One of the questions we get asked a lot is how, given our limited budget, we managed to equip and dress the crew for The World Went Dark to such a high standard.
There is no quick answer to this particular question because it involved a huge amount of time and work from both myself and Russell (my TWWD comrade) not only in terms of actually making about 95% of the crew kit but also the time spent trawling through a myriad of sites like eBay*, buy and sell groups on Facebook, internet forums etc. to try and find the best deals we could for what we wanted. This involved a lot of trying to find diamonds in the rough. Knackered and unsafe ice hockey armour is worthless to someone involved in the sport but golddust for us. Getting in touch with our local bike shops to enquire what they did with old worn out tyres saved us a fortune as it meant we had a never ending supply of tyres for which to build tyre armour with. A lot of the kit elements were found this way, in fact all of the Slaver armour was acquired by bargain hunting and just asking people that we knew what they had going spare.
Moving away from tyre armour and towards Rats, we knew from the start that they were going to be a bizarre mix of Skaven, Buzzards, and Rock Climbers (a gang from Mad Max: Fury Road). So we knew what we wanted them to look like, but in terms of achieving it on a budget there was a big obstacle to overcome. But Russell had the genius idea taken from his work on tyre armour to use cheaply sourced webbing strapping and belts to build a base upon which we could add armour elements, rags and more.
From this beginning we were able to make several rat belts and shoulder sections, along with this after some playing around in the workshop we both came out with vaguely Cuthullu-esque masks which we decided fitted the look and became part of the overall aesthetic of this particular faction.
Again all the elements of this faction were done by sourcing cheap components and then doing all the creation bit ourselves. This swiftly became a running theme with all of the kit as the more we made the happier we became with the end results, so the more we made.
For the Lions, being a faction very much based off the descendants of the British Army, we hit a bit of a wall. To make them look different to others they needed to retain an element of military uniform, which of course meant, acquiring lots of uniforms that would have been found within the UK or worn by British forces at the time the world crumbled. Thankfully older British kit goes for next to nothing thanks to the military switching over to a new uniform a few years back. All that was required then was to stick it all through the standard post apoc ageing process and it was good to go. On top of the basic uniform jackets we also needed webbing, tactical vests, helmets, and of course guns. The former were acquired from what we personally had lying around from years of airsoft and modern LARP games, and also again by bargain hunting and a few very kind donations to the system.
Guns were trickier but thanks to a few finds online and a solid backbone that the team already had access to we were able to have 22 post-apocalyptic firearms for the crew to use at the first event. We have already expanded that to 35 for event two this summer.
The biggest obstacle we encountered when it came to things we really needed to have was melee weapons. Although we could make almost any costume we could possibly want, neither of us had the skills or space required to knock up a large volume of melee weapons to the standard we wanted. Thankfully after a few conversations with Sander PropWorx – a European maker of custom weapons – we were able to negotiate a deal that allowed us to ensure we had the weapons we would need for event one and could build on that as the system continued.
Ultimately I do not think we could have achieved what we did, with so small a budget, if it was not for the fact that we were prepared to get dirty and do all the work ourselves. If you rely on costumers to make your crew kit then you will most likely achieve the variety or quality of kit you might want due to financial restrictions.
Of course many event organisers and costumers will say that not everyone has the time to go down this route. To that myself and Russell would counter with… both of us had children born in the run up to event one, as well as jobs that require a large amount of international travel. If we can costume 40+ people then so can you. You just need to believe that you can.