Andrea (pictured), Lorne and Jeff) spent a couple of days making shields under my jaundiced eye. Here are the most basic and least expensive shields...they are made from barrel plastic and of course, need some finishing yet. However, they are ready to go. All they need is some edges and some handles. The black plastic does not "look" like plastic from more than a few feet away. It is really tough, nearly indestructible, and you can even paint it. (You use that "fusion" paint you can buy for painting lawn chairs.) What more can you ask of a material like this?
The plastic is not suitable for regular armour...though I "have" seen it used in simulated suits from time to time, the curve which exists in the material is unpredictable, and almost impossible to modify. Even heating the stuff up and bending it around a form won't work for long...it retains a sort of memory, which causes it to curl up after a year or so. The curve which exists in the material is almost perfect for shields, and installing a smaller inside piece "back to back" will countercurve the material, keeping it where it belongs indefinately.
The basic shield blank as shown costs only 25 dollars, and to do it all up with the edges and handles and so forth will push the price up to 65 dollars. This client has students who will happily do all of the finishing, which of course, helps him to save a small fortune. Pretty inexpensive way to get shields for the training floor which will pretty much last forever.
There are six shown here, I have another four ready to finish for MY classes, and I have a half dozen shields from my classes whose heater hose edges really need to be re-laced. About time, after three years of the abuse we give them, they are a little scratched, and need some new laces around the edge. Damn, these are tough shields.