Introduction: Mentats and Fixer Medicine Tins

If you're a fan of Fallout, you know exactly what Mentats and Fixer are. But, for those that either are not fans of the game, or just don't know too much about these items, lets have a crash course! If you don't much care for this 'history' lesson, or know it already, skip to step two for a bill of materials.

Fallout is a four-game deep series, with two (debatable three) spin off games. Although the games are placed a couple decades ahead of our current times, due to how the Fallout-verse's tech developed, it led a rather advance world, filed with robots and nuclear cars: but with a culture closer to that of the 1950's.

The games take place in the 2160's after the Great War. The Great War (as you can probably already assume) was a nuclear fallout that took place on October 23rd in 2077. The event lasted about two hours as the power nations of the Fallout universe started firing nukes at each other. Shortly after, the world fell to ruin, and left it in a wasteland state.

Prior to the war, though, there was a company by the name of Med-Tek, similar to Johnson & Johnson. Med-Tek made a few different drugs, but gained its fame shortly after the creation of Mentats, a drug used to increase cognitive functions. After the company increased in size, they created Fixer, a drug that removed the side affects of addictions. Both of these came in cardboard and tin packages. As mentioned before, the tin packages fared the Great War much better then it's cardboard counterpart.

So! In short, you're left with a lot of tin packaged meds that look like they came straight from the 1950's. And, making some decent looking props (that take some artistic license!) is actually really easy in our current [real world] time.

This prop came around to me due to the fact that I store my basic medicines (pain killers, antacids and antihistamines) in an altoid tin. My coworkers will ask for one of these three, and be confused as to why I'm handing them a mint tin. My gamer coworkers will know what it is, and assume that there is medicine inside. My non-gamer coworkers will (or at least I hope!) see the Med-tek logo and know there has to be some sort of medicine inside.

Of course, you can just make the tin for other things. There is a slew of things you can do with an altoid tin, and a good lot of them are here on Instructables!

Step 1: Bill of Materials (BOM)

For this, you will need a few things:

  • Altoid tin (or relatable mint tin of roughly the same size)
  • JB Weld or similer epoxy (this is only needed if you have a tin that has an embossed lid)
  • Craft foam (optional)
  • Xacto knife
  • Spudger
  • Tooth picks or similar disposable applicator
  • Sponge brush
  • Super glue (if using craft foam)
  • Mod Podge
  • Sandpaper

As stated, the foam and superglue are only needed if you wish to make a partion inside the tin for multiple medicines.

Step 2: Foam Liner and Partitions (optional)

First thing you'll want to do (if you chose to do it) is line the inside with foam and make the partitions. I find that lining the entire tin takes away from the metal clicks of pill-on-metal that might occur if you carry this in a bag or purse. If you don't want to do this, then just follow the first step of this section and skip to the next step. Or, if you just want the partitions, skip below in this step.

You'll want to remove the lid. Get your spudger and pry the metal tabs from the main tin back to release the lid. Once the tabs are far enough back, pop the lid off and put it aside.

Before I state the next part: rememeber "Cut once, measure twice"? Yeah, that applies. Make sure you have a good way to lay out what is needed on your foam before marking/cutting. Take the bottom portion of the tin, and trace it out on your foam twice (one for the lid and one for main tin). You'll also want to mark out a strip that will be a touch shorter then the main tin, as to account for the lip and the foam you'll be putting on the bottom. This strip sould be long enough to wrap around the tin at least once.

Using that strip as a guide, you want to make twice as many pieces then your needed partitions. For example, I made three cells, which needs two partitions, so I need four pieces. These pieces should be as tall as the main tin, and as long as the shorter side of the tin. Refer to the pictures if my wording makes no sense!

Once you have all your foam parts cut, time to glue them in! Start with the bottom of the main tin and the lid. You want to coat the tin surface completely with super glue, then stick the foam in. While those dry, go ahead and glue the partitions. You want to glue two partition parts together, to give them strength.

Now get your strip, and coat one end of it (about an inch of it on one side) with super glue. Then, stick that inside your main tin, along the side. Slowly apply glue to the tin, sticking the strip down as you go. Once its totally glued, you're set to get the partitions in.

All these will need is to be placed, and super glue liberally applied to the edges that make contact with the foam bottom and sides.

Step 3: Smoothing Out the Tin Lid

Assuming you went with the JB Weld and Altoid tin route (which, mind you, is about $4) then this step is needed. If you went the "buy a smooth tin" route (roughly $5) you can skip this step, as you won't need it! However, I would suggest you do read through, as you can use this to weather your tin a bit.

Take your lid, and get it read. Mix up so JB weld (you'll want about two to three quarters worth of mixed epoxy). Once mixed, start applying! The goal is to make it so the JB Weld makes the tin smooth. You'll want to apply it in such a way to fill in the letters to the outside "frame" and then make a small ramp of sort from the "frame".

Now, this is where I blow your mind: this doesn't have to result in a totally 100% smooth finish! An uneven surface adds to the 1950-esk feel were going for. If you have a smooth skin lid, then you can just apply a thin layer of JB Weld to give it an uneven surface.

And, while you wait for the JB Weld to dry, go take Liberty Prime out for a communist-destroying stroll through DC!

Step 4: Apply the Label

You'll need to print off the labels. Below I have links to my own pre-sized labels. These need to be printed on letter-sized paper. I would also advise you don't print these in a print centre, as they tend to have high DPI printers, meaning a higher quality. "But isn't a better print...well...better?!" Normally, yes. But remember: were mimicking the 1950's here! You'll notice pretty quickly that the size of the labels are much larger then your lid. This is on purpose, promise!

Mentat Label

Fixer Label

Once you have the label of your choice printed, give it a lose cut out. You can lose a few millimeters of ink on any side, but not much more then that.

The next step requires Mod Podge. I *love* the stuff, but if you have never used it, it can be a bit of a pain. If this is your first time every using it, I would advise you print off a few extra labels. If you royally mess a label up, you can just wait for it to dry, and apply a new one on top (which is exactly what I did with my first Fixer tin).

With it cut out, turn it over (ink side down) and apply some Mod Podge. Once you have it applied, stick it on your tin and mind the direction!! One side of the lid will serve as the hinge once you put it back on the tin. Also be careful to get the label in the right place on your first stick. Mod Podge will basically soak your paper, and make it rip if you try to move it. Once you have the label on the lid, and you're satisfied with where it is, start folding the edges of the label of the edge of the tin.

This is where things get fun: you'll need to apply more Mod Podge to the sides and...the corners! This is where you spudger comes in handy! Use it to make sure you get a good, clean press to the sides all the way up to the corners. Once all the sides are down, you'll want to get the corners pressed down as well. Use your fingers to start with, then roll your spudger over the edges as well to get a good press. As before, refer to the picture for help on this. Keep in mind during this whole ordeal that there will be extra paper!

Once you have the label good and applied, it's time to do more waiting. I'm thinking it might be in order to kill some deathclaws. Or, more then likely, be murdered by them...

Step 5: Clean Up the Lid

With your Mod Podged lable applied and dried, it's time to clean it up.

Grab your xacto knife, and put off the excess paper. Be slow with this, just to be sure you don't run into a hidden pocket of still-wet Mod Podge and inadvertently rip the label!

Once you have the spare paper cut off, you'll probably need your spudger again to 'tuck' any ripped fuzz edges under the lip of the lid.

Once you have the label all cleaned up, it's time for one more coat of Mod Podge. For those that don't know, Mod Podge is a sealer, glue and finish, which is why we used it to stick the label on and why were going to use another coat to seal it.

As before, you'll need to give it some time to dry. Maybe some gambling at the Gomorrah?

Step 6: Finishing Touches and Wrap-up Notes

Once you're lid is dry again, your good to go! You can put it back on the base, and bend the tabs of the main tin back down to lock the lead back onto the main tin. If you used foam to line the inside, you may need to force the lid closed the first couple of times. I would suggest that you bend the lid portion that 'clasps' onto the main tin in a bit for a better closure.

Your tin should look rather 1950's is as-is. All that would really be needed is to make it look like it was pinned under a braham in the middle of a irradiate lake. There are a few ways you could manage this, but I have to really toy with any weather technique yet. But, when I do (or even if you have good one!), I'll be sure to share!

Also, you may want to give this a blast of matte clear coat spray. It's not needed, which is why I did not do it, but it may help in taking a little bit of the gloss away if your not digging it. I personally liked it, as it kind of made the finished project look as if it was made of cardboard more so then tin.

If you made these tins for the same reason I did [to hold medicine] I would advise you get some labels made of what drug is in what cell, so you don't forget, and (if someone ask for some painkillers) they know whats what.