The 1/6th scale model of Agent Phil Coulson is truly a wonderful thing, but sadly, gone are those halcyon days of SHIELD. Now, Director Phil Coulson needs credentials to start his new mission. To that end, time to make a lanyard!
You will need:
- A piece of thin light-colored cardboard - I think mine was the insert from a pair of pantyhose. It had a shiny and a flat side, but if I had a choice, I'd take something flat on both sides. You need less than 2x2 cm, so whatever works.
- Opaque orange fingernail polish (shown: Zoya Thandie)
- Opaque silver or light gray fingernail polish (OPI Haven't The Foggiest)
- Clear top coat
- Matte top coat (optional)
- Clear tape - something light (e.g. gift wrap tape) is your best bet
- White striping paint - Not all striper paint is created equal! I like Stripe Rite because it has a long, thin striper brush in the bottle. I strongly recommend NOT using Fingerpaints, because the brush is enormous.
- Black striping paint
- Black (DMC 310) embroidery floss
- Hole reinforcement stickers (optional)
- A sharp hand needle with a large, flat eye
- Sharp scissors
- A ruler
- Official fancy promo lanyard (optional, mostly useful for impressing people)
It's hard for me to estimate how much this would cost, because I made it using whatever I had and thus paid nothing. If you had absolutely none of this, I think you could do it for 20USD. If you're looking for nail polish, stores like Walgreens generally have bottles for a dollar (now including matte top coat). Striper paint is more expensive and generally only sold at beauty supply stores, but in a pinch you could use white-out or black polish and apply it with a toothpick or very small brush.
Let's get to it!
Step 1: Show Your Work
The first thing you should do is determine the size of the object you want to replicate and then scale it down. The Hot Toys Coulson figure is 1/6th scale, so that's what I scaled mine down to.
I have this lovely promotional lanyard given out at the Marvel TV panel at SDCC 2014, and it appears to be pretty close, if not identical, to the prop versions. But if you don't have your own lanyard, I am here for you!
The lanyard happens to be approximately 10.5 by 6 cm, which conveniently gives us 1/6 scale measurements of 1.75 x 1 cm. This seems about right based on screencaps as well, where Koenig's badge is about the size of the widest part of his tie. The scale version is of course wider than Phil's tie, because Phil and his tie are both slightly thinner.
The promo has a thick ribbon-style lanyard, but the ones on the show are on cord lanyards. The scale based on the promo was about 6in, but it didn't fit over the figure's head easily at that length, and the promo lanyard seemed to be a little long anyway.
Anyway! That's how we got here. And I keep talking about the Coulson figurine, because that's the one I have, but this'll spruce up any 1/6th scale humanoid.
Step 2: Blanking Out
Measure and cut your blank from the cardboard. As discussed, it should be rectangular, 1.75cm by 1cm. I urge you to make more than one, because it's super easy to screw up (and I did, twice). Round off the corners; at this scale, all I was able to do was clip off a tiny bit.
Using the needle, make a hole near the top edge, big enough for a double thickness of embroidery floss to go through. You may need to poke two or three holes very close together and merge them.
This part is a little finicky, but just go slowly and don't force it. It helped to brace the blank by putting it on a couple pieces of scrap cardboard. When you're done, run a double thickness of floss back and forth through it to smooth out the hole (and to make sure it fits).
And just like that, you are ready to paint!
Step 3: Paint It... Orange, Actually
Paint the cardboard orange on both sides, using only enough coats to cover the cardboard, and let dry completely. While still tacky, run the needle through the hole to make sure it's still clear; do this every time it's drying. I learned that if you threaded the needle, you could put it through the hole and rest it on a flat surface, letting both sides dry at once.
Let the orange polish dry completely. COMPLETELY. Don't give in to temptation! You may need to dry it for thirty minutes or longer just to be safe. It was faster on the flat side than the shiny, so keep that in mind.
Doing this, I learned VERY quickly that the polish wouldn't dry smooth on cardboard. I decided I could live with it.
Now for the silver!
Step 4: Foiled Again
The lanyards are orange on the left and silver on the right, and from what we could tell, it's that way on both sides on the prop versions (the promo lanyard has an ad on the back).
So take a piece of tape longer than your badge, making sure to touch the sticky side as little as possible. Cover the LEFT side with the tape; you don't have to mash it down, because it's coming off, but make sure the edge is smoothed well and stuck firmly. If it wrinkles, pull it off and start again.
If it didn't get completely dry, the paint will peel off when you remove it. I like to spot test before I get started. If it comes off, just paint it again and let it dry for real this time.
Now that the left is masked off, paint the right side silver. Make sure to paint past the edge of the tape. Don't pull it off immediately, but don't wait for it to dry; wait about a minute or a minute and a half, then peel it off carefully.
Let the whole thing dry. I waited overnight, mostly because I wanted to go to bed. Just make sure it's totally dry, because it'll be key in the next step.
Step 5: Scan It
Now the important part!
I should make a note here. I am not a good artist, and I was trying to get this done fairly quickly. With more time and someone else's hands, this could have been a lot cleaner. I wanted a piece that looked good from two or three feet away, and I knew that I could try as hard as I wanted and it would still be imperfect, so I just let it ride.
So anyway, the lanyards have two elements: a SHIELD crest and what looks like a PDF-417 code (but isn't). The code was fairly easy to mimic, because at this scale, it mostly just looks like fuzzy dots. Accordingly, I made sure to put in the solid bar down the left side, then I dotted the rest, using the tip of the striper brush with the brush held at an angle. If you wanted to make this more angular, I'd use two strips of tape to make sharper edges.
Here is a secret! The glorious thing about striper paint is that when it's on dried polish, it wipes off with water. If you decide whatever you did is awful, wet a cloth (or just lick your thumb, I won't tell) and wipe the design away. You have a short window, though, so you need to decide immediately whether you hate it.
Then the crest got complicated.
Step 6: The Family Crest
This first bit is optional, but if you have shaky hands and/or no precision at all, I recommend it.
I could not for the life of me figure out how to make a circle this size. Finally I was struck with an idea from the planbook instructable I did: hole reinforcement stickers! I thought about using them as a template, but that just didn't work. So instead, I trimmed them down to very, very tiny rings, and stuck the whole thing directly on the badge itself. Circle!
Okay. If you didn't use a sticker, then draw a circle with the striper paint, then fill in the crest in the center. Since I knew I couldn't replicate the original design, I focused on giving the impression from a distance. That meant working from the inside out and focusing most of my paint just below center, with a little hooked shape for a head and little wings. For where I have it displayed, this was just what I needed.
They really look like Agents of Asterisk, but it's good enough for government work!
Step 7: Seal the Deal
Now we seal it!
Just use clear top coat, and try to use as few brushstrokes as possible. Be careful, because it is a raised design. One coat should be fine.
Here is an optional step: when I finished, my badge looked too shiny. The lanyard is a little shimmery, but it's not the kind of gloss you get from top coat. To make it a little less sparkly, I used a coat of matte top coat, which gave me the effect I wanted. If you decide you need matte top coat, use clear top coat first. Matte top coat can wear off really quickly and may scratch, and it could lead to your designs being damaged. If you use matte top coat, use ONLY one coat, and again, use as few brushstrokes as possible.
The badge is done!
Step 8: String It Up
For the lanyard proper, use a piece of unseparated embroidery floss that's at least nine inches long. You can always make it shorter, but you can't make it longer. Thread it through your needle and pass it through the hole on the badge. This part is kind of counterintuitive, but, holding the thread, pass the needle back through, so that you have a loop on one side and two threads on the other. Even it up, then pass the threads through the loop and pull it snug. The cardboard shouldn't bend when you do this, because it has a billion coats of nail polish, but be careful anyway.
You can finish the lanyard however you like. I just knotted it to where it would fall around the bottom of his tie, then hung it around his neck and adjusted the length by tucking it into the back of his jacket.
Now you just have to make sure he wears it at all times.
Step 9: Final Thoughts
So that's that! Here are some ideas for improving/changing this project:
- To save time, I think you could probably use orange permanent marker for the base. However, you'd have to be careful to make sure it didn't get streaky.
- If you had access to something that could make decals, that might be an option for the barcode and crest. I seriously doubt it would work to print out stickers or paper, because of the scale. And indeed, if you could make decals, you could just design the whole thing and skip the paint entirely.
- I haven't tried anything else, but any paint that is compatible with cardboard and tape should work. I don't think acrylics are a good choice, though, unless they were thinned.
- If I'd had any beeswax, I probably would have waxed the floss (as shown here), so that it looked cleaner while hanging. However, I'm not sure if the wax would have an effect on the figure's clothes, so tread with care.
I think that about wraps it up. If anybody else tries it, I'd love to see the results!