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YOU CAN STILL PLAY WITH YOUR TOYS: Customizing Action Figures

December 26, 2010

                YOU CAN STILL PLAY WITH YOUR TOYS: Customizing Action Figures

If you miss playing with your toys and you like to paint and assemble things, run and dig out your old action figures from the back of a closet or grandma’s basement.  This is actually a big deal in some circles, and by “big deal” I mean that more than four people do it.  You can find sites where people feature their work, sell and trade customized toys and share tips on how to do things.  People that collect certain series of toys, from Transformers to McFarlane sports toys, sometimes expand to customizing them and there is a market for resale of the customized pieces.

Hockey Blogger Boyfriend has done his share of customized G.I. Joe figures and finally created one as a self-portrait.  He also made the front and back for the ‘sales’ card; this version was framed and a second version was set out in a clear acrylic cube as if being played with.  The custom figures were put in a curated art show at a college campus.

Here’s some pointers I’ve learned from his interest in customizing toys and a few holdovers from my model painting years to get your started:

  • Buy up lots of beat up figures to take apart and repaint.  You can get a lot for cheap at yard sales and thrift shops.
  • You can remove existing paint with Simple Green cleaner used at 100% strength, soak the toy overnight in a container of the cleaner.
  • Use spray paint made for plastic for covering a large number of pieces or large spaces of plastic.
  • Zap-a-Gap model making glue is gold.  Always.
  • Use tiny screw drivers to take apart jointed figures that have screws.  Keep a dish handy so as to not lose the screws.
  • Use acrylic paints; many people enjoy the Warhamster paints from Games Workshop.  You may also want to use paint sealers that are similar to those used in table top model gaming.
  • You can use two part epoxy based modeling putty to sculpt pieces and change the shapes of existing pieces.
  • Dremel tools and emery sandpaper nail files are helpful for grinding and sanding.
  • Use tiny brushes such as 0, 00, 000, 5/0, 10/0.
  • If you can’t paint the eyes or the buttons on the shirt, give it to your girlfriend to paint, because after all the AD&D models, Robots, Elves, Space Marines and Tyranids she’s done over the years, she’ll bang that mutha out right away.  (Oh wait, that was too revealing… oh well.)
Categories: Fun Stuff, Uncategorized
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