I just thought I’d share something useful I found while scavenging in the local craft store (JoAnn Fabric, but I’m sure others have this as well): Letterboard plastic letters for signage! Basically, these are sets of plastic letters on sprues (with a number of duplicates and punctuation marks) that have tabs on the back intended to be slotted onto “letterboards” – mini versions of the sorts of marquee signs you might see outside a road-side theater, motel, church, or older fast food restaurant advertising what’s currently playing, what’s special, a motivational message, etc. So far, I’ve found them in 2", 1" and 1/2" high varieties, with a different typeface for each size, and in an odd assortment of colors. I’ve also found some letterbox accessories that consist of entire words (often in fancy calligraphic or cursive script) that can be clipped onto such a board, but so far I haven’t been struck with any as being terribly useful for my purposes.
Here’s an example of a sign using the 2" high letters. I drilled holes into the bottom of each letter, and used paperclip wire to pin them down to a length of sprue that I then affixed to a section of mat board and anchored with some epoxy putty and a few decorative “Tehnolog/Robogear/Platformer” panel pieces, to set atop the gate in the picture. A nice bonus to the letters is that if any of them fall off … well, it’s a post-apocalyptic wasteland! That only makes it look more authentic.
Here’s a more recent project. Of course, for the above structure I COULD have just measured the size of the available space, arranged something spelled out as “MONORAIL” in whatever typeface in Photoshop or even a word processing program, then printed it off in paper or cardstock and glued it in place. However, it just so happened that the 1/2" high letters (pictured) fit very nicely, and they gave that nice added “pop” by virtue of being in 3D rather than a flat printed image. No pinning was required – I just trimmed the “tabs” off the back (making sure to scour the back flat, so the whole surface would be fairly smooth), and then super-glued each letter into the recessed area.
I suppose I COULD use them for self-standing letters, but with this particular set, some of the letters are attached to the sprue by the bottom, and some by the top. The letters themselves are getting thin enough that getting a pinning hole into the body of the plastic is a bit trickier than for the 2"-high letters, so I’m reluctant to go that route just yet. (I might experiment with it later, but in that case I might well just try to keep the letters attached to some portion of the original sprue, and then do the pinning on the SPRUE piece instead – as it offers more thickness for drilling. These letters are made to be broken off the sprue, so breakage is a high risk, but in that case I suppose I can take fallen letters and glue them on somewhere near the base of the sign, as it’s entirely appropriate for some of them to have simply fallen off over the past 200 years or so.)