(Part One)


(Initial Analysis)

As with any kit, you should naturally start out by analyzing the instructions very carefully. Pay close attention to the instruction’s drawings. This is very important with vinyl kits, since, similar to vacu-form ones, cutting is required to remove excess material. Another reason this step is important is that some vinyl kits have instructions and diagrams that are very vague. Reviewing them until you feel comfortable with how the kit goes together may save you grief in the future.


(Time to Cut)

After you feel comfortable with the instructions, it’s time to remove the excess vinyl. One important property of vinyl is its susceptibility to heat. This can be taken advantage of by heating the vinyl with either a hair blower or a hot container of water directly before cutting it. Take your time while cutting, making sure to remove only what should be removed. Do repeated dry-fittings. It is far easier to gradually remove excess vinyl than to rush through this process and later have to correct problems where too much vinyl has been removed. (I can personally attest to this).


Also, you should ALWAYS cut AWAY from your hands and fingers. (The digit you save may be your own).


(Assembly - Filling and Gluing)

Due to another property of vinyl, plastic glues and liquid cements won’t work. Two-part epoxies can be used. But, it is best to use a cyanoacylate (or super) glue. The use of a super glue accelerator speeds up the bonding process.


A disadvantage of using a super glue is that it does not actually melt (or fuse) the vinyl together. A second disadvantage is its poor “shearing” strength, (i.e., tap the bonded area hard from the side and chances are your bond will break). With these two disadvantages, you must be careful your figure does not tip over once it is built .


A disadvantage relating to vinyl’s susceptibility to heat, (similar to its advantage), is that when it gets hot, it tends to loose its strength and shape. This causes problems with a figure’s support areas, such as ankles and legs. They will bend and give way when they become too warm.


To solve this heat problem use a filler on the insides of the feet and legs. Two types of fillers are Plaster of Paris and Modelers Paste. Before assembling the feet to the legs (if they are not one piece), make sure the top of the feet pieces have holes in them. This will allow your Plaster of Paris to flow down through the legs into the feet. Using a filler also helps solve the “tipping over” problem by lowering the figures center of gravity.


Another way to prevent your figure from falling over is to mount it onto a stand. The stand can be a plastic base that may come with the model or a purchased wooden plaque. Do this by using posts, (such as dowels or brass rods), to secure the feet. Before attaching the feet to the legs, drill a hole down through the bottom of each foot into your base. Make sure that the hole in each foot is large enough for the posts to fit through, but small enough to prevent any Plaster from seeping through.


With your posts inserted down through the bottom of the feet, insert the protruding ends into the holes in your base, but don’t glue them into place just yet. Position the upper portion of the posts in a way that allows the feet of the figure to be flush with the base.  At this point, if the feet and legs are not one piece, glue them together. After the glue has hardened, mix and pour the plaster in from the waste of the figure. Let it seep down through the legs into the feet, filling the cavity up to the waste.


A variation of this is to use both brass rods and aluminum or brass tubes, enabling the figure to slide off the base. The rods are glued into the base, sticking up. The tubes (having their upper holes covered with tape) are secured with the plaster in the feet/leg sub-assemblies, flush with the soles of the feet, allowing the figure to slide down onto the rods.


(Puttying and Sanding)

Three types of putties that can be used to fill seams are Modeling Putty, Two Part Epoxy, and Super Glue. All have advantages and disadvantages, (as most of you are probably aware). I have found that both modeling putty and super glue are good fillers with vinyl kits. You should experiment with them all, however, finding the one (or ones) you like best.


Note: When using the first two types, be careful! Vinyl is a petroleum product, (i.e., it is oil based). Other oil based products may not interact well with the vinyl, possibly eating away at the material. It is best to get a scrap piece of vinyl to experiment on first, before going on to the real thing.



In order to uncover those existing seams and excessive puttied areas, you’re gonna' have to prime. Again, due to vinyl being oil based, you should use an acrylic paint as your primer coat. Some people carefully “mist” a light lacquer coating on, but be careful! In addition to lacquer, enamel, and oil based paints possibly harming your kit, the paint may not adhere to the surfaces correctly, preventing it from drying completely. When using the acrylic paint, dilute it and apply it either by brush or by airbrush. Once you have a protective barrier coat, you can use either enamels or oils with no problem.


(Brief Painting Overview)

A major problem with painting a large size figure is trying to make it look more like a miniature representation of the original subject and less like an oversized toy. One way to do this is by applying, for each base color, multiple hues of the same color on top of one another. “Layering” is a term which can be used to describe this technique. It gives your model a more realistic look by adding “depth” to it. It can be done with acrylics, oils and enamels.


With this technique, you first start out with the darkest hue of your color, applying it to the recesses of the figure, (i.e., crevices in the skin or folds in the clothing). Then, successive lighter hues of the base color are applied over each previous coat, concentrating more and more on the highest surface areas of your figure. Each successive coat is gently blended in with the previous darker ones. The final lightest shade is applied to the upper most portions of the figure. For a figure’s face, this would be the bridge of the nose, the cheeks, the forehead, chin, etc.


Both air brushing and hand brushing washes can be used to apply this technique.



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Copyright © 2010 by Anthony I. Wootson. No material may be reproduced without permission. Unauthorized duplication is prohibited.