Yet another Nuka-Cola Quantum thread

Discussion in 'Replica Props' started by DocJon, Sep 18, 2015.

  1. DocJon

    DocJon New Member

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    Hi folks. Long-time lurker, first-time poster (except for my post in the intro thread). Sorry in advance for the wall o' text.

    I don't do much in the way of prop-making, but I'm a little crafty at times. Like many, I took a great liking to the Fallout 3/New Vegas games, with over 450 hours in New Vegas alone. A couple years back, I felt the need for a new bedside lamp, and deep in the throes of my Fallout addiction, I decided to make one befitting the game.


    Bottlecap mine lamp (Minus duct tape and wires - as I'm working on it)

    My lamp was a Nuka-cola Quantum bottle lamp. I used a Bottlecap Mine as a base, which I made from a lunch box I painted, then covered with printouts of little Vault-boy Perks, like the lunchbox in-game. I then covered this with a UV-protective clearcoat, keeping the ink from fading and giving the printouts the appearance of having been painted on. I had a number of issues I needed to overcome, and I never did quite overcome some of them to my satisfaction, so I thought I'd post here and tap into your collective experience and see what your thoughts are.

    Issue One: The Nuka-Cola Quantum liquid (the MAIN issue)
    One of the issues I had was a great reluctance to use actual water in a glass bottle that is also used as a lamp. I thought it would be safer if I could use something else, so that in the event of a tip-over or a fall-and-shatter, I won't have a puddle of water with electrical wires in it. This was tougher than I thought it would be. In the end, I mixed agar-agar in colored tonic water, then mixed in some UV-reactive fluid that's used in liquid-cooled computer CPUs and gfx cards. This worked pretty well at first. The tonic water and UV-reactive fluid lit up nicely in the presence of the ~4" fluorescent black light I hid behind the bottle, and the agar-agar thickened the fluid, so you'd have a jello-like blob in the event of an accident, rather than a puddle. It seemed a bit safer, I thought.

    Unfortunately, with time it seems not to glow as well as it used to, even with a fresh UV bulb. It seems cloudier than it was before, and the gel is becoming runny & watery. It's this issue that's prompting me to take a second pass at the project and see if I can improve it. I'd still like to avoid liquid. Something is needed that either coats the inside of the bottle, or fills the bottle and then solidifies. I'd like to add a UV-reactive substance to whatever I use. I would not object to a bit of glow-in-the-dark substance just as an enhancer/accent, but I don't want a lot of it. I'd rather the bottle light up as a night-light of sorts when I want it, and not be a major distraction when I don't. I'd also like to use a very small pinch of very fine pearlescent glitter, as I think a tiny bit of this might add a bit of dazzle befitting Quantum, so I need to worry about it settling to the bottom.

    What can I use to make the bottle appear filled with liquid to a casual observer, and that will be UV-reactive/slightly glow-in-the-dark, and will support the glitter without letting it settling to the bottom? I have some "EnviroTex Lite Pour-on High-gloss finish" epoxy resin left over from a previous project. I have about 12- 14 oz left, but I'm using a 16-oz bottle for the Quantum, so I can't fill it entirely with that. The heat as it cures might be an issue anyway. I'm THINKING about mixing coloring, glitter, UV-reactive stuff and glow-in-the-dark stuff with some of it, and rolling it around inside the bottle. If I use the epoxy resin, my worries are:

    1. Getting a good, relatively even coating on the inside of the bottle before it all runs down to the bottom.
    2. Will the mixture be thick enough to support the tiny bit of glitter until it dries, or will it all run down to the bottom?
    3. I need to keep the neck of the bottle free of whatever I coat the bottle with, so that the top couple inches are clear, just like a regular bottle of cola.
    4. I have no idea what products to use to color it or make it UV reactive or glow-in-the-dark. I've worked with epoxy resin very little.

    Thoughts, suggestions, alternatives?

    Issue Two: Some means of (somewhat)securing the bottle so that it isn't easily knocked over
    For awhile, I had thin wire that came up through the lunch box through 2 tiny holes near the bottle base, looped through the lampshade harp, then back through. The wire ran through the inside of the box and out the back, then wrapped around a screw so that I could pull the wire tight and screw it down. This actually worked pretty well, and wasn't too visible, but I'm still not completely satisfied with it. I don't want to glue the bottle down to the lunchbox lid. I'd like to be able to remove it when I move it around or need to change the neon indicator light on the front of the bottlecap mine (they burn out every year or two) or need to do any other maintenance on the box. Ideally, I'd have a small cup (preferably clear) about an inch high or so that I could rest the bottle in, that would help keep it in place in the case of light bumps and jostles. I have no idea what I could use for that. I thought about cutting a hole into the top of the lunchbox and sitting the bottle in the hole about 1/2" - 1" deep. That's a bit involved though. Have to make a neat hole the right size, have to build a platform of sorts inside. I'm thinking now of sitting some sort of hockey-puck-shaped thing on top of the box. This could hold the bottle in place somewhat, while also holding the LEDs mentioned below. I just have to find a suitable, semi-hollow hockey-puck-shaped thing.


    I recently picked up some 5mm blue LEDs, and have some 380nm UV LEDs. I thought I might take a whack at installing them underneath the bottle to add to the glow from the black light behind the bottle. Something to take into consideration, perhaps, when thinking of the rest of the project.

    I'm looking forward to your thoughts. Thanks for reading this far!

    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 8, 2018
  2. WilsonUndead

    WilsonUndead New Member

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    I don't really have any suggestions for your problem, but I've been looking for good quality images for those lunchbox pics, could you maybe post the link or upload them? :)
  3. DocJon

    DocJon New Member

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    Thanks for replying anyway. I'm on mobile now, when I get back to my computer, I'll see what I can find.
  4. DocJon

    DocJon New Member

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    OK, finally able to post back. Bad news, I'm afraid. Looks like I lost my source pics in that HD crash I had awhile back, when I also lost the couple hundred pieces I drew to make an MP3 player skin. Crap.

    There doesn't seem to be any high quality pics of the lunchbox within the game. Just little pics that are kind of muddy and blurry. Fortunately, they made lunchboxes as a bonus item released in their collector's edition, and this is what I used for reference when I made mine.

    Just a random bunch of hi-res lunchbox pics

    The above pics worked for reference, and I might have been able to grab an image here and there. Don't overlook EBAY for a source of pics. People selling their collectible lunchboxes will often post very nice pics to show their condition.

    The big pic on the front was a bit difficult, IIRC. I think I just adapted a large frontal pic from a collectible lunchbox, though I may have found a piece of art on it's own. It would be nice to find a clean copy that you can age/dirty/distress yourself. Maybe you could fix the perspective of this pic in Photoshop.

    I didn't do the pic on the other side, as it sits flat on the nightstand and has some felt feet on that side.

    Finding good pics of the perks, in color, was difficult. I probably grabbed a few from pics of collectible lunch boxes. Deviant art and pinterest might be of help there.

    I did this a couple years ago, and didn't find all the angles of the lunchbox, or good pics of all the perks on it I needed, so I improvised a bit. Not all my perks are exactly the same as the in-game box or the collector's lunchbox.Where I had to guess or substitute, I just used my favorite pics. :) You may find some decent B & W drawings of perks. It's no great chore to color them if you have Photoshop skills.

    Don't know if that helped any, but I hope so.

    I'm doing some googling after this. I need to learn about how to use epoxy resin and what/how to add to it to color it and make it fluoresce . I hope that does the job for my Nuka-Cola Quantum, as I have no other ideas.
  5. DocJon

    DocJon New Member

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    I REALLY have an aversion to using water in this lamp. I thought about gel candle wax, but I'm a bit hesitant. I didn't really know how to color it, and I've never messed with it before. I was tempted, but I passed in favor of more jelled water:

    Seems simple to work with. It's gel. It's water. I know that stuff. I didn't get away from using water, but the gel should clump up in roughly one place if the bottle breaks(instead of making a spreading puddle with hot wires), so it moderates the issue somewhat, like the agar-agar did. In my head it does, anyway. I'll hydrate the beads with tonic water and some DarkLightFX 'electric blue' I have left over from my agar-agar efforts. I'll add in some food coloring and a drop of bleach to keep the germs/mold down. Should fluoresce nicely, and the tiny, tiny pinch of glitter I want to use should suspend in the gel beads just fine.

    I've long had an issue with the label that I have seldom seen addressed, and NEVER seen solved. Coca-Cola bottles are round-ish, like a baseball got caught in it's neck, where the label is supposed to go, and consequently, paper printouts/labels do not conform. They always wrinkle. ALWAYS. I tried building up the area underneath the label with mod-podge, but I lost patience.

    Anyway, I MAY have found a solution for the label issue.

    The poster makes mention of the vinyl label he used, and how it stretched to the bottle's curvature. I picked up a couple sheets of white, ultra-thin decal film for inkjets on Ebay, which the seller says is especially suited to 'contouring'. <crosses fingers>

    I don't do much with fancy printing - I don't even use photo paper - so I never knew stretchy vinyl was an option.

    I printed up a Wasteland Survival Guide to lay near the lamp with my Mentats. I didn't really have to do much work on either, since someone else PhotoShopped them and posted it to the 'net. I PS'ed some coffee rings on the cover of the Guide, so at least I did a little work. I also had a nearly empty bottle of vitamins that seemed to be a nice fit for a Rad-X prop, once I hit the cap with some Krylon Fusion. I think I'll print up some pre-war money and make a few bottlecaps next. Maybe I'll hit the Mentats tin with some brown and black paint to age/weather it.. . something to keep me busy until the gel beads and vinyl labels get here.
  6. zapwizard

    zapwizard Sr Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    Vinyl will stretch and can be printed by any sign shop.

    If you still want the paper look there are ways to do it. If your label is smaller at the top then at the bottom, with a constant curve between, than you first measure the diameter at the top edge of the label, and then the diameter at the bottom edge. Convert these to the circumference at each end. This sets the amount of skew you need to make the label fit the curve. This posts shows it a bit better.

    If the label has to grow in the middle and be narrower at both ends then you need something that can stretch.

    You may want to still pre-distort your artwork using the method above, such that when it gets stretched it looks correct.
  7. DocJon

    DocJon New Member

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    First, thanks for the response. I appreciate it.

    This is the situation right here. Here's a pic that illustrates the bulbous area where the label goes:


    This is why if you look closely at every Nuka-Cola prop that uses the classic Coca-Cola bottle, the label is wrinkled, parts are not flat against the glass, or both. Well, every one except that one I put in the post above. The pre-created labels that are out there for Nuka-Cola have curves in them,


    but as you pointed out, if the bottle's narrower at both ends, the curve won't be enough.

    People put such effort into their props, and come up with so many great-looking items, that I'm surprised that this is just passed over without hardly a mention. Maybe people just figured it to be part of the worn, banged-up look of the post-war bottles. Maybe they thought about it and had no idea how to fix it, so just gave it up. Hopefully, these vinyl labels will solve the wrinkled label issue on my Nuka-Cola prop. If not, I'll just have to learn how to wrinkle the label with style. :)

    Thanks again.
  8. gdriveworkshop

    gdriveworkshop New Member

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  9. plasmar

    plasmar New Member

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    Any update on how the vinyl labels worked out? I recently made my own Quantum after the Target / Jones Soda fiasco and had the same issue with the wrinkled paper label. It looks OK but I know there's got to be a better way!

    I used colored tonic water in mine. To illuminate it, I picked up a cheap tap light at Fry's and replaced the 6 LEDs inside with UV LEDs from Radio Shack. The light comes apart easily and the LEDs are pretty easy to cut or desolder out and replace with the UV ones. The Coke bottle sits on it perfectly and it glows quite brightly!
  10. DocJon

    DocJon New Member

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    The Encapso K looks like good stuff, assuming it won't generate too much heat while it sets, like a lot of 2-part epoxys. A little on the expensive side, though - $31 shipped thru Amazon for 32 oz. That's a LITTLE on the cheap side for products like that- most I've found are around $20 - $25 for 16 oz, but still, it's more than I'd rather spend on a 16 oz inert lump. I might give it a go one day anyway, as it looks good for this purpose.

    Whoops, i just clicked on the UV-reative pigments link. That's an extra $15 plus shipping! That's getting to be pricey - we're looking at over $50 to make ONE bottle of fake Nuka-Cola. Ouch. Well, it will make TWO bottles, but I only want one. It prices out better if you want 2, or have a friend who wants one.

    Thanks for the link to the tap-light. Glad that worked out for you - it can be hard to find the right UV LED's. If you get the wrong UV spectrum, colors won't fluoresce properly, and it will show up as a purple light. Sadly, like everything associated with this project to date, the best UV LED's seem to be the pricey ones. Also, you probably already know this by now, but some clear plastics will block UV light. If you didn't, you might want to check the clear tap-light cover to see if it's blocking some of the UV you want to be shining into the bottle.

    As for the labels, no, they were NOT the solution I was hoping for. I bought, "inkjet white glossy ultra-thin photo-film" labels. The were over $7 shipped for TWO sheets of the material. As they were expensive, I planned out the printing, and got a lot out of the one sheet I used - a few Nuka-Cola labels of different designs, and a bunch of bottle-cap labels to fill in the gaps left by the bottle labels. Even though this particular type of vinyl label was touted as being the best for this project, with the most stretchiness and give, it did not have much, if ANY, give at all. The wrinkly label issue remains.

    I made a slit on the left and right hand side of the label with a razor blade, and minimized the wrinkle on both sides by having it overlap there. It doesn't show much unless you look closely, but it doesn't satisfy the *-retentive in me. I couldn't do the same thing on the top or bottom, as there's too much wrinkling. I just had to live with it.

    The only solutions I can think of are this: use some material to build up the bottle where the label will go, cut and sand it to fit the label perfectly, and lay the label on it. it might look a little off as well, on close examination. Using something clear-ish, like decoupage glue, might work decently for this. The other solution might be to mock up the label as being very dirty and beat-up. That might hide the wrinkles enough, and/or make the wrinkles look like something that resulted from abuse, weathering, and age.

    Another off-beat solution is one I'm currently using. I changed the bottle! Not terribly cricket, as they say. We're making duplicate props, after all, but Fallout doesn't seem to be concerned about the shape of the bottle - they've changed it as well - so why shouldn't we? B^)

    After a lot of image searching, I settled on using an older "Cheerwine" bottle, as it seemed to have the best design for a game that has a lot of Art Deco/Googie architecture in it. It also has a flat area upon which to lay our label. I then made the label and stuck it on there. All done, no wrinkles, no hair-pulling. This will not satisfy many, or most ppl. It's disappointing when we can't perfectly duplicate the props, but I got tired of playing with this, it looks good, and it fits the style/spirit of the game.

    Here's the label. I lost the original design in a hard-drive accident, so this is just a scan of the label. Not as neat and clean as the original I made for my bottle (mine's not 'blotchy' like this pic), but it gives you an idea of the design.
    __quantum label- MINE (2.83in x 1.22in).jpg

    And here's the bottle. This is a pic I grabbed from the 'net - I had a nice, clean, blemish-free bottle to work with. Just picture it filled with blue - the fluting stands out nicely.

    _Cheerwine 1600.jpg

    So, after all of this, i just went ahead and made my own design with my own label and totally different bottle. Not very cool for a replica prop forum, but you know what? It makes for a good-looking lamp, and I kind of like it better than the one they used in-game.

    I can't wait to see what people do to recreate the NEW Nuka-Cola bottles from the Fallout 4 game. They look like rocket ships out of a 50's sci-fi movie, with fins and everything.
  11. plasmar

    plasmar New Member

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    The tap light holds 6 full size LEDs so it pumps out lots of light!
    IMAG1987.jpg IMAG1983.jpg
  12. Ryan Ricks

    Ryan Ricks New Member

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    Have you considered filling it with clear casting resin? Mixed with either photoluminescent powder (would make it glow in the dark) or a florescent powder (to glow under a blacklight)?

    Also when I made prop Nuka-Colas, I used professionally printed vinyl labels and even with stretching (and the curve) It was nearly impossible to get them wrinkle free.
  13. Sleow

    Sleow New Member

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    I'm trying to replicate the Fallout lunchbox: [​IMG] for my brother's birthday. Any idea how I can go about doing this? My thought process was about buying a metal lunchbox, sandpapering it and then printing out the image and sticking it on but I don't know how to make it look beaten up and old after doing this. All suggestions welcome :)

    - - - Updated - - -

    Also, any suggestions as to what I could make Fallout related that I could put inside the box would be great! I'm not as big a Fallout fan as my brother is so am a bit stuck for ideas
  14. OXXID

    OXXID New Member

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    Hello Sleow, I hope this is not too late :p

    This might be useful:

    For the weathering I used to use some liquid Bitumen drops mixed with some Paint Dissolvent (Thinner) spread with a brush or sponge (For the stains and old look).
    Besides of that you should beat the box a little, try denting it a bit and scratching some places, like the corners.

    Hope this helps.

    B Wo likes this.

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