Nerf modding is about taking an ordinary toy and making it better. Some people do this by improving the performance, while others like to change the appearance through painting or custom body work. I like to play Nerf competitively, so performance mods have always been important to me. But coming from an airsoft background, I like to add some tacticool flair to my blasters. Recently, I set out to build my ultimate, dream blaster. I had a clear idea on performance with plans of a full seal metal artifact breech and higher ROF pump action kit for my trusty Retaliator, but how could I match that with something truly unique in terms of cosmetics? The answer came from my friend Tom at Foam Data Services who had offered to do a dip for me as a favor for helping him out with some customer support on a couple of Rapidstrike customers here in the US.
Hydrographics, also known as immersion printing, water transfer printing, water transfer imaging, hydro dipping, or cubic printing, is a method of applying printed designs to three-dimensional surfaces. The hydrographic process can be used on metal, plastic, glass, hard woods, and various other materials. I began looking for a film that I liked and was amazed by the sheer amount of choices. Basically, if you can think it, there is a film for it. After about a week of looking at possible films to use, I found the one: The Predator! Anyone that knows me personally knows how deep my love is for the original movie and it’s iconic ugly villain. I had to have it!
Since the film is transparent, I had to choose a paint color as a base, I requested a reptilian green in multiple shades. Tom was kind enough to source a Retaliator shell so I didn’t have to mail one to him in England. After a few weeks of waiting and many messages on Britnerf, it was ready to go out and I received a small teaser photo. Shipping from the UK to the US takes about a week. I had been really busy at work, so I kind of forgot about it. One night after a long, hard day at work battling pacific northwest giants that had sucked the life right out of me and I had just crawled into bed, my wife casually mentioned that I had received a package.
Instantly I came back to life with the excitement of a child on Christmas and stumbled out of bed to rush for the front door and retrieve my package–I had been so tired that I overlooked before. A few minutes of fumbling with a knife and I managed to get to the treasure inside. A massive grin came across my face as I beheld one of the most beautiful yet ugly sights I had ever seen, The Predator! There he was in all his fugly splendor, and I could almost hear his little snarly sound effects as I gazed in amazement at the sheer level of detail of this masterpiece.
In my opinion, this blaster is a work of art fitting of the finest gallery alongside Picasso or Rembrandt. I had done it: I built my ultimate, dream blaster! There are many guides on YouTube on how to do hydrodipping at home, as well as several modders including Tom who will do a commission dip for those who are not ready to try something like this themselves. I am not sure if I will be attempting my own dips in the future by using Tom’s handy how to guides Nerf Hydro Dip How To pt.1, or if I should leave this to the masters. But I am positive that I am in awe of the results and can’t wait for my next hydro dip adventure!