Thursday, 29 November 2012

Writing to the Manufacturer: The ins and outs.

Yo. (Wait... does anybody even say that anymore?)

Toy collecting readers,
Sometimes a break is so horrible, so ugly, so mushy, so fiddly, that it is pretty much impossible to repair without acquiring... a new part!
In the following paragraphs I will be talking about the most pathetically pathetic figure repair method:
Writing to the manufacturer! :D

I've resorted to this twice and both times it ended well. I got new parts and my toys were repaired in the best possible way.
It is a little awkward and sometimes expensive, but it's also *Arny voice* The Ultimate repair method.

I shall relate my experiences with two Japanese figure companies (most of my figures are Japanese), so you can get a feel for what to expect.
By the way, most contact email addresses can be found buried deep in the bowels of the manufacturer's website. If the website is not in English or anything else you understand, try using Google's built-in translator function to make it easier to find your way around. This can be accessed by searching the page's address on Google.
Episode 1: KAITO's Ice-cream
Writing to GSC.
International contact:

Goodsmile Company is one of the high end figure manufacturers/distributors. They make Nendoroids and lovely scale figures, plus they seem to do a lot of work in tandem with other companies, such as Max Factory (the Figma company) and Phat!... they also have Amaaaaazing customer service. Seriously, they are the nicest company EVER.

So, this is the story...
It was Christmas eve last year and I was mucking around with Nendoroid KAITO.
You've probably seen him before. He's the popular ice-cream loving big brother of Hatsune Miku.
I had posed him with his ice-cream in his hand, but I wanted to put a plain hand on instead, so I went to take the ice-cream out of the hand part, but OH! It was stuck.
"Ha ha," thinks stupid me, "I'll just twist it out."
BUT, it was a hot day (in Australia, December is the first month of summer) and some interesting things had happened to the plastic... instead of twisting out of the hand part, it twisted OFF!
The ice-cream stick is stuck in the hand and the top is broken off!
KAITO is understandably upset. (By the way, this face is from Nendoroid Ika Musume.)
Here's a closeup:
*hysterical screaming*
It's mushy, it's ugly, it's visible and no matter what I do, that stick just isn't coming out. It seems to be somehow fused to the hand! D:
Because the plastic is warped and the paint is torn and broken, even if I glued the ice-cream back on, that fracture would be disgustingly obvious and oh-so-ugly.
... So I spent the next few weeks feeling sad about it, but after that I got up the courage to email GSC and beg them for help.

I mentioned before that they are the nicest company ever?
They apologised to me for the trouble KAITO had caused (I would have thought it was me causing them trouble!) and, after I showed them a photo of the broken part, they sent me a replacement hand and ice-cream for free. 
Does it get any better?
They are not only nice, but they have the friendliest looking letters...!
I was quite lucky with this, though.
When I broke my KAITO, a new version had just been released; KAITO Cheerful ver. which comes with exactly the same ice-cream parts.
GSC say that they generally only stock spare parts for about a year after the figure (whatever that may be) is released, so if your figure is a few years old, you might not be so lucky.
Still, I suppose it's worth a try. The worst they can say is "Sorry we don't have any".

Episode 2: RAH Roy Mustang
Contacting Medicom Toy.
International contact:

Yes. You heard, er, read right.
RAH Roy Mustang broke again. *facepalm* And this time it was really bad.
I was posing his arm when suddenly his shoulder felt loose.
"Oh crap," I thought.
Oh crap indeed. Roy's left arm had broken off at the shoulder. Due to age and stress, the plastic had crumbled and the metal peg which holds the shoulder joint together had pulled out completely. Worse, there wasn't anywhere to put it back into because the plastic had broken into tiny crumbs.

*more hysterical screaming*

After several unsuccessful attempts at fixing it (including hot glue, epoxy putty and a method which somehow ended up with Roy's shoulder still broken and two small holes accidentally drilled in my desk)...
...  I ratted out that international email address and called for help.
(Of course, it was easy to get his arm to stick back on, but the thing about action figures is that they have actual moving parts, so I wasn't happy with my attempts. At best the arm could be moved, but would slowly fall back down under its own weight.)

Medicom were similar in their approach to GSC. They asked for photos and then offered to help me.
They said that installing the new parts was difficult, and that, if I sent Roy to them, they would repair him and install the new parts for me for free!
One catch, though. I had to pay the postage.
Well, seriously, that's more than fair. Roy has been discontinued for years and they still offered to fix him for me free of charge.

I did what they told me, they did what they promised, and it was all extremely cool!
They replaced a bunch of Roy's parts, including the broken shoulder, some parts they thought were at risk of breaking in the future and Roy's previously broken and glued neck.
How awesome is Medicom Toy? I am seriously impressed with the amount of responsibility they take for their figures.
I also asked them to send back the old broken parts so that I could experiment on them, and they obliged.
True, they did forget to include the stand when they sent him back, but after I emailed them, they sent me a new stand for free, so I'm happy.

The only, ONLY beef I have with the whole thing was that they sent Roy back to me via FedEx which cost me JP¥5500 (which at the time was the same as US$70). AHHHH! MY PRECIOUS MONEY! What's wrong with EMS? EMS is great! I love EMS! (and money!)
But Roy is, like, the best figure ever so I'm okay with the costs.

Here's a shot of Roy now (and KAITO)...
Roy demonstrates that his left arm is now fixed.
KAITO is on an ice-cream induced high.
I have only tried this with two companies, but doubtless there are other toy companies out there who would be just as good. It's always worth sending an email, even if they do end up saying no.

That's not to say you should heckle them about every little thing that goes wrong, though. I would always advocate doing your best to fix the problem by yourself first!
It's guaranteed to be cheap and it's pretty satisfying too! ;D

Just note:
When I contacted both of these companies, I wasn't all like,
you a**wipe My damn figure broke an sh*t you suk fix it or you totaly gon to hell yellow moneky a**hols,,1
   ... OK, so it's unlikely that a person with grammar liek dis would know an ugly 1940's style racist slur, but I've seen everything else in that 'sentence' repeated over and over by a lot of people who make themselves look like idiots.
I'm guessing that most toy collectors aren't like that (come on, we're a good breed), but I'm often surprised by people's lack of tact~~

Rule No.1 of wanting someone to help you with something: Don't be an arse.
In fact, be as respectful as possible. Nobody has any obligation to help any of us. They just do it because they're awesome! :D

I sent both messages asking for advice on how I could fix the figure myself, because I wasn't really expecting the kind of service I got.
With KAITO, I asked how I could remove the ice-cream from the hand or if I could purchase a replacement. With Roy, I wanted to know whether parts from a Medicom RAH Naked2 figure could be used to replace the broken shoulder.
I also began both emails by complimenting the figures of the respective companies and saying how beautiful they are, how much I love collecting them and expressing my dismay that I was unable to repair them myself. This is of course, an effective suck up the truth.
No, really. It is the truth and it doesn't hurt to say the nice things you think about people ^__^

Honestly, I don't know if this really makes a difference at the end of the day, but it certainly can't hurt. At one point I actually had a bit of a conversation with the chatty GSC staff member, and if I had sent an email with a negative tone to start with, it would have been a much less pleasant experience.

Well, I guess that's my stock of information on this topic exhausted, so as always, Good Luck!

Saturday, 24 November 2012

Small Paint Touch-ups ~made INVISIBLE!


So, today I will be popping in briefly to my poor neglected blog to talk about minor paint touch-ups.

It happens so often...
You have a lovely shiny new figure. It's pristine and beautiful right out of its box... then, in an instant, lost in your excitement, your hand slips; that momentary, involuntary movement which sends your new treasure flying. For a few moments, your heart is in your mouth as the figure falls to the floor (or worse, onto the sharp edge of one of those Apple ergonomic keyboards)... Thunk. The sound rings coldly in your ears.
Next is the horrible sinking sensation as you realise that beautiful new shiny paint is chipped. The chip is small, but horribly obvious. You know the shining white fleck of raw plastic will catch your eye every time you look at your figure and the regret will live on inside you forever! You must do something!
Well, you have two fairly obvious options. You could put the chipped figure on the shelf and feel sad, or, you could paint over the blemish and be happy.

Today I will be explaining the unthreatening task of covering up the all-too-common paint chip.

Meet Chogokin Aegis, who is beautiful:
Some people claim that Chogokin Aegis has trouble standing on her own but they are obviously just naysayers who lack creativity. She can stand just fine! ... you only need to adjust her center of gravity forward a little...
So anyway, Aegis had a relatively small blemish on the bow around her neck. I think she came out of the box with it.
Here it is, in all its shining glory:
Okay, so it's not THAT bad, but it's annoying. (Besides, I like painting.)
So... tools.
I will be using the following things:
A tiny paintbrush.
I know it's a lot to remember, but try to stay focussed.

Now... This is the part where I explain with unnecessary detail tricky part.
It's time to choose the right colour.
The paint I use for this kind of thing is good old cheap and readily available acrylic. It doesn't matter what grade. Student or artist both seem to be fine.
If you want to do touch-ups, I suggest keeping a good range of colours so that mixing the right shade is easy.

Now, I need red. You'd think red is red, right? No. Wrong.
You see, paint manufacturers are not normal people, and to them "red" is anything which even kind of vaguely resembles what we, in the real world, would term "red". (Like "indian red"? Not even close. Sorry guys. It's brown no matter which way you look at it.)
I, personally, have three shades of "red" on hand for just this reason. Usually, at least one of them matches or can be mixed to a colour which will match:
From left to right (note that label colours are often wildly inaccurate and names vary a lot):
"Cool Red": this is a pinkish colour similar to the magenta used in CMYK printing and is good for making purple but not orange. When added to yellow it makes a colour I like to call "poo", but purples made with this shade have a lovely depth and clarity. Added to a spot of white it makes "hot pink".
"Warm Red / Brilliant Red": This is a bright, slightly orangey colour and cannot be used to make purple, but it does a very nice orange.
"Red": Miraculously, this artist's paint is actually a good medium red which can be mixed to purple or orange, though it doesn't make as good a purple as "cool red". I searched for many years to find this colour.
Unfortunately "cool red" and "warm red" seem to be the most common in shops, but if you keep both of them in stock you should be able to manage. Who knows? Maybe mixing them together will make a proper red (though for some reason I never felt like trying that...)

Please note that no other primary colours are this stupid.

So, to choose the right shade I opened the tubes and compared the colour of the actual paint inside with Aegis' ribbon and luckily the "red" on the right was very close, so I didn't have to mix colours.

Mixing colours really isn't that big of a deal if you have to do it. Just keep fiddling around with small amounts of paint until it's right.

On to the actual painting:
It's a very small area which I'm painting. Just get a tiny bit of paint on the end of your brush and gently paint over the blemish.
If the paint is a bit lumpy, wipe your brush and use it to smooth over the freshly painted surface (before it dries!) until it's nice and even, removing excess paint if necessary.
You don't need much. I dipped my brush once for this job.
This picture shows approximately how much paint I used.
(And how tiny the brush is!)
If the area to be painted was a bit larger, I might consider thinning the paint with a bit of ethanol or metholated spirits to make it spread more evenly (no, vodka probably isn't good enough). I wouldn't recommend thinning with water because it tends to stop the paint from sticking to the plastic.
When thinning, just add a teeny drop of ethanol/metho to your palate (which in my case is the lid of an old ice-cream tub – classy!) and thin the paint little by little, as you go – invariably some sections will want thicker paint than others.

Sometimes, the colour isn't as much of an exact match as you expected it to be! \(O.O)/
If this happens, don't panic. (o.o)
The human brain seems to be trained to notice sharp edges, so, using a very thin layer of paint, make a gradient (see below) over the edge of the touchup. This will make it extremely hard to notice the colour difference. Sometimes you have to paint quite far to make it work, but that's no problem.

If you really stuffed it up, then quickly wash your brush and then use the wet (but not dripping) brush to loosen the paint (this must be done before it dries), then dab off the mushy paint with a tissue.
I have done this plenty of times and I've never wrecked a figure.

If worst comes to worst, you can just paint over your touch-up once it's dry. (I end up doing that pretty often, actually...)

And... We're done!
I always write a lot, but once you actually get down to it, the job only takes about 40 seconds.
Aegis' Fixed Ribbon!
The "red" paint didn't quite match the original colour, so I made a gradient.
Can you see it? It even extends onto the left side of the bow at the top.
(I can't see it.)

More info on gradients:
Introducing Real Action Heroes Baoh Renewal ver!
Doesn't he have a pretty face?

These are not before and after shots. Unfortunately I forgot to take a before shot >__<
These pictures just show how he looks in different light. Left: Under a horrible desk lamp. Right: With a flash.
Can you see where I painted? It's more obvious in the picture on the left.
When I got Baoh, he had a little bit of a mark on his nose and I also didn't fancy how dark the lines/cracks around his mouth were.
That's totally personal taste, so I suppose you can consider this a mod and not a touch-up, but I thought those lines looked a bit messy and not true to the manga, so I PAINTED OVER THEM!
Naughty me. He was a collectable. Still, I love disgusting 1980's manga so I doubt I'll ever part with him.
I made a colour I like to call Baoh Blue by mixing the cool red from earlier with a colour called "cobalt".
I have included Baoh in this post because he shows a visible example of a home-made gradient.
You can see in the image on the left that there is a slight discrepancy between the colour of the middle of Baoh's face and the colour between the black lines on his cheeks.
This is because I couldn't get the colour exactly right (and I like the variety anyway) and I also couldn't extend my invisible blendy magic gradient as far as I would have liked without painting out details... but the point is, do you see how the new colour gets thinner and thinner until it's hard to see it? There's no "edge".
This is achieved by using less and less paint the further out you go.
That's what you have to try and do if you want your touch-ups to be relatively invisible.
Try it on a scrap of plastic like an ice-cream tub lid. It's not as hard as you think!

Happy Painting!

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Generic Action Figure Repairs - Two Methods to Fix Most Breaks!

So I've been looking at my stats recently, and I am getting a lot of refers from people looking for info on fixing broken Figmas.
I haven't actually managed to break any of my Figmas yet, but they're not so different in the way they work to a lot of other figures, so here I will be explaining two methods of repairing figures which are applicable to almost all PVC toys (including Figmas!) and can probably fix over 90% of breaks!

OK, first up, I'll explain the difference between a low stress area and a high stress area:

Low stress areas are not put under much pressure. They're usually not moving parts and if they are, then they're only moved minimally.
If you want to fix one of these, read Method No.1.

High stress areas are the things which break most often. They're things like shoulders, knees, necks, elbows, hips, etc, which have quite a lot of stress put on them when the figure is being played with.
If you want to fix one of these, read Method No.2.

Method No.1 – Supa Glue
For low stress repairs.
This is a really good (and DUH obvious) method for visible areas which are not part of a moving joint. It would be great for non-posable scale figures, snapped accessories (like swords or firearms) or other small things.

The example figure I will be repairing is Nendoroid Millhiore F. Biscotti!
Isn't she pretty?

Unfortunately, just after I got her, she fell of her horse... er... bird... er... mount and her ahoge broke where it attaches to her head!
Ahoge means "foolish hair" in Japanese, and, if you didn't know already, that's the silly bit of hair sticking out at the top of her head.
In Nendoroids, large ahoge like this are actually posable! You can rotate it from side to side so it can point in any direction (I love Nendoroids)!
I would not recommend trying to fix anything which will be put under higher stress than this ahoge with glue alone. I'm careful when I'm posing it now, but it's been a few months and it hasn't broken yet.
I didn't take any pictures of it when it was broken because it was before I started this blog, but here's a shot of how it looks now:
You can see the break just above where it attaches to her head.
Anyway, after freaking out and practically crying (she is nothing without her ahoge! NOTHING, I tell you!) I glued it back on with supa glue.
This is very easy.
Just put glue on the broken surface and then push the two parts together until the glue grabs. This usually takes about 30 seconds or so.
If it doesn't grab the first time, it probably means you used too much or too little glue. Don't be discouraged if you have to try this a few times with different amounts of glue... oh yeah, and don't get the glue on your skin because it sticks to people :O
Note: Supa glue only works on really clean fractures, so if the plastic around your break is a little mushy, you might want to try a different adhesive. For info on choosing the right one for the job, have a look at my glue info page.
As you can see, the supa glue worked a treat on Princess Biscotti. Her ahoge is even still posable!

Look at that ahoge go!
(This looks way better when you're listening to fast music)

Another example of where this method is really useful:
Figma Marisa's cup had come unstuck from her hand and needed to be re-glued.

And that's Method No.1.

Method No.2 – Drilling & Pinning
This is my personal favourite method for fixing high stress fractures: this includes action figure joints! YES, THAT MEANS FIGMAS!
The equipment required is not necessarily the kind of stuff that everybody has lying in their desk drawers, but if you're a figure collector, these tools are an invaluable resource and well worth the small amount of money you will pay for them.
All of these things are easily obtainable from hardware stores, hobby shops and online!

This is the method I used to fix RAH Roy Mustang's broken head, which you can read about here!
For now, however, the figure I will be demonstrating on is Pure neemo Kanata Sorami!
Poor Kanata. Her knee joint popped out and so I took off her boots and trousers to fix it, but in doing so, I broke her foot off! *facepalm*
Even though she can still stand with the foot off (I just jam her leg into her boot) I wanted to fix it, because she's just not the same with an amputation.
Here's the busted foot and the ankle it's busted off:
The foot snapped off at the ankle joint.
Pure neemo ankles are extremely similar to Nendoroid and Figma joints!
Something like this is way too small and gets put under way too much strain to be fixable with glue alone, so I'm going to drill a hole in each side of the joint and insert a bit of wire before gluing.
Here is Kanata with the tools I will be using:
Anticlockwise from top: 1.25mm wire, pin vice with drill bits, a suitable adhesive for mending PVC,
wire cutters, pliers, a 1/6 scale designer Bauhaus chair for Kanata to sit in while I work (optional).
To start, drill a small hole into the fractured surface on each of the ankle and the foot. The holes should be roughly 3-4 millimetres deep (for my empirical friends, that's about 1/8") and the drill bit you use should be the same width as your wire, or as close as possible. My closest drill bit is 1.3mm and that works fine with the 1.25mm wire.
Me using a pin vice, in case you were wondering what it does exactly. It's
basically just a little handle for a drill bit.
(My hands aren't usually purple – I have eczema and it's cold.)
The foot, after drilling.
Notice, in the above picture, that there is a centreline in the joint. This is not a mould line. It is the juncture of two separate pieces of plastic. It is the movement of the two pieces against each other which makes the joint functional.
Also notice how the hole I drilled does not go directly through the centreline, but instead to one side of it, through the original broken surface.
If you glue a wire through more than one of these pieces of plastic then the joint will be frozen and will not move anymore!
It's exactly the same deal with Nendoroid and Figma joints.
In fact, here's an old Nendoroid joint which has been taken apart, so you can get an idea of how it works:
The hole in one piece fits over the central peg in the other. This allows
the two pieces to rotate around each other – simple, but very effective!
Many joints are constructed this way.
Here is the ankle after drilling:
If the end of the peg is really mushy after drilling, just neaten it up a bit
with pliers and a craft knife/wire cutters so that the joint will fit
together nicely when gluing... this picture was taken after neatening.
Notice how the hole is slightly to one side in the above photograph. This is to correspond with the fact that the hole in the foot is also off-centre. If you can't get this quite right, it's no big deal, but it's better this way.
... Actually, to be honest, I was hoping to pull the peg out of the leg part before drilling to make it less awkward to get to, but the pliers didn't grip properly and I just ended up mashing the peg :/

Of course, this method is not limited to this kind of joint. You can use it to fix all sorts of things, like this fracture, in the straight shaft attaching RAH Roy Mustang's neck to his body:
This was successfully fixed by drilling and pinning
and Roy has since been posed many times over.
Now that the holes have been drilled, it's time to cut a piece of wire to fit them.
The length of the wire should be equal to the combined depths of the drilled holes.
For example, if I drilled a hole 3mm deep in the ankle and 4mm deep in the foot, then the wire will have to be 7mm long so the whole joint fits together nice and snugly.
It is advisable to cut your wire to the right length before gluing anything. Believe me, it's just easier that way.

Once you've cut your wire, glue it into one part of the drilled joint and let it set for a few hours.
Kanata's foot with the wire glued in. The bent wire in the foreground
was used to spread the glue.
Now that the glue is at least partially set, apply more glue and glue the whole joint together... with glue (I really love glue, don't you?).
This is how the joint looks now that it has been put back
together – it looks a bit messy close up, but from a normal
distance you don't notice it much.
It's certainly better than having no foot!
Figma Chie has come to look at Kanata's foot while the glue is drying.
She makes a pertinent (if dry) observation.
Now wait for the glue to dry. I don't know how long this will take. It depends on the type of glue, the temperature, atmospheric conditions, alignment of the planets, etc...
Make an educated guess based on the instructions on the packet and add a few hours. That's my advice.
OK, so the glue is now set and... did it work?
Heh. Sorry about the lighting... I think a cloud must have come across
when I shot some of the frames...

And that's Method No.2.

Well, that's all from me!
I hope this helps some of you guys with your Figma-related problems!
Cheers! Sparkey.

Saturday, 4 August 2012

Fixing the Central Torso Joint of a 12 Inch action Figure

Hello, all!
Gees, it's been ages since I posted here!
But that is for the simple reason that I have miraculously not broken any of my figures for that entire time (not even Roy)!
... until a couple of weeks ago...

I was playing around with RAH Captain Harlock (the more recent version, not the super old one) when suddenly something went "crack". It's the kind of sound you never want to hear any kind of action figure making, let alone your pricey discontinued 12-incher.
Captain Harlock is now fixed, but I spent, like, an hour getting him into a really cool pose (you know how it is) so for the duration of this blog, I will be using a different model.
Meet RAH Ginko.
He looks a bit apathetic, but he's actually a really helpful chap, and today he's kindly agreed to be an example RAH body for us.

Although the captain didn't seem visibly broken at first, as I continued trying to pose him, the joint in the middle of his torso became mysteriously limp, meaning he was unable to stand straight and, on further inspection, his entire top half could now be removed from his legs (which really isn't normal).

The problem joint, circled in blue.

A normal, upright pose.

When broken, Captain Harlock could
only slump forward like this.

One of the few photos I took during the
captain's operation.

Now, RAHs are complicated things, and I have to admit that what actually broke is still a mystery to me. I couldn't see any obvious breaks, and if anything fell out without me noticing, it must have been practically microscopic, because I searched all around the floor afterwards and I couldn't find anything.
Still, based on a theory I developed after several blunders, I managed to fix the cap'n.
So, the first thing I did after I broke Harlock was take him apart to see if that would shed any light on the matter.
First thing's first, the screws needed to come out.
RAH screws are nicely hidden under little round bits of plastic, but these can (usually) be easily removed with a pointy thing like a very small screwdriver or a knife.
Observe the five covered screws in Ginko's back.
I decided to undo the upper torso part first, since that was where I thought the break had occurred, but after fiddling around with several confusing pieces I realised that, in fact, it was the lower torso which had broken (the tipoff was when I realised that the body was no longer connected at the waist).
I then went to unscrew the screws in the lower torso, but Medicom has for no apparent reason filled the screw-heads in with some sort of paste which is extremely hard and resistant to several very good solvents, so I couldn't take apart the lower torso and had to peer in the hole at the bottom of it instead.
What I saw was a... spring.
A spring?
It seems to be part of a suspension system which gives RAHs their solid feeling whilst also having that awesomely flexible mid-torso joint... I think.
To explain better, here is a diagram of what roughly I think is inside the lower torso of a RAH body, based on what I could see:
The yellow thing at the top is part of the mid-torso joint.
It runs along tracks in the upper-torso part, allowing the torso to bend
back and forth. The yellow thing is held down by the spring (green),
which is, in turn, held down by the central peg attached to the legs (black).
The red thing can move up and down in the central shaft (blue). When the spring
is not held down, the red thing can move more freely, the yellow thing becomes
lax, and the torso becomes loose and slumps forward.
I hope you could follow that... it's hurting my brain trying to think back.
The grey blob is where I couldn't see. Sorry for the crappy drawing.
The spring seems to regulate the stiffness of the central torso joint.
The tension on the spring, in turn, is regulated by the vertical position of the sticky-outy bit on the central peg (black) within the spring coils.
When the tension on the spring is wrong, the figure slumps.
I think it is the theoretically existent sticky-outy bit which broke off, because there was no such thing visible by the time I took Captain Harlock apart and such a thing would be needed to make sense of the mechanism I could see inside the lower torso.
It would also have to be extremely small, which could explain why I couldn't find anything which could have broken.
A closeup of the broken peg (and the top of the captain's trousers);
if you look carefully, there's a smudgy area on the front of the peg
where something could have broken off.
Click on the image to enlarge it.
So to fix it: I drilled a hole into the central peg on the smudge and pushed a tiny itty bitty short piece of wire into the hole, making a new sticky-outy bit.
I drilled the hole using a pin vice, which
I finally got around to buying.
Use a drill bit the same width as your wire,
or as close as possible.
The wire I use has a 1.25mm diameter.
I then put the torso on backwards (you have to put it on backwards because that's the only place there's a gap for the sticky-outy thing to fit through) and turned it around fully several times as if I was screwing on the lid of a jar. Something made a satisfying noise and suddenly, miraculously, Captain Harlock was back to normal.
I didn't even glue the bit of wire in, because I was just testing a theory, but once fixed, he didn't want to come apart again, so I just left him that way. (That's why there are no photos of the fixed part or the underneath of the torso.)
Anyway, so yeah. Captain Harlock is fixed and I hope that made some kind of sense and wasn't too confusing. Even I am still a little confused.
If you have the same problem as I had and something here doesn't make sense, please feel free to email me for clarification:

well! My post is at an end!
As always, good luck with your repairs!
Cheers! Sparkey

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Painting Over Blemishes on Doll Clothes

   Hello, all!
     I don't know if any of you guys have ever bought a second-hand figure, but, is it just me, or was the previous owner always an idiot? ... more on that in a minute...

     Today I will be discussing how to cover up blemishes on doll clothes using acrylic paint.
     It may sound weird that I am suggesting that you paint your dolls' real fabric clothing, but, with a little tact, it works amazingly well.

     Back to my beef from earlier... Pretty much all of my "used" figures had some kind of stupid problem when they arrived. The stupidest was RAH Edward Elric, whose previous owner had thought it was a good idea to wash his clothes with ordinary washing powder. I mean, I would never want to wash those clothes EVER (the edges of his coat have wire in them!) but with washing powder? No! No! Wrong!
     The results are that his black shirt, with its lovely white edging, has bled and the lovely white edging is now a sort of off-burgundy, at its worst around the collar:
One side of the collar is stained a dark colour.
     Here's a closeup, in case you didn't see it the first time:
Oh, the horror...
     The reason that only one side looks awful in these pictures is because I have, in fact, already painted over the other side some time earlier. As you can see, the paint makes a really big difference.

     All in all, this is a pretty simple process, but there are a couple of things to keep in mind...

  •      I wouldn't recommend this for every doll-garment. It's only going to work if the fabric is fairly thick, because acrylic paint is strong stuff and it will not blend in with dainty weaves.
  •     Don't try this on any kind of stretchy fabric, since the paint will crack when the fabric stretches.
  •     The colour of the fabric could have an impact on whether or not this is a success. Black or white will be the easiest to paint over since you won't have to mix the paint yourself. With any other colour, some mixing will almost certainly be required (unless you're lucky enough to have paint the exact shade of chartreuse as your botched garment). If you do find yourself mixing paint, just be aware that acrylic usually dries a slightly different tone to how it is when wet.
  •     Acrylic paint is waterproof once it's dry. If you make a mistake, wash it off as soon as possible. Plain water should do this fine. If you're worried that you won't be able to paint the area you're working on without accidentally getting paint in places where you shouldn't, put some masking tape along the edge so that if you make a mistake, it's not the end of the world.
  •     Let's face it: this is not going to work for large areas. Small blemishes only.
  •     If you're not sure about whether the paint will work or not, dab a tiny bit of paint on the inside of a hem or somewhere you can't see to test it out before you start working.
     OK, now to start.
     This is really fine work, so I'm going to use a really tiny brush.
     Since my paint is a brighter white than Edward's shirt, I'll water it down a little bit before applying. This means that the paint will a) soak into the material a little, maintaining the texture of the fabric better, and b) not be so bright.
     To dilute the paint, I just put a little paint on a bit of paper, get some water on my brush and mix the paint/water together on the paper. The paint should be nice and runny.
Sorry the mixed paint is hard to see – white paint on white paper...
     Now I just get a little bit of the diluted paint on my brush and carefully apply it all over the blemish. If you want to fade the edges out so the painted area isn't so obvious, make a gradient by diluting the paint more and more as you go.

     ... Done!
     This job is simple once you actually start doing it.
     Here's the finished product:
     ... and another closeup of the collar:
It's not perfect, but it's a huge improvement.
     For something like this collar, where the area was small, the fabric was thick and the colour was white, the paint has done a really good job of covering up the dye.

     Hmmm, this post seems to have come to an end already!
     Good luck with your repairs!
     Cheers! Sparkey.

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

A Few Notes on Yesterday's Post...

   Hello, all!
     Turns out, that glue I used on Roy's neck takes a bit longer to set than I thought. I was posing him last night when I suddenly felt this sort of wobbly sensation on his neck, but a minute later it was gone and his neck was back to "slightly spongy".
     The joint sort of half-broke and then re-set itself...
     The glue still isn't dry, even after 48 hours >__<
     Back in the cupboard you go, Roy. See you in a few days.
     How frustrating!
     Still, considering that I could pose and re-pose Roy's neck a bunch of times even when the glue wasn't set, it just shows that drilling and pinning is a good method... and that this glue is weird. It's one of those flammable, poisonous-vapour producing ones which dries to this slightly weird, springy stuff...

    Official Apology to Barbie....
     I was contacted last night by Barbie, via the "Diversity Barbies Guild", regarding the depiction of Barbies in yesterday's post.
Members of the Diversity Barbies Guild
     Barbie wishes me to issue the following statement on her behalf:
     Barbies are not just a bunch of skanky, airheaded, fashion-obsessed ninnies. This outdated stereotype is inappropriate when you consider the wide selection of Barbies available in the present day. In the 21st century, Barbie dolls are professionals like doctors, vets, beauticians, fashion designers, mermaids and more. It was mean to take pictures of Barbie during a private moment – she can't be blamed for her actions because "Roy is so pretty. He is so fine."
Barbie is not only a distinguished fashion idol, she is also a young and talented member of the Shark Tamers Society. 
Barbie at the Shark Tamers Society picnic in 2009.

     Well, that's all from me today... +__+
     Cheers! Sparkey.

Monday, 4 June 2012

Repairing a broken RAH joint (Roy Mustang: The Saga)

     It was about two weeks ago, and I had a larger amount of money in my account than usual. I had also just arrived home after nearly being creamed by a car when trying to cross the road, so I was in a weakened state... this is when I saw RAH Roy Mustang (from Fullmetal Alchemist) for sale on eBay at an extremely good price. The listing said "Good condition".
     Needless to say, that glut of cash was soon used up...
     About a week later, my nice big parcel arrived in the mail from Japan. When I opened it, Roy looked as if he was, indeed, in very good condition. His outfit is smart and clean, his sculpting is perfect...
     ... but when I removed Roy from the box, there was a nasty surprise waiting for me. There's one thing about Roy which is not in good condition. See if you can tell what it is:
     Of course, this is very subtle. Only a nitpicker like me would notice a little thing like this.
     Totally not something you should mention in an eBay listing.

     Needless to say, I hit the roof maintained my cool.
     After making threats involving PayPal and fire a short conversation with the seller, I negotiated a partial refund.

      Anyway, now to fix Roy.

     Roy is from Medicom Toys' "Real Action Heroes" series (pretty tacky sounding name, but they're nice figures) and they're notoriously pretty touchy. I hear a lot of people asking how to fix them when they invariably have accidents, which is actually what made me decide to start this blog.
     Before I begin, here's a picture of the break (incidentally, the very picture I sent the seller). As you can see, the neck has snapped off at the base:
When I received Roy, his stand had not been opened
and he had some slight damage to the front of his hair.
I'm guessing he fell off a shelf and busted his neck.
     The break wasn't super clean, but it was fairly good, so I first tried to fix it with Supa Glue. That didn't work, and since Supa Glue is the only adhesive I know capable of holding something as small as this together properly, I knew I would have to drill and pin the joint.
     Drilling and pinning is one of the more difficult figure repairs, but if you're up to it, it usually has pretty solid results.
     Here are the tools I used (excluding glue):
From left: Pliers, wire cutters, a tiny screwdriver, 1.25mm diameter wire.
     To drill the joint, you could use a variety of tools. I use a tiny screwdriver but this is dodgy, so I recommend using a pin vice (a little thing which holds a drill bit) and a drill bit the same diameter as your wire.
     For something like this, wire with a diameter between 1 and 1.5 mm is probably best, since it's a pretty small joint.
     Anyway, I used the screwdriver to drill a hole into each half of the broken joint. Each side should be drilled a few millimetres deep.
The neck joint, after drilling. (Yeah, RAH figures are really designed to have clothes on...)
     When drilling, it is tempting to push really hard to make it drill faster, but don't. Even though the joint is already broken, when doing something like this, any pressure you apply runs the risk of breaking other joints too, or even cracking the plastic around the break.
    To make the plastic easier to work with, I warm the neck joint over the heater. PVC is a thermoplastic, meaning it becomes soft when heated. Warming it is advantageous for two reasons:
     1. It's easier to drill because it's softer,
     2. It's less brittle and less likely to snap under the pressure of the drilling.
     You don't want to heat the plastic so much that it looses its shape, so just use a warm hairdryer or a gentle heater for this (at about 100ÂșC, PVC actually melts into a liquid).

     OK, now for the pinning.
   The first thing is to cut a bit of wire just long enough that it fills in the holes you drilled when you fit the joint back together (IE, the length of wire should be equal to the combined lengths of the drilled holes). You might need to fiddle around with this to get the length right.
     Here's a picture of my bit of wire and Roy's head to give an idea of scale:
The wire ended up about 1cm long.
     I probably should have drilled the holes a bit deeper, but the dodgy screwdriver was hard to work with, and the friction/heat of my particular drilling technique was actually enough to start warping the plastic. If this happens, just use a pair of pliers and gently push the joint back into shape before it cools.

     The next thing to do is glue the wire into the joint.
     To find the right adhesive for this, I spent a couple of days mucking around with different types of glue (testing them on old broken Nendoroid joints to see if they worked). After a few duds, I finally came up with something which seemed to do a good job. Since it was hard finding the right glue for this job, I ended up writing a whole article on the subject so that everybody else can learn from my failures
     I glued the wire into one side of the joint and waited until it was dry before I glued the other side (it's just less difficult that way).
You can see the wire sticking out of the base of Roy's neck.
In the foreground is a small bit of wire – I used it to spread the glue all the way
to the bottom of the hole I drilled.
     After that was done, all that was left to do was glue Roy's head back on and wait.

     ... and wait...
         ... and wait...
             ... and wait...

      Finally this morning, Roy's new neck joint was ready to test!
     I had my doubts about the glue, but it actually worked really well. It's a little spongier than (I assume) it would have been originally, but all the joints still work and Roy can move his neck and head as much as (I think) he ever could.
Medicom Roy Mustang and Barbie get along well.
Roy is back to normal.
     My work here is done! *dramatic pose on top of mountain*

     Good luck with your repairs, everyone!
     Cheers! Sparkey.