This is one great idea the kids will love
Step 1: 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. 😀
Step 2: 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
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
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
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
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. 😀
Step 7: 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
And there you go! Really easy to do, just takes a little time. I couldn’t be happier with it 😀
If you make your own, please comment with a photo. I’d love to see yours!