It seems like everyone and their weird uncle has started a new hobby lately. Some people are baking bread, making soap or candles, or learning a new language.
Well, I’ve also started a new “quarantine hobby.” It was a terrible idea, not because I hate it, but because I’ve become practically obsessed with it over the past few weeks and I can’t make myself stop.
I started making custom figurines.
Before you get too impressed, let me explain: these aren’t fancy-schmancy collector’s items that cost hundreds of dollars apiece. By figurines, I mean Funko Pops. You know, those little guys with the big eyes and even bigger heads? I feel like everyone’s got one. Even if you don’t collect them, you probably received one at some point because you had a friend or family member that was like “I don’t know what to get them for their birthday but I know they like those superhero movies so I’ll just get them this Captain America figurine.”
I’m not a serious collector, but I do have quite a few Funko Pops of my own. I usually get ones that represent my favorite characters from movies, TV shows, and games that I enjoy. I have my two favorite Doctors from Doctor Who, Chell from Portal 2, and even the Cabbage Man from Avatar: The Last Airbender.
There is one niche that isn’t touched by Funko Pops though – books.
I can understand why. Even though authors do typically describe their characters on the page, character appearances are a little more subjective when there isn’t a visual representation.
But the books I read are such a big part of who I am, and it felt wrong to not have that represented in the things I collect. So I decided to fix that myself.
This isn’t a “how-to” blog post. There’s enough of that out there already from people who’ve been doing this way longer than I have. Instead, I’m going to talk a bit about my first two projects and the story behind them.
There are a lot of book characters near and dear to my heart, but I decided to create figurines for Day and June from Legend by Marie Lu first. Thanks to fan wikis, graphic novel adaptations, and the books themselves, I had a pretty good idea of what these characters looked like.
The first step was to find figurines that I could work off of – repaint, etc. – and order them. This was definitely the most time consuming part for me, because I’m a perfectionist. I spent many days skimming lists of Funko Pops. Eventually I did find what I needed.
Since it’s nearly impossible to find a figure with both a head and body that matched what I wanted, I ended up buying two figurines for each one and then mixing and matching the pieces. More on that later.
While I waited for them to arrive, I did more research about the process of making custom Funko Pops. By far the best resource I found was a series of blog posts and YouTube videos by Marlene Does. Her blog posts were pretty much my go-to in figuring out what supplies I would need and how I should go about making the figurine. If you’re interested in making your own custom Funko Pops, I highly recommend her website!
The pieces I needed for June arrived first, so I began with her. (I was also much more nervous about Day.)
Once I decapitated the figurine and stripped the original paint using acetone, I got to work. The biggest challenge was June’s hair. The original figurine had a high ponytail, but lacked the long side bangs I needed. With some boiling water and brute force, I pulled some hair off of another figurine and superglued them to June’s head.
This required me to sand down the original bangs. A lot of crafters use a Dremmel, a brand of rotary tool. I, however, am still unemployed, so I got a similar tool from Harbor Freight for like $15. It does what I need it to do, so I’m satisfied.
Once the hair was glued on, I used a two-part epoxy (Apoxie Sculpt) to smooth out the gaps and add more details. Once that was cured, all that was left was to prime and paint. I don’t prime every piece before painting, but since her hair had three different colors (the bangs, the epoxy, and the original surface), I decided it would be good to paint a base coat first.
I decided to depict June in a more casual outfit, since finding something close to her military uniform was close to impossible for a newbie. To me, this might be something she’d wear on her days off, or maybe it’s what she wears after fleeing the Republic. I also used a metallic Sharpie marker to draw Day’s paperclip ring on her hand. I spent an embarrassing amount of time trying to figure out what finger June wears the ring on with no luck. I just put it on her ring finger.
Once June was finished and I felt relatively confident in my abilities, I moved on to Day. I had to behead a Funko Pop of Alucard from Castlevania for the long blond hair. It hurt me a little to do so, and then I remembered I didn’t like season three and I felt better about it. Since Day is also described with long blond hair, I didn’t even alter the original paint or model in that respect.
Day is often depicted wearing a collared shirt in both the graphic novels and Marie Lu’s original art, so I found a different Funko Pop wearing a similar outfit. The problem: he was holding a cell phone. Daniel Altan Wing does not have a cell phone. Using my rotary tool again, I was able to cut and sand the phone down until it was hardly noticeable. The rest I smoothed over with epoxy.
I struggled for a little while for what I should place in Day’s hand instead, but I decided to leave it empty. He looks like he’s reaching out his hand, and it reminded me of the scene in Legend where he and June first meet, right after June’s narrow escape from a bar fight gone wrong:
Then there’s a voice telling me to get up. When I look to my side, I see a boy holding out his hand to me. He has bright blue eyes, dirt on his face, and a beat up old cap on, and at this moment, I think he might be the most beautiful boy I’ve ever seen.
“Come on,” he urges. I take his hand.
– Legend by Marie Lu, page 109
The other main detail with Day was including the pendant he wears, though it’s barely noticeable on the figure. I didn’t notice until after I had reattached the head, and it was a little late at that point. Still, I’m glad I included it. At least I know it’s there.
With these first two projects, there are definitely some things I wish I had done differently, and there are a lot of lessons I learned for future projects. That being said, I’m pretty proud of how well Day and June turned out! They live on my bookshelf now, right next to my collection of Marie Lu novels.
Now that I’ve opened this can of worms though, I can’t close it again. I’ve already started work on Funko Pops for the Six of Crows cast (Jesper is done, Inej is close, and Kaz’s body is here but his head isn’t, which seems fitting). I really want to create some Percy Jackson figurines soon too. Whatever I do next, I’ll be sure to share it here!