Action Figure POC
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Action Figure POC

Posted in Custom Workstation

I had tons of action figures growing up. I have a fondness for some of these older toys, so when ReAction issued the previously un-released ALIEN figures, I thought it was an exciting idea. I was even more excited when I found out that they would be producing retro-styled STAR TREK figures, something I would have killed (or at least maimed) for when I was a kid. Unfortunately for me, though, the sculpting across the various ReAction lines was a bit hit or miss. They nailed the "retro" styling, but in some cases the figures themselves suffered a bit. And as happy as I was that there were now 3 3/4" STAR TREK figures, I just didn't like them as much as I thought I would. The upper bodies were a little too wedge-shaped, and the arms a bit too noodle-y. That started me thinking, though. Since there were literally dozens of different styles of action figures when I was growing up, what style would really work for something like STAR TREK?

I've always been fond of the Fisher Price Adventure People. Sturdy, well-constructed, with deceptively simple sculpting; loads of every-day character types. This, I thought, would make a nice base for a random STAR TREK crewman proof-of-concept. Since I knew this was going to be a test of sorts, I didn't want to re-invent the wheel. I chose an appropriate FP figure, pried it apart, and cast bits in Smooth-On plastic.

This was my first time casting in plastic, so there was a bit of trial-and-error, and a number of miscasts before I got what I wanted. Once I had decent casts of the pieces, I began grinding them into the shapes I wanted with a Dremel. So much grinding... I took a comparison shot from early in the process; along with details, I re-shaped the chest, back, and hips a bit, although I did not think to take more pics of the process.

Grinding and re-shaping complete, I started adding putty to the figure.

Many of these are cellphone pics, so their quality isn't as great as it could be.

I basically build up detail on the blank I had created, including whipping up a face in about ten minutes.

From the completed sculpt, I made a series of new molds, and once again cast in white Smooth-On for testing purposes. I assembled one test figure from the white plastic bits, then began to add tint to the plastic. Tint was also new to me, and required more trial-and-error, especially in the flesh tones:

It took a bit of work, but I was eventually able to get something less bubble gum pink for the head.

Color casting complete, I began painting the details, but ran into another small snag. For the life of me, I couldn't find my primer. I instead opted to apply the paint directly to the un-primed detail areas, then to use a plastic sealant to keep the paint from rubbing off. That proved to be my downfall, as I applied the plastic sealant too heavily, and all my careful brush work on the head and face ran like I had doused the figure in thinner:

The final product what I had initially envisioned. There was a bit of a learning curve getting to the final figure. I also think that to continue to pursue something like this, injection-molding might be more beneficial than gravity-pour molding. It was definitely a fun project.

Minor update, I've cast up and painted a newer version. I'll be posting full pics of that one in the customs area.

Posted by Talysman
on Saturday, May 19, 2018 - Updated on Tuesday, July 10, 2018
User Comments
Henchmen4Hire -
Monday, May 21, 2018
If the customizing community were larger, I think it would be cool to have a blog where anyone can post things like this. This site isn't set up for anything like that, otherwise I'd say we could host it here.

•Injection molding
The closest thing I've seen to letting us do this at home is using a high temperature glue gun to inject the glue into molds.

Since torsos like this one tend to be constructed with hollow thin shells, I think we need to develop a way to make slush casts/rotocasts. Basically, you make a mold, pour the resin or whatever in there, and keep it in constant movement so it spreads around, eventually hardening into a thin shell.

The biggest problem is how freaking expensive and difficult to use casting resin can be. We need a much cheaper, simpler to use alternative so we can experiment without going broke. Let's all try to create a liquid that hardens on its own in a reasonable amount of time, and won't ruin a mold. Maybe try liquefying Apoxie Sculpt somehow haha

How amazing would it be if all we had to do is add some baking powder to wood glue and water to get something comparable to resin?
Talysman -
Tuesday, May 22, 2018
It started initially by looking through this site and reading how some of the custom pieces were being produced, but I have a tendency to do projects the hard way. I agree that the price of plastic is a little steep for the learning curve, which is why I've paused in this project. I was tending to get three or four miscasts for every usable piece. Thanks for the comment
Talysman -
Friday, June 22, 2018
As sort of a partial update, I ran across some videos where people were using syringes to inject the liquid plastic into the mold after mixing...I'm playing with that idea a bit now, getting some not completely horrible results.
marz -
Monday, May 21, 2018
great work! and I really enjoyed the wip-story funny,I got something similiar to this layin on my workbench...trying to do a good classic spock from an 90's playmates romulan figure and the process looks pretty close to this^^
Talysman -
Tuesday, May 22, 2018
Thanks for commenting! Once you get your Spock closer to completion, you'll have to share some pics
marz -
Tuesday, May 22, 2018
there are two other projects to finish before,but I will hm...why don't you submit your results to the showcase too?
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