I was commissioned to build Soi Fon’s Bankai from the anime “Bleach”. What is a Bankai? Short answer, a big-ass energy cannon worn on the arm. Head to Wikipedia for the long answer!

I started with a 6″ concrete casting cardboard tube. The client requested a 7′ length for the bankai instead of the 12′ length in the anime.

After cutting a hole for the arm to be inserted, I added a wooden dowel to act as a handle.

I glued and bolted MDF sheets together to make the nose and tail cones of the bankai. The bolts make sure the glue holds under the forces of the lathe.

The lathed nose cone with a bit of putty to smooth out the edge.

After much putty and sanding, the nose cone is ready to remove from the lathe. The MDF pieces at the ends are removed and the rounded tip of the cone is shaped by hand.

A quick test fit of the cone master in the cardboard tube.

For ease of transportation the bankai will separate in two spots. The tubes join by inserting an inner sleeve made from thick styrene.

The face blast shield was made from styrene heat formed in another tube to make the curved shape.

The inset was made by glueing in triangular pieces of styrene and puttying the seams smooth.

The primered final mask.

The body shield was also made by heat forming thick styrene.

To make the exhaust vents, I started with the opening profile cut out of 1/8″ MDF glued to a scrap of 3/4″ MDF.

I use balsa to frame out the shape of the vent. Behind it is a paper model prototype that I created as a guide.

The recesses were filled with foam and sanded smooth. This was then surfaced with bondo in preparation for molding.

To figure out the frame that holds to main tube, I cut a template from poster board.

The design was then traced on to thick styrene and it was heat formed to shape.

To make the frame more durable, I bent aluminum bar stock to the proper profile.

I used a 6″ disk of MDF to locate the slots I’d need to cut in the tube for attaching the frame.

The frames were then glued and screwed into the plastic frame.

Because the tubes had seams and a rough texture that might not paint up that well, I covered them with .020 styrene.

I brush coated a silicone mold material over the cone and vent masters.

The silicone was supported with a rigid shell of plaster and fiberglass strand.

I slush cast plastic resin into the mold to produce two copies of the cone master. The variation in the surface is not caused by lumps, rather a darker tinted resin under the white outer layer.

Both cones glued to the tubes and the seam covered with putty.

Both cone sections with a base coat of gold.

The vent master (gold) with a positive silicone copy of it.

The final vent 2-part mold with a plastic resin copy.

I cut holes in the tubes for the exhaust vents.

The resin vents were painted before installing them

The vents were then hot glued into the tube sections.

The tubes were then given their distinctive accent stripe.

The final assembled bankai!

The painted blast shield.

The face plate was riveted to an inset piece of styrene glued to the body shield.

Detail showing the exhaust vents.

I decided reinforce the tube connections by drilling holes for three boles at each joint.

The bankai can now be disassembled for easy transport.

The final bankai as worn by me. Even though this monster makes me look Hobbitty, I am actually 6 ft tall. The prop weighs 11 lbs but is nicely balanced when worn.

The client with her bankai at ConnectiCon 2010.

10 Responses to Soi Fon’s Bankai

  1. Kenmichi says:

    Hell of a project Mike! When I read on your Twitter that you were taking on this project I was a little surprised, but the outcome is definitely what I'd expect.

  2. Solvash says:

    Hi, I just stumbled onto your blog through a link on Cosplay.com, and I must say…WOW. All of your works are positively amazing!

    I like making prop and such myself and I'm trying to expand to new materials. And I saw that you frequently mention some kind of putty in your posts, is it the same “Bondo Spot Putty” that you put on your materials list?

  3. The putty I mentioned on this post is actually Bondo Body Filler with Spot Filler putty to catch the small spots. If I have to sculpt some detail in the putty I'll use Aves epoxy putty as it has a longer drying time.

  4. F!TO says:

    Wow, dude, this is amazing, ur such an artist, i was looking for ideas to make propers for a Bleach cosplay. Thanks a lot!

  5. Tachikawa says:

    Sugoi…You know what to do just listening to your customer request…
    You are like…ahhh
    Imaginable person…
    Like a Professor of Props making…

  6. Do you think you could try and make another one for me? Well not for me, but for my sister. We are going to So-Dak con this year and she wants to go as Soi Fon with her Bankai. So can you?

  7. Even if I was making duplicates, I am usually booked up 12-18 months in advance. If you wanted to make it yourself, using this blog as a guide, I could make end cones for you. Email me if you want these.

  8. Shannon Colbath says:

    HELLO!! Can you make one for me? i do a soi fon every year. pweaaaaase? :DD

  9. Mike Iverson says:

    Hi Shannon, I still have my molds for the vents and end cones that you could add to a concrete tube. Message me through the contact form if you’re interested.

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