Christmas. When you are a kid, toys beneath the tree are the best thing in life! But when you are a parent, you have to suffer how much "Evil Toys Megacorp" makes you expend a lot of money for only for a big piece of  "Made in China" plastic with a famous logo.

Don't get me wrong. I like toys, I love action figures and some of their vehicles and playsets are pretty cool. But, when we talk about the heroes/villains average headquarters playsets, a lot of those are overpriced things for children who will destroy them in the worst case scenario or stop playing with them in the best. Depending of the size, an playset for action figures costs between $45 and $200 in US, and if you live in South America, the price triplicates.

(And don't start with the classic G.I.Joe playsets, from $500 to thousands of dollars).

Do you want to know something? You can build your very own and personalized playset for much less, using upcycled plastic things and a lot of imagination. No limits for what you want to build for your favorite heroes/villains. A new mass destruction weapon for Cobra Commander? You got it! A great garage for your Cobra HISS Tank? Checked. Destro and the Baroness want a hot tub? Why not?

As example, I made a Cobra naval base playset for G.I.Joe action figures and the Cobra MANTIS vehicle. I used a big discarded tape recorder, some printer pieces and other found plastic stuff. The maritime base has a dock, Cobra Commander's last Annihilation Ray and a defense droid I called CRAB (COBRA Rapid Attack Bot).


(G.I.JOE, COBRA and all characters, vehicles and names related, are trademarks and propierty of HASBRO)

Step 1: Safety precautions, materials, tools and tips


Remember: You are making a toy for kids (or some geek friend). Not recommended for children under 6 years old. Use plastic from reliable and no hazardous sources. Don't use easy breakable plastic. Don't leave any pointy or sharp part that could injure your children. Wash and desinfect the parts of this toy before giving it to any child. Check the cautions in the label of the painting products before using. Take any precaution possible.


Materials can variate depending of what you have on stock or what you can find. Note that I don't know the name of some materials or where they came from because I found them in flea markets or in the street. So if you have any doubt, just look the pictures and find something of similar shape. For decoration try to get pieces with the following colors: grey, black, red and blue. I used:

For the base:
  • 1 Big tape recorder plastic case
  • A lot of printers pieces (or any king of rigid plastic pieces. See the pictures in case if you have any doubt)
  • 1 PC screen base
  • Damaged toys
  • Iron angles
  • screws and bolts
  • Sandpaper
  • Primer (for plastic) in spray
  • Gray paint in spray
For inside the barracks:
  • A damaged DaVinci handheld (or any gadget that looks like a computer display)
  • Printer pieces
  • Plastic rectangles
  • Something that looks like stairs (I use one from a girls toy and made one with plastic shreds and a printer long piece)
For the Communications Antenna:
  • Acrylic disc
  • Plastic cap
  • Plastic toys pieces
  • Long screw and bolts
For the Annihilation Ray:
  • Printer pieces
  • Plastic toys pieces
  • 1 LED
  • 1 Buzzer
  • 1 AA Batteries box
  • Wire
  • 1 Switch
  • Joystick handle
For the CRAB
  • 1 AA Batteries box
  • Wire
  • 1 Switch
  • 1 motor
  • Cylinder from a toy revolver
  • 2 big caps (I found two blue ones from air filters)
  • 2 oven knobs
  • 2 weapons from action toys (I used two pieces from a Max Steel weapon I found in a flea market)
CRAB's platform
  • 1 plastic square (I use one from a lamp)
  • 4 breathalyzer mouthpieces.
I found an incomplete building set named Robotix and it was very useful in some parts of this project.

Have around a G.I.JOE action figure and the MANTIS (or your vehicle of choice) as reference when you start building the base.


Dremel Rotary Tool
Wire cutters
Screwdriver kit
Soldering Iron
Super Glue

And don't forget:

1. If you don't have it, replace it!
2. Use protective equipment (dust mask and goggles)
3. Beware of drilled and soldered hot surfaces
4. Work in a good ventilated area.
5. Always have junk in stock.
6. Have fun.
This is amazing! I've wanted to make a base like this for awhile, and now I can! This will be great for my vintage dino riders.
Thanks Kracken!!! :-)<br><br>The best thing is you can personalize your own base as you wish!!
I have been doing customs transformer figures for years. My personal collection stands on a custom shelf designed to look like their home planet. I have used several odd pieces over time to create this and make a believable world. In addition to making custom play sets and figures for my children I also do commission work and make some good money although it is truly a hobby. So I must say you did an EXCELLENT job. I am very impressed and I hope you continue to do this. It takes alot to turn your vision into something from nothing. I think you could have a future selling customs if not in the toy design business. I'll be looking for more of your designs. Great job.
Thanks man!!!! I loved so much this project! It was a lot of fun. This is the base I dreamed when I was a kid.
I would have loved to have had this in 1986!
Thanks fzumrk!!! Why don't you try to have one now? :-)
Very cool. I collect joes, where did you get the cobra decals? Nice up cycle, very cool base!
Thanks Ablec1! I made the decals by myself. I found the logo on internet and then I printed it in transparent adhesive acrylic paper.<br><br>
hey the guy that looks like destro is the Ninth Doctor! :)
Oh yeah!! The great Christopher Eccleston! :-)
This is really cool. And the photos are awesome as well. I actually have several old printers in the basement which could be taken apart for parts...:)
Thanks a lot Holly!!!! First time I'm proud of the pictures. I'm not a good photographer, but you make miracles when use plenty of sun light and white and blue cardboard.<br><br>And printers are awesome for doing things!<br><br>Congratulations to you, too! :-)
This is truly amazing MC, one of your best projects. I love your attention to detail here especially with the palm pilot as a video screen. <br /> <br />Question- what specific kind of spray primer do you use? I've been meaning to learn how to use it, but I'm not sure when to apply it (eg before or after spray paint).
Thanks a lot Shift!! Well, about the spary primer, I don't know if you can find the same product in Vancouver. I used a colombian brand which comes in a spray can. It's transparent primer for plastics. There is another primer but it's only for wood and metal. The important thing: the primer must be specially for plastic.
This was one of the best examples of recycling I've ever seen here. Excellent job!
Thanks a lot PeckLauros!!! :-)
Genial primo!
Gracias Jose!
Que idea tan maravillosa! Ojal&aacute; ganes! Te lo mereces!
Gracias Maria Cami!
Uahhhhh..... sabia que detr&aacute;s de tanta belleza habia mucha inteligencia.
Jajajajajajajajaja! Gracias Holmilla! :-)
Gracias Eliany!
This is uber sweet! Playsets are just the best and I would swear this is store bought (but better) from looking at it!
WOOOOOOW! Thanks a lot Penolopy!!! Your comment made my day!!!! :-)
Awesomeness. :D
Thanks CB2001!!! :-)
I've got loads of &quot;crap&quot; like that, and while I've always thought about doing something like this with it, now I give up.<br> This is one of the best uses of stuff that I've seen all year, thanks for showing us it.<br> <br> L
Thanks to you, Lemonie! Why did you give up?
It would just be an indulgence, no kids to give them to.<br> I will probably do something else with 'em though.<br> <br> L
This is spectacular!
Thanks t.11! :-)
Wow! I loved the show! Thanks for sharing! <br>Sunshiine
Thanks to you! :-)
Thanks Masynmachien!! :-)
Awesome. Wish this had been around about 30 years ago ....
Thanks Lord Pruitt! Well, it was a lot of fun building this. But I think the same, too. It would be awesome to have this on my childhood. :-)
Amazing work! so many details... I especially like the crab... <br>
Thanks Vanweb!!! :-)

About This Instructable


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Bio: I'm Mario Caicedo Langer, from Colombia, former Navy officer and BSc in Naval Sciences. Right now I'm Technology Program Manager and Lego Robotics ... More »
More by M.C. Langer: Ultimate Robo-Planter (with light and detachable anti-spill module) Superheroic Wrist Gun (made of plastic trash and an old leather boot) M.C. Langer's 3D printing projects
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