There are three BFGs that the sandtroopers (the real ones, not those mustard-covered weirdos in the special edition) carry around in ANH. Since the weapons’ fictional names are never mentioned onscreen, they’re often referred to by the monickers given to their real world counterparts. They are the T-21 (aka lewis gun) and the DLT-19 (aka MG34) and the one I chose to build for my sandy, the RT-97C (aka MG-15).
Like all of the blaster props in ANH, the RT-97C started life as a real world weapon–the German MG-15. Some castings were made, some extra scopes were added, and there you have it. The best thing about this particular weapon is that you can build your own with reasonable accuracy for about $30 worth of parts from your local hardware store and a toy shotgun. Sound interesting? Well, I certainly enjoyed making mine.
I began, where many sandies start with this build: The MG-15 tutorial over at TK409.com. He did a much better job of documenting his build because he knew from the get go that he was going to share it. It’s been years since I built mine and I was able to dig out a single progress pic, but it’s far from being the best reference. I’d suggest you start by checking out TK409’s site, then take a look at the mods I made. In the end, it’s up to you as to how you’ll build out your own.
Let’s start with some reference pics of the real deal. The German weapon came in a few varieties, including one that was mounted in aircraft. The trick with all reference materials is to glean the details and add them to the rudimentary shapes that form the base so it’ll look less like plumbing supplies and more like a deadly blaster. Your best bet is to do a Google search for MG-15 and/or MG15. I have a ton of reference pics myself, but since none of them are my own, I hesitate to post many here. I will, however, post one set to get you started. These aren’t mine, so if you took them and would like them removed, please tell me.
Here’s my homemade model in action at an event:
The bulk of my MG-15 was made out of plumbing parts. Unfortunately, this is the only in-progress pic I shot, but I’ve added some info as to what everything’s made of:
Everything hinges on getting the right sized PVC pieces to make the proportions look right. I did it by eye so I don’t have any measurements. It’s super important to line everything up before cutting and compare the parts to a picture. You should also consult the picture TK409 has posted, but always trust your own visual comparison.
I believe the barrel was 1″ PVC which was drilled and routed to add the holes. One round hole was drilled at each end of what were to become capsule shapes and the remainder of each capsule shape was sawed out, then the edges were sanded smooth. This was the most painstaking part of the whole process and the part I wouldn’t want to do again. Note that the SW prop did NOT have an inner barrel since it was a casting, so you don’t need to add an inner barrel as seen in the real MG15 pics. I did, however, try to add textural details where I could. The styrene cutout at the end of the barrel was such a detail. It was just cut, notched, and glued down so that when the barrel got painted, the surface detail would be there. Same goes for my nose sight, the washer at the barrel tip, and some of the bits added to the ammo drums.
I was lucky enough to find an airsoft short barrel shotgun that also had a removable plastic scope. I cut out the black PVC pipe at the rear of the gun and slid the shotgun inside just like in TK409’s tutorial. What I added was some variety to the paint work and an aluminum piece to lend a more authentic texture. What I didn’t add was the third scope that should be on the left side of the gun. It was the same as the scopes on the rebel fleet blaster but if you hold the trigger in your right hand, it would end up rubbing on the front of the abdomen armor, so I left it off. See below.
This is the finished version but you can see the paint textures and the screws holding the shotgun inside the black PVC tube. The paint on the rear was a textured bronze paint over plastic primer. I always recommend going the route of using plastic primer before painting because it gives you more paint colors to choose from than the basic colors available with plastic paints. The rest of the body and the barrel were taped off and painted with semi-gloss black and weathered with gun metal, gold, and tan craft paints.
Here are a few more pics of the finished prop:
I know the pics are bad. I had a terrible camera back then, but I hope they’re good enough to spark some ideas. Hopefully between this post and TK409’s tutorial, you can add a few ideas of your own and top both of our blasters! And, as always, I’d be happy to answer any specific questions you might have in the comments section. Happy trooping!