Home Made Working Splurge Gun
The popular 1976 musical film, Bugsy Malone introduces us to
a world of gangsters, entirely played by child actors. One of the central tenets
to the film is the invention of the ‘Splurge Gun’ and the subsequent chaos that
ensues. The film was shot at Pinewood in the UK with a cast of mostly
American kids from forces bases and schools in the UK playing key characters,
and supported by English kids and introduced us to some that went on to become
well-known actors later in life such as Jodie Foster.
The signature mess shot by the splurge guns is quoted in the DVD notes by Alan
Parker, the director and writer, as being ‘doughnut cream’, with the production
getting through 100 gallons of the stuff. This wasn’t actually fired by the guns
as the early experiments proved them to be too dangerous, with Alan and other
members of the production staff injuring themselves when experimenting. As a
result, the guns fired ping-pong balls, with the cream thrown by hand from off
camera, an effective solution with careful editing (1).
Splurge Guns as used in the film
In addition to that fired by the gun, 1000 custard pies were
also made of cream for some of the scenes. (1).
The stage adaptation of the film is a firm favourite as a
school production in the UK, and so there remains plenty of interest in building
or finding Splurge guns for ongoing productions, and indeed guns can be hired
from some suppliers. Most of these are basic representations, and in many cases
are simply 2D timber cut-outs.
My build came about as part of a 20s themed fancy dress party
for New Year- I wanted to produce a functional splurge gun that is close to the
props used in the movie, and better than any others I have found images of. The
outcome was 2 semi-accurate working guns as I wanted to be able to duel with
I started by trying to find any images of remaining props,
production stills etc. and posted on the RPF forum, without success. I wasn’t
able to find many images, so resorted to gathering screen-grabs from the film,
which although give a good impression of the guns were somewhat difficult to get
accurate measurements from.
To make the guns functional I used ‘Avalanche’ spray- a spray
foam, and piped it through a hose to the front of the gun. This means the gun
needs to be capable of hiding the can and the trigger mechanism. Based on
measurements of the can, and the knowledge that the original guns fired ping
pong balls (at a diameter of 38mm), I was able to scale images to get a
representative, if not strictly accurate set of dimensions. The pipe I used was
therefore black PVC waste pipe that is nominally about the correct size at 40mm.
avalanche spray is available through party shops under the brand
"Jolly Joka and Co" - manufactured by IMP Chemicals who unfortunately
have no website. Smiffy's Super Blizzard, used to be able to be used but is no longer manufactured.
The build of two guns was done in two days entirely using
materials I had around me. I have since made a few minor tweaks. I won’t detail
all aspects of the build as it is likely you won’t have identical materials or
tooling available, but the images below should give a good idea of how all the
parts fit together.
Key materials used include;
6mm, 12mm & 18mm ply for magazine and main
18mm thick engineered pine board (like shelving board) for
1mm thick Aluminium sheet
3mm thick Aluminium sheet
Black uPVC waste pipe 40mm
Various nuts, bolts and screws
Satin black spray paint & primer
Medium Oak wood-stain and French polish
Wood filler, PVA & cyanoacrylate adhesives
High density foam
Components of the Guns During the Build Finished Guns Showing Trigger Mechanism
If I get the opportunity, I would like to try and make a more
accurate replica, so would welcome information, or the ability to photograph the
props from anyone who has access to screen used props, especially if they are
I am prepared to hire out these guns as hero props to
productions local to Northamptonshire. Feel free to get in touch.
(1) Alan Parker
(2) Bob Dickason Splurge Guns