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How to Make a Custom McFarlane Sports Pick
Like many other McFarlane Sports Picks collectors, I wish I could have a seat at the table when they decide what players are made of, what poses they strike, and what uniforms they wear. This is where custom figures come in. Maybe I can’t have a say in McFarlane’s decisions, but I can create a custom figure of whoever I want!
Simply put, custom figures involve taking an existing figure apart, making modifications to it, painting it, and putting it back together. There are many different ways to make a custom. What I have included in these instructions is a combination of my personal experiences and those of other customizers. Feel free to email me if you think something important has been left out. I plan to regularly update this page based on the feedback I receive.
Making a custom for the first time is not cheap. The good news is that once you get these things, you probably won’t need to replace most of them for a while. In parentheses I put approximate prices so that you get an idea of the costs associated with making a custom. The best place to get most of these things is at an art store like Michael’s. You can also get many of these things online.
- Brushes – Get one or two as small as 10/0 and 5/0 for details, as well as some wider brushes for larger areas ($10)
- Economy pack of acrylic craft paint (usually contains about 32 1/6 oz. of colors). This is great for colors you only need a bit of ($15)
- 2 oz. acrylic paints for commonly used colors ($1/ea).
- Testers Primer ($4)
- Micro-Scale Decal Solutions: Micro Sol, Micro Set, and Liquid Decal Film ($10)
- Testors Gloss Clear Acrylic and Flat Clear Acrylic ($8)
- Sticker paper ($1 per sheet, usually sold in quantities of at least 20)
- Scissors, tape, crazy glue, brush cleaner, exacto knife, sandpaper, clay, and anything else you think you might need ($40)
- Figure ($10 and up)
- Decide who you want to do and find as many pictures of them as you can. Google and eBay searches are great ways to find images, as well as old magazines, sports cards, and billboards.
- Decide which McFarlane figure you want to paint. A good place to see images of all the figures is the McFarlane site. Try to combine special features like the style of helmet they wear, wrist guards, shoe styles, and anything else that might cause you to overwork adding or removing.
- buy the figure. You can compare figures for sale on eBay, Amazon, and SportsLizard.com to find the best deal.
- Open the figure and clean it. with a mild soap and water.
- Decide what you will need to disassemble to be able to paint the figure. This varies from figure to figure. You want to make sure that you can easily paint all the visible parts of the figure. Sometimes this requires a lot of disassembly (head, helmet, mask, hands, etc. on a football figure) and sometimes no disassembly at all (a basketball figure).
- Soak the figure in very hot water to soften the rubber.. This will allow you to remove any part you need. An exacto knife can also come in handy here to help remove the pieces.
- prepare the figure with a few thin coats of white or gray primer. Remember to mask off any parts you are not going to paint over.
- Paint the figure from light to dark., leaving a white stain on any area that needs a decal. You usually need to apply about three coats of paint to get it looking right. If you need more, do more. A lot depends on the color of the primer and the color you are painting.
- Find numbers and logos for decals. The best place to locate numbers to work with is the “Logos & More” section in Jomo Customs. They have rosters for every team in the NFL and many teams from other sports. If they have the equipment you are looking for, then you are all set. If not, search LogoServer to find your team’s logo and use Jomo’s to find a team with a similar letter/number font to the team you’re looking for.
- create decals. Use photo editing software like Adobe Photoshop to resize images and change colors if necessary. Be sure to print once in black and white on plain paper to make sure they are the proper size before using the sticker paper.
- Cover the decals with Liquid Decal Film. Be sure to apply two to three coats to ensure the colors don’t bleed when the decal gets wet.
- cut out the stickersleaving as little space around the image as possible.
- apply the decals. Cover the figure area with Micro Set before applying. Wet the back of the decal paper (either with a brush or by dipping it in water) and slide the decal into place. Coat the decal with Micro Sol to smooth it out and carefully press the decal into any creases or uneven surfaces.
- Paint around the stickers to blend them.
- reassemble the figure. Use an exacto knife to trim the joints to help them fit better. Use the crazy glue when necessary.
- Add dirt or grass stains to your figure. if you want. The best method is to brush it with “dry paint”. This can be done by letting the paint dry on the brush and then brushing the dried paint over the figure. Be sure to use an old brush when you do this.
- Apply a few light coats of Flat Clear Acrylic to all surfaces except decals and helmets.
- Apply the clear glossy acrylic to the decals and helmets. You can spray this on with a spray bottle or brush it gently.
- Make a stand. You can modify the original stand, mount it to a piece of wood (drill holes the same size as the pegs on the figures), or create your own stand. Some people also like to make custom packaging for their figures. VansCustomFigures can do the packaging for you.
- TO ENJOY!
Visit our complete customs guide for more information and photos.
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