Instructables
In this instructable I will guide you into creating a custom action figure.

This is my first action figure so I'll keep it simple. A figure of my own imagination. More advanced sculptors sculpt exact likenesses of anyone they choose! How cool would it be to have your own action figure?

This instructable does require some sculpting skills and a few hours of your time. The first few attempts at sculpting won't even come close. It's ok, that's how even the pros started out.

Before you start you will need a few things.

Materials:
Sculpey III
Armature wire (two different kinds)
Wire cutters
Plastic bubble from a toy (the thin clear plastic cover that encases the action figure)
Sculpting tools are optional but highly recommended for detail

First off a primer on Polymer Clay
Polymer Clay is a clay like substance that when baked in a ordinary oven will harden to a plastic durability. According to it's wiki it's PVC based which could be dangerous if instructions are not followed closely ( we know what it can do if used in a laser cutter ). Can we agree PVC is just little bit dangerous?

There are many brands of polymer clays and each has it's own set of instructions. For this demonstration I will be using Sculpey III. Sculpey as well as the other brands all come in a rainbow spectrum of colors. I will be using "translucent". After it's baked in the oven it offers a pinkish translucent color that closely resembles my pale pink skin. Polymer clays can also be blended with other colored polymer clay to get the right skin color. Another apporach is to paint it after its baked in the oven. I'll have to double check which paints work. But I'm leaning towards acrylic paints.

Sculpey III comes in a small 2oz size that costs around $2.50. I bought three of them and that will be plenty. My plan is to sculpt the action figure as well as accessories. I will show you tricks on how to use less sculpey later if you are on a dollar a day budget as most of the world is.

Using Sculpey III
Sculpey III will pick up any dirt on your hands and then discolor the clay giving it a marbled dirt effect. So wash your hands before handling. Sculpey III will also leave a slight residue on your hands after handling. Regular soap worked for me. Some will suggest nail polish remover. Label on side of Sculpey III package states not to place uncured clay on furniture.

Sculpting skills
The majority of this project will involve sculpting. So learning the basic sculpting is a must.

I recommend heading over to Smartflix.com
Check out Patrica Roses series on Polymer figures. Smartflix offers a three disc combo set for beginners and intermediate. I have both and they are worth getting if you want your finished action figure resembling anything like your subject. Also Patrica Rose is a fantastic artist and some of her figures have sold thousands. If you get into this you could make a living!

Action figure accessories
So after you've mastered sculpting, it's time to think of some awesome accessories you might want to include with your figure.

Highlyflammabletoys is a company that will make custom action figures for you. Although they are a bit pricey their figures are the best looking and are amazingly awesome.

On the left hand side you will see names and links to finished figures. Check them all out and notice all the cool scale accessories. This is a good starting point for ideas. And with a little bit of effort you can create something close to what they offer.

Remember custom accessories are key here, the more personal the cooler you're figure will be! Turning your skateboarder friend into a action figure? They will need a scale skateboard accessory.

Another place for inspriation is intuition kitchen productions Again go look at allof them. Each soo unique and amazing. Each with it's own special details and accessories. One day your figures will look like these.

Another good site for ideas is Spectre studios. This guy has created some of the coolest action figures around. He's gotten huge attention on tv, and online about his unique peices. Check out Pamela Rogers, nutty Britney Spears in a straight jacket and recently his jailtime Paris Hilton complete with orange jump suit and pet rat. ::Jaw Drops:: It's also on ebay right now...
 
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RickyL1 month ago

Nice article, thanks!

http://www.customizedactionfigures.org/

carsoncool3 years ago
Are these made for play? And what do you mean "burn your finger"?
I think he meant the fingers on the figure
Oh, thanks.
TrueDave4 years ago
I'm a trainer sculptor and SFX guy.

I dont know what the product name is for the plastic used for small action figure arms and legs. It's rubbery and flexible so the two piece torso can hold the limbs in and they can rotate without joints.

Anybody able to tell me?
eyebot1174 years ago
Neato! I intend to create a miniature figurine of a robot with an actual LED in it. Since you've wrapped wire around the main wire of the armature, I could find a way to get current to the LED. The question is whether or not the heat of the oven would affect the wire inside or not..... It might melt the plastic jacket around the wire, but I don't know if it would do anything..... Oh, and I love sculpey. That is all.
just like the bootleggers see
http://bootlegactionfigures.com/blog/?paged=2
Hi, your great Ible inspired me to make my own "magnetic joint action figure kit" Ible: http://www.instructables.com/id/Posable-Action-Figure-Building-System
:P Nothing says ninja like a ten foot revolver and a shoulder harness.
lol seriously
Im also pretty sure Sculpey III comes in larger bricks now, a pound maybe? I think they run about 15 bucks.
Sorry about that, its actually the Super Sculpey.
IceCadavers6 years ago
This is a cool idea. I have worked with polymer clay some, so I have a couple suggestions. First I might recommend using clay that can be baked multiple times without losing strength. Try Kato Polyclay, it can be a bit more expensive but I've had great results from it. This will also allow you to do more with your action figure, most importantly you can make an accurately proportional body and get better detail. Try building the shape up in a couple layers, baking in between. It's a similar process to the 'bulking up' part of drawing that those comic book tutorials always include. I'd still recommend baking smaller bits (like fingers) last or separately though
Shifrin6 years ago
Haha, This is sweet! Can't wait to try!
icedog5156 years ago
very nice. at 1st i was sceptical, then i was like, wow, this could work! _
Hey guys. I actually have some experience with Super Sculpey and a few of my pieces are on my myspace page at www.myspace.com/craigloaf. They are in my pics under 'projects'. I actually just finished my first jointed action figure and hope to post pics soon.Good tutorial and please have a look at my work. Thanks.
Nabil7 years ago
You can also make your own Plastic Bubble, Vacuum Forming:
KeannaRoar7 years ago
A few things I would like to add because they are realted--

Joints aren't hard unless you want the kind of joints that actual action figures have, which is closer to a pin in hinge type. A bit harder to make with sculpey, but still possible.
I suggest a ball joint route, where you have a shpere that sits in a hollowed area. The entire doll could be held together with elastic, and all the pieces being hollow. A few S hooks in the hands, feet, and head, and you would have a completely poseable figure.

http://translate.google.com/translate?u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.linkclub.or.jp%2F%7Eoshizaka%2Fdoll%2Fhowto%2Findex.html&langpair=ja%7Cen&hl=en&safe=off&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8&prev=%2Flanguage_tools

It's completely in Japanese, but google does wonders: It details everything that I have said here, and can be applied to any type of figure.
Another note-- When using SS, don't bake pieces. You run the risk of burning them! Instead, put the soft piece in a large bowl full of water (so that the water covers the piece) and stick it into the microwave for 15mins. The piece will cure in the microwave. If you want a better sandable surface, go to a local art store and buy "gesso". It's a primer for canvases, but it makes a sandable surface that can be smoothed and finished out. After that, paint it with whatever you like, and seal it in a dull coat matte finish so it isn't too glossy. Something like Testors Dullcoat. If you want a shiner finish, pick a varnish instead.
metanet7 years ago
This is a great Instructable! So detailed, and such interesting links. I too would love to know how to do joints, but this is a great way to start. Nice job! What sort of glue did you use to attach the eyes?
FreakCitySF (author)  metanet7 years ago
Thanks! No glue just stuck them on for the photo. Later I baked them on. I would get a few sculpting tools they would help big time. Might want to "kit bash" a hinge and just add polymer clay around it.
lemonie7 years ago
I like the finished look, but on a pedantic note, surely action figures have movable joints (hence the 'action')? What colour(s) are you going to paint the Crab-Man? L
FreakCitySF (author)  lemonie7 years ago
I was going to be paint it but painting is really tough. I also end up buying little contaners of paint only using a fraction of it and then storing the rest of it for a few years until tossing it. Yeah joints would be cool. I know the Highly Flamable toys usually dont have working joints just ones that look like they could work. They figure it will stay inside the bubble. This was my first attempt at polymer clay figures, next figure I'll try to upgrade the look. I have to watch the dvd series again a few times, I first thought it would be real easy but sculpturing and detailing is really hard!
You did a super job on the claws, I wouldn't know how to start on crab-claws... L
FreakCitySF (author)  lemonie7 years ago
Thanks! All I did was roll out a small wheel,cut it in half then rolled smaller peices and stuck them inside and then use a razor edge to blend them in some. Added some holes on the outside for texture. Two things I learned on this figure. Once you bake the figure you lose detail. Also I wouldnt exactly call this color translucent. The clay that Patrica Rose uses is much more skin like. Just something to keep in mind.
Sgt.Waffles7 years ago
...Why?
Why not?
I smell a paradox!
You do? It smells like freshly cooked waffles here...
You know what? I think I burned the waffles...

=D
freehand7 years ago
nice work! i'm sure a lot of people would like to have a custom action figure. realistic sculpting is definitely the difficult part, but there are a lot of places to find help, and your links are a good start. all you need next are some arm and leg joints so you can pose it!

(and never mind waffles, he's just full of syrup.