Building McCree’s Belt Buckle from Overwatch

I decided to try my hand at building my own version of McCree’s belt buckle from Overwatch! I used references from the game in order to create a comprehensive digital model which I then 3D printed, smoothed, molded, cast, mounted to a buckle blank, painted, and weathered. Start to finish (and with lots of breaks in-between!), this entire process took me a little over three years to complete.

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McCree’s Belt Buckle: Conclusion

Phew. Three years (three years?!?) and a lot of sweat, sanding, and tears later, I finally have a finished belt buckle! To be honest it turned out much better than I expected. There are of course some issues with it and things I wish I could have done differently, but the final prop itself is fit, functional, and looks the part. I may be biased, but I really do think my version of McCree’s buckle is one of best I’ve seen.

It was quite a journey to get to this point, and there were lessons learned for every step along the way. The buckle is done! Now it’s time to sit back, relax, and figure out what worked well for this build – and what didn’t.

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McCree’s Belt Buckle: Mounting and Paint

At this point the physical geometry of McCree’s buckle is done! I designed a 3D model based on the in-game buckle, built a physical ‘master’ prop, created a silicone mold, cast a version of the buckle out of solid plastic, and cleaned up the casting to fix the defects from the molding process. The buckle is so close to being complete! But before I can call it “finished, I need to attach a metal mounting plate so I can use it with a real belt and then give the buckle a shiny gold paint job.

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DIY Platform 9 ¾ Sign from King’s Cross

When the story of Harry Potter first took the world by storm in 1997, readers were enamored by J.K. Rowling’s magical universe and the enchanting places within. The ordinary house at 4 Privet Drive in Little Whinging, where “the boy who lived” grew up with his horrible Aunt and Uncle (and their son, Dudley). The Leaky Cauldron, the grubby little pub that serves as the gateway to the fantastical shops and stalls of Diagon Alley. And, of course, the world’s most famous non-existent train platform: Platform Nine and Three-Quarters.

The fictional platform is located in a real muggle-inhabited location – King’s Cross station in northern London. Wizards and witches running at the wall between platforms 9 and 10 would instantly be transported to the mythical platform, where they would say farewell to their families and depart on the scarlet train to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Celebrating this connection to the world of Harry Potter, the employees at King’s Cross erected a real-life “Platform 9 ¾” sign in the terminal, which has since become a place of pilgrimage for fans the world ’round.

My sister is one of these many Harry Potter devotees, so this past Christmas I decided to build her her own replica of this iconic sign.

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DIY Aperture Science “Dihydrogen Monoxide” Water Bottle

Aperture Science (a.k.a Aperture Laboratories) is a fictional scientific research corporation, whose facility is the setting for the 2007 puzzle-platform video game Portal, as well as its 2011 sequel Portal 2. Aperture’s approach to scientific research is a little… strange, to put it mildly. They have a penchant for testing exotic materials, building maniacal robots, and creating wholesome musical interludes. And, apparently, coming up with long-winded names for storage containers.

The Aperture Science Handheld Dihydrogen Monoxide Containment Unit was a stainless steel water bottle created and sold by Valve Corporation and ThinkGeek for the release of Portal 2, circa 2011. The bottle came in both 40 oz black and 22 oz white variations, with decals for Aperture Laboratories and a disclaimer about the deadly nature of H₂O. Unfortunately it looks like they stopped selling these several years ago – the product page from the Valve store has vanished entirely, while the ThinkGeek product page has both bottles listed as “no longer available”.

I’m not so easily deterred, so I spent this past weekend building my own “Aperture Science Dihydrogen Monoxide Containment Unit” using a stainless steel water bottle and some custom made vinyl decals.

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