The Righteous Bison Ray Gun

Righteous Bison ray gun by Weta

I love old sci-fi, and one of the best features of those B movies were the cool ray guns that the heroes and villains blasted each other with. Several years ago I tried to convince a couple companies, including Master Replicas, that they should do a line of full scale prop replica ray guns based on all the great B movies and sci-fi TV shows. Sadly, they felt there wasn't enough interest, and the idea never went anywhere.

But as I've mentioned before, sometimes it takes a company with great foresight and a willingness to take risk to do something truly cool. Weta is just that kind of company, and they began producing high end - VERY high end - ray guns of their own design in 2007. And yes Virginia, there is a market. In fact, there's a market for these guns even though they cost many hundreds of dollars and aren't licensed at all! The cool retro, steam punk styling speaks to fans, and by making them as realistic as possible (short of actually atomizing anyone with a pull of the trigger) and very limited, they've managed to create a whole new style of collectible.

The guns are the brainchild of Greg Broadmore, who worked on both King Kong and Chronicles of Narnia, and who was the lead conceptual designer for the terrific District 9.

For those of us who have not yet won the lottery, owning one or more of these guns can be a tad tricky. As I said, they can cost $500 and up (the up reaching stratospheric heights of $6000 and more!), and convincing a significant other that you have to have one because it's "the most awesome thing since the invention of awesome" is a tough sell. Trust me.

Weta recognized this, and made miniature versions of some of their more popular guns. These have been San Diego Comic Con exclusives for the past three years, and at $40 or so each, helped fill the need for devastating atomic blasting power for us poorer folks.

Weta has done one better though, producing a full sized ray gun in plastic, rather than the metal, glass and other materials reserved for the high end props. By doing so, they were able to greatly reduce the cost, although it still ain't cheap.

The first release is the Righteous Bison (I have no idea what a bison could possible be righteous about), and runs just over $100 US (155 NZD).
Righteous Bison ray gun by Weta
Righteous Bison ray gun by Weta
Righteous Bison ray gun by Weta
Righteous Bison ray gun by Weta
Righteous Bison ray gun by Weta

Packaging - ***
Weta always has a sense of humor, and they put it to good use with the entire Dr. Grorbort's line. Yes, that's the name of the supposed inventor, and they have a whole website devoted to the guns.

The package can be used to display the gun, but it's still a simple box with window. The graphics and text are excellent though, including the various humorous notes. It's also collector friendly, although you will have to remove a few twisties. The one downside is that when you remove the twisties, the inside tray comes off the backer as well. That means you'll need to replace the twisties to replace the gun.

There's no COA, and no edition size that I've seen mentioned, but I can't imagine that the production numbers are too high on this gun.

Sculpting - ***1/2
There's tons of detail and minutia here, just as you'd expect for this price point and style. I love the steam punk look, and this gun looks very, very much like the actual Grordbort logo. I doubt it's coincidental.

The gun is very large too, measuring 16" long and about 11" tall. It's hollow plastic of course, but there's still a little more heft to it than I had expected. If you plan on using it in a cosplay situation - and it's perfect for it - you'll need to get pretty creative in designing a holster that's large enough.

There's a mold line down the center, but that's to be expected from a plastic anything. They've done a reasonably good job of hiding it, but it's still noticeable if you look hard enough.

There are small sculpted rivets and screws, as well as a very detailed dial for 'reflux/influx'. I'm sure that has something to do with the physics of smashing indivisible particles.

The grip is sculpted with an atomic theme, and much of the overall look reminds me of Buck Rogers or Flash Gordon. These weapons hearken back to a time when technology and mechanics were still married, and the result is exceptional.

The only movable piece is the trigger, which can be pulled back slightly. Sadly, no particles are smashed.

Paint - ***
The paint work is good, but not exceptional. The 'imitation metal' (what Weta calls the plastic) looks very much like metal, thanks to the paint application. There's a nice use of various washes to bring out the sculpt highlights, and accentuate the metallic texture.

The paint job is a little sloppier than I expected though, especially at this price point.

Fun Factor - ****
Yep, you can certainly 'play' with this gun, and if you're looking for something to accent your own funky steam punk or retro sci-fi costume design, this gun is perfect. It's light weight enough to carry around all day at the San Diego Comic Con, but sturdy enough that it won't break if you bump a fellow geek.

Value - **
I'm thrilled that Weta has produced a lower priced version of their ray guns, but the price still seems a tad high. For some it might seem double what it should be, but I think that having paid $50 or so for the miniatures makes me less sensitive to the $100 price tag. It's hard to tell without knowing true production numbers, but the price tag seems about 20% high to me.

Things to Watch Out For -
Not a thing. I will say that while it's just a plastic ray gun, I did point it away from anyone the first time I pulled the trigger. And by 'anyone', I mean the human members of the family. I'm not that fond of the cat.

Overall - ***1/2
I've been drooling over the Weta ray guns for two years now, and I'm thrilled that they're producing a cheaper alternative. They still aren't 'cheap', but they are certainly more affordable. Hopefully they'll get their paint operations down perfect as they produce more of these.

They've also just released a new mini gun which I'll be reviewing shortly!

Score Recap:
Packaging - ***1/2
Sculpting - ***1/2
Paint - ****
Fun Factor - ****
Value - **
Overall - ***1/2

Where to Buy -
Online options include these site sponsors:

- Alter Ego Comics doesn't have this guy, but they do have the much more expensive and much more intricate guns. Remember, these will cost you $500 and more.

- you can also pick this guy up directly from Weta at their webstore.

Related Links -
If you like ray guns, check out these reviews:

- as I mentioned, Weta has also done miniature versions of their more popular guns, including the Goliathan.

- Go Hero recently released their cool Buck Rogers ray gun as well.

- and be sure to check out Weta's website for a ton more info!

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Reader Ratings!
Here's your chance to weigh in!  Select your rating for this figure(s) to the right.  Yea, it's a five star system and not a four star system like mine, but it's the best I've been able to come up with so far.  You can only rate once from any particular IP.  My score converted to a five star system for comparison: 4.38

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Righteous Bison ray gun by Weta

This product was provided free for the review by the manufacturer. Photos and text by Michael Crawford.

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