model.  Throughout the series and subsequent movies there were many times that Scotty would manage to bend the rules of physics to get the ship out of danger just in the nick of time.  As far as the Aerospace side goes, I've always had a love of aircraft.  But I think Burt Rutan was the leading, real-world, role model.  If you're not familiar with Burt Rutan, just do a google image search of "Scaled Composites" and you'll see why I went into aerospace. (V-Fire wants to note that you should certainly look these things up, especially if you like space. Spaceship One is awesome!)

"Right after the Avengers movie came out in theaters I thought that Loki's scepter would be a great place to start making replicas of movie props.  Luckily for me, someone contacted me shortly after the movie was released and commissioned the scepter!  The blade portion is made from stretched acrylic, the same thing that is used to make aircraft windows, so it is strong enough to withstand even the roughest cosplay.  The blue glowing Mind Gem is made from a couple pieces of laminated acrylic with a couple of LEDs inside.  This was a very fun piece to build, and I think I might actually build another one for myself one of these days!" - Zach

What has been your favorite prop to make so far?
Well there's a hard one to answer.  Each piece that I do is special to me in different ways.  I have my props that are being used in films right now, obviously those are special because so many people are going to get to see them.  Recently I did a replica of Deathstroke's combat staff for my friend Nathan DeLuca, I really enjoyed that one because it gave me the opportunity to work with leather and do a full metal build.  I'm also really looking forward to building Jayne Cobb's Vera next month and having that signed by Mr. Adam Baldwin himself at FanX this spring.  I've built so many things over the last two years, each one is a new benchmark for me.  I don't know that I can pick just one.
There are many materials that can be used for making props. What are your favorite materials and why?
Right now most of my props are done with MDF wood and various bits of plastic.  The wood is very soft, and is great to work with.  You can cut it easily with a scroll saw, and it sands nice and smooth.  It ends up being quite a bit heavier than EVA foam (my arm was sore for several days after Comicon) but it's sturdy!  I'd like to start working with metals more, now that I have some machining equipment.

Zach's popularity with Mass Effect props caught the attention of a film school in London.
"Pictured here is the Acolyte pistol I built, held by Rana McAnear (whom you may recognize
as the face model for Samara and Morinth in Mass Effect II and III) as well as the Disciple
shotgun I made especially for her, held by another cosplayer. Embrace Eternity is set to release
later this year, I am looking forward to seeing their work very much!" - Zach

How does it feel to have your work featured in a student film in London?
I'm really very excited about the film.  I've been in fairly regular contact with the group and filming is going great so far.  They plan to be done this summer and be able to premiere the film in the US at Dragon Con.  I've made three props for them so far, the Asari Acolyte pistol, M97 Viper rifle, and the N7 Breather helmet.  Each of these pieces has a pretty interesting history already, and we haven't even seen the film yet.  I'm really looking forward to the film, and I hope to be able to show the film at Salt Lake Comicon this fall!

Any advice for costumers wanting to try their hand at prop making?
Start something.  It doesn't matter what, it doesn't matter where you start, just start.  I get quite a few messages from people asking for tips, and the best advice I can give is to just start building.  There will be problems along the way, and you will have to scrap some of your work.  Accept that, and figure it out as you go.  I actually scrapped two separate builds of Legion's head before I got it the way I wanted it.  I personally picked Legion because I knew it was going to be difficult.  It took me over eight months to build the full suit, but in the end I am extremely happy and proud of how it turned out.  If you do hard things, it makes it so much sweeter when you get it done.  When you screw something up, learn from it and try again.

"I get a lot of people asking me if I do anything besides Mass Effect weapons.  I love the Mass Effect universe, but I'm also trying to break out of that line of props and do work with other games, television series, and movies.  I am currently working on a full size Vera from the TV show Firefly, and I have done a few weapons from the Warhammer 40K universe.  Always looking to build something new, but Mass Effect is still popular and pays the bills for this part-time hobby!" - Zach

I would like to thank Zach for his time and for sharing his knowledge on prop making! Check back in two weeks to see an in depth look into on of his props. Thank you for reading!

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