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!


  1. YAHHHHH NEW ZEALAND !! haha and thanks this is a helpful tip

  2. Ty for this, I just bought a Jack frost nendo from mandarake and the extra hands have smaller holes then the default ones so they don't fit. Will definitely try this out and hopefully be able to finally pose him like on the box. :D