Building the Larp Boffer
How to complicate the simple effectively.
This article will just be a handful of tips and tricks to building your standard round-closed-cell-foam-and-duct-tape weapons. There are a number of advantages to these classic weapons over the newer latex weapons.
Just to name a few advantages:
- More aerodynamic
- Cheaper and easier to repair
- Resilient to weather, abuse, and terrible packing and storage jobs by monster camp.
- Cheaper and easier to repair
On point #3 we are going to focus on construction rather than cosmetics. So I am going to quickly whip together 10 basic and ugly claw reps for our monster camp.
- Standard materials used here:
- 1/2″ cpvc pipe
- _______ Brand Pipe insulation (most others are too thin and break down fast)
- Duct Tape
- Your personal choice of grip tape (I prefer hockey tape and electrical for my rough and tumble weapons)
Tape: I’ve never become loyal to a certain brand of Duct tape that makes me happy over all. 3M comes cheaper in big roles and often works well enough. Duck brand seems to have more bonding/sticking issues than others… I could go on and on. Today I’m using the more plastic 3M because it typically works fine and I need a bunch for 10 claws.
Tape you don’t need: in LARP Duct Tape is always in high demand. It’s important that you use the crap tape you make use of the least or care the least about for core construction and weight balancing. Today my sacrificial tape will be the Frozen themed Duct tape I used to make my niece a boffer she could get excited about.
It was a very good Christmas
The Puck – Chop off a bit more than you think you need to cap the end of the pipe. The thrusting tip is made of foam and without a puck the pipe is a blunt stabbing instrument. Jam the over-fat piece on the end and spiral wrap the puck into a compressed position on top. Do this for both ends.
You’ll notice I am ripping the tape down the middle to use thinner pieces. Besides being less wasteful this is also weight mitigation. Tape = Weight, far more weight than most would imagine and it stacks up quick.
You’ll never see the light of day again Elsa
Often there is space in between the pipe and the padding which can cause the padding to “rattle” around it. This is bad. It breaks down the padding faster and can even generate more impact when striking someone. To say nothing of causing even more vibrations when blocking. Take your half strips again and wrap about 4 inches beneath the end of the pipe. You want about a 1/4 of an inch thick. you want another wrap about 4 inches from the bottom of the padding where the hilt would start.
There is nothing fancy about claws. They just need to be red, reliable, and not hurt people. I still like to taper down the “hilt” area to the grip. You can use a knife but small sharp scissors work really well.
For weapons the pommel is important. For claws the pommel might be the most important part of the weapon. There are basically three types to use: the standard square or triangular, the ball, and the full grip. For this demonstration, and for ease of use for my NPCs, I’m making every shape I can think of.
The standard square or triangular pommel is for the typical hold-the-claw-at-the-end with the pommel keeping it firmly in place. The ball is for the NPCs that like to stick the pommel right in the center of their hand and swing with the very end of the claw. The grip is the middle ground where a fat pommel is cut in a loose attempt to fit the shape of the hand. It really all boils down to preference.I’ve used my scissors again to chop up some thrusting tips. I keep a chunk of pipe on hand to measure and trim them into shape.
Two pieces of tape to strap the trusting tip in place. Try to avoid the spaces between being open at all. Once in place I close the gaps/seams with short pieces of tape. For any surface tape try to slice the tape or cut it with scissors. Ripping duct tape often leaves ragged edges with sticky bits of string that can peel up much easier than a clean edge.
After that four long strips of tape running down the blade. Spiral wrapping compresses and hardens the foam so much that most LARPs have rules against it in weapon construction guidelines in their rule books. Two pieces of tape over the pommel will work just as well as it did with the thrusting tip.
Once you have the four strips in place on the blade one wrap horizontally around the top of said strips, over the thrusting tip strips, and if you do it right around the bottom of the small strips covering the openings in the thrusting tip, will lock everything into place solidly. You never need more than one layer for this strip so try to make it exact.
A heavier weapon does not have to mean a weapon that is harder to use. When people really talk about a weapon that is heavy what they are really saying is that its harder and slower to swing. Even a heavier weapon made from common materials like this can be balanced well. If the weight of the weapon balances well at the top of the grip where a crossguard would be it will be far easier to use. With properly balanced weapon weight you can let the heft of the weapon assist you with blocking taking the strain off your joints and muscles as well as many other benefits.
So for the blade and thrusting tips minimize your tape use. For the grip the more tape to counter the weight of the longer blade can help considerably.
With that in mind I go wild with my grips. I personally love to make threaded grips and mold them into place with plastic electrical tape. If I need to counterbalance the weapon more I will take long half strips of duct tape and wrap the ever loving crap out of the pommel. If you do this just right the weapon will feel heavy but will swing like its nothing. In fact it will swing better.
These are claws so I really shouldn’t go too crazy with the grips. Yet.. this is still a blog so I am going to go totally crazy with the grips.
This claw has a 1/2″ spaced para-cord grip from halfway down the handle to the pommel. Ideal for those that switch how they hold the weapon or let the weapon grip slide in their hands when they are fighting.
This claw gets the dirty cheap trick of Duct Tape gripping. Pull a long strip off your crap tape roll without ripping it off.
Stick the end to the point on the grip you want to start at. Then while the tape roll hangs spin it like a top. Keep on spinning it and pulling down until the tape is in a tight sticky cord. Then start twisting the claw in place at a 45 degree angle slowly wrapping/revolving the tape around the grip evenly spaced out. The parts where the sticky bits are will hold it in place for you. Once you get the whole “tape rope” wrapped just rip the end and stick it in place. Then wrap the whole thing in your favorite kind of grip tape to finish it.
Here are 10 different examples plus my puppy tax paid in full for the long post.