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Old July 19 2012, 07:00 AM   #1
Sumghai's Avatar
Location: Christchurch, New Zealand
Combadges from a prop perspective - placement and positioning

Just something that came to mind recently.

My understanding is that the combadges worn by some Trekkers attending conventions in costume are either pinned, velcroed or afixed permanently to their uniforms - presumably, so that they don't fall off / get "souvenired" easily by other attendees.

However, from watching VOY's "Basics" and DS9's "Inter Arma Enim Silent Leges", I've observed the combadges being removed from the uniform rather casually without any sort of fumbling, and similarly replaced in a consistent manner.

Both use this as plot devices - the Kazon confiscates the Voyager crew's combadges before marooning them to deprive them of any ability to call for help, whilst Admiral Ross and Dr Bashir does so to have a conversation "off the record".

What's more, the uniforms don't have marking / features to guide the replacement of the combadges, yet the cast seem to do so in a consistent manner (I'm presuming that Starfleet has some sort of uniform code that specifies how far along and how high up one wears their combadge).

Obviously, it could be argued that the sets are (to a certain extent) more controlled environments than cons. But it got me thinking, for fan productions or role-playing, what is the best way to attach combadges to uniforms / costumes in a consistent manner, without any visible "locators" on the latter?

A possible solution?

Magnets immediately come to mind - indeed, this is the only way I am aware of where one could wear removable badges without poking holes (safety pins) or modifying the outer surface of the uniform (velcro, snap fasteners).

We can then assume that a complementary magnet or even a metal plate could be sewn/glued to the inside of the uniform, in a location corresponding to where the combadge would be worn on the outside (so that the person isn't reaching into his/her shirt and fumbling around with the inner piece).

Although we've thus covered the ease of removal / replacement part, there isn't any method of automatically aligning them - two magnets with opposing poles facing each other do not need to perfectly line up to make the attachment, and so this opens up issues of having the combadge askew or offset - more fumbling!

My proposed solution suggests that the combadge could have a number of small, separate magnets with different facing poles, and the backing sewn behind the uniform could have a complementary set of magnets as well. This would allow the assembly to repel any attempts at misalignment and automatically guide the combadge to be worn correctly.

If the magnets could be made thin enough to be inconspicuous (but still powerful enough to work through cloth), then there is the possibility that such as solution could also work for "Hero" prop combadges that could be opened up to reveal faux circuitry.

Some questions for the community
  1. Has this been done before?
  2. Does it even matter if the combadges are askew / offset from their "correct" positions?

Last edited by Sumghai; July 20 2012 at 03:38 AM.
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