NR Interview with Newton Thaiposri, founder of Riot Arms Prop Fabrication and Photography

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You’d be hard pressed these days to find a video game character without an iconic, badass weapon. You have Cloud with his Buster sword, Chris Redfield and Jill Valentine with Samurai Edge, the list goes on and on. It’s one thing to be able to make these props, but it’s another to make them well. This is where Newton Thaiposri comes in. Newton is based in and around Sydney, Australia and is a talented Cosplayer,photographer and prop maker. I had the pleasure of meeting Newton at Anime North 2012 and he recently sat down with me over Skype to discuss his business: Riot Arms Prop Fabrication and Photography .

Eric Escaravage (Nerd Reactor): Gun props and prop making in general aren’t very common things to get into, how did you get started in this business?

Newton Thaiposri: I’m a big fan of Resident Evil and I ALWAYS wanted to Cosplay something from them. Started in 2007 where I decided to collaborate with one of the resident evil Cosplay groups here. It was… an eye opener because the level of detail and Cosplay with military related costumes have been really low, even more so the diversity where one can branch out was small to non-existent. I primarily deal with the expansion of a costume and what they could be. Original characters! Gives you so much more creativity and flexibility to deal with.

Nerd Reactor: From looking at your deviant art and facebook pages, military seems to be a common theme. Other than Resident Evil, is there a reason you decided to focus your efforts on military weapons?

Newton Thaiposri: I have always been intrigued with firearms. My father and mother were members of a pistol club and I used to go down and watch them in awe. More or less, in 2007 I got a very good job, got the money, did some research and got myself my first toy firearm and tried a few things and BOOM, it began. From there, things got even better with relations with friends who wholesale toy guns (www.armouredheaven.com) and I’ve never looked back. Toys with the right tools and know how are SO customizable, that it’s up to the imagination.

Nerd Reactor: So you were mostly self taught?  Did you have anyone to help you when you were first starting out? Any “mentors” so to speak?

Newton Thaiposri: Nope, all me. Trial and error the entire way. Lots of money, lots of broken weapons, but that’s the price you pay. I had some advice from my dad who is an engineer about strength but everything was trial and massive error.

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Nerd Reactor: Looking at your projects, the fact that you are self taught is very impressive!

Newton Thaiposri: Thank you! Progression is paved with pain. Today I had a first, angle ground my head. Took a small chunk out.

Nerd Reactor: Is there anyone in the field that you look up to or inspires you to keep creating?

Newton Thaiposri: I love to challenge myself, that’s where my inspiration comes from. Most of the toy firearms that people have or use are all toy weapons. I love to build upon that, cut them up and build something totally new. Next thing we’ll be making from scratch builds, which will be a new standard for me, if not everyone in Sydney.

Nerd Reactor: I guess you would consider yourself a “rarity” in the Cosplay world?

Newton Thaiposri: Ha ha without putting myself on a pedestal, I would say I’m a unique niche Cosplay artisan, but funnily enough anyone can do this. I’m attempting to share my knowledge via YouTube tutorials and sharing them with the wholesalers of toy guns. It’s not a secret, everyone deserves to know how.

Nerd Reactor: Unique niche Cosplay artisan? I like the sound of that. You should make business cards. Have you started releasing any of these YouTube tutorials yet?

Newton Thaiposri: I released one that I filmed on my phone, however I have just purchased a GoPro Hero 3 Black, so I will be making it in HD. (www.youtube.com/ubcsriot)

Nerd Reactor: Other than watching your videos of course, what would you say is the best way for people to learn? How would you help someone thinking “How do I do this?”

Newton Thaiposri: I have had many people private message my site for commissions and advice and I always try to coerce them into trying it out first. Head first, dive in and give it a try!

Nerd Reactor: Trial & error seems to be the way to go.

Newton Thaiposri: Absolutely, it’s the way to go! Why pay me to do something, when I am more than happy to show you and teach you how!

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Nerd Reactor: Is there one common mistake you see a lot of would-be prop makers commit?

Newton Thaiposri: They don’t paint their props properly. Decked out in military gear, looking flashy and they’re holding a piece of plastic that LOOKS like a gun.

Nerd Reactor: Takes away from the realism and detracts from their character in your opinion?

Newton Thaiposri: Absolutely! What I always say, is the costume makes the prop and the prop makes the costume. Military costumes are quite easy to piece together as you just purchase them, but then it all comes down to the firearms. If there is something you can do better, do it now and next time. Every time I pick up a power tool, I always make sure when it touches a prop, it will be better than the last. Path to progression!

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Nerd Reactor: Has there ever been a time where you pick up a power tool and think “Umm, how should I do this?” Any really complicated projects?

Newton Thaiposri: I started to open up commissions for anime props and… MY GOD…. It’s like opening the flood gates to hell. I’m super excited, but there are some really hardcore props that are 2 meters tall, etc etc.

Nerd Reactor: What would be your most extensive prop to date?

Newton Thaiposri: Ahh geeze, it’s coming up now actually. It’s Dante’s sword from Devil May Cry 5. So intricate, I really cannot wait! There is also Genesis’ sword from FF7 Crisis Core and the Erza’s Purgatory Sword from FairyTail. Big props with details! Very exciting!

Nerd Reactor: These must cost a pretty penny too. What’s been your most expensive prop as of yet?

Newton Thaiposri: It would probably be my Custom MK14 EBR Rifle. All up, it would be around $500 – $600

Nerd Reactor: That’s insane!

Newton Thaiposri: Spared no expense for something that looks amazing!

Nerd Reactor: If money wasn’t an option, what’s something you would like to create?

Newton Thaiposri: Swords, swords and more swords!

Nerd Reactor: Any specific ones?

Newton Thaiposri: Any sword. With anime props, it’s all about time and skill work. A sword I would LOVE to make and AM going to make next year, is Jechts sword from Final Fantasy Dissidia // FF10.

Nerd Reactor:  That’s quite an undertaking… that’s no simple sword.

Newton Thaiposri: It’s one huge, sexy sword. One thing I always pride myself on, is the strength of a prop. The challenge is not the prop itself, but making it strong enough for ‘con conditions.’

Nerd Reactor: ‘Con conditions?’

Newton Thaiposri: I’m sure MANY people can relate. You have an awesome prop, you have people bumping into you, touching your props, general wear and tear and sooner or later, the finish is gone or the prop breaks or is damaged. It’s just the normal way of things with public props, but I always try to strengthen them to avoid anything like that. There is nothing compared to the heartbreaking moment when your prop breaks.

Nerd Reactor: Especially when you’re so personally invested in the process of making it. I can’t imagine that feeling. Any horror stories from a con?

Newton Thaiposri: The first version of the MK14 ERB, someone ran into me whilst I was standing there and the stock snapped from the main gun. But being extremely cautious and with previous scenarios, I always pack Epoxy resin and solid bond. Bit of an in-con patch up and a sharpie, all fixed. Some things you cannot avoid, but you can fix.

Nerd Reactor: Now a lot of your projects look incredibly lifelike, and I noticed many don’t have the “orange tips” that are mandatory at a lot of American and Canadian cons. Have you ever had any issues at a con or outside where people mistake them for the real thing?

Newton Thaiposri: I make extremely realistic weaponry from toy guns, but I have NEVER have had trouble from any authorities. I always carry props in proper bags and transportation that is unmarked. At conventions, I have non stick Teflon red tape to wrap around tips and handles, as per convention rules and they are removed for photo shoots and showcases. Law is the law. I have heard horror stories with people and it doesn’t fair well for everyone else who plays by the rules.

Nerd Reactor: One person ruins it for everyone else?

Newton Thaiposri: It’s always the case. You always have one clown that ruins it for the rest of us who play fair.

Nerd Reactor: Has shipping to a customer ever been an issue?

Newton Thaiposri: Never. For local customers, I’m more than happy to drive and drop it off, however if it needs to be mailed, proper precautions are taken.

Nerd Reactor: Now I know this is akin to asking a parent to pick which child they like best, but is there one of your guns that you would call your favorite?

Newton Thaiposri: MP7, definite favorite. Small, compact, dual wielding and just looks great when properly done up. And the MK14 EBR, it’s just unique looking and feels right for me!

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Nerd Reactor: That’s definitely some nice looking hardware! As we wrap things up here, any future projects that we should keep an eye out for? Anything coming up that has gotten you particularly excited?

Newton Thaiposri:

Jecht’s sword – 2014
Heavy Flamer – 2014
Twin Mounted AutoCannons – 2014
Huge personal projects, but seriously the most exciting thing is just the replies I get back about how good the prop is and how good their prop is, that’s what keeps me in the game.

Nerd Reactor: Newton, thank you so much for taking the time to do this interview with us!

Newton Thaiposri: Again, the pleasure is all mine! When I’m a bit more established, I’ll let you know!

Make sure to check out Riot Arms’ facebook page and Newton’s deviant art profileNewton also ships his products worldwide and takes commissions through his facebook page!

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Eric Escaravage
Eric Escaravage 85 posts

Born and raised in the great white north, Eric grew up playing PC games and reading more Archie comics than is humanely possible. Clark Kent look-a-like on an epic quest to play all the retro games he wasn't allowed to as a child!