The Righteous Bison: Affordable Raygun Technology

Righteous Bison

Weta has released a new raygun from the steam- and atom-powered laboratories of Dr. Grordbort, the Righteous Bison Indivisible Particle Smasher.

This honorable bovine could be the horn in the side of your most bothersome foe! It’s true! The Righteous Bison can bore a fist-sized hole through 17 yards of cheese, on tight beam, or put a zeppelin-girthed aperture in your uncle’s munitions factory (should he choose not to drop those charges). And all this without permanently damaging the family trust!

This latest collector’s model is a first for Weta in that it’s made of plastic rather than the metal normally used in its high-end line of rayguns. When Weta was asked why they chose to make this raygun model out of plastic instead of the usual material, they answered:

It wasn’t an easy decision to make a gun out of plastic, but we did it with one very specific purpose — to give cosplayers and other fans a gun they wouldn’t be too terrified to stick in a holster and take to conventions or Halloween parties or… you name it. We will definitely continue our range of high-end, limited edition guns — this is in parallel to the high-end guns and the miniatures.

ÜberSciFiGeek recently received an e-mail from Weta that proclaimed, “Guess what? Our first ever Righteous Bison review sample goes to you!” Huzzah, what luck! Practice targets were immediately picked for “review purposes”, then given a sporting head start before the zapping commenced.

The Righteous Bison doesn’t come in collectible packaging, like the miniature and full-size edition rayguns cast in metal. Since it’s meant to be handled, not left on a shelf, fancy packaging isn’t really necessary. The packaging still does its job admirably, though, with typical Dr. Grordbort style and humour: the cardboard box is covered in glossy, full-colour artwork, and a seal on the box’s cover reads “Kicking Protons in the Groin Since 1887”. For collectors obsessed with keeping things in mint condition, the top of the box, a flap held in place by velcro tabs, opens up to reveal a Righteous Bison-shaped, clear acetate window that allows the raygun to be displayed without removing it from its packaging. The inside of the flip-up lid features a poster-style catalogue of the entire Dr. Grordbort’s Infallible Aether Oscillators collection to date. For raygun enthusiasts more interested in playing than displaying, the box opens at either end to allow the liner tray to slide out. The cardboard liner has a second, moulded plastic tray on it that the raygun rests in, the whole lot secured together with wire twist ties which are wrapped in a thin foam to ensure that they don’t leave any unwanted marks on the raygun’s plastic surface.

Despite a massive bulk that would give the more compact Star Trek phasers “size envy”, the Righteous Bison weighs only 2.6 pounds — less than half of the comparably sized metal rayguns’ weight — light enough to comfortably tote around on lengthy convention days. A tactile work of art, it’s just as intricately designed as the metal rayguns, save for the lack of wire-thin protrusions which malleable metal makes possible but would likely snap off a hard plastic casting. Like any plastic model, the Righteous Bison has seams running its length, but they’re so cleverly incorporated into the design of the raygun that they’re barely noticable. Scratches and dents, which at first appear to be manufacturing flaws, are actually subtle additions that enhance the raygun’s “distressed” look. Given Weta’s history of creating props for films such as The Lord of the Rings and The Chronicles of Narnia, it’s no wonder that the Righteous Bison looks like it comes straight from a movie set. Safety Note: Prey… er, friends and family… tend to startle violently when they find themselves at the convincing business end of the Righteous Bison, so proceed with caution. “Firing” from a distance greater than arm’s reach is highly recommended for your protection and, more importantly, the preservation of your precious raygun.

It’s the paint job that really makes this piece shine. The raygun’s gunmetal grey, copper, and black painted finish is exceptionally clean and looks very much like real metal, so much so that it wasn’t at all evident from the pictures on the Weta website that the Righteous Bison was plastic until that info was revealed in the product description. Not only has the expertly applied paint captured the look of metal, it has managed to recreate the weathered, slightly rusted look that the metal rayguns are known for. Even the red and white pressure gauges on the sides of the barrel look aged. No self-respecting steampunker would want to be seen brandishing a spotless, fresh-from-the-factory weapon (or anything else that looked like it was under fifty years old, for that matter), so kudos to Weta for retaining the antique aesthetic for its new style of raygun!

The Righteous Bison’s one moving part is the trigger, a delightfully unexpected detail that gives the raygun an added touch of realism and functionality.

Being a one-piece design and play piece, the Righteous Bison comes with no attachments or accessories, and doesn’t include a stand or case like the metal rayguns. If you really want to display it out of the box, though, Weta offers an attractive Universal Gun Stand for pre-order which ships at the beginning of next year. There’s a small, square hole at the bottom of the Righteous Bison’s handle that fits a matching rod on the metal stand, and the stand’s circular base is stamped with the Grordbort Industries logo, the same design that the Righteous Bison is based on. Another Weta item that complements the Righteous Bison is the Dr. Grordbort’s Satchel. This roomy, hand-made canvas bag with multiple pockets holds an impressive amount of gear and swag at conventions and cosplay events.

Dr. Grordbort's Satchel

An open-ended edition priced at $99.00 US, the Righteous Bison is a steal, especially considering that the full-size metal rayguns run several hundred dollars each. If you have any steampunkers and retro sci-fi fans on your holiday shopping list, this unique gift will light up their brass goggles.

Order directly through the Weta website.

The Righteous Bison and the Dr. Grordbort’s Infallible Aether Oscillators collection are distributed by Weta, in partnership with Dark Horse Comics. For more information, please visit the official Dr. Grordbort’s website.


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