Create Your Own Live Action Role-Play (LARP) Equipment With Custom Open and Closed-Cell Foam

Blending imagination, creativity and integrity, the world of Live Action Role Play, or LARP, features interactive stories in a real-world setting, all constructed by the games’ participants. Those participants, or LARPers, take on character roles in a fictional setting while using the physical world around them, combining role-playing board games with live performance. One of the predominant themes in LARPing is the battle of good and evil, which is fleshed out though simulated hand-to-hand combat within the confines of the story. With these games having parameters and themes, many battles utilize replica weaponry to boost interest and interaction during an event.

Closed-Cell Polyethylene Sheet Foam

Closed-Cell Polyethylene Sheet Foam

Having fun is the singular goal of these games, which means safety is the top priority for all involved. Because of this, LARP weapons are built from impact absorbing, contact safe materials. Weapons must pass a strict safety evaluation by the particular game’s governing body before admitted into play. Weapons are most often homemade and built with a solid base for structure, covered in a foam wrap that pads impact for full battle simulation without the worry of injury or harm. As a manufacturer and retailer of foam products, The Foam Factory stocks many materials that allow endless customization possibilities for LARP swords and accessories while maintaining an emphasis on safety.

With medieval and fantasy realm settings being some of the most popular game types, two of the most utilized combat accessories are swords, shields and foam armor. These weapons range across a broad spectrum, from a simple tube with a handle to realistic looking works of art. And while the appearance of costumes and accessories are a major part of getting into the spirit of the game, safety remains the focus of weapon construction. One of the most utilized shock absorbing foam materials that will maintain shape and durability is polyethylene foam.

In its versatile sheet form, The Foam Factory’s resilient and closed-cell polyethylene is available in five densities starting at 1.7 pounds and going up to 9 pounds. Sheet thicknesses can be cut from ¼ of an inch up to 2 inches, with the ability to laminate sheets together for even greater thicknesses. Polyethylene sheets are superb for lightweight armor and shield cores with their ability to hold their shape, absorb weapon and body contact and come in dimensions that allow the material to be cut in any number of shapes and designs. Sizes range from 48 by 108 inches down to 24 by 54 inch sheets. The Foam Factory also sells pre-cut polyethylene sections for archery targets that are perfect for a shield. The strength of this material allows them to be further customized by being wrapped in fabric or other materials while holding its shape.

Another form of the material, polyethylene tubing is available in multiple sizes as well and is an excellent product to create the “blades” of homemade foam swords. These are often made using PVC piping or fiberglass shafts like in golf clubs with foam wrapped around in a desired thickness. To remove the potential danger of edges, even in foam materials, these round polyethylene cylinders are used, commonly seen in the summer as a noodle pool toy. The Foam Factory’s size offering for these products ranges in diameter from 1-1/2 to 6 inches and lengths of 17, 35 and 70 inches. As a solid tube, these can be bored or scooped out by the user to the exact size of the support core for a tight and safe fit that lets any size core be used. The Foam Factory’s manufacturing capability also includes a splitting service to make creating the core cutout easier. The two halves can then be carved out at home, placed around the core and then bonded together with tape or special spray adhesive which The Foam Factory also offers. Swords may also include thrusting tips requiring soft foam on the ends for extra safety, and cushiony, impact absorbing open-cell craft foam is offered for these uses. Another safety consideration LARPers often take is the wrapping of polyethylene weapons in fabric or tape.

In addition to materials for basic weaponry, The Foam Factory offers additional closed-cell foams that can augment a costume or be used to create accessories for any LARPer’s repertoire. Sheets of neoprene or polyethylene foam roll can be used to construct custom foam costumes and armor, as can thicker sections of cross-linked polyethylene color foam (XLPE) to make accessories and objects by sculpting foam.

Purple XLPE Closed-Cell Foam

Purple XLPE Closed-Cell Foam

Neoprene and polyethylene roll are moisture resistant foams, offered in regular or high densities and can be cut in thicknesses down to 1/8 of an inch. This is excellent for lightweight foam armor, foam padding or giving LARPing weapons a little extra cushion. These two materials do have slight differences that can make one better for a job than the other. Polyethylene roll has a shinier and smoother surface and an irradiation cross-linked molecular structure. Its sheets can be ordered in 60 inch wide, lineal feet lengths or in 50 or 100 foot rolls. Neoprene is a slightly more flexible material with a matte finish and is Ozone, sunlight and oxidation resistant. Its sheets are offered in 48 by 80 inch cuts and half sheets of 24 by 80 inches. Gym rubber is another closed-cell foam that can be cut into thin sheets and provides shock absorption.

XLPE is a strong, extremely fine-celled material with a smooth feel and multiple covers that can be treated as a carving foam. Impervious to mold, mildew and moisture, XLPE can be cut or laminated to any thickness desired, even into foam blocks. It can be cut at home, sanded and even shaped with a Dremel tool for 3-D profiling, making it great for constructing foam-only weapons and forms.

LARP is a fantastic way for people to get active, use their imagination and meet other people with similar interests. Likewise, the creation of costumes and weaponry for these games is another way to express your personality and creativity. The Foam Factory has the knowledge and closed and open-cell foam products to help you create your own set of gear that will be equal parts fun and safe.

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