Whether you’re into steampunk or not, you’re a geek and you deserve a respectable pair of goggles for your noggin, okay? And once you’ve got those goggles, they’re probably going to look a little lonely up there, so maybe you’ll want to consider a grappling hook or a nice rocket pack. And don’t stop there… you’re going to need to protect yourself with your new rivet gun. Maybe toss in some arm bands with built-in decoder mechanism or a pair of glider wings.
Whatever you’re in the mood for, author Thomas Willeford has done it again with his newest release, The Steampunk Adventurer’s Guide: Contraptions, Creations, and Curiosities. Willeford isn’t new to steampunk costume and prop design — ever seen the steampunk episode of Castle and that outfit that Nathan Fillon wore at the end of the episode (see image below)? A Thomas Willeford original.
This is Willeford’s second steampunk prop and outfit book — his first one was Steampunk Gear, Gadgets, and Gizmos, released back in 2011. (You can read my original review here.) While that book was geared towards an older audience of steampunk fans, this one is more open ended and is most definitely for both adults and kids. The book contains full instructions for completing ten different steampunk projects, but there are dozens more sidebars and comments found inside that will allow readers to further embellish their current costumes and props, or at least start looking around at how they can “steam” up other modern day objects.
Unlike his first book, Willeford has chosen to include a steampunk fiction story that threads its way through the book and sets up the reason for a project’s creation. The hero and heroine of the story are brother/sister team, Isaac and Amelia Griffith, who are hot on the trail of possible kidnap victim (and their uncle), Professor Adrian Grimmelore. Along for the ride is the family butler, Heathcliff Ebenezer Chadwick, or HEC, a Type V patent-pending automaton. The children are off on their own adventure as they try to save their uncle and uncover a fiendish plot hatched by the evil Dr. Charles Claremont. Each of the story’s various chapters makes up the start of one of the book’s projects — when the book is done AND if all projects are completed, the reader will have one amazing costume and prop collection for any steampunk gatherings or just a great Halloween 2014 outfit.
The 175+ page book is in full-color and includes full-size patterns in the back for some of the projects. The book opens with a nice essay on steampunk and its origins and then moves into an easy-to-read breakdown of the tools and techniques that will be used in the book. What’s amazing about these projects is that the author has made all of them easy to finish with the most minimum of tools. In most instances, scissors, glue, and a hole punch will be your best friends. Included early on are instructions for adding steampunk embellishments to anything using easy-to-make patches and pipe connectors (ingeniously created with bendy-straws and copper paint) and enough brass-colored split brads to rivet a 747 together.
Also, if there are any fans of artist Phil Foglio reading this, you’ll be glad to know that Foglio has added his easily-recognizable characters/style in dozens of full-page, full-color images for the cover and each chapter. A close look at the artwork at the start of each chapter will drop hints about parts of the story to come.
For any of you crafters out there, the instructions for creating Willeford’s custom Fleather (fake leather) is worth the price of the book alone. This magical material is used often throughout the book, and I made some of my own just to test it out… and it works! It’s strong and durable, but easily bendable and able to be attached to just about anything. And his Willeford’s Rivet Tape is another great little invention that will see much action in the book!
The projects? There are ten:
1. Decoder Arm Guard
2. Signaling Periscope
3. Goggles (a must for any geek)
4. Grappling Hook Launcher
5. Airship Harness
6. Glider Wings
7. Rivet Gun (my absolute favorite thing in the book)
8. Power Armour
9. Magnetic Amplification Gauntlet
10. Rocket Pack (runner-up for favorite project)
The book is heavy on full-color photos, and after I finished reading I couldn’t recall any project that I didn’t fully understand what would be required. Next Halloween, this geek dad is going fully-armored and loaded!
As I said, even if you’re not into steampunk I would be willing to bet that you’d love to have your own Rivet Gun, right? Just take a look at the image below and tell me that thing isn’t 100% amazing — a modded Nerf Blaster! I’ve already purchased my own Nerf launcher that I’m planning on modifying based on the instructions provided in this book. It will hang prominently over my Steampunk Bookshelf (yes, I have one… I’ve stopped counting how many titles) and be ready for action should Dr. Claremont ever make an appearance in my neighborhood.
The Steampunk Adventurer’s Guide is a great costume/prop project for yourself, but it sure looks fun for some parent/child time. My young boys obviously don’t get my fascination with steampunk (let alone even know what it is), but there’s time. There’s time…
Note: I’d like to thank Bettina with McGraw-Hill Education for providing a review copy of the book.