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How to Bend Plastic Figures

Getting a Better Pose

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Sitting and standing plastic skeletons. The standing skeleton has been reshaped to hold items.

These plastic skeletons show the advantages of careful reshaping. The standing skeleton can now hold items with handles.

Photo ©2008 Lesley Shepherd, Licensed to About.com Inc.

Inexpensive plastic figures, plastic toy soldiers, plastic model accessories, and some plastic based model horses (Breyer) can easily be bent into more useful poses.

  • Hot Water works best with smaller, thinner shapes, plastic toy skeletons, most plastic soldiers and smaller parts of model horses. Heat a cup of water close to boiling and immerse the piece of plastic you want to bend for a few seconds. Remove it carefully from the water using tweezers or tongs, and bend it quickly into the shape you want. It make take several dips in the water to get the figure into the pose you want. Bend it gently with the tweezers to get it into shape, making sure the position is natural. Be careful not to touch the hot water or hot plastic. The plastic will cool to a set position a few minutes after being removed from the water. You can rest the shape on some polyester quilt batting until it hardens to protect the new shape.
  • Hot Air - Larger, thicker portions of plastic can be safely bent using a hot air supply. A hair dryer is the safest to use, at least until you are accustomed to bending larger pieces of plastic. More powerful hot air guns used for model rc plane coatings or embossing guns for heat setting embossing powders may also be used with care. Be prepared to heat the plastic gently in stages until it becomes soft enough to reposition. Some larger areas (legs of model horses for example) may need to be cut in order to reposition them in a new place. The cut areas can be filled with two part epoxy putty when the correct position has been achieved. For minor adjustments or bends to correct slightly off kilter plastic models, you will not need to cut the model to reposition the limbs. Set the model aside on polyester quilt batting to cool.

Caution Avoid handling hot plastic. Work in a well ventilated area or with breathing filters as necessary. Do not place plastic models over open flames, the type of plastic used may catch fire, and the heat will be variable, which may cause the wrong section of the model to soften or blacken with soot.

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