Introduction: Action Figure Lamp

Picture of Action Figure Lamp

I saw a photo of a action figure lamp years ago and immediately fell in love. And then I made about 400 other things and never got around to making it.


Bask in the action figure's lamp gold and action-packed glory. :D

This action figure lamp is a fairly quick and cheap project, and I love that the results are so dramatic with so little effort! Plus, it will be nice to have some geeky things around presented in a nicer fashion. All I've got left as far as action figures are some Cowboy Bebop and Mouse Guard ones. :P

Step 1: What You'll Need

Picture of What You'll Need
  • action figures (more info below)
  • spray paint - I'm doing white and then gold for better coverage
  • x-acto knife for cleanup and trimming
  • fine grit sandpaper
  • E6000 glue (the only type I recommend)
  • super glue of choice
  • painter's tape
  • lamp (must be skinny and tall for best results. I used this one from Target)

Choosing action figures:

I just bought a box of them off Ebay. As much as I wanted all X-Men figures, that would have ended up being waaaaay too expensive and I think I'd feel bad about painting them. ;)

After doing this project, I have to say you'll have a much easier time using only figures made from a hard plastic. The cheaper ones made from more rubbery plastics don't glue or paint as well, but it is possible.

You'll just cuss a lot. :D

Step 2: Mask and Sand the Lamp

Picture of Mask and Sand the Lamp

Use the tape and a plastic bag or glove to mask off the business end of the lamp.

Then lightly sand the whole thing. Just slight scratching, nothing too crazy. Wipe it down to remove the dust and let it dry. This will allow both the paint and glue to adhere better. :)

Step 3: Assemble and Glue Your Action Figures

Picture of Assemble and Glue Your Action Figures

This is the most time consuming and tricky part! As I've said before, some of the plastics won't play as well with the glue, so you'll have to try different things. :)

Start by gluing one large figure on the base. I used a Transformer in vehicle form as my base - mikeasaurus cut a small notch out of the hood to fit around the lamp base. Then I began to fill in the base with other figures.

It's useful to sand the contact points where you'll apply glue to the figures. E6000 has a long setting time, so I actually used super glue sparingly to hold pieces in place while the E6000 sets. (Don't use both in the same place - the super glue will eat right through the E6000.)

Try to make it as busy as possible. On the base I crammed lots of tiny figures in. Superman got cut in half at one point to fill a part in. Sorry Superman.

Also make sure to glue arms and legs into position, or any other part of the figures that might move. I used super glue for most of this because it's thinner and it can run into joints. (Though as a warning - if the figure is soft plastic, the super glue can make the colors bleed)

You'll really want to set aside a couple hours for this. It'll be slow going! Use the painter's tape to help hold bigger figures where they need to be by securing them to the lamp base.

Once everything is glued, leave it in a safe place for at least 24 hours for the glue to cure.

Step 4: Remove the Tape and Check for Any Issues

Picture of Remove the Tape and Check for Any Issues

The next day, remove all the painter's tape from around the figures.

Check to make sure every surface is glued properly and you don't have any crazy moving parts. If you find any issues, fix them or they'll only get worse once you begin painting. :)

You can also use an x-acto knife to clean up any excess glue spots or strings.

(I am excited about the way Michelangelo is posed. So super.)

Step 5: Tape Off the Cord

Picture of Tape Off the Cord

I crammed most of the cord in a plastic glove and taped that. The bit left hanging out just got covered in tape.

Step 6: Painting, Part One

Picture of Painting, Part One

I decided to apply a white base coat using a paint + primer made especially for plastics. It's not necessary, but it can really help the metallic paint get better coverage.

See how Iron Man and Buzz Lightyear are "bleeding" through the white paint? They're made with the softer plastic that is also a pain to glue. This base coat will ensure your final paint will adhere to them. They'll look sketchy at the time, but it'll even out after.

I applied two light coats of this paint, just trying to cover most of it. It doesn't have to be perfect. :D

Step 7: Painting, Part Two

Picture of Painting, Part Two

Now for the fancy bit - the final coat of paint! I chose a gold spray paint because I'm classy like that.

I also applied two light coats of gold paint, about 45 minutes apart.

Pay special attention to the middle of the lamp - all the little nooks and crannies can be hard to get into!

You'll want to have this set up so you can move it around and view it from above and below. I kept moving it and finding bare spots for the first couple minutes, so it's nice to be able to move it.

Keep on adding coats until it looks nice and well covered.

Step 8: More Shots of the Finished Lamp

Picture of More Shots of the Finished Lamp

And there you go! Really easy to do, just takes a little time. I couldn't be happier with it :D

If you make your own, please comment with a photo. I'd love to see yours!


chadp made it! (author)2016-12-29

For my nephew's Christmas present, I made a lamp with just a few action figures. Thanks for the demonstration and inspiration!

girlfoxgirl made it! (author)2016-08-17

The family was passed down a lamp they thought was ugly as sin. So I took it and made it into this. The Victorian (?) couple became steampunk dragon hatchers. I used some plastic figurines, jewelry, and air dry clay. It's fragile, but it came out nicely.

chadp (author)girlfoxgirl2016-12-22

I love this! Great job!

girlfoxgirl (author)girlfoxgirl2016-08-17

(Please ignore my ugly glue job with the fabric. I certainly am. )

Janethpo (author)2016-12-14

I made this for my kids and a friend wants to buy one how much could i sell one for any ideas

jessyratfink (author)Janethpo2016-12-15

Maybe 50 or 60? That'd be the minimum I'd sell one of these for. And I'd have the other person buy the base lamp. ;)

I'm a strong believer of being paid fairly for your time. :)

zposner (author)2016-12-10

looks really cool in gold

svigness (author)2016-08-11


drakep11 (author)2016-05-01

Great discovery-- thank you. Found a great way for my son to deploy those excess legos.

Dart56 (author)2016-04-22

Absolutely amazing!

Excitebike (author)2016-04-22

Favorited! I think I will make one with small toy tractors and farm equipment to match my son's John Deere decorative theme in his room. He is obsessed with farming.

ILykMakin (author)2016-04-21

Cool! I just wish someone would invent actual chrome spray paint tho.

I think I will try this but get some Sculpy and fill in all the articulation before painting so they look more like the 'real thing' and less like action figures, yeah?

dollywild (author)2016-04-21

I think im going to make an alice in wonderland one, using a play tea set and figures i alter with air dry clay. Thanks!

AmieB (author)2016-04-21

I made one with cartoon character toys about a year ago but want to make more! Thanks for a great Instructable and good tips for my next one. ?

jessyratfink (author)AmieB2016-04-21

Oh, that's adorable! I like seeing all the versions with less figures. They look just as nice!! :D

jherd2 made it! (author)2016-03-12

Turned out better than I imagined, I went for a bronze colour as gold really isn't my thing. Figures are all from ebay and lamp base was from B and Q. Great make :)

jessyratfink (author)jherd22016-04-21

That is awesome! I like the darker color. :D

TeresaM7 (author)2016-04-21

This is amazing. You did a great job! If I was going to do this, I think it would have to be dinosaurs :-)

I'm curious why you didn't paint the figures before rather than after assembly? I'd have thought it would be much easier and not so likely to miss hard to reach places deep in the seething mass of awesomeness. Will the glue not stick if painted first? Whatever the reason, this is great.

jessyratfink (author)TeresaM72016-04-21

Thank you!

Yeah, it really lies in the reaction with the paint and glue. Sometimes the paint will keep the glue from sticking and sometimes the paint melts and runs when glue is applied after, too.

Also, I knew the glue wouldn't always stay contained where I wanted so I'd probably need to give the whole lamp another coat or paint after assembling it to cover up any glue blobs. :P

As long as you have your finished lamp up on a work surface like I did, it's pretty easy to get the paint everywhere. :)

Eh Lie Us! (author)2016-04-21

Right on!!

hellofifi made it! (author)2016-02-27

This is awesome! As soon as I saw this and I knew I had to make it for my brother for Christmas. I'm pretty pleased with the result!

Lordii made it! (author)2016-02-04


KoekiesEnzo made it! (author)2016-01-11

My son loves his lamp, made from his own action figures! Thank you for this instructable <3

Mic100 (author)2016-01-10

Very Nice Job Thanks :)

Mic100 (author)2016-01-10

Very Nice Job Thanks :)

FaeFW (author)2016-01-10


Awesome and unique DIY action figure lamp! Thanks so much for sharing! ^^

BettyPage5969 (author)2016-01-08

Thanks love it

DanC66 (author)2016-01-08

It's only when I got to the picture of you standing next to it, painting it white that I realised: "Oh god, it's HUGE!"

thundrepance (author)2016-01-07

i love this; it's one of me fave instructibles .... i take issue, however, with spray-painting buzz lightyear ♥ ~ he's perfect the way he is!

LeslieGeee (author)2016-01-07

This is one of those pieces that you would do a double take. I LOVE it and how you arranged the figures is well executed and balanced. I would put that in my living room lol. GREAT job !!!!

disimulado (author)2016-01-07

This is going on my list for what to make for Christmas next year. We had home-made Christmas this year and it turned out well. If we decide to do it again next year, here's my first piece! Or maybe I'll make it for my son for his birthday next month!

loubee2 (author)2016-01-07

Jessy, I've always loved your recipes. I had no idea you were so versatile...wonderful ideas! My nephew that will really love this project!

JSkagnetti made it! (author)2015-10-06

Was a blast to make!! Turned out wonderful and it's a perfect addition to the mancave!

saladgyrl (author)JSkagnetti2016-01-07

Great job, I love the poses.

HandsofHephaestus made it! (author)2015-10-30

This turned out even better than I could have dreamed. Thanks for the awesome idea and even better instructions. Definitely in love with my new nerd lamp :)

Great job, this looks amazing!

jeanneambro (author)2016-01-07

My sons are in their 30s and I'm not sure how many action figures I have hidden in boxes around the house, but I'm going on the hunt!! I may even add other "toy parts" I just can't batch up with anything else. Thanx for the inspiration!

laith mohamed (author)2016-01-03

Perfect art and design .

Christian Lachaise (author)2015-12-16

Great idea. I love it. What music did you use in your video please ?

HumaC2 made it! (author)2015-10-03

I made this after I got inspiration from your creation! Thanks for sharing the idea...

joeldovev (author)2015-10-01

This is absolutely brilliant!

jewahcon made it! (author)2015-09-22

i made one for my dad and he loves it.

One80Bits (author)2015-09-15

I just love this, it's brilliant!

danny_st (author)2015-08-27


CheriV1 (author)2015-08-13

Fantastic! I did a Lego mini fig lap with a giant Lego for the lamp base but my son has out grown it.....starting on a super hero lamp today. Thanks bunches!

1830tz made it! (author)2015-07-07

fun to do1

HugTheBear (author)2015-06-04

jaydeechick (author)2015-06-02

I did it. Finished it. AND my son loves it. Thanks for the great instructable

animeguard (author)2015-05-30

what a nice lamp , i will use goku i have one , thanks

madinlap made it! (author)2015-05-08

Love this project

About This Instructable




Bio: I work at instructables by day, and turn into a stitch witch by night. follow me on instagram @makingjiggy to see what i'm working ... More »
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