Sunday, August 29, 2010

Getting Started...

The most used and possibly most popular customizable vinyl toy on the market is Munny by Kid Robot.

While Munny comes in many different sizes, the standard Munny figure size is 4'-7" tall. Generally speaking this is a good all round size to customize as it gives you a good amount of surface to work with, while smaller toys can sometimes be very fiddly especially if you are customizing for the first time…. However this will of course come down to your own personal tastes and what you are trying to achieve.

Munny is available in a variety of colours for example white, black, blue, pink and glow-in-the-dark and is readily available at many online toy shops as well as at the KidRobot website, or you can visit the store if you live near Los Angeles.. Note that, at $24.99 each, they're not cheap… but well worth it in my opinion.
Kid Robot, now also make a few other additional platform shapes as pictured below...

Now if the Kid Robot shapes are not for you, thats ok too. There are literally dozens of designer toys that come as blanks (platform toys) a Google search for blank vinyl toys will give you a huge variety of shape options and also places to buy them.
 So now onto the important stuff.... Once you have your toy take it out of its box and wash it with soap and water to remove any excess oils... let it air dry... this takes a measure of patients (if you anything like me) but using a towel or something to dry your toy with may leave unwanted fibers on your toys surface...which you will not see until its stuck in your paint, badness then insures

In preparing your toy/s it is also a good Idea to lightly sandpaper the Munny's or other toy/figure of your choices surface to make sure that there are no rough spots particularly in design areas that will be painted; this light sanding will also help the paint to grip.

Another optional step but highly recommended is to apply a Gesso paint primer to the figures surface. Again this will help give you a good surface to work on.

Once this is done, you can start sketching your design on the figure with a pencil, pen, Sharpie-style marker or any of your favorite drawing implements. *Note that if you are planning on painting in light colours use a harder style graphite pencil and draw your design on lightly before you prime. Then give your figure a light coat of gesso or some other kind of surface primmer; this will stop the graphite from smearing when you start applying paint. Also be aware that sharpie markers are permanent markers and can not be removed if you make a mistake.

You can use masking tape for blocking out areas or to prevent over spray if you’re using spray paints that you don’t want on other parts of your character's design. If you are masking onto areas that have already been painted take some of the stickiness of the tape off with your fingers this will make sure that the tape doesn’t peel your paint off when you remove the tape...or you can by special painters masking tape from hardware stores.  

If you want to move beyond painting and customize the shape of the figure you are using there are several options,

You can use an X-Acto knife/blade or scalpel to cut into the figure… Some times softening the toy with some hot water can help get a nice clean cut. A small rotational multi tool like a dremel is also good for making holes, sanding and just about anything else you can think of.

Another option is using a product like Sculpey bake-on clay as an add-on element… If you plan on adding wood pieces to your munny, Elmer's wood glue may also come in handy.

*Note Any sculptural changes you make to your figure should be done before you start applying any paint or primer.

Last but not least, once finished, use clear coat fixative to prevent paint, ink, and other applied media from smearing. You can usually get this in three different types Matt (not shiny) Semi gloss (a little shinny) and Gloss (super shinny)

Now this information is just the very brief basics and beginning steps of toy customizing we will get into the nitty gritty of different products and techniques in future posts…

Stay tuned and happy customizing!

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