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Face Paint -- I have been painting figures for a long time, and have found good ways of doing this through trial and error. The most important thing is using a "dry brush" technique. That is after you dip your brush into the paint, wipe most of the paint off on a rag, then apply the paint to the face. I recommend using "Polly-S" or "Humbrol" model paints, which are at your local hobby store. Once I get the paint on the face like I want, I sometimes use a rag and rub over the face a little to make the paint wear off a little in spots to give a "been out in the boonies for a while now" look. One other method that has gotten me good effects is using artists vine charcoal for just black face paint. So try some of this stuff out. Good Luck!

Regarding face paint: Use a thinned acrylic paint, gray or black, mixed 1:1 with water. Paint on the face of your figure, then wipe with a moistened cloth immediately to take up the excess. Let dry. Repeat. Over time, the paint builds up in the wrinkles and dimples of the figure, and creates the look of a soldier who's been out in the boonies. Also, finely ground artist's charcoals can do the trick, and may work better if you don't want the look to be permanent.

I saw this on another website, but I'm not sure which. You take a latex glove, and cut the fingers off. Then you take the fingers and slip them over the leg joints, and arm joints. Paint and blend the latex using liquatex acrylic paint, and you have camouflaged joints for your tropical troops.

I have to say that one of the very very few complaints I have ever had about 21st stuff is Sam's haircut. Sorry Sam but that just won't pass inspection. Those of you who have already seen the latest pictures of mine that Greenleader so graciously posted will notice that my Delta Operator has a shaved head. One of you has already asked how I did it. Well, I started out carefully removing the majority of it with my Dremel tool (an invaluable piece of equipment to any hobbiest). After the bulk of his hair had been "trimmed" I then went back and carefully sanded the head smooth paying close attention around the ears. You will notice that "careful" is the key word here. Especially with the Dremel it is easy to go too deep and give Sam a permenant scar. (Of course they could be battle scars!) Anyway, a lot of patience, a little luck and a bit of skill will get your Sam looking a little more strack for the next inspection. Have fun troops, cause that's what this is all about !! When I mentioned that the second step was sanding the head smooth I forgot to say that I used sand paper in varying degrees of roughness. Just so you didn't think I sanded the head smooth with the Dremel.. that would be a little risky I think. Over and out.

Give your soldier a high & tight haircut.
Using basically the same techniques as in the Captain Fisher tip above, I've created the high & tight haircut instead of the shaved head look. Here I've also included a picture of the drill bit that I used to sand the hair. Click Here for pictures.

Solving the loose joint problem.
Many people who collect 12" figures have mentioned the problem of floppy, loose joints on their figures. It can be the neck, elbows, wrists, knees or ankles that become so loose the figure won't pose or stand up properly. The figure may not be old, some right out of the box can have this problem. The list includes DML, 21st Century, Hasbro,and others. Well if I've got your attention about this industry plague, read on because I am going to tell you how to fix this problem on any figure at low cost, with no extreme operations. -THIS DOES WORK!- It will supply a new medium to work with that gives you abilities to experiment on other projects you may have.

Here is the list of items you may require:
1. One ounce medication cups. These can be obtained at most pharmacies. They are clear plastic cups with measurement markings cast on them usually in drams, ounces, and milliliters on them.
2. A metal stylus with ball end. This is a clay modeling tool that can be found at any crafts store. It looks like a pencil sized ice pick that has a round ball at the end instead of a sharp point.
3. Wood coffee stir sticks. The same type you throw away after mixing your coffee at your favorite caffeine parlor.
4. 36 xxx resin from Vagabond Corporation. This is a two part plastic resin. If you do any modeling you may have seen kits made of this material. It's used in aircraft, water line ships, tank modification/accessories etc. Its properties are that it takes mold detail, sets quickly (full dry in 24hrs) and is easy to tool.

The procedure as to loose joint repairs:
I'll start by describing how I fixed my Ultimate Soldiers with loose knees. Seeing as I didn't want to take off their tight fitting boots, I pulled down their pants well below the knees and set them in push up position on the work table. Now take a med.cup three drops of "A" side into the cup. Next do the same with the "B" side then mix with the stir stick for fifteen seconds. You can mix larger amounts but just remember don't mix more than you can use in three minutes. Then take the stylus, dip in the mixed resin and then apply to the knee joint letting the resin flow into and around the hinge area. You will note the resin will become thicker as it gets closer to flash off point. Any excess can be wiped away before it sets. Set time is about three minutes. After ten minutes bend the knees to get the joint to move then let dry. The resin gives resistance to the joint . In so doing it forms a custom cartilage that keeps the joint tight. If you don't get the results you want the first time,you can reapply. The resin will bond to itself. I haven't had to reapply. If you play alot with your army, repairs can be redone as or if needed.

This procedure works on any other problem area on the figure's body. I've used it on the neck, shoulder/torso, hand and knee joints of TUS guys. On Dragon guys the turning leg joint just above the ankle/foot point. It gave the rotating foot more resistance. I've even used this method to repair cracks on Hasbro original "Joes" that needed help at the hip/leg ball and arm/hand joints. I changed the over sized hands of Hasbro Joe to TUS hands as per the tip in this section. I found the first arm I did was sloppy. I just bent his elbow so the hand/wrist pointed straight up then filled with resin. After set up time, gave the hand a turn to get it moving, then let it dry. Later I scraped off the excess resin near the wrist joint. Its just as firm as new and you could never tell anything was ever done to it.
This material has uses in model building applications because of its easy flow and tool ability.

Cost : 36xxx resin is available in different quantities and different set times, ie fast, medium,&slow, 30 sec. to 2 1/2 min. You will want a two pint kit which will give you a quart of product. Easily more than you'll need for the whole army.
$12.50 +CA tax if a resident and shipping depending on where you are is between $3.00-6.00 UPS ground.
Vagabond Corporation
P.O. Box 39
Warner Springs,CA 92086
(760) 782-3136 / FAX (760) 782-3138

Medication cups for a pack of fifty runs about $4.95
Metal stylus w/ball end $3.95
Coffee stir sticks? Well you've already paid for them from that exotic morning brew, just grab a few more! Total = $25.00 to $28.00

Tips : Look for cone tipped squeeze bottles,the restaurant ketchup type, for the resin dispensers. Use wire nuts as tip caps.
After using the mixing cups, turn it over.When dry pull the flash out and you can use that cup again.
Resin can be wiped while wet or scraped after dried from the metal stylus.
You can delete the stylus if you like and carve stir sticks or use the plastic type stirs as applicators.
Try mixing a small amount of resin, play with it, then watch it dry in the cup.
Afterwards pop out the material and examine it. It will give you a better feel for what the resin can do.

One More use for the resin:
Mix fifteen drops of each, that is thirty drops of mixed material, then pour it into each TUS boot being careful not to get any on the sides. When dry it forms a inner contoured soul support to the bottom of the shoe. It doesn't interfere with the foot's entry into the boot and will give the shoe strength enough for the figure to stand on it better and no soul flex. This is standard shoe modification on all my troops footwear. At present I've got two Dragons,four TUS, and three converted Hasbro Joes. All sport TUS footwear. Am looking at my childhood classic Joes to see who gets new TUS gear next. Some are in need of body replacement parts.

Rifleman Hand Tip - Well guys here a nifty tip in case you want one of those cool "rifle firing" hands like Dragon's "Klaus" figure for your SAMs. Who wouldn't? Well here's how:
First get yourself a 21st "trigger finger" hand sculpt from you hand set or SWAT Commander figure. If its on a figure, just pull it off. It needs to be separated from the figure to do this tip.
Then get yourself a standard hair blow dryer.
Then grab the hand by the plastic pin and heat that baby up a good bit. You might want to hold the pin with a thick cloth because it will get really hot.
Then after you heat it up, grab the hand by the full wrist (not just the pin) right behind the thumb and lower hand area; your thumbnail at the bottom. Then with your other hand, push downward (right behind the SAM hand's thumb) and bend it at an angle until you have the proper wrist bend you need for rifle firing position. Then let cool. You can also run it under cool water to help hurry this process. Like I said though, be careful because your SAM hand will be hot right after you heat it. You use the thick cloth to hold the pin just so you can heat it up with the dryer without burning your hands, but when you do the bend thing, you're going to have to use your bare hands basically, because you have to make a crease at the lower part of the bend with your thumbnail so the hand will bend properly.
Well thats it. If you have done this correctly, you should now have a firing trigger figure for a rifleman in its correct position that holds its position (wrist bent).

Add On Rifleman Hand tip from Carl -
I was trying to use the method that GL posted about molding hands with a hair dryer. I got impatient because it was taking so long so I got another idea. Remember how to mold a football/hockey mouth piece? Yep, I boiled water in a pan. Removed the pan from the hot burner. Put the hand in a spoon and allow it to sit in the water. I used 25 seconds and it was fine. Then take the spoon out. Then I grabbed the gun I was molding it for and pulled the fingers & thumb around the rifle/shotgun and put the trigger finger on the trigger. With the other hand bend the wrist like GL said. While holding all these fingers & wrist, place it under running cold water. Some I had to do more than once to get the results I wanted. The results were awesome. It looks like the hands were made for the gun. I used the trigger hands. It looks like it should work with the regular hands too, once you cut the index finger away from the other fingers. Be careful with the hot water!

Head Swapping - So you want to swap heads on your Ultimate Soldiers and GI Joes, huh? Well here's how that goes:
First off I want to say that since the Ultimate Soldier and GI Joe head & neck posts fit together the same way, this tip should work whether swapping Sam to Sam, Joe to Joe, Sam to Joe, or vice versa.
First, get yourself a hair dryer or some very hot water. Heat the head up using one of these methods until the head becomes very squishy and soft. Then all you do is secure the neck with two fingers of one hand and taking the thumb of the other hand, grab your figure's head under the chin and just pull it off.
Now that we have it off, we need to swap it. To do this just simply repeat the head heating procedure. After you've heated the head up sufficiently to make it soft and pliable again, rub a little dishwashing liquid using your finger and put it over the hole on the bottom of the head for lubrication. You can also use a wet finger over a soap bar instead of dishwashing liquid. Then quickly push and twist the head back on.
Now sometimes when you try this tip, since you've lubricated the hole and you're usually squishing all the air out of the head when you're putting it back on, sometimes the lubrication causes a tight seal so the air won't push back into the head. (And you don't want to be left with a soldier with a squished head) So to fix this, just grab your figure's head up under the chin like you're going to pull if off (but don't pull it completely off), just enough so it lets the air back into the head.
Some people have had a little trouble getting the head back on, so if you're still having trouble after using this procedure, what you can do is cut with a razor or pair of scissors a little slit from the inside neck hole of the headsculpt out toward the neck. Then with a twisting motion, push the head back on. The slit will act like a screw effect to grab a hold of the post. That's it.

Weathering a figure:
To give a figure that look that says I've been into combat and lived to tell about it, is really fun, and something that you really can't mess up. This tip will give you a more permenant result...you won't be able to just wash it off.

I start by setting the figure up completely...put on the belts and harnesses, canteens and ammo pouches...etc. I start with a light brown acrylic paint that I get in the craft section at Wal-Mart. I use a medium sized brush and just dab on the light brown paint anywhere on the uniform where I figure this soldier would have kneeled down, sat down or spent time on his elbows, shoulders...etc. Take into account mud splattering up when he walks or runs. He'll get dirt up the sides of his pant legs and on his sleve cuffs...etc. I'm pretty generous with the light brown because it tends to soak into the cloth. When it dries it looks like dried mud that's been there for a few hours. Next, I dab on the dark brown paint. I go a little lighter on the dark brown, because this is the dirt that would not be completely dry yet. I apply the dark brown over the light brown, but cover a smaller area. You can apply the mud / dirt to the boots, and equipment as well. Figure that if the soldier would have dived into a foxhole, or been crawling on the ground, his equipment would be dirty and scratched up too. Once you have done this you will have a fairly clean uniform with some really dirty looking spots.

To give the uni the ragged combat look, take it outside (I do this part with the guy in the uni) find some dry dirt. Little dirt clods work great. Just rub dirt all over the guy. Use your fingers and work it into the cloth. High traffic area, such as knees and the butt, get heavier dirt than say the middle of the back. Think about in real live...where do you wipe your hands off when they get dirty ? On the tops of your legs, or the lower front of your shirt. The real dirt works great on the boots too. Use just a touch of elmers glue, rub it over the boot, sprinkle on done dry , fine dirt. Let it dry and you have dirty boots. You can paint the dirt on the boots dark brown to look more like wet mud.

You can apply the same tecniques to the face, hands and arms. Apply light brown paint all about the face and neck...wipe it off with a finger. This gives the guy a grimmy look. Apply the darker brown paint in smudges and blotches about the face. You can smear them around a little with a finger to make it look rubbed in. You can go that next step and give the guy a little cut or scrape. Thiink about that If the guy was bleeding a little from say his eyebrow, he would rub at it with the back of his hand...so give the guy a little blood on his hand.

Basically, just have fun with it. Think about the last time you played war...fell down , got all dirty, and apply the "dirt and mud" to the figure in the same areas. If you get it a little too heavy...think about the last war movie you watched, did ya see any clean soldiers by the end of the movie?

Making injuries to the face - Here are a few tips for giving your figures black-eyes, cuts and bruises:
To do a black-eye with the swollen look, use a very sharp Exacto knife and shave 2 thin pieces of plastic off the back of the neck just above the neck seam. Take some crazy glue and squeeze a drop out onto a pice of paper. Use the tip of the Exacto knife to apply some of the glue to the ends of the small slivers of plastic that where shaved off the neck. carefully possition the first piece of plastic to the eye just below the lower eye-lid. You will form almost a half moon shape with the sliver of plastic. Repeat this step for the upper eye-lid. You should end up with what looks like 2 swollen eye-lids. You should be able to barely see the eye through the slit. You can do this process possition the slivers of plastic closer together and make it look like the eyes are closed. For a black eye, dry-brush a touch of black paint under the eye and around the inside edge. You can add just a touch of red paint to mix with the black and give it a fresh black-eye look.

To do a good bruise, lay down a little bit of black paint and add just a touch of red paint. Mix the red into the black a little while the black is still wet. A good way to make an open wound or weeping bruise, is to score a small area with an Exacto knife. Just use a criss cross pattern and barely cut into the plastic of the face where you want the bruise. Use the black paint as a base again...wipe off the excess with a finger. Add the red paint again, and mix it in while the black is still wet. Rubbing it in with your finger tends to give you more control over how it turns out.

If you have a major wound and need blood to look fresh, use bright red fingernail polish. It's made to look wet when it is completely dry. I always use regular Testors red paint as a base coat and on clothes that are saturated with blood...when this paint dries it dries a little darker like real dried blood. I'll then smear a little of the fingernail polish into the middle of the red paint to simulate fresher blood.

TIP FROM Medi-Jeep
Making quick swap heads

TIP FROM Tank Mechanic
Making a shorter body

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