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Modifying cheap plastic figures (little people)
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 Posted: Sat Feb 28th, 2015 05:35 am
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NevadaBlue
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I model in 1:24ish, but this will work in any scale that the figures are available. The cheap Chinese figures off of ebay are what I'm talking about. I finally read somewhere that these things are ABS plastic. They come in lots of shapes and sizes and poses. But, I always need a different pose it seems. So I bought a bunch of figures and use them as 'spare parts' for making what I need.
I needed a pilot for a current project so I thought I would document how I do this and maybe it would help someone else. I've seen people complaining about these figures but I like them. They are easy to cut, glue and modify. My main surgical tool is a razor saw, with backup from an Xacto knife during the finishing process. I use ordinary styrene glue (Tamiya because it is what I have) and it works great.
You will see that it takes hardly any effort to do this, just a bunch of messing about with bits of plastic. I save all the sawdust, and bits that I saw out, using them as filler as necessary.

Here's a couple of volunteers waiting for surgery. In this case I needed a sitting figure with his legs sticking out more than down. So, I chopped up a standing guy for his torso and a sitting guy for his legs and added an extra head from Egor's spare pile. The standing guy is necessary because of his arms, they can be removed and repositioned and reshaped.





Here is the carnage after the first round of surgery. Both figures separated at the waist and arms removed from the standing figure.



Then the sitting figure gets his pelvis split to allow his legs to be spread. I also cut a notch at the back (butt crack area) to allow the legs to be properly spread out.



The plastic isn't what I could call brittle, but it doesn't bend well. I went ahead and separated the legs at the center line since it will happen anyway during shaping. Here we have the knee work. Cut a wedge from the front of the knee (aren't razor saws nice? ) and it will be used as filler at the back of the knee to straighten the leg.



In this case, both legs will be done the same way.



The legs have been straightened, wedges installed at the back of the knee and glued. I put a generous drop of glue on both surfaces and then push them together. The plastic gets rubbery and can be manipulated for quite a while after gluing. I use the cut out pieces as well as the saw dust as filler. It becomes soft in the glue and can be smeared around with the tip of the Xacto knife.



"Off with his head" said the Queen... and it was done. The styrene 'spare' head glues to this stuff just fine. That means you can use sprues from other models and parts from other models readily.



There is a tiny wedge of plastic with the legs in this picture. I cut that from the waist of one of the figures. This wedge will become the spacer to hold the legs properly spread for 'pilot' work. Gotta be able to push the rudder pedals.



Now the wedge is glued in place and the bodies are ready to be joined! Lots of glue, lots of patience and some sawdust. Let the surfaces get rubbery and it is easy to shape the thing the way you want it. I manipulated this one for quite a while before I got him sitting just right. That also required filler at the back since I had a gap after adjusting the back angle.



And here he is, waiting for arms. You can see the sawdust filler. I'll put more glue on the dust and press it flat, let it dry and then shape him for painting. It turns out he won't fit in the Piper J3 model, I can't get him through the door. So he won't be finished until the Boeing 40 plane is ready for a pilot. That's an open cockpit plane so he will go in fine.

Last edited on Sat Feb 28th, 2015 05:43 am by NevadaBlue



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 Posted: Sat Feb 28th, 2015 12:13 pm
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pipopak
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Nice work, Dr Frankenstein!. Jose.



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 Posted: Sat Feb 28th, 2015 03:10 pm
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Herb Kephart
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Woodie does the same sort of thing in 1/35, convincing German soldiers to endure a sex change even. I don't know about 1/48, or 1/87 though--take some one less fumbily than I.

Very nice ''how to do''--thanks for posting!

Herb



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 Posted: Sat Feb 28th, 2015 06:42 pm
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NevadaBlue
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Thanks! I'll try to remember to come back and finish the thread when the airplane model is ready to hold a pilot. I want to put his arms in the right place. Then I'll finish the shaping and my wife will paint him.



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 Posted: Sat Feb 28th, 2015 09:40 pm
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Tramcar Trev
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I'm suitably impressed! The best I have managed was to convert the guy with his hat on backwards to a head of hair and leave him sitting down....



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 Posted: Sun Mar 1st, 2015 02:51 am
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NevadaBlue
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Thanks! I have tried making my own figures out of clay and not been too successful. I decided that these little people are a good way to get a big population quickly.



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 Posted: Sun Mar 1st, 2015 05:07 am
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JawboneFlats
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On the topic of "little people", I don't have any, and yes, it looks a bit strange to me when I see my motive power moving over the line with completely empty cabs. Even stranger (to me) is that I've gotten compliments from friends (decidedly not model railroaders) about my not having "any of those fake little people" around. I guess it takes all kinds.
Dennis aka JawboneFlats

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 Posted: Sun Mar 1st, 2015 11:39 am
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fanai
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Sorry but I must have figures as that is my real 'passion' have been painting figures from 6mm to 300mm high to extremely high level and also convert an d make my own and also done range of 1/48 figures -why
because we are the inhabitants and why railways run - why haul coal or iron if people don't need it
just my 2 cents - I will probably have things like picnic trains and Parades on my layout and station with lots of passenger



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 Posted: Sun Mar 1st, 2015 02:50 pm
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W C Greene
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When I modeled in 1:48 scale, I usually made nice figures from military kits. Mostly they were "body parts" which needed soldier parts removed. But having figures made in pieces allowed me to make the figures in poses that weren't available anywhere else. Oh yes, I used commercially made guys but when I see the same figure on many layouts, it tended to bum me out.
Now that I model 1:35, about all there is available come in pieces and being larger, the details (faces & hands especially) are much nicer than smaller scales. Plus it's easier to remove unwanted details.
I have heard the "fake little plastic people" comment before and my comment is..."well, let's see YOURS!". That shuts them up every time (or causes me to be banned from some site due to flaming). Yes, my "pet peave" is NO CREW IN THE CAB...I guess the loco must be radio controlled-I know a bit about that also.

So, get out the Xacto knife, some sanding sticks, body putty, and get to work. You'll be glad you did.

Woodie-not opinionated at all...yeah right!



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 Posted: Sun Mar 1st, 2015 05:52 pm
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NevadaBlue
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That's right Woodie, self running trains and empty towns are... not real! :cb:



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