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Tag: Trinity

Making a Mallet for Harley Quinn

Making the Perfect Mallet

The character uses a baseball bat in Suicide Squad, but when Trinity decided to cosplay as Harley Quinn for Anime Midwest, she wanted a mallet. Not just any mallet, a big honking mallet that a strong man would swing around with glee and wild abandon.

Unfortunately, Trinity weighs slightly more than a strong man could bench press with one hand. Building this prop required materials that would be large enough to make a statement and light enough for a wisp of teenager to comfortably carry for a few hours around a convention floor.

We searched the Internet for help and found We took it from there ourselves.


Building this prop required:

  • 1&1/2″ PVC pipe cut to a six-foot length
  • Two 1&1/2″ PVC pipe caps
  • 1/2″ wooden dowel cut into two six-inch lengths
  • 12″ cylinder concrete form cut to four feet
  • Box cutter
  • Duct tape
  • Drill with a 1/2″ bit
  • Glue
  • Tape measure
  • Paint and brushes

The Plans

To build the mallet:

  • Drill two 1/2″ holes through the PVC pipe, at one end, just far enough apart to fit inside the concrete form;
  • Cut two 1&1/2″  holes in the center of concrete form, opposite each other;
  • Insert the PVC pipe through the holes in the concrete form;
  • Thread the dowels through the PVC. Secure the dowels to the interior of the concrete form with glue and duct tape;
  • Cover the ends of concrete form with duct  tape;
  • Hammer the PVC caps onto the ends of the pipe; and
  • Paint.

Building the Mallet, in Pictures!


Destination: Woolly Mammoth!

A few weeks ago, Sheri OZ suggested a number of destinations for Nerdling Family Field trips.  One of the suggestions caught my eye and imagination. Woolly Mammoth Antiques and Oddities looked offbeat enough to appeal to my teen geek and close enough to public transportation to not require a car trip.

I didn’t have any trouble getting Trinity up at the crack of 8:30 to catch the train out of the Western Suburbs and head into The City. Nestled in Andersonville, a vibrant community surrounds the shop. I hadn’t been to the neighborhood for probably 20 years. I had forgotten how much good food and cool shops that stretch of Clark Street offered.

We started the day with brunch at Lady Gregory’s.  Trin and I took turns quizzing each other, trying to identify all the music legends that adorn the walls of the mid-scale pub. I greatly enjoyed my Crabcake Eggs Benedict and found the service friendly and attentive.

Down this narrow alley lurks a fun, tiny comic and game shop.

Down this narrow alley lurks a fun, tiny comic and game shop.

Down a narrow passageway, not half a block from Lady Gregory’s, we discovered Alleycat Comics. This tiny shop makes good use of its space, looking clean, well organized, and not cluttered. The store looks out onto a small patio, perfect for reading a few books on a beautiful spring day. I picked up some comics I had missed from my regular subscription before moving back out into the neighborhood.

Not particularly worthy of geek note, Trin and I stopped at resale favorite The Brown Elephant, cruised the local artists at the Andersonville Galleria, and perused the feminist collection of graphic novels at Women and Children First, before heading down to Woolly Mammoth.

Where else could you see a stuffed dog playing the violin?

Where else could you see a stuffed dog playing the violin?

I can safely state that Woolly Mammoth is indeed stocked full of antiques and oddities. Trin and I maneuvered through the small space, stopping every few inches to point out something unusual and likely unique.

We saw a stuffed anaconda, busts of famous classical composers painted as the members of KISS, a two headed calf, shelves filled with the skulls of various small animals, leeches under glass, a clown face that will haunt my dreams for months, and a twelve foot tall Styrofoam sculpture of King Kong.

I’m so glad I decided to actually listen to the suggestions of my editor. Woolly Mammoth did not disappoint and Andersonville gave us enough to do to make a day of it.

Have any more suggestions for geeky outings? We’d love to hear about them in the comments.

Surviving Holiday Family Time with Games

With the holidays already here, many of us have to slip into the role of person who completely enjoys time with their family. I love my family and I do like spending time with them, but sometimes it’s good to set up a barrier between you and the next racist outbreak from Uncle Frank. Games offer a great way to pass the time between dinner, dessert, and only figuratively (and not literally) killing each other.

I’ve picked out five games playable with the whole family. None of them contain any questionable content or racy art. My daughter, young nerdling that she is, has play tested all of them as a 12-year-old and gives them all the Tweenager Eye Roll and a Hair Flip of Approval.








All of these games fall into what I’m officially dubbing “The Amanda Brown Parameters.” They take less than 10 minutes to explain the rules, and about 30 minutes to play; perfect for fending off that rant and distracting Uncle Frank.

loveletter-760x1024Love Letter

Published by AEG for 2 to 4 players, ages 10 and up. Plays in 15 ~ 20 minutes.

Try to win the princess’ hand in this card game of deduction and risk. A player’s turn consists of drawing one card, then playing one card. Rules are all printed on handy quick references. Love Letter gets people interacting as they try to maneuver their cards closer to the princess while working to kick other players from the round.

The game doesn’t take much space and is a great way of passing time while waiting in line, if you’re looking to brave the post-holiday crowds.

bangBang! The Dice Game

Published by dV Giochi for 3 to 8 players, ages 8 and up. Plays in 15 ~ 20 minutes.

Take on the role of Sheriff, Deputy, Outlaw, or Renegade in this team based, deductive, push your luck dice game. This revision of the original card game moves more smoothly and quickly. Players roll dice to shoot at their opponents, master the Gatling Gun, dodge the natives, and not get blown up by dynamite. Don’t worry too much if you do. Rolling a frosty mug of beer will heal some damage.

Bang! The Dice Game feels a bit stacked against the sheriff and their deputies, but that’s how things worked in the Old West. There’s even a Walking Dead version for those more inclined towards zombie infestations.


Published by Calliope Games for 2 to 8 players, ages 8 and up. Plays in 15 minutes.

A tile laying game, I can only describe Tsuro as decidedly uncooperative. Build a path to drive the other players off the board while keeping your token safe. The game is dead simple, easy to understand and play.

I prefer the original Tsuro to its follow up, Tsuro of the Seas. Tsuro of the Seas adds a dice mechanic to play that slows down the pace of the game. Tsuro of the Seas does add giant monsters, so it does have that going for it.

kotKing of Tokyo

Published by iello for two to six players, ages 8 and up. Plays in 15 to 30 minutes.

If you really like giant monsters, it’s time to give King of Tokyo a try. Rampage through Japan’s capital fighting other monsters, aliens, or robots, while trying to take over the city. This push your luck dice game allows you to control the damage done to other creatures, your healing, or how your monster mutates. King of Tokyo is a cutthroat game with the last player standing (or the first one to get to 20 victory points) claiming the crown.

Surviving Holiday Family Time with Games

Surviving Holiday Family Time with Games

Shinobi WAT-AAH!

Published by iello for two to four players, ages 10 and up. Plays in 15 to 30 or 30 to 45 minutes depending on game mode.

Build power by collecting sets of warriors and creatures in this beautifully rendered card game. Use the different abilities of the Shinobi clans to confuse and punish your enemies. The game includes two different types of play. The short Grasshopper Mode offers a quick round with players set against each other. The Grandmaster Mode trains the clans over three rounds, eventually facing the big boss!

Iron Man + Bondo + Paint = Deathstroke!

I am blessed with a child who enjoys cosplay. For Anime Midwest 2014, we decided on going as a father/child pair. After looking at a few options, we decided to go as Deathstroke and his daughter, Ravager, from DC Comics. I knew that if I could get the mask right for Deathstroke, I would be in good shape for the costume.

After cruising through the wealth of information YouTube offers on cosplay, I decided to build out the mask using a plastic Iron Man costume piece as a base. I planned to take the mask, use Bondo to mold it the shape I wanted, sand it down, and then paint it up. In this case, the simplicity of the execution actually matched the design. I couldn’t argue with the cost, either. Excluding the Dremel tool, construction of the mask cost less than $30US.

To make this Deathstroke mask, I used:

  • Marvel Iron Man 3 ARC FX Mask
  • Bondo All Purpose General Putty
  • Putty knife
  • Sandpaper, medium and fine grade (a Dremel tool can help with sanding, a lot)
  • Masking tape
  • Paper, pencils, and scotch tape for stencils
  • Black elastic, ¾” wide x 12″
  • Spray paint: Safety orange, flat black
  • Modeling paint: Flat white
  • Screen repair kit
  • 2″ x 2″ slip of cardstock
  • Hot glue and gun
  • Plastic bag
  • Scissors

Before jumping into the process, I want to note a few things about working with Bondo. Bondo is a product line of putties and fillers created by 3M. Originally used to repair cars, the brand has expanded to a multitude of uses: wood filler, fiberglass, and adhesives. I used Bondo All Purpose General Putty for the mask. It hardens to a very paintable gray color and was easy to shape and sand.

Bondo gives off some heavy fumes. I recommend working in a well ventilated area while using the putty. A pair of latex gloves will prevent the material from sticking to fingers. How long Bondo takes to harden depends on the temperature and humidity of the workplace. I had much more time to fill gaps and holes on a hot, sticky day than on a cool summer’s evening in my garage.


I started the project with an Iron Man 3 ARC FX Mask.Marvel-Iron-Man-3-ARC-FX-1024x1024 After snipping of the red elastic from the back, I used Bondo to fill out the nooks and crannies on both sides to get a more rounded shape. To fill in the right eye socket, I attached a slip of cardstock to the interior of the eye with hot glue before pouring in the putty. The Bondo would settle a little as it dried and required multiple applications.

I allowed the putty to dry 48 hours before settling down with my Dremel tool to sand out the bumps and ridges. The Dremel saved me hours of work in smoothing out the mask. I used a rough grain bit to get the shape I wanted, then completed the work with some fine grain sandpaper.

Before painting, I cut out a section from a screen repair kit to fit in the left eye and attached it to the back of the eye opening with hot glue. Mesh over the eye hole makes it more difficult to discern the color of an iris and the skin underneath, creating a more dramatic effect.

Once satisfied with the shape and smoothness of the mask, I started painting. I taped off half the surface, covering one side with a plastic grocery bag.


I cut out a paisley shape to cover the right eye. I pained the black half first before attaching the paisley stencil to the mask and spaying the orange.


A few coats of white paint to fill out the paisley and a black border nearly finished the mask.


Once I re-threaded some black elastic though the loops at the side, it was complete.


A balaclava, black technical shirt, tactical vest and pants, some paintball gloves, and a pair of knee high DocMartins rounded out the costume. My daughter’s cosplay took some more serious work, but we were very pleased with the results.



This article was previously published on Geek Bar DLC. All the content it mine, even with the watermarks.

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