“Blind Squirrel”, a prop maker from Phoenix, Arizona, recently built these stunning commissioned replicas of Final Fantasy XIV’s Tiger Claws.
By now, Final Fantasy has become something close to a household name. With its enticing blend of sci-fi and fantasy, the videogame series is going as strong as ever and last year a fourteenth installment was released to be played online. Tiger Claws (“Bagh Nakhs” in Hindi) have been featured as a powerful weapon recurringly throughout the series. They’re handheld and consist of a set of curved blades that imitate claws, attached to a crossbar. In FF XIV they’re back as the weapon of choice of Pugilists, a new character class who favors close, hand-to-hand combat.
The replica pair made by Blind Squirrel looks both beautiful and deadly, even though it can’t actually inflict any damage. Each of the main components (the claws themselves, the box which contains them and the handles) took careful planning and skilled craftmanship.
For the claws, he first cut a master from poplar wood, beveled it with a sander and attached strips of styrene to it so as to reproduce the gold top trims. The bottom had a slot through which plastic panels would later pass to hold the claws in place inside the box. He made six resin copies of this claw poplar master to be used in the final product.
The plastic panels meant to hold the claws were bent into the desired shape by putting them in a press, comprised of an MDF (medium-density fiberboard) block that followed the curve of the blade box, and a plaster cast of that same block.
The handles are also poplar. They’re connected to one another thanks to a threaded rod, over which he placed two pieces of MDF that constitute the section the Tiger Claw fighter actually grips. He also inserted threaded rods in the handles so that they could be affixed to the box afterwards.
Making the box was probably the trickiest part. Initially, he built a basswood master of it and hollowed it out with the help of a router bit in his drill. The tool was only able to reach halfway down so he had to flip the piece over in order to remove the material out of the other half. He then rounded its edges with the sander and glued strips of styrene, the crest and the rivets (both resin) onto it. The mold for the rivets was generated from a prototype made with a cut-in-half airsoft pellet inside a rubber O ring.
Moreover, he carved channels inside the box for the plastic panels previously mentioned, and made holes on each side with an exacto knife. These holes are where the blade box and the threaded rods of the handles would meet.
Once this initial item was ready, he put it inside an MDF container which he filled with clay from up to the mid-section of the blade box. The top half was filled with silicone. After the silicone dried, he flipped over the container and replaced the clay with silicone as well. The result was a silicone mold from which the definitive resin version of the blade box was produced.
He coated all the parts in paint and finally it was time to put them together. He joined the handles and the box, slid the plastic panels through the slots in the claws and tucked the entire blade assembly into the box, aided by a ratcheting clamp.
The end product certainly looks fit to be worn by a badass “Old World Wolverine” as Blind Squirrel himself words it.
Fans of cool weapon replicas should also check out Avatar Swords And Daggers For All The Pandora Fans, Robocop’s Pistol Brings All The Cyborgs To The Yard and Highlander Connor And Duncan’s Katana Sword Replicas Give You An Immortal Feel.
Via Blind Squirrel Props.