Earlier this year (2016) I made a Nora Valkyrie cosplay from Rooster Teeth’s web series “RWBY”. She’s one of my favorite characters, and I really wanted to challenge myself as a prop builder with her signature hammer, Magnhild.
I wish I had taken more pictures of the process so this would function more as a tutorial for you, but I’ll do the best I can to explain the pieces as I go.
For this build, I used
- EVA craft foam in 2mm and 3mm sheets (In hindsight, I think using 3mm and 5mm would have been better)
- Non-corrugated cardboard, also known as chipboard
- Tacky glue (I use Aleene’s brand)
- Dimensional fabric paint (3D fabric paint, I used Tulip brand)
- Hot glue
- Gorilla glue
- Wood (for the handle)
- Recycled Pringles cans (4)
- Recycled reticulated foam (a type of packing material)
- Spray can Primer
- Valspar spray paint in pink
- Acrylic paints (Anita’s; I hand painted the majority of the “metal” pieces)
- Spray can Clear Coat Seal
A 3D model of this hammer proved to be invaluable in the design of the hammer because I had to hand design all of the intricate details. There are more images of this model on the web, and a quick Google search for “Nora Valkyrie Magnhild” will yield plenty of results for you to do research. Plus, you’ll also find lots of pictures of other cosplayers’ versions of Magnhild, and they are definitely worth checking out!
Nora’s hammer is taller than she is. According to the RWBY Wikia, she’s only 5’1″, but I’m about 5’6″, so I had to make my hammer larger to keep in in scale compared to my height.
Hover over or click on each image to learn more about the pieces.
The decorative designs aren’t completely accurate, but they are very close. Somehow the design on the top layer ended up slightly skewed, but this became less noticeable once painted.
If you plan on using 3D fabric paint like I did, I recommend test painting on some scraps to get used to it. Remember to maintain even pressure on the bottle and clean the nozzle between painting lines. I keep a few napkins and some q-tips on hand to clean up any mistakes I make along the way. If you have an uneven section where the line goes from too think to too thin, take a q-tip and gently drag the excess from the thick section to balance out the line. The paint takes about 4 hours to dry, so make a safe space for your pieces to set out.
My dad helped me with the handle, so I’m not sure what kind of wood we used. The handle breaks in half for easy transportation. The top half of the handle goes all the way through the hammer head, making contact with the underside of the top layer.
There are several different ways to seal craft foam, all offering different advantages and disadvantages. Do your research to figure out what would be best for your project! Punished Props made a video explaining and testing several methods of sealing craft foam, and you can check that out here. I highly recommend following Punished Props if you plan on making cosplay armor and props on a regular basis.And before you ask, no, I’m not being asked to endorse them. I’m just an avid fan of their work!
For this project, I sealed the foam by watering down tacky glue. I keep my mixture in a small glass jar that used to hold moisturizer! I usually make my mixture to be 2 parts glue and 1 part water, but you can experiment with what works best for you. Keep in mind that the more water you add, the thinner the mixture will be, making it run and drip more. But the less water you add, the thicker it will be, making it hard to brush on smoothly. I use a basic paint brush to paint my mixture onto my foam, but lots of people prefer using a sponge style brush. I use the paint brush to my advantage, though, and recreate the brushed metal texture with seal and paint.
After several coats of the seal mixture, I sprayed everything with paint primer. Once the primer was dry, I painted the Pringles cans with the pink Valspar paint, which was nearly the perfect color. These were used for the cylinders later. I hand painted all of the gray and silver pieces. Using a standard paint brush, I made all of my strokes in the same direction to imitate brushed metal. For detail work, I switched between using a lighter gray and a darker gray to help the intricate designs pop out. I dry brushed highlights of light gray and silver to give it some shine under bright lights. When I was done painting, I used a spray can clear coat on top to finish it off. In hind sight, I would have liked to do at least one more layer of clear coat to protect it more, but time limited me. Time also limited me from constructing the support arm on the back of the hammer.
I used the reticulated foam on the inside of the hammer head as the core. This is a very porous, lightweight foam that is impressively strong, so it made the perfect support for all of the pieces. For the cylinders, I used the 4 pink Pringles cans. I think it’s safe to say that Nora’s Magnhild probably has 6 cylinders, but only 4 are visible. Only using 4 cans allowed for extra room inside the hammer for mounting and support. I designed the internal structure to have 2 cans on either side of the wooden shaft from the handle. To do this, I made a large circle from the reticulated foam that was about 1 1/2 inches thick. I carved smaller circles where the cylinders would go, making sure to leave room between each pair of cylinders for the handle to go through. I used hot glue to mount the Pringles cans into the holes at the very front end, hiding the foam behind the support pieces on the top layer. Because they’re only supported on one end, the cylinders shift around a little bit more than I would like, but they aren’t in danger of falling out.
The wooden shaft went through a slot I cut in the reticulated foam core and was secured with gorilla glue. The foam core was then gorilla glued to the top layer of the hammerhead. The rest of the layers were hot glued together in the appropriate places.
Here’s a video from my YouTube channel where I do a basic overview of the hammer. You can skip to around 4:45 to see just the hammer from a few good angles.
I hope this helps you on your next prop build! I unfortunately don’t have any patterns for this hammer, but please feel free to ask me any questions and I’ll do my best to answer them!