- Insulation Foam
It is the rigid stuff that you can pick up in any hardware store. It is also know as polystyrene foam. There are several thicknesses you can chose. It is cheap. You can form it with a rasp and sandpaper.
However, many types of glues and some paints will turn your project into a puddle of goo. If you use this material, please remember choose something to cover it with, and never forget to test it out on a scrap piece of foam. It’s brittle and will not hold a sharp edge at all. It’s also very difficult to get intricate detail out of insulation foam.
- Cardboard, Poster Board and Foam Core
All of these materials are cheap, readily available, and easy to work with.
- PVC Pipes
You need a gun barrel? PVC Pipe! Sword handle? PVC! A gun scope? PVC pipes in different thickness with some size adapters! Bzooka? Giant PVC Pipe!
Nearly any sort of cylindrical piece can be crafted quickly and cheaply from PVC pipe. It can be got from any hardware store on the planet. It comes in a myriad of sizes along with an absurd amount of connector pieces.
Some of unique pieces and sizes can be expensive. PVC is difficult to paint, and don’t try to head bend it. It will just collapse on you. If you heat it up too much, it will start turning brown and release toxic gas trying to kill you.
It comes in plenty of sizes, shapes, and patterns, but you may need to order it online. If you want to save some money, you can pick up those “for sale” signs at a hardware store, they’re usually made from styrene. It can be heat formed, glued, sanded and painted with some amazing results.
It isn’t too expensive and is far superior to the standard rainbow colored varieties. You will be prepared to make some extremely detailed pieces, if you armed with a handful of sculpting tools and a brick of Super Sculpey. The only thing you need to cure it is a kitchen oven.
It is also a brittle material, so I don’t recommend using it for any sort of structural pieces. If you end up using it a lot, I would recommend getting a pasta roller type tool to Flatten and knead your raw material before starting to sculpt it.
There are such a variety of types of paints that I could write a whole other book on just them. For simple stuff, you can usually get away with spray from the hard ware store. Also, for weathering I prefer to use acrylic paints, commonly available from all crafting stores. Rub’n Buff, a metallic, wax based paint available at craft stores, can be worked with those metallic details.