Saturday, 28 November 2015

Repairing One of Those Pesky Broken RAH Shoulders

Hello, everyone!

It has been a looooong time since I posted here, but I assure you, my return isn't motivated by frivolity. No, ladies and gentlemen. This time I'm on a mission.
An important one.

Today I will be repairing none other than
this dismembered Plastic Torso!
No, seriously...

The torso used to be a part of Medicom RAH (actually "Real Action Heroes") Roy Mustang, but as you can see, the shoulder is broken. Roy's broken parts were graciously replaced by Medicom Toy a couple of years ago, but I'm going to be fixing the broken shoulder on the left-over torso anyway.
The reason is this guy:

Meet Medicom RAH L.
I get a lot of weird questions about a lot of weird figures, but this guy tops them all. I've had more questions about RAH L than any other figure.

To sum up, your standard RAH body has approximately one zillion Chinese-puzzle-box-like moving parts, which makes them delicate to start with, but some of the older RAHs like L go beyond mere delicateness – after a while, the plastic around their joints actually starts to crumble of its own accord.
This means that one day you're happily going about your business when suddenly your most beloved, most prized, most expensive action figure's ENTIRE ARM just FALLS OFF.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again: *HYSTERICAL SCREAMING*

This – along with accidental decapitation – 


– is the most common RAH problem people ask me for help with. And I know my readers aren't making it up, because this is exactly what happened to my RAH Roy Mustang (after I put his head back on), and it is MIGHTILY DISTRESSING.
Don't feel ashamed for crying, ladies and gents. You're not alone.
So, short of replacing the parts, what can we do about it?
Answering this question took a fair bit of experimentation, but – EUREKA! I finally found a satisfactory solution.

This is where it gets Technical...
The main cause of all the anguish is this thing:
The Thing, shown here next to a tiny washer.
This peg used to hold the shoulder on, but now it doesn't because the cone of plastic it used to be embedded in has disintegrated.
But what's so bad about the peg itself?
At first glance, it seems rather like an innocent-enough screw, but look carefully at the shape, and you will see that it is actually an itty-bitty-super-fiddly RATCHET. The only way this ratchety little S.O.B. could have been inserted in the plastic in the first place is if the shoulder-plastic was heated until it was soft (or it could have been done with a tonne of pure, unadulterated force, which you'd think would break the plastic, but I could be wrong).
Now, I'm reverse-engineering all this, so I may be mistaken, but I'm guessing that pushing this knobbly chunk of metal through the hot plastic is probably what weakened said plastic in the first place and later went on to cause the infamous crumbling we all know and love.
So here's the question:
How the heck can we get the peg back in!?
The answer is:
We can't.
The plastic which used to hold the peg in place has now crumbled away, and even if it hadn't, the temperatures required to heat PVC to a point where it's soft enough to work are not all that convenient (and now that the plastic is a few years old, a tonne of pure, unadulterated force would definitely be out of the question).
So I'm going to show you how to modify a screw to act as a replacement shoulder-peg.

You may want to have the broken pieces with you, so you can see what I'm talking about.


1. Needle-nose pliers
2. One (Self-Tapping) Screw (approx 2mm diameter)
3. A Ruler
4. A Hot Glue Gun OR Epoxy Putty
5. A Pin Vice
8. 2mm diameter Drill Bit
9. A Regular Size Phillips Head Screwdriver
10. A Small Size Phillips Head Screwdriver


11. Sandpaper
12. A Big Sewing Needle
13. Scissors
14. Forceps
15. A Hairdryer

16. Bandaids

Part One: Replacing The Peg
First of all, get the metal peg out of the shoulder. You can do this by pushing it from behind (on the ratchety end) and then wiggling it out with pliers.
It should have a small washer on it (pictured above). Keep that washer safe. You're going to need it later.

NOTE: There's a possibility that the shaft that contains the head of the peg will be covered by what I'm going to call a "blocker". These are put in place for aesthetic purposes, but for us tinkerers, they're just in the way.
Blockers are made from soft plastic and not usually glued in. I personally remove them by stabbing them with a big-arse sewing needle and prising them out like so:
Note that the blocker in the photo is covering a screw, not the peg, since
my dismembered torso's peg-blocker was already removed.
With the blocker out of the way, you're free to remove the peg.

OK, now you've got that pesky peg out, the trick will be finding a screw which is about the same width as the original peg, but – and this is important – a few millimetres longer.
It was while pondering this that I realised I had kept a packet of small screws in my desk for the last five or six years for no reason.
*GASP* Could it be!?

Oh yah!
Had I not been so lucky, I could have just taken the original peg to the hardware store and compared it to the screws they had for sale until I found one with the SAME SHANK WIDTH.
Don't worry about the width of the thread, it's the shank which must match the original peg.
And speaking of the shank, make sure it is AT LEAST 10mm long (11mm is better). This is not including the head. You can see in the photo that the shank of the screw I am using is about 14mm long.

Anyway, something you may have noticed about the screw in the photo above, is that it is not only longer than the peg (good), but it also has a conspicuously wider head (BAD).

The reason this is bad is because the screw-head must fit down the narrow shaft from which you have just removed the original peg. What's more, it needs to be small enough to rotate freely within the shaft.
The shaft in the shoulder part. You can see by the comparative
hugeness of my thumb that it's very narrow. (If you're wondering why
 the edges of it look so mushy, my advice is to be careful with the pliers.)
If you managed to find a tiny-headed screw which fits down the shaft, good for you.
For everyone else, there's sandpaper.

Get a piece of regular woodworking sandpaper and file down the screw head, rotating it frequently, until it's small enough to fit down the shaft. This will take a little while, but it's overall not that difficult.
There will be some metal dust, so you might prefer
to do this outside.
Luckily, the screw doesn't need to be as insanely narrow as the original peg. Here's how the modded screw looks compared to an un-modded one:

Now you can put the tiny washer on the screw and fit it down the shaft.
You may find, as I did, that instead of rotating freely in the shaft, the screw threads bite into the plastic in the hole at the bottom of the shaft.
Instead of going around and around, in screws in and out.

This is a very tedious problem, but it can be fixed with some more tedious sandpapering.
The problem this time is the screw-thread.
Notice how the original peg is smooth at the top end, under the head?
Well, now we have to recreate this (roughly). Now we get the pleasure of REMOVING THE TOP 2-3MM OF THE SCREW-THREAD WITH SANDPAPER.
There are probably a bunch of ways of doing this, but here's how I eventually managed it:

1. Cut a very thin strip of sandpaper. About 3mm wide.
2. Using forceps, make a noose for the screw with the sandpaper, like so:
Note the position and orientation of the screw-head with respect to the forceps.
This will hold it in place while you enact step 3.

3. Pinch the sandpaper tightly against the screw-thread and, using an appropriate screwdriver, turn the screw around and around until the sandpaper looses its bite.
Pinching the noose.
4. Undo the noose, move the sandpaper along a bit so that a nice fresh, abrasive part of the paper is in contact with the thread and repeat steps 1 - 4.

This process will slowly grind down the top of the screw-thread until it no longer bites into the plastic. You may have to repeat it quite a few times (I know I did!), but it works.
And luckily, you don't have to grind the thread down to nothing before it stops biting.
Here's what my peg-replacement looked like after sandpapering:
Not nearly as smooth as the peg, but it still does the job –
IE It turns around and around in the shaft.
The tiresome screw in the tiresome shaft.
Alright, so now the replacement peg fits down the shaft (with the washer in place!), and can rotate freely!
We must be done, right?


The next problem is the length of the screw shank. (Sigh)
This must not exceed 11mm, and, as I mentioned previously, the shank of my shiny new replacement peg is a whopping 14mm.

Luckily, there's an elegantly simple method we can use to get that shank down to size!

Be sure to measure the length of the screw shank every once in a while between bouts of merciless sandpapering. When you've finished, it should be no more than 11mm in length, but no less than 10mm.
That doesn't leave very much room for unchecked merciless sandpapering error.
Once again, I will stress that the 11mm length refers to the SHANK ONLY! It does not include the head of the screw!
(For the purposes of this project, I couldn't give a rat's arse how deep the screw-head is.)
OK! Done!
The shiny new replacement peg can now fit down the shaft (along with the tiny washer), rotate freely within the shaft, AND it's 11mm long!

AT LAST. AT LONG LAST, we are finished modifying the screw!
Now, on to ––

Part 2: Modifying The Shoulder Joint
The broken plastic shoulder joint is made up of several fiddly pieces.
In this section, we will be dealing with what I'm going to call the Arm Part and the Fiddly Plastic Washer.
The arm part. This one looks particularly bad because I once tried to replace the crumbled plastic with yellow epoxy putty.
The Arm Part is probably attached to the rest of the arm in your case, and it contains the thing which is actually broken. As far as I can tell, where this ugly mushy break now sits, there once used to be a cone-shaped protrusion into which the shoulder-peg was inserted. This is, of course, now completely obliterated.
The Fiddly Plastic Washer. Note that it is different on each side. One side is concave (left), the other is flat (right).
The Fiddly Plastic Washer fits over the round depression in the Arm Part, with the concave side facing down:
Just like this. Note how it makes a little sort of cave.
In this section, I'm going to be filling up the little sort of cave made between the correctly placed Fiddly Plastic Washer and the Arm Part with hot glue from a glue gun. (You could also use epoxy putty, if you like putty.)
After the cave is filled, I'm going to drill a hole through the centre so that the new shoulder peg can be inserted.

Step 1:

Fill the empty space with hot glue.
This is pretty simple. Just squeeze the glue in gently until the hole is full. If you accidentally use too much glue, scrape/wipe off the excess until the surface is relatively flat (I used the big-arse sewing needle to smooth off my excess glue).
When you're done, it should look more or less like this:

If you're using epoxy putty, knead it up as per the instructions, then press it onto the broken surface of the Arm Part in a small lump.
Next, push the Fiddly Plastic Washer (concave side down) firmly over the putty-lump. This will mould the putty into the desired cone-shape.
Smooth off the top surface and remove any excess putty from around the edges of the washer with a craft knife or other scrapey tool of your choice.

Step 2:
This one's nice and relaxing: set your work aside until the glue/putty has set.

If you used putty, read the instructions to see how long you should wait, then add a few more hours to be safe.

If you used hot glue, then you just have to wait for it to cool down to room temperature.
In my case, this took long enough to have tea and crumpets and purchase some new laboratory glassware online.
I don't know what all the "popular" kids are doing with their lab glassware
these days, but I like to culture primitive land plants in mine.
Step 3:
In the Arm Part, there is a screw which runs perpendicular to the direction of the vague hole where the shoulder peg once was.

Before you do anything else, remove that screw.
It may be covered by a plastic blocker, but you can easily prise that out, as described earlier in this article.
Note that the screw is quite small, and you will probably need a small Phillips Head Screwdriver to remove it.

Once you remove the screw, you will be able to separate the shoulder part (which contains the break) from the rest of the arm (which in my case is dismembered).
This will reveal a brand new narrow shaft in the broken part.
It shall henceforth be affectionately named "The Second Narrow Shaft".
I just love narrow shafts, don't you?

Step 4:
Using a pin vice and a drill bit the same width as the screw-shank (in my case this is 2mm), drill a hole straight down through the middle of the glue/putty filling the Fiddly Plastic Washer.
The screw shank (not including the thread) and the drill bit are the same width (2mm).
Friendly neighbourhood pin vice, with the 2mm bit installed.
You can buy these at hobby stores, some hardware stores, and on eBay.
The above photo is an attempt to show (more or less) the angle you should be drilling at. At the bottom of the plastic part is the glue/putty filled washer.
Please note that the screw is shown in place in this image -- this was a MISTAKE! TAKE THE SCREW OUT BEFORE DRILLING!

This photo (directly above) shows the hole drilled through the middle of the fiddly plastic washer. Mine is a little off-centre, but it still worked.
Once again, note that the arm is still attached in this photo. This was a mistake on my part. When you drill the hole, remove the arm first.

Drilling can be a little tedious, because the bit will most likely keep getting jammed with plastic debris. Every time this happens, just pull the bit out of the hole, clear it off and press on.
Keep going until the drill bit comes out through the wall of the "Second Narrow Shaft".

NOTE: Drilling half-way is no good. I've been there, and I can tell you that neither hot-glue nor epoxy putty is strong enough to hold the replacement peg (or the original peg) on its own. You must drill through the plastic as well. The glue/putty is just there to add a bit of much-needed extra friction.


Part 3: Assembly
This is the last and thankfully easiest part of the whole saga.

First of all, make sure the tiny metal washer is fitted onto the modified screw like so:
And then insert the screw and washer into that annoying narrow shaft I talked about so much back in Part 1.
This again.
Now get your trusty normal-sized screwdriver and screw the modified-screw-cum-replacement-shoulder-peg into the hole you just drilled, reattaching the repaired shoulder to the torso.
Make it tight enough that you can work the previously-broken shoulder joint. The joint should feel reasonably firm, but not stiff. Remember, you want the figure's arm to move easily, but be firm enough that it doesn't fall down under its own weight.

Now some double-checking:
Looking through the drilled hole in the wall of "The Second Narrow Shaft", you should just be able to make out the tip of the replacement peg.
In most cases, these parts would still be attached to the torso.
If the peg protrudes into the shaft, take it out and sandpaper it until it doesn't.
If the peg is allowed to stick out into the shaft AT ALL, then the shoulder won't work properly. If you measured carefully earlier, then you probably won't have this issue.

Note that the less times you insert and remove the screw, the better, because each time you do, the joint becomes a little looser and more fragile.

Once the replacement peg is safely in place, all you have to do is slot the shoulder joint back together, do up that little screw you removed earlier et voila!

Yaaaay! The dismembered torso is slightly less dismembered than before!
At last! At along last!
Okay, now that it's fixed, a note on maintenance:
The replacement peg is fairly likely to come loose with time and shoulder-use. For this reason I recommend treating the shoulder extra carefully. However, if the joint does come loose, tightening the peg with a screwdriver should fix it.

*dusts hands*
That was the most complicated article I have ever written!
If you have any questions, feel free to ask me down in the comments section!

As always,
Good luck with your repairs!


Thursday, 18 April 2013

Safely Removing Paint Blemishes from Bare Plastic

G'day, Readers!
(Do I actually have "readers"?)

I seem to have been writing on this blog a lot recently, but I'm not quite done yet.

This time, I will be addressing a truly fearsome, yet common blemish: THE PAINT BLEED.
You know the one; Your lovely new figure is all shiny and perfect except for that single spot where the paint from one part has been, for no obvious reason, liberally applied to the part next to it as well. 
If the erroneous colour lies on top of another painted surface then the perfect solution is just to blot over it with a dab of (you guessed it) more paint.
... but what if the splodge is on a bit of unpainted plastic?

In figures, skin (along with occasional other parts) is usually made from unpainted plastic, sometimes with a light gradient applied to it. Painting over blemishes on these bare plastic areas doesn't really end up looking all that nice, because, let's face it, the textures just don't match up.

So what do you do if you've got a figure where paint has bled onto bare plastic?

Surprisingly, I'm going to tell you in an extremely longwinded manner.

As in my last post, my subject today will be one of the Lucky Star Nendoroid Petits! This time, it's Tsukasa Hiiragi B!
Have a look:
Isn't she cute? I love all the colours in this set! ^__^
If you can't see any paint bleeds, that's probably because I took the picture after I had already fixed it... but if I had taken the picture before fixing the bleed you probably wouldn't have seen it anyway.
Luckily, none of my figures are suffering from any major bleeds or smudges at the moment, but I still wanted to write about this method, so I will be doing it on an itty bitty teeny weeny little bleed which I noticed on Tsukasa's hand.
Here it is:
The orange paint from the chocolate pastry thing she's
about to chow down on has bled onto her hand slightly.
This is an infinitesimal bleed.
It's about 1mm across – barely visible – and I usually wouldn't have bothered to fix something this small, but I wanted to write this vexatious post it was surprisingly eye-catching...
This method is just as applicable to larger blemishes, however.

So... The tools for this job: 
From left to right: A big needle, a regular needle,
super fine sandpaper. (It is so fine)
Yup. Pretty sophisticated machinery, this. Not like, some stuff I found lying around in my house or anything...

I mentioned in a previous post that you should not use regular sandpaper on figures and I stand by it. Regular sandpaper will make your figures look like they've been attacked by a platoon of small, angry porcupines, and, in many cases, this is not desirable.
"Super fine" or "polishing" sandpaper is usually safe. You could also use very fine files or other dooverlackeys which serve the same purpose, if that's how you roll. I myself have several miscellaneous sanding tools in my collection. You can usually buy them at hobby stores.
The sandpaper I will be using in this job is a sort of rough sponge which was given to me by a friend who collects ball jointed dolls (that's right, kiddo. When you get too far into this sort of hobby that's the kind of creepy, wacked-out thing you do... swapping sandpaper squares like hippie freaks...). I included it in the picture so you can get an idea of just how "fine" it really is. As you can see, it barely looks rough at all... YES. IT'S THAT FINE. (So very very fine.)

It even says "super fine" on the back!
(Just in case you'd forgotten that it's fine...)
I used the two needles to remove most of the excess paint.
It would have been better if I could've used the large needle by itself because, as needles go, it's fairly blunt and doesn't scratch figures very easily. Sadly, it just wasn't breaking up the paint, so I swapped to the smaller needle to scratch up the surface of the blemish (taking care not to go though the paint to the figure underneath). I then chipped off the bulk of the scratched paint with the large needle.

At this point, I would usually show a blurry picture of my purple hands, but I think in this case it would be more constructive to actually explain to you how to use the needle;
1. Hold it as you would hold a pencil (or a scalpel, if you fancy yourself as the surgeon-y type). You'll have maximum control this way.
2. Always start gently, applying minimal pressure, making very light scratches. Gradually increase the pressure until the paint starts breaking up. You don't need to go any harder than this. If you plough in at full speed, you'll probably just scratch your figure.
3. Be patient! Proceed slowly and carefully. It takes a bit of zen to remove paint cleanly.
4. If it's just not working, try a different sized needle.
This may be a good time to mention that the reason I am painstakingly using a needle to remove the paint instead of just sanding the whole lot off is because I want to make a nice sharp edge where Tsukasa's hand meets the pastry (I assume it's a pastry).
If I had a splodge in the middle of her face, away from other painted parts, I would probably get it off with sandpaper alone (much faster and easier), but it's hard to make clean edges that way.
If you have a large bleed, you may want to try removing the paint around the edge with a needle and then gently sanding the rest off with fine sandpaper.
In my case, though, the area is so small that the whole thing is edge.

Here's what it looks like after the needle treatment (that sounds so scary – I just noticed):
Most of the erroneous paint has been removed.
You can probably see that there's still a little bit of paint left.
Most of this can be sanded off.
Although the super fine sandpaper won't scratch the plastic, I still use it gently and with caution. I don't want to grind away actual plastic from Tsukasa's hand, and I also don't want to remove any of the paint from other parts of the figure (sandpaper is a gun at removing paint).

After sanding, the former blemish looks like this:
In the picture it doesn't look much better than before sanding, but
in person it's a noticeable improvement.
And... we're done!
Now Tsukasa is free to enjoy her pastry (or whatever it is) in peace!
Om nom nom!
I use needles for this sort of job, but really you could use any small, sharp object. Triangular-bladed craft knives, pins, thumb tacks and extremely sharp cactus spines are all suitable candidates.
Just remember, you're trying to remove the paint without damaging the plastic underneath, so be gentle.

Well, that's all from me for the moment!
As per usual, if you have any questions, feel free to ask! I usually reply within a day or so.
Good luck with your repairs!

Friday, 12 April 2013

Using Heat to Fix Warped Parts

Hello, everybody!
Now for another of my erratically timed and possibly helpful posts...

Today I will be looking at a problem exhibited by Nendoroid Petit Izumi Konata:
She's super cute!!!! ^__^ (I just got her.)
There's one little thing which bugs me, though... her ahoge (the bit of hair on top of her head) looks a bit too floppy.
The picture on the box has it sticking up a bit more, but on my figure it's flopped down so it's touching her head. Have a goosey:
The picture on the box – It's so cute!!!! ^__^ (Yeah, the novelty hasn't worn off yet...)
Hmmm. It kind of lacks impact. (But her face is so cute!!! ^__^ )
This is a really common problem, and sometimes it's much more serious.
Slight warping of parts is really common on new figures, even from the best of manufacturers. A lot of the time, the warping is unnoticeable, but sometimes it messes up the visual impact of the figure (as in this case) or, worse, it causes parts to be incapable of fitting together. I have this problem sometimes, particularly with Figma accessories – they're so small that even a couple of millimetres of bending means they just don't fit together at all! (Oh no!)
Another common issue (this one shows up most with Nendoroid Petit stands in my experience) is when a peg or ball joint is just too big for the hole it's meant to fit into!
Yet another issue is when parts are so stiff that you're afraid they might break when trying to put them together. For example, if a Figma's changeable hands are very hard to swap.

Luckily these problems can all be fixed with one simple method!

(Now for the unnecessary explanation, in case you're interested... if not, skip to the next section...) 
Nendoroids, Figmas and most other figures (and most toys in general) are primarily made from PVC, which is a thermoplastic – that just means it melts when you heat it up. If you heat PVC up to about 120ÂșC, it turns into a nasty burny liquid which sticks onto your skin and burns the shit out of you. It is this sticky lava of death hot liquid which is injected into moulds to make figures and toys.
I won't be melting Konata's ahoge until it becomes a liquid today (very messy), but I will be heating it.
PVC becomes soft and pliable long before it melts... so I'm going to warm up the plastic and reshape the ahoge so that it looks more like the pic on the box.

This method is great for reshaping slightly bent parts or pieces that don't fit together properly!

You do it like this:
1. Heat up the part a little bit with a WARM hairdryer. Remember, we don't want to melt our figures (unless you want to make them into some kind of halloween-themed diorama) so don't make it super hot. The part should feel nice and warm to touch.
Keep your hand in the air stream from the hairdryer when heating figures.
When you feel like the dryer is making your hand a bit too warm, switch it off.
You'd be amazed how fast little figure parts can heat up. I only need to use the hairdryer for a few seconds.
If you don't have a hairdryer, you can put the part in a basin of warm water for a couple of minutes.
Swapping Figma hands / Inserting a peg which is a little too large for its socket:
In these cases, gently heat the arm/socket but not the hand/peg itself. Do this by the method described above. Then just push the peg into the socket as normal. It should be much easier when the plastic is warm.
HYBRID LOVERS TAKE HEED! This method changes the shape of the socket (permanently in most cases) to fit the peg you are pushing into it. If you are hybridising parts from different figures by this method, be aware that the original peg that the socket was designed for may be loose afterwards.
Now, back to reshaping warped parts...
2. While the plastic is warm, bend it into the position/shape you want.
How hard this is will depend on what the part is. For Konata's super cute ahoge (So cute!!! ^__^ ), I could do it with gentle pressure of my thumb and forefinger, but for bigger parts you may need to use both hands. It depends a lot on the exact plastic used and the size of the part.
In general, I only do this with fairly small parts.
Remember to be careful! Don't force parts! If the plastic won't bend, then it may need to be heated more.
If it's uncomfortably hot to touch and it still won't bend (you shouldn't even make it that hot in the first place), chances are the part is too big or is not made of thermoplastic. In this case, you should stop before you damage your figure!

3. Hold the reshaped part in the new position until the plastic cools down again. If you're feeling impatient, you can run the part under cold water to cool it down faster, but PVC cools down fairly quickly by itself.
Why do my hands always look purple in photographs??? >:@
4. ....... just kidding. There is no step four.

The Ahoge is Fixed!

So cuuuuuuutteeeee!!!!!! ^__^
Just note: Sometimes parts like this bend back a little bit after cooling. If this happens, you may want to repeat the process of heating and reshaping 2–3 times, allowing the plastic to cool in between.
Though of course, sometimes near enough's good enough.

This is a broad method and the principles can be applied to many different problems!
When I bought my Figma Nanoha, the wing things on her feet (sorry, I haven't actually seen the anime, so I don't know the names of any of the things... or if the things even have names), didn't fit on at all. A little heat applied to the attachment parts and a bit of bending, however, and Nanoha flies again!
The background is a calendar of "Scenic New Zealand" which I bought cheap in March one year.
Cheap old calendars make great (and cheap! Did I mention cheap?) backdrops for figure photos.
... by the way, when I took the photo, Nanoha was hanging from a Figma stand which I blu-tacked
to the top of my desk, but I photoshopped it out. You can tell I had fun today, can't you?
Anyway, that brings this post to a close!
Happy Repairing!
Best of luck!

Misc. Figma Care – If a Figure Seems Disappointing

To my long un-updated blog,

This will be a landmark post, ladies and gentlemen!
That's right.
I am finally writing an article in which my subject will be A FIGMA! :O

Today I will be sprucing up Figma Araragi Koyomi, because he's a bit unappealing, and has been ever since I bought him.
Here he is:

Okay, so there are a couple of things you might notice right away.
Araragi had three main problems and because of them I had never really liked him, but it's really not his fault and all he ever needed was a bit of TLC.
Since I fixed these minor issues I've started to really like him! He's actually really cool!
So... The Actual Problems:
1. His paintwork is really dull and unappealing.
It looked cool on the prototype, but my figure looks kind of flat (it's a bit hard to tell from the picture, but he was really boring compared to my other Figmas).

2. He has a smear of ugly glue on the front of his shirt. :(

3. There's a slight chance that you've picked up on this already, but his arm keeps falling off.

The Actual Solutions To The Actual Problems:

1. The Dull Paintwork.
Many Figmas seem to suffer from a phenomenon I'm going to call "Factory Dust". It's not very noticeable, but they have it straight out of the box and it really dulls the paint, especially dark colours.
I think it's probably caused by a coating of fine dust or powder, but luckily, it's still easy to get rid of.
Just rinse the figure under running water. No soap required.
That's it. No tricks (apart from keeping the plug in so that small parts don't go down the drain if they accidentally fall off). Plain, cold, running water straight from the tap. 
It works on Nendoroids too, and doubtless many other types of figures which just don't seem as bright as they should. 
If your new figure looks a little dull, try giving it a cold bath!
(Somehow it took me about nine months to think of this...)

Araragi's colouring came up really nicely after cleaning. It's actually really surprising how much better he looks. I didn't realise he had that much "Factory Dust" on him!
    .... I have no idea what the stuff actually is, though... I'm guessing it's something to do with the packaging process, but I will probably never know.

An effective yet impractical method of washing figures.

OK, next!
2. The Ugly Smear of Glue.
First up, a photo:
When I got Araragi, there was more glue on his
shirt than shown here – I only remembered to take
 a picture half way through removing it.
Damn! So ugly!
Like so many of its smudgy conspecifics, this blemish is small but super visible and super annoying! (... it may even be super glue........... heh.)
I don't know how many figures come out of their shiny new boxes with horrible glue smears on them, but I figured I'd write this up in case anybody else is having this kind of problem.

To remove the ugly smear, I used a really big sewing needle to chip away at the glue:
An embroidery needle? It's fairly sharp but it's huge – nearly 10cm (4") long!
Very gently chip away at the glue, taking care not to damage the plastic underneath. In my case the glue was on one of the "flexible material" (AKA rubbery) parts of the Figma which meant it came off quite smoothly.
I say the glue came off smoothly, but there were still a few little bits left over which wouldn't come off with the needle.
Because I am a very obsessional person, I carefully filed these off with a fine grade emery board type file. It's meant for making PVC jewellery and I think it's officially a "polishing" file.
Seriously, some of these files are so fine that you can file the surface off paint without scraping through to whatever's underneath. It's fishsticking amazing!
I highly recommend getting some because they're also great for removing paint smudges (and they're cheap. I got a pack of three for ≈$6.00).
    ~ yeah, you know I didn't really mean "fishsticking".
An equally good alternative to a file would be fine grade polishing paper (like sandpaper but
super fine. Regular sandpaper isn't much good for figures because it leaves noticeable scratches).
On a side note, Araragi's colouring has heaps more impact now that he's clean!
Right. The glue is all fixed! On to the next problem...

3. His arm keeps falling off.
Yes... um... it does keep falling off.
Ever since I got him, it's been fairly loose. It stays on okay most of the time, but when I try to pose him it pops off with very little provocation. The socket in his shoulder just seems a bit too shallow.
To be honest, I haven't managed to fix it yet. I tried a few things and none of them worked, but if I manage to repair this loose joint, I'll write a post about it.

For now, Araragi's arm will have to stay loose, but he still looks WAY better than he did when I got him!
... and his arm isn't too bad anyway...

             ... at least, Mayoi doesn't think so.


Anyway, I hope this post was at least a little bit helpful, even if I didn't end up fixing Araragi's arm!

As always, best of luck with your figures!