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 failureshttp://figurefixer.blogspot.com.au/p/more-about-adhesives-glue.html
     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.

33 comments:

  1. This is a wonderful post! I love the way it's written and your sense of humor makes it even better!
    I've been too intimidated to try to do anything like this before, but this is giving me a little more confidence! Thank you for sharing!

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    1. Thankyou very much! I'm glad if I can help!
      It can be a little intimidating at first (I was sweating like a racehorse doing this job), but if you proceed systematically, there's not too much which can go wrong.
      ... and if it does, I happen to know that Medicom Toy and some other companies will actually repair some broken figures for you with new parts.
      Cheers!

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  2. The Medicom bodies are so fragile its sad. I've had three break on me already. I have repaired them by swapping bodies and fixes like this as well. This was a great fix. My advice for anyone is to not buy Medicom, I don't anymore i'm tired of having to repair figures I don't even play with. Damage occurs from simply display poses.

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    1. Cheers!
      Yeah, they do break quite easily, but I still love RAH bodies for their posability.
      I've got ten RAH-bodied figures and I find that they are actually more prone to breaking if they're left untouched for long periods of time. They seize up if they're not "exercised" and if they're left in their boxes, sometimes the plastic gets crumbly. I have the same problem with old Nendoroids. PVC lasts way better when it can breathe.
      That said, yeah, RAHs cost a bomb and you'd hope they'd be a bit more durable!
      That's still not enough to stop me, though! I so can't wait to get my hands on RAH Link later this year!
      LOL I guess it really depends on the person how much they'll put up with.

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  3. OMG I'm SO GLAD to have found this page. I went through a pretty nasty ordeal last year when I received a "brand new" Roy... with a broken arm and leg. :( (Luckily, my other two Roys are in perfect condition *knocks on wood*)

    I don't really know the first thing about dealing with doll bodies and such, but I will definitely bookmark this page for future reference. Thank you so much!!!

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    1. Thankyou for writing! I'm always pleased to hear that my posts are useful!
      Cheers! ^__^

      ... wait... THREE Roys!? :O

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  4. Hey! This is really helpful but, I was wondering if you'd be able to do the same thing to a hand? .-.
    I have a Gasai Yuno figure made by Medicom... I was posing her and such on the first day aaaand... Just my luck, her hand snapped off. There are other hands as well that I could use but I can't seem to get the stick thingy out... ._. Help??

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    1. Uh-oh! Yep, I know what you're talking about (though I've never had that exact problem myself).
      As for if this method would work... mmmm, maybe. I don't have Yuno in my collection, so I'm not exactly sure what you're dealing with. Does she have thin "lady wrists" like Black Rock Shooter and Madoka? If so, it could be very hard to fix, since the pegs are so thin.
      I'd say it's worth a try, though, if you like tinkering (use very thin wire, though).

      On the other hand, if you're not a tinkerer, you might want to try writing to Medicom to ask for a replacement hand (they're really good sports about that sort of thing. See this article: http://figurefixer.blogspot.com.au/2012/11/writing-to-manufacturer-ins-and-outs.html ).
      ... in that case, to remove the stump of the old hand I'd recommend drilling it out with a pin vice.

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  5. That was really a nice share.. Thanks.. It was very useful....Super Glue or Cyanoacrylate.

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  6. God, great job! I've had a similar thing happen to me when I ordered the RAH figure of L from Death Note at what I thought was a good price from Japan. The listing said that it was in 'good condition' also. Go figure. When I opened the box, he wasn't wearing his jeans - they were neatly placed over him. And then... horror. His legs had broken off at the pelvis. Lovely. I posted about it on the bmedicom forum (http://bmedicom.runboard.com/t11799,offset=540#post321649) because I don't know how much to suggest to the seller as a refund. After customs and everything, I don't really want to send him back, you know? I'm half-wondering whether to have a go at fixing him myself so he has legs at least, but I think the damage is too severe. Anyway, I love your blog and I sympathise with your disappointment. Damn those pesky RAHs!

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    1. Hullo! Sorry for being so slow to reply!
      Thanks for the complement!

      OUCH OH! I just looked at your post on runboard! Gees. I know that feeling. My Roy broke his shoulder a couple of months after I wrote this post and it was just like that – all crumbled plastic around the joints! Nasty.
      My take on it is this: if he's busted, it can't do any harm to try fixing him, right?
      I would always encourage you to have a go at fixing him.
      From the photos, it looks like the pegs just need something to grab onto since the plastic has crumbled.
      You can provide this filler with a squirt of hot glue or air-curing putty (such as Milliput). I tried both those things with Roy and his arm was pretty floppy, but it *did* stay on and it *could* still move. In your case, you have better grab because there's still plastic encrusted around the metal pegs, so I think you've got a better chance of success. (There's a photo of the break I tried to repair this way in the post linked to below. You can see how it compares to yours.)

      At the very least, you can probably glue his legs back on with a bit shot of hot glue, freezing the joints. Even if his legs won't move, at least he'll be able to stand up...

      As for sending L off to Medicom to be fixed, I have a post about exactly that (the solution I resorted to when Roy's shoulder broke), so have a look if you're thinking you might like to have L fixed at any point: http://figurefixer.blogspot.com.au/2012/11/writing-to-manufacturer-ins-and-outs.html

      Medicom are very nice about this sort of thing.

      Anyway, I hope that was helpful to you!
      Good luck!
      Sparkey

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  7. My god, this was so helpful! And so is your Medicom help e-mail. I'm going to write to them, as my precious L from Death Note got a broken arm, too. T____T So sad! But this post is so inspiring!
    I also have a huge Momoko collection, so I'll be reading your blog start to end for helpful hints. Those I'm slightly less affraid to fix.

    Thanks so much for your blog!

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    1. Hi!
      Thanks for the nice comment! I really appreciate it, and I'm really pleased to have helped you!
      All the best,
      Sparkey

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  8. Hello I was just wandering do you know if you can pop up the head of Roy for you can switch he's head to another body? Thanks I love your writing and pictures I love how you said about PayPal,threats and fire hilarious :D

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    1. Thanks! It's always nice to be appreciated! :D

      As for Roy's head, I'm afraid I don't really know.
      What I can say is that most RAHs have their heads on ball joints. Since the head-vinyl is fairly soft, it usually is possible to remove the head with gentle pressure. Warming the plastic gently with a warm-not-hot hairdryer should make it easier.

      HOWEVER, I would not recommend trying this.

      Roy is an older action figure and the plastic is likely to be quite brittle and prone to crumbling. Unlike many of the newer RAHs, his head was not designed to be swappable, and so the ball joint is likely to be larger and stiffer than on newer figures.
      If his head isn't already loose, attempts to remove it could very well just lead to a broken neck joint.

      It's also likely that the socket would be the wrong size for whatever body you want to swap the head on to, since Medicom keep changing the way they build their joints.

      Sorry I couldn't be more helpful!

      Cheerio!
      Sparkey

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    2. Hello thanks so much for replying I took the leap of faith and used the blow dryer and it worked :D thanks again for replying keep up the good work.(cheers from the USA) At least now other people with problems like this can reed this and now know that it is possible to remove the head. Thanks and take care!

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  9. I'm so happy to have found this site and this article. I have a question if I may. my Light and L have broken arms and legs, bought them that way for cheap thinking I could just replace the whole bodies of both. Low and behold, the screws in the back of their heads are completely stripped, preventing me from removing the heads to replace the bodies......I'm so upset! Is there anything I can do?

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    1. Hello, Anonymous! Thanks for your question.
      The screws on a RAH neck are not generally for removing the head, but for taking the apart the neck. The head part is usually just held on with a regular ball joint. You can remove the head with gentle pressure and a hairdryer. In fact, the last person who asked a question on this page asked exactly that!
      This is what I said:
      "Since the head-vinyl is fairly soft, it usually is possible to remove the head with gentle pressure. Warming the plastic gently with a warm-not-hot hairdryer should make it easier."
      Doing this with an older RAH where the plastic is probably crumbly and degraded could easily break the neck, but if the bodies are broken and need replacing anyway, then this could be a good option for you.

      Good luck!
      All the best,
      Sparkey

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  10. Thank you thank you THANK YOU! I tried on Light first and his head came right off ^^ Thank you so much, you saved me A LOT of trouble. May I ask another question? Sorry to bug you! I bought the obitsu 27 slim body for both Light and L and now I see they will not work body size and skin color wise. Are there any other good options for replacing these older model bodies? Thanks!

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    1. Hello again!
      Really glad I could help!
      In terms of getting a replacement body... well, sadly it's not that simple. Medicom RAHs have been redesigned several times over the course of their history and so the older bodies can be a pain to replace.
      I have two suggestions;

      One would be to try using a RAH Naked2 body, made by Medicom for producing custom figures. The heads should fit right on (I think) to the ball joint neck of this figure. However, the skin tones won't match and I don't think the old RAH hands will fit on that body either. The other issue is that since the newer bodies have a different shape to the old ones, fitted clothes probably won't look that good when swapped from one to the other (I don't think this won't be a problem for L).

      My second suggestion is to contact Medicom and ask for their help. They may be able to sell you a replacement body for both your figures. The colour still probably won't match exactly, but see what they have to say. They're very helpful if you explain your problem clearly and succinctly.
      If it was me, I'd just say that you have L and Light, they're great, but the bodies are broken and you are wondering if you can buy replacements anywhere.
      They may sell you replacements directly or possibly ask you to send your old RAH bodies in for repair.
      Have a look at this article for more information:
      http://figurefixer.blogspot.com.au/2012/11/writing-to-manufacturer-ins-and-outs.html

      Best of luck!
      Sparkey

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  11. Thank you again! I did indeed read that article and I will now contact them and let them know how much I love Light and L but how I bought them broken and cannot find replacement bodies for them. I hope they can at least sell me comparable replacement bodies so I can get them together and get them out on display with my Misa RAH's! Thanks again so much for your help and for this informative blog. ^_^

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  12. Thank you. Your method saved my kotobukiya liara, the head snap off during transport.

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  13. Hi sparkey,
    I am the one with the Broken Medicom Rah L figure. We were chatting about this, but now I cannot find our posts back and forth. You told me to post a photo and you might could figure out a way to fix this. How do I post a photo?

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    1. Hello again!
      Our previous conversation can be found at the bottom of the comments section on this page: http://figurefixer.blogspot.com.au/2012/11/writing-to-manufacturer-ins-and-outs.html

      Blogger's comments don't seem to allow embedded images, so just upload the pictures to an image hosting site like Flickr or Photobucket and then post the link.

      Cheers!
      Sparkey

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  14. Oh cool. I think I did this correctly. Here is the link (I hope). I tried copying and pasting it and it worked. Do you think I could get a naked Rah body and take the arm off it and put it on L? Thank you so much for all your help.

    https://www.flickr.com/photos/137867155@N04/?

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    1. You don't have to answer that. I can see you already did on the other post. I'll just go back to that one. I'm so lost. LOL

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  15. I'm currently trying to fix my Play Arts Kai Sam Gideon (from Vanquish) using this method. His left arm joint snapped randomly one day when I tried moving it. It was very disappointing but I already did the drilling with a precision screwdriver now I just need the metal wire. I have Krazy Glue (liquid not gel) and I was wondering if that's what I really should be using..any suggestions?

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    1. As long as it says it sticks to PVC and metal and doesn't require close fitting surfaces, then it should be fine.

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    2. I'm really glad I stumbled into this page. Your method for fixing RAH joints worked perfectly for my Play Arts Kai Sam Gideon. He's got his arm back on and his shoulder pad armor is also good as new(actually, it's even sturdier than it used to be), which was something I broke during an earlier, (very)unsuccessful, repair attempt. Now Sam can slide-boost his way around my desk again. Thanks for taking the time to create this tutorial.

      Drilling and pinning FTW!

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    3. Hey, thanks for letting me know! People like you are what makes writing this stuff so rewarding!

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  16. Hi,

    I would like to know where I can buy head separate RAH Saber 619? I'm planning to use in my customs figure.

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    1. Hello!
      Sorry for taking so long to get back to you. In general, you can't buy RAH parts separately from one another, but I do know that the chaps over at this forum: https://bmedicom.runboard.com/ often have parts from old broken figures that they might agree to sell to you.
      Other than that, I have no idea.
      Good luck!
      Cheers!
      Sparkey

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