Ugh, why don’t I ever see the hairs before taking the photos?

Many moons ago I was inspired by another builder using their scrap empty sheets as they created a structure or sorts with it. Something about seeing what they had done triggered a part of my brain that had previously thought it would be super-cool if Metal Earth made a Borg Cube model (layered, not just a box, of course). This happened to all occur during a mod contest held by Metal Earth on Instagram, which I actually ended up winning with the Borg Cube entry.

I ended up making another one and shipping it to Fascinations as a thank you for how awesome and generous they are (yeah, I know, I’m totally a nerd). I didn’t tell them that I sent it, just wanted it to be a surprise. Amusingly, I ended up contacting them to make sure it arrived, and it turned out that it was not a good idea to send a box, unexpectedly, to a company. They hadn’t opened it because there were safety concerns… something that’s understandable in hindsight, but it was amusing nonetheless. Anyways, after that, I posted about finally bringing the original build into the office shortly after that, and a fellow builder asked (in a comment) if I had made a tutorial on how to build it.

I probably would have, if I had been writing this blog back then, but I hadn’t. However, I went ahead and wrote up one to send to her, because she’s just an awesome person (like most people in this community). Recently, someone posted in the Metal Earth Models facebook group about how funny / simple a Borg Cube model would be, and I got tagged in it by another builder, mentioning that I had built one. And it reminded me that I had written up that tutorial. I searched through my old stuff and found it! Seems like a great thing to share here, since I’ve been so swamped by work and life drama that I haven’t been able to build for almost a month.

Enough backstory, right? Let’s get to the tutorial! But I do have one more detail to share. As of right now, I do not have any photos or graphics for this process. I might come back and add some later, if I find the time, but I’m bringing this over, as is, from the email I sent to my fellow builder (hopefully I can maintain the formatting). So, everything from here on out is my original “tutorial,” as written many moons ago (excepting a few details I’ve added in italics).

Alright, I’m gonna throw this together as a series of steps, and try to capture what I did. I wish I could provide photos to go with it, but I don’t have enough spare sheets to make another one at this time. I’ll also include some of the stuff I did to improve the process in making the second one that I sent to Fascinations. One thing that may not have been clear from the photo is that I only fully built 3 sides of the cube. The back sides are just three sheets joined together at edge, and then wrapped in foil to reflect the light out the “front” side.

Build Supplies

  • Cardboard Box
  • Wax Paper
  • White glue (Elmer’s / School Glue)
  • 30 left over sheets (can be less, but should be multiple of 3)
  • Superglue with brush applicator (Gorilla Glue)
  • Foil
  • Duct Tape
  • LED Fairy Lights (Battery Powered, Green, can be found cheap on eBay slow-shipped from China)
  • Black and Silver Acrylic Craft Paint
  • Crappy Paint Brush You Don’t Care About
  • Well Ventilated Place to Work in

Build Process

  1. Create the build support frame (a simple, throwaway jig made out of cardboard used to help keep everything lined up properly). The first time I built a borg cube, I just used an empty box, but that was hard to reach into at all the right angles, and it also concentrated the superglue fumes, which you don’t want, trust me.
    1. Cut the corner off a cardboard box, so that you end up with half of a cube made of 3 square sides meeting in a single corner. The size of the cube should be about a half-inch smaller than one of the sheets (this makes it easier to align the sheets).
    2. Cut out some squares of wax paper to fit the insides of the 3 sides of the cardboard frame. Glue them on with white glue, and let dry. Some of the subsequent super-gluing may attach to the wax paper, but it’s a lot easier to remove the wax paper than it is to remove cardboard.
  2. Place two sheets inside the build frame against two sides. Align the sheets along the adjoining edge and apply thin layer of superglue to the crack where they meet. Hold the sheets in place until they cure enough to hold themselves.
  3. Place a third sheet on the remaining side of the frame, and align the edge with one of the two existing sheets. Glue along the edge and hold till cured. Align remaining edge, glue and hold till cured. This makes a sort of jagged “half-cube” composed of 3 faces of a cube.
  4. Remove the three sheet half-cube created in steps 2 & 3 and place to the side (this will be used later as a non-visible part of the build), then repeat steps 2 & 3 to create another half-cube.
  5. Leaving this half-cube in place, apply thin layer of superglue to several spots along all 4 outside edges of one of the sides. Apply a few drops randomly to large areas of the sheet in the middle. Then place another sheet on top and carefully press and hold in place till cured enough to hold it’s place on it’s own. Repeat with 2 remaining sides. For best results, take care to pick out sheets that don’t closely match the layout of the sheet you are attaching to.
  6. Repeat step 5 until you have used up the remaining 24 sheets (or however many you have remaining). Try to distribute and rotate the sheets strategically to not leave large gaps through the stacked layers. You should end up with one half-cube made of 9-layer thick sides, and one half-cube that is only 1-sheet thick (or something else, if you used a different starting number of sheets, but one “half-cube” will be only 1-sheet thick).
  7. Using silver paint, attempt to apply a wet paint layer to the outer surface of the multi-layer half-cube, one side at a time. It will not cover evenly, and will start to bead up, but don’t worry about that. Make sure to paint all exposed parts of the 9 layers and do not let it dry.
  8. As soon as you are finished with the third side of the cube, switch to black paint and repeat on all the sides, in the same order. As you do, the wet paints will mix and / swirl together (especially if you apply it in a stabbing motion) with the silver and create a mottled effect on the surface that creates the impression of additional complexity on the surface. Set aside to dry.
  9. Cut out 3 squares of Foil that are about an inch larger on each side than a metal sheet. Apply these sheets to the inside of the 1-layer thick cube with some superglue, leaving the excess hanging out. The foil is used to reduce light bleeding out the back of the model, while also reflecting more light out the front of the model.
  10. Fold the excess foil over to the outside, and tape down with duck tape. Seal the edges where the sheets meet by applying ducktape along the outside, but leave a small gap in the inside corner.
  11. Push the end of the fairly light string (not the one with the battery pack) through the corner in the foiled half-cube, and then pull through until you reach the thick plastic wrapped part of the wire. Use the duck tape to secure this in place, and seal the corner.
  12. Bunch up or coil up the fairy lights and place them “inside” the foiled half of the cube, with one side of the cube laying flat on a surface. Balance (or glue in place) the painted half-cube on top of the foiled half.
  13. Insert batteries into fairy light battery module, turn on, and enjoy.

Okay, so I did a bit more editing than I thought I would, but… I didn’t do a great job writing the instructions the first time around. Nevertheless, feel free to use the instructions as-is, or as inspiration for your own variant. I suppose you could make a full six-sided cube if you were really dedicated.

Also, funny addendum to the funny story about that borg cube I sent to Fascinations. That was well before I made a different contact at Fascinations, started my blog, and ended up getting sent some models to review on the blog. I thought they knew I was one and the same, but they apparently didn’t. So when I mentioned it once, my contact responded “That was you!??!” (or something like that) And then proceeded to tell me a little more about the story from their point of view. Life is funny like that.