Introduction: Plastic Army Men Fruit Bowl

Picture of Plastic Army Men Fruit Bowl

I saw a similar project a while ago on this and so decided to make my very own Plastic Army Man Fruit Bowl. Best part is it only costs around £6 to make.

Here's how you do it.

Step 1: You Will Need

Picture of You Will Need

WARNING: Plastic Army Men are toxic and just like the real things, can kill. So make sure you do this outside on a breezy day.

You will need:

  • 2 to 3 bags of plastic Army Men (eBay sells many at dirt cheap prices £3)
  • Metal mixing bowl (£3 from a home/kitchen store)
  • Heat gun
  • PVA glue (optional)
  • Paint brush (optional)

Step 2: Lay Out the First Men

Picture of Lay Out the First Men

First of all lay two plastic amy men together bases touching each other; this will form the central link. Then arrange the men with bases down so that they have as much solid plastic against plastic.

Build up as many as you can without them tumbling down.

Step 3: Heat Up Layers

Picture of Heat Up Layers

Grab the heat gun and start heating around 10-15cm away from the men for around 10 seconds, but do it outside! The fumes are really bad and poisonous so be careful.

The metal bowl can get burning hot so use some oven gloves when rotating the bowl around.

Don't get too close or they'll boil, burn and melt like crazy. Use a stick to poke them against the bowl once they start to melt. Very important: make sure each man is melted well into the next.

Step 4: Continue Adding Men

Picture of Continue Adding Men

Repeat the process once the first layer is built up and melted together. Add as many as you can again and melt them firmly against the bowl and to the soldiers below them.

Step 5: Check Men Are Melted Together

Picture of Check Men Are Melted Together

Check each man is very well melted to the next. I used laying down men more along the top to finish off the rim of my bowl. During my first attempt several clumps broke off because they weren't well melted to the next and we held on only by arms and guns which were too thin. So if you have any weak points, grab some more men and melt a few in to patch the holes.

Step 6: (Optional) PVA Glue Varnish

Picture of (Optional) PVA Glue Varnish

I wanted mine to be a bit stronger, so I mixed some PVA glue and water (2:1) and brushed on two coats. This also acts as varnish and makes them the whole bowl nice and glossy finished.

Step 7: Add Fruit and Admire!

Picture of Add Fruit and Admire!

Last step, chuck in some fruit and enjoy!

Can be used to store anything that isn't too heavy. And you could also melt them into any other shape using glass or metal containers.

Thanks for reading and please post up your bowls when you've made yours! I'd love to see them, especially a red Army men version if you can find red soldiers.


mroessner woodford (author)2015-05-03

Made it! Turned out great! Ty for instructions!

N36 (author)mroessner woodford2015-05-03

Nice work! That looks ace :) Thanks for posting it up. It's great to see other examples. Hope you enjoy it.

VirginiaL2 (author)2016-02-02

hey! a question. What should be the aproximate size of the army men???

MistyA (author)2015-06-02

This would make a cool light future/lampshade!

mchau2 (author)MistyA2016-01-03


jbrown47 (author)2015-07-09

This is awesome! great idea.

Giulia Art (author)2015-06-09

Congrats on making finalist! How was your sleep until now?Are you waiting for the big announcement? What prize would you like to receive? :D

Kerblotto made it! (author)2015-05-12

Fun project. Doesn't photograph particularly well, but looks great. Thanks for the instructable and the inspiration.

N36 (author)Kerblotto2015-05-14

Nice one! Thanks for posting a pic. It came out really well and each figure has kept its plastic form really well. Hope you enjoy it with some fruit in. Mine is in pride of place on the dining table :)

grapewire (author)2015-04-30

I have been making these for years on my Etsy account and store. I use a glass bowl, not a metal one.

cristhompson (author)2015-04-24

What's the conversion rate of dollar store to pound store army men?

N36 (author)cristhompson2015-04-24


AGelatt (author)2015-04-21


This would be great when fitted to a lamp shade frame in a kids (no matter what age) room.

N36 (author)AGelatt2015-04-24

Agreed! I'm thinking about doing one as well :)

Phoghat (author)AGelatt2015-04-23

Beat Me To It !

SwiperF (author)AGelatt2015-04-23

Wait! Would the heat coming from the lightbulb melt the plastic toy soldiers?

Would the melted toy soldiers be in contact with the lightbulb and cause electrical short circuit and fire?

AGelatt (author)SwiperF2015-04-23

You would make the shade so that it was far enough away from the bulb so that no melting or emissions from the plastic would occur. you can prchase shade frames from craft and fabric stores.

boocat (author)AGelatt2015-04-21

Lamp shade? I'd be concerned about "off-gassing" or even fire-safety in that particular usage.

N36 (author)boocat2015-04-21

I imagine it would be ok with an energy saving bulb or LED as they don't get hot.

N36 (author)AGelatt2015-04-21

Great idea, would be easy to put a metal ring in the centre to form the light fitting cuff. Shadows would look good too on the ceiling.

bluemoon6 (author)2015-04-24

Great fun idea..and those who are offended by the army men..change it out to bugs or lizards or any other little plastic creature or thing.....

tyler roberts (author)2015-04-24

this is what they get for fighting and dying for their plastic country? that's horrible! but gives me an idea for a miniature Iwo Jima statue.

LithiumRose (author)2015-04-23

All I can think of is Toy Story and how I could never do that to the soldiers.

wobbler (author)2015-04-19

You can also get cheap bags of plactic soldiers from any local poundshop, although I'm not exactly sure how much they cost.

DonnH1 (author)wobbler2015-04-21

Hahahaha, that's really funny. You have a pound shop and over here, in Canada, the colonies, we have Dollar stores.

FriendOfHumanity (author)wobbler2015-04-20

A pound.

LukeSang (author)2015-04-21

Absolutely love it.

I could be wrong but the plastic most good toy soldiers are made of is either polypropylene (PP or HDPP) or Polyethylene (PE or HDPE).

In the case of the hard brittle soldiers some are made of ABS.

But if we are talking about good quality TOY soldiers wouldn't the be safe for kids to chew and suck on thus also food contact safe. (not high temperature of course)

GregQ (author)2015-04-21

If you do 2 bowls, you can weld them into a ball...

Crusader68 (author)2015-04-21

" us!"

AlexandreB1 (author)2015-04-21

Really nice. It seems to be the perfect starting point for lost wax casting...

thundrepance (author)AlexandreB12015-04-21

cute chicken, ab1 :^D

boocat (author)2015-04-21

Whoa, it looks amazing! The little guy would love that. Thanks for the great instructable. I don't think the "food-safe" business is a concern in this case. Just make sure it only holds things like lemons (rinds not to be eaten) or walnuts (shells are tossed away).

N36 (author)boocat2015-04-21

Thanks! RE fruit. I'm with you on that. Citrus fruits with skins are fine.

Stoveman (author)2015-04-20

Very creative and practicable. However I don’t think the product is practical, because it is not food-safe dude. Apart from this,it is of very high artistic value.

spark master (author)Stoveman2015-04-21

so put a paper napkin in first, then the potato chips!

Stoveman (author)spark master2015-04-21

good idea

N36 (author)Stoveman2015-04-20

Hi Stoveman, yes this is a bit of a concern as PVA is non waterproof, so if the fruit started to decompose it could leech into the fruit, but if decomposed that much you'd probably throw it away. Could also put in a fabric/plastic liner to solve that.

Stoveman (author)N362015-04-21

Oh, I think this makes some sense. Since we shall peel the fruit before eating it, the material doesn't matter that much. We put fruit on table regardless of whether the table is made of food-safe materials.

margaret.young.5264 (author)2015-04-21


Gee, what an absolutely great idea. Red poppies vase.

decarlosessler (author)2015-04-20

You could insert a glass bowl inside the plastic army men...then it would be food safe and cool...

love this. Lots of little plastic figures out there (dinosaurs, animals, etc.) you could do this with...would be fun for kid's stuff!

N36 (author)decarlosessler2015-04-21

That could work too! Especially thin pyrex dishes that come in incremental sizes.

Romninja (author)2015-04-20

You could also try building on the outside of the metal bowl, then the army men will show up more clearly on the outside of the final product,and the inside of your army man bowl will be smooth instead.
Could use some steel/copper wire to temporary hold them in place perhaps?

N36 (author)Romninja2015-04-21

Hi yes that could work as well. You might just have to stack them up in smaller amounts too so they don't tumble down before heating.

Porda (author)2015-04-20

I love it. Following the previous post, I could definitely see this in Sid's room.

N36 (author)Porda2015-04-20

They had a good, all but short lived commission. Its what they would have wanted... Utilitarian to the end!

WoodyFromToyStory (author)2015-04-20

Oh the toy-manity!

N36 (author)WoodyFromToyStory2015-04-20

Lol... Sorry Woody!

Porda (author)WoodyFromToyStory2015-04-20

Thank you for this post. Just made my day.

Allons215 (author)2015-04-20

love this!

About This Instructable




Bio: Innovation consultant by day; design and innovation researcher and general tinkerer by night. Interested in all things digital, but also getting hands dirty making physical ... More »
More by N36:Plastic Army Men Fruit BowlStag Deer Head Drawing Pin ArtCardboard Box Stag Deer Head Wall Hanging
Add instructable to: