another idea might be to try and cover those pop tops with something and put them on completely cover and it would give the scaled effect. Another way to do it, but would require a lot of bondo or what ever you use. Cover the pop tops in bondo and completely fill them with it and from the bondo around them. This method will take a lot of time and a lot of material but it's an idea. Or another way to do it is, find a picture of a scale and print it out then use some heavy duty card stock and cut a sheb load of them out and it should have the desired effect. But before you actually make a million of them to completely cover your armor make 3 or 4 of them and lay them out on your armor don't attach them but simply lay them there. Once that is done step away from the project and go have dinner or something. Then come back to it. Think about it for a little bit and do the same with the other methods.
When you do this, it takes your mind of the project and puts it on something else. That way when you get back to it your looking at it with new eyes. Honestly the longer you look at it, the better. I've had to do this with my armor that i have so far. Make the part then set it down and continue to look at it for about a week before deciding that i either want it or not. The longer you hold off it will tell you weather or not you really like the idea. If you still like it a week after you make the sample then i'd say go for it.