New to custom action figure making, any beginner tips?
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New to custom action figure making, any beginner tips?

Posted in Custom Workstation

Hi everyone! I am new to the realm of custom action figure making and I was wondering if any of the pros on the site have any tips on making your figures, things to avoid, work flow, good places to get spare figure parts, etc? I have been researching the topic on Figure Realm and have read all of the tips and how-to's there and if anyone has anything to add, please feel free to let me know. I know every hobby has it challenges and I am looking forward to interacting with all of you and posting my work up here.

Posted by Xavier97x2
on Friday, July 8, 2011
User Comments
konvict -
Tuesday, October 4, 2011
Customizing action figures by adding articulation is a laborious task. However, every effort is worth the sweat. Being able to make fingers movable and limbs twists and bend allows for more flexibility, which equals more fun.

If you would like the challenge of adding articulation to your action figures here are some easy-to-follow steps and beneficial tips:

Purchasing Materials

Choose the figure you want to articulate. Purchase thin paper clips, a Dremel Minimite tool with drill bits, X-acto knife, glue (Superglue works best), small screws in various sizes, miniature screwdriver set, Rare-Earth magnets (good quality brand which most hobby stores have on stock), and wire snips.

Tip 1: You may want to begin with figures you don't mind messing up because the first few tries are difficult and the slightest accidental movement may end with a ruined action figure.

Creating Joints

Look for the best spot to make a cut.

Tips 2: You want to cut on the seam of a painted costume (a place which isn't too noticeable and lends itself to being cut such as in a crevice).

Drill a hole in the center of both pieces. Place a small amount of glue on the threads of the screw. Then twist the screw approximately of the way into the hand. The tip of the screw that is sticking out of the hand becomes what is called the mushroom cap.

You'll need to make room for the mushroom cap to fit into the arm without the screw coming out. Begin to hollow out a little bit of the arm by using a Dentist-burr Dremel tip.

Tip 3: Begin drilling when you are free from distraction. The slightest jolt or application of too much pressure can damage the figurine and ruin your attempts at articulation.

Tip 4: Test the fit a few times. Drilling less rather too much is better because you can't put any portion back in if you drill too much. So, Drill. Stop. Test the fit. Drill more if needed. Once the fit is snug and can turn easily, you have completed the articulation process.

Applying this technique to most parts of the figurine's body is easy and allows you to create joints wherever you would like fingers, arms, knees, elbows, ankles.

Creating Magna-Joints

You'll follow the same process as "Creating Joints." Make a cut along the seam or crevice in the figurine. Get two Rare-Earth magnets that will fit snugly inside both pieces. With a router bit, hollow out a space in the center of both cut pieces.

Tip 5: These hollowed-out spaces need to be the same depth and diameter as the Rare Earth magnets. Carefully shave
CB2001 -
Tuesday, August 30, 2011
Another couple of suggestions I can come up with was when I tried to do customizing figures and model building back when I was in high school:
1. Always hang on to your pieces. - No matter what size figure you use, if you have any pieces left over, hang on to them. You never know when you may need pieces from the figures you used for another piece of work. Or, you never know when you may need a piece that someone else has, and you have a piece that they are willing to trade for. Also, organizing the said pieces left over is also a big tip. Get a tackle box, have heads in one compartment, arms in another, legs in another, main body pieces in another, and assign each individual size for their own compartments. Of course, you could have everything in one big box, but organizing these pieces can make what you're looking for easier to find.
2. Know your materials - If you're going to do sculpting and painting, you may want to test out the materials first before you start applying them to your figure. You never know how things will and will not work together. If you live in a place where you can only get JB Plastic Epoxy for sculpting pieces of your figure, you want to make sure it sticks to your figure before you begin to sculpt them. If you're going to make resin casts with Smooth-On, you're going to want to make sure you can get your mixture right and make sure you know how to pull pieces. If you're going to use automotive paint by Duplcolor instead of Testors or Tamiya model paint because that's the only thing you have access to where you live, you're going want to make sure that if it can stick to plastic and sculpt materials. If you're going to need a fine grit sandpaper, you're going to want to know how smooth it will make plastic pieces or scratch it up.
3. Patience - The old saying goes that its a virtue. If you can't be patient enough to wait for something to dry, it can end up costing you time, and possibly money, because you jumped the gun. Take your time in disassembling something, take your time sculpting, take your time in waiting for paint or sculpt to dry, be patient if you're planning on wiring some sort of electronics to go with your action figure, vehicle or playset (if you're doing such items).
4. At first you don't succeed, don't be hard on yourself - Let's face it, you're not expected to be great right out the gate. So, if something your working on doesn't come out right, don't knock on yourself. I myself have seen a few customs in the gallery where someone who did a character ended up doing a Version 2.0 of the character, applying what they learned from the first time around to the second one, improving it from the previous version. The same is true with building your pieces.
5. Have fun - Much like model building and prop replica constructing, toy customizing is something you're doing because you have the passion for it. So, have fun with what you're doing. Think of it like putting together a model or a puzzle, trying to figure out what pieces best work for your figure. Most of what you see in the custom gallery are done by people who love the challenge of building something, love the subject they're working on or even love the fact that they're making something unique that the toy company, or others, haven't constructed in the same way. So, have fun with it.
Helix326 -
Thursday, August 11, 2011
Always ask for help no matter how stupid you think the question may be!
Cosmic Fantasy Customs -
Tuesday, August 9, 2011
can't wait to see your work and agreed with everyone take your time and practice makes perfect. also make sure to get some tools for the medium you are working, as they say the right tool for the job makes all the difference. when you get more familiar with the paint, sculpting and figure assembly/disassembly check out using magnets for other projects/concepts. welcome also.
Helix326 -
Thursday, August 4, 2011
I'm new too! Looking forward to using all the tips!
Xavier97x2 -
Sunday, July 10, 2011
Thanks everyone for their tips! I have started just swapping out different parts on figures and combining them, I will post what I have done so far once it dries!
ryuskrew -
Saturday, July 9, 2011
From experience, practice sculpting a bit first. It's a lot harder than you think (at least for me it was); I'm an artist and expected it to be really easy. But no, it's not. haha. It's something that takes practice, and if you end up getting the Aves Apoxy Sculpt, you really want to make sure you mix it 50/50, otherwise something you sculpt and are really proud of might not be of any use. And using water when you sculpt is really necessary because it'll smooth it out.
Ole Jade Jaw -
Friday, July 8, 2011
I like to thin my acrylics with windex instead of water. A glue syringe works really well. Have fun!
getsa -
Friday, July 8, 2011
welcome to the hobby! just enjoy what your doing and don't be afraid to experiment. study other customizer's works, pick up tips here and there, you'll have your own style in no time.

and yeah, keep the first project simple. maybe try repainting a simple figure. choose a figure that you don't have to paint the joints. a plain repaint just to get the hang of it. slowly hone your basic painting skills until you're happy with how your paint apps look. this would help you a lot.

again, welcome to the colorful world of customizing!
Darththomas -
Friday, July 8, 2011
Wise words indeed, start off simple, head swaps, repaints etc. then when you start to get more confident try new techniques, sculpting etc. Small steps are key, don't try to run before you can walk and all that . Like Cogmandino said your first few attempts will more than likely be awful but keep at it and you'll soon learn.
cogmandino -
Friday, July 8, 2011
Try making a figure as soon as you get the materials to do so. Then, ask questions here if a problem comes up. FYI pros had some bad first customs too so it's okay if it looks bad Practice practice and practice some more!!!
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