It's time to give a sneak peak into another "stunt" prop Casey Sullivan of Triple-Fiction Productions is building for my use. I own a Playmates ST:V/VI Assault Phaser (also known in the ST:VI novelization as a "Burning Phaser"), the big, mean-looking black weapon built from the frame of a Beretta M93R selective-fire machine pistol, from the mid-90s.www.phasers.net/2280/2288.htm
This was another of those things I've wanted since I was a child. Although I am now fond of pointing out the flaws in building a Phaser from an existing handgun (ex. a number of gadgets and extra controls left over from the Beretta that are not explained at all), this was my favorite Phaser as a child. I was very fortunate a year or two ago to get mine from eBay on a Buy-It-Now listing for only $32.00 - considering Assault Phasers tend to start furious bid wars whenever they pop up.
I've only brought my Playmates Assault Phaser to a single convention: Ichiban 'con 2012, where Vic Mignogna and I had a lot of fun geeking out over it after one of his panels. However, at other conventions, they'll "peacebond" your prop weapons - i.e. put a cable tie around them to make it clear they've been checked in, and I don't like this because the cable tie suddenly makes the prop uncomfortable to hold and there's always a risk of damaging your prop when you have to cut the cable tie off after the 'con.
I also decided that the Playmates was simply too old, rare, valuable and probably fragile to risk in the hectic environment of a convention, as I have had Phasers knocked off my belt by accident before, and I also had a concern that the flat black Assault Phaser didn't show up as well in photos as I would have liked it to. This is a complex, multi-layered prop with many levels of detail and it all just gets drowned out if the whole thing is black, even though the black is a realistic color for a sidearm. So I decided to ask Casey at Triple-Fiction Productions for a special favor. The result is my personal "stunt" Assault Phaser, which I should be getting in the mail soon.
We simplified the shape a little and refined the design to make it more compact. We reduced some of the extraneous details and instead emphasized some other parts of the shape while refining the proportions. A number of controls have been reduced or otherwise re-proportioned, and to make the prop a little more comfortable in my grip (as well as a tad bit smaller), the huge extended magazine/power pack was removed from the design although we kept the red "butt plate" part of the clip that, on the real Phasers, would have a Delta Shield, the ship's name/registry and the Phaser's serial number.
However, the biggest difference is the completely unique custom paint job. Casey is planning to start regularly producing "stunt" Assault Phasers as we decided that there might be a market among TWOK guys like us for a decent-looking, expendable Assault Phaser prop that will hold up in convention or event photos but won't break the bank - or break your heart if it gets damaged. However, from now on, all of his Assault Phasers are going to be the standard black color.
I chose to have a special paint scheme applied to mine. Unlike the canon weapon, my version features a charcoal grey slide & handle details on a warm metallic copper frame with silver fittings. The canonical Phaser has a silver barrel & setting adjustment knob, but I had the other "controls" or "greeblies" painted silver as well to make them stand out. My rationale for this dramatic change was:
1.) To make the prop's details stand out better in photos
2.) To mark mine off as a unique prototype
3.) As an in-joke/homage to a real-life gun design
You see, I didn't choose these particular colors at random. This Phaser's paint job was deliberately designed to resemble one particular real-life firearm: the Sig Sauer P238 Copperhead pocket pistol chambered in .38ACP. Because of that, this unique Phaser now has its own nickname:
The "Copperhead Special."