Bugsy Malone
Splurge Guns

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Bugsy Malone Splurge Gun
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).

Bugsy Splurge Gun 1  Bugsy Splurge 4
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 them.

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.

The 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.
Avalanche spray splurge
Avalanche Spray

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 structure
18mm thick engineered pine board (like shelving board) for stock
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
Plastic tube
High density foam

Splurge Gun  Splurge Gun  Splurge Gun
Splurge Gun  Splurge Gun  
Splurge Gun  Splurge Gun
Components of the Guns During the Build

Splurge Gun  Splurge Gun
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 fully functional.

Bugsy Splurge  Bugsy Splurge

Splurge gun in use

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

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(c) M. Pantrey 2015-2018