Sometime in March I got the invite to take part in a Designer World cup event hosted by Martian Toys. The base is by Anatoy and the custom piece will be headed for Five Point Festival in Brooklyn. I’ve never customised a toy before so I was super excited to get started on my Anatoy Anthony when I received it. x)
The first order of business was paint removal. I love the fact that Anthony could be easily disassembled into parts. Most forums and youtube tutorials recommended acetone swipes, but my dear friend Jessica cautioned the melting of the vinyl in the process of those swipes, so I went with a lighter solvent Mr. Color thinner - wasn’t effective. Diluted acetone wasn’t effective either. I proceeded to try acetone without dilution and sure enough, it left a layer of melty residue on the vinyl :/
I turned to good old sanding with an 800 grit sandpaper. Did the the job but it was particularly bothersome to get in the tight spaces. I ended up not sanding the hands and arms because their paint coats were smooth and flat already.
This is afterall my first toy customisation project so I came up with a little story and did sketches on my iPad pro before doing anything to Anthony.
This new guy’s story is that he is a sheep herder. His sheeps are the very same sheeps you count in bed to go to sleep. In the day, he will bring his sheeps to fresh pastures to graze. Come night time, he’ll bring the sheeps to people who can’t sleep and loan them sheeps for counting. Once the person goes into slumber, he’ll lead his flock to the next sleepless being. On his head, sits a lightbulb that’s controlled by the switch on his chest. It is the beacon of light that guides his sheeps so he doesn’t lose them in dreams.
The sketches of the shepherd reflects the AM/PM hours in dark blue and white colors. In the dark blue portions, we have speckles of stars to resemble the night sky, balanced with golden drops on the white portion.I decided to go with something like number 4.
The head had to be cut off to make way for the tea light to be integrated. We really had no clue as to whether it was hollow in the core. Same goes for the body. We just whinged it. With tons of help from Hanyang, we managed to successfully perform brain and heart surgery on Anthony.
A hole was drilled from the base of the head through to the body for wires. The electronics are now ready for integration.
Lightbulbify the Toy
The IKEA tea light was easy enough to disassemble. After figuring out how things work, we extended wires from the little green chip within the tealight to reach the rocker switch I bought. At first I thought of halving the IKEA tea light and capping it over battery holder and the green chip. But then we figured it’s better to just use the whole IKEA tea light to cap off the top. This means that you can easily switch up the battery when the one inside the tea light is depleted. (yayy for more lifeeee~)
After the electronics were in, the surface was a little melty. So I sanded it down gently, masked the tea light and switch and gave it another good coat of primer and a coat of Tamiya Matt White.
I never did like masking. It took too long and I’d screw it up anyways. But in this case, it seemed like the only efficient way to get my cloud motif. So I bit the bullet and masked the white area using hobby grade masking tape.(Probably the reason why my toy came out okay.) I also learnt that the way to get rid of the masking tape line is to wet-sand it down with a 1200 grit sandpaper. (Best lesson learnt from customising this toy)
The tea light and the rim of the head were an almost perfect fit. Almost. I decided to sculpt a ring of wool using Ladoll Premier paper clay to wrap around the tea light to create a “cap” and to hide the slight gaps. For the same reason, textured wool was sculpted around the switch as well. Overall, it looked in theme so I wasn’t too bother by the deviation from the sketch.
Tea Light troubles
The problem with the tea light was that I did not want to glue it down permanently. I wanted to allow the collector to open the tea light and be able to switch out the battery if necessary. So I tried placing a magnet. It was made difficult by the solid core wiring that was pushing the tea light cap away. There wasn’t a whole lot of space to place the magnet in a way that does not obstruct battery replacement. I proceeded to try out sticky squares, Elmer’s glue, velcro and even blue tack. However, none held down the tea light well enough, and they weren’t “clean” solutions. I I went back to magnets in the end, but smaller ones this time. When the lip clapped down neatly, my heart sang :) It was neat and prettier than I envisioned.
The Anatoy has quite a few joints. To stay true to my sketch, I sculpted wool around the knee joints. I dripped some zap a gap superglue into the joint area to make the positioning permanent, before covering it with a layer of Bondite.
Once the Bondite layer is dryer, I added the wool texture ( Ladoll Premier paper clay) . I then sculpted little bunny ears and placed it near the feet. The Bunny slippers were my favourite part of the whole customisation!
Metallic Blue Everything
Spraying the Tamiya Deep Metallic Blue was quite the hassle, especially when the blue got to the white parts. Towards the end, I resorted to painting up the any stray blue with Vallejo Arctic White paint. The arms were suppose to have a strip of metallic blue. The first round of masking was a disaster (because I skimped on the masking tape, used a regular one instead of hobby grade), after which I decided to do without the strip.
The hands were easy peasy. The bunny slippers on the other hand was a long process. I allowed the air dry clay 2 days to completely dry before spraying the Deep Metallic Blue. Another full day of drying before I used Vallejo Arctic White to go over the wool area and the insides of the bunny ears. Yet another full day of drying before I did the embellishments of stars with white gel pen. The reason for the wait was because if the paint is not 200% dry, my grubby fingers tend to leave prints on the surface, just by holding the piece.
After all the paint work is done, I proceeded to lay on 2 coats of top coat. Mr Color Gloss is my go-to for a beautiful finish. It brings out the metallic sheen very well in sunlight.
The Sheep and the Shepherd’s cane
The Shepherd is no Shepherd without his sheep! So I sculpted a wooly little companion from scratch. It was so cute that we made a little mold for it so we can make sheeps for days~
The cane was a rather last minute impulse addition. A 2.4mm aluminium rod was a suitable fit. I added a ball of string where the grip would be but didn’t glue it down to the hand so it’s like an add on accessory if you will.
Write up / Manual / Wrap up
To share the story behind my custom as well as information for battery replacement, I did up a little folded card. At the back, I came up with a cute little rhyme for the character’s narrative.
Quite happy with how this custom turned out. The best photos of this guy can be taken in the warm sunlight.
Hopefully this boy and his sheep gets to go to a good home :) If you have any questions about my process, feel free to drop me message and I’ll gladly share to the best of my knowledge!
Thanks for reading ~