Introduction: Turn Your Toys Into Faux Metal Statues

About: Hello fellow makers, I'm Erman from London,UK! A UX manager during the day and 3D print maker at night!

We have few good charity shops on our street and I visit those little, magical shops every now and then. Last week, I came back home with a couple of toys I found there. They were not in the their best condition but were perfect for our little project!

I also had a little 3D printed Captain bust (which was broken so I glued it back) and since we have these two options, we can try different methods to create fake metal look like statues.

Step 1: Materials We Need

Since our models are from charity shops, tools should come from pound (or dollar) stores, right? We found almost all the materials we needed from Poundland and we covered rest of tools with what we have at our place:

  • Matt Black paint: it will be our primer paint. you can use spray primers, or any other base primer paints you have.
  • Various brushes: We got those as a set from pound shop, brushes come with different sizes which is good, but they are made of plastic / synthetic which is terrible. Well, it fits the challenge :)
  • Gloves
  • Measuring spoons: we'll mix some paint, glue, water and metal dust and you don't have to be precise, eyeballing will be good enough. These spoons are disposable so I like them!
  • Mixing cups
  • Half Face mask with filters: yeah, this one is important, especially if you meddle with some metal dust, so no skipping on this one, get one:)
  • Acrylic and water based paints: these are not art grade ones but colours are good enough :)
  • Glue: PVA glue or woodworker glue works just fine.
  • Metal powders: we couldn't find any metal powders that cheap in pound shops but they are sold in various sizes and weights online. We got ours from MBFG in you're in UK. `
  • Steel wool and teaspoons: I forgot to include steel wool in photos but its also can be found very cheap, we will be using it for polishing along with some spoons:)
  • Toys, old knick knacks, cheap action figures, miniatures... Whatever you want to turn it into a statue!

Step 2: Cleaning and First Coat


Before anything else, let's do some cleaning. These toys have been around and seen a lot of dirt and grease. Wash them with warm water and soap. Using an old toothbrush helps to get into little gaps and cracks.

First coat - Primer

We need to cover the surface with a base paint, preferably a primer coat. You can use a good old spray primer paint or any other primer. I found this black matte chalkboard paint for £1 and since it was cold and rainy outside, I couldn't use a spray paint indoors. It's nice to have a Plan B like this.

Paint your figure all over with your primer, don't leave any gaps since this paint will be our canvas to paint/cover anything on it. Leave it to dry for good couple of hours. I usually let it rest overnight and then apply another coat if there are gaps.

Step 3: Acrylic Method

First technique we'll be using is pretty easy and you can't go wrong with this!

  • Paint the figure with desired metal acrylic. Let it dry for couple of hours and paint it again until you don't see any primer colour beneath. And let it dry again.
  • Black wash: Mix some black acrylic with water and few drops of PVA glue. I don't use any exact measurement for black wash but it should be very runny, not milky. We are creating some dark areas on details on nooks and crannies, so it won't be a strong contrast on our metallic coat.

    if you want to have a good black wash to use for your future projects, follow this tutorial.
  • Fake patina: If you look at old metal structures and things, you see some greenish blue areas which called as Patina. It's caused by oxidation over time but hey, we can fake that too! All we need is another paint with bluish / greenish colour. (Cyan? Turquise? anyone?)

    Similar to black wash step but this time we add few drops of dish soap instead of PVA glue. This will help to get some tension on previous coats and make a random texture. Go crazy with it; dump your biggest brush into your mix, get all over your figure and leave it dry without making any cleaning. Trust me, it will look amazing when it's done. (If you still not happy with the result, you can just wet your brush and clean some unwanted areas easily though).

Step 4: Metal Powder Method

While our dragon gets some rest, let's focus on the Captain. Firs't we need to prepare our paint and this time we go scientific (not really):

Preparing metal powder paint:

Recipe for your metal powder paint is: 2 bananas powder and 1 bananas PVA glue. I followed this creative method on this but 2 to1 portion wasn't very easy to apply with a brush. So I've added few drops water to my mixture until it gets milky. So start with 2 to 1 portions and if it looks and feels like a bit heavy, start adding water slowly. The more you keep mixing the better and consistent paint you get, take your time.


Once the mix is ready, get a small brush and start applying a thin coat, see how it feels. Try to follow the same direction and get into details first. Don't try to get over the areas you've just gone immediately. It will cause some friction and your mix will leave the surface. My brushes were cheap but that was the scope of my challenge; almost all items from cheap stores so my model ended up with a bumpy surface. You may get a better result!

Patience is the key:

Yeah I know, it's boring to wait for your first coat to dry and you want to get it done as soon as possible. But trust me, if you leave your figure overnight after first coat, it'll worth it. So apply a second coat next day and leave it again fo another night. You can work on multiple models and switch between them during these drying phases, why not:)

Step 5: Fun and Magic - Finishing

Painting is done, both figures are dried and ready for finishing touches.

Shining metal:

Grab piece of steel wool and gently start polishing your metal powdered model. Don't force it, let steel wool does all work for you. Be careful though, always wear gloves and mask, you don't want to inhale steel particles and they also are can be splinter-y to your fingers.

You can also use some spoon to tarnish since it's metal to metal!!

Glowing acrylic:

Our dragon model already looks fancy to be honest. Since we use water based paints, you may want to seal it to protect from little accidents (and from weather of course). I use glossy coat spray paints if I feel professional but if you stick to our dollar store challenge, you can use clear nail varnish, it works great!

Step 6: Bonus Round

yes, waiting between coats is boring as we mentioned before, we all agree on this! So I got some bronze powder and painted another toy with our metal powder method, look how that turned out! Every metal has a different value under the light so you get interesting results with different materials.

Step 7: Happy Making and Painting and Creating!

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