When I was a kid, like many other boys, I had a huge assortment of army men to play with. Actually, most of the time they were just cannon fodder for my Ninja Turtles to shred through. The survivors got blown away with a 10 pump shot from my bb gun. So in their honor, for this challenge I am trying to make these cheap army men figures look presentable. So lock and load your paintbrush it’s time to go to war!
Being a cheap discount modeler and figure painter I am always looking to find a toy that is, for one, cheap and offers some details to paint. I figure since I don’t have my high quality painting tools with me anymore then why bother buying a $50 kit when I won’t be able to do it justice. Dollar stores or discount shops offer cheap toys to paint. Of course I grabbed this pack of figures for the glorious price of one dollar. Another good source is garage sales, trash bins or your pesky uncle who is throwing away things. Don’t limit your painting to just model kits.
In this pack you get five large figures with two of them repeating. There is no ID’s on the soldiers but they did have a choice between green and tan. They are about five inches tall, or normal action figure size. They don’t have any articulation at all; think of them simply as blown up army men. I choose tan because it would be easier to cover with primer. I don’t know why I did not take more pictures before I started painting but these will have to do.
Each of the figures is about five inches tall with a moderate amount of sculpted details. My first observation is that they seem to be a bit thin, like they have not received their daily rations. It seems like they just enlarged the smaller army men figures to make these but I guess that is not really that bad of an idea. The face really lacks much detail at all – from afar they don’t look that bad but up close they lack strong relief and seem to be kind of rounded out as if they had eaten too much Spam out hunting down Charlie.
You can see in the pictures what the other figures look like. The first one I decided to paint was the solider holding a rifle. He is holding what looks like to be an M16ish kind of rifle but his outfit screams WWII. I choose this one first because if I messed up I had another to paint as well. My first idea was to make a whole team of soldiers, painting them all the same. But after I looked at them for a while I decided to just make one-off soldiers. I plan on making mini-dioramas with each one if they turn out well enough.
I wanted to change my solider over a bit so I decided to cut his arm off and reposition it as if he was celebrating a hard earned victory. Maybe he has thoughts of opening up a cold one or simply not being shot at anymore. One thing I can say is that if you plan on repositioning the arm make sure u do it before you paint the figure. This guy told me before the surgery that he did not have insurance but since I was cutting his arm off I figured that is a fair trade. The arm was easy to cut off, it feels creepy to say that, I just used a hot knife as my dremmel is back at home flirting with the band saw.
If you take the end of the knife and heat it up some more you can smooth out the part you cut off so it will glue back together easier. I also heated up the ends of the arm against the flame of a candle to help them “melt” onto each other along with lots and lots of glue. The putty will also act as another sealer to hold the arm in place. If you wanted to be really a go-getter, you could install a wire to hold the parts in place – I figured my method would work for this. I mean for crying out loud I don’t even have a doctor’s license.
What you see in the pictures is what I have done, some simple base coats and adding colors to make things stick out. I changed the jacket to a lighter color to make it contrast more, I found everything was getting to look the same. I chipped some paint off the helmet in an attempt to make it look weathered. I also did the same for the gun but I think I am just going to start over with that part.
Up next for this project is to sand the arm and fill it with the necessary putty. Now that I am looking at the figure again for this posting I am thinking maybe I should add a cliché flag that the soldier is holding. I might do a side project on making a generic flag – that sounds interesting. I should be posting another update soon.
I encourage everybody to comment, subscribe and let me know what you are working on. There never is a right or wrong way to do something and we can all learn from each other.