Customizing Funko Pop!s | What You Need (Part 1)
Everything you could possibly need to customize a Funko Pop! vinyl toy! I explain their uses in the video above, but here’s a detailed list with corresponding Amazon links. If you have any questions, post a comment below!
PART 1: What You Need
PART 2: How to Prep Your Figure
PART 3: How to Sculpt & Sand
PART 4: How to Paint
- Funko DIY! Pop!: male vinyl figure or Funko DIY Pop!: female vinyl figure
You can use regular, factory-painted Pop!s too, but you may have to strip the paint off them.
- Acetone and paper towels/cotton buds
Use acetone to rub the paint off regular Pop!s, but be careful: using too much can destroy the vinyl.
- Magic Sculpt (alternatively, Apoxie Sculpt)
Two-part epoxies like these are the best for sculpting on Pop!s because they harden on their own without having to bake in the oven. Unfortunately, this also means you have a limited working time with them– after mixing the two parts equally, you have about two hours before it’s no longer flexible.
- Super Sculpey or regular Sculpey
Sculpey (which comes in a variety of colors) or Super Sculpey (which only comes in beige but is of higher quality) is a favorite of customizers, though it’s trickier with Pop!s because you need to bake it in the oven for it to harden. Putting Pop!s in the oven is dangerous: they can melt or release toxic fumes. If you need to use Sculpey, you can try boiling the figure or using a heat gun on only the Sculpey parts.
- Sculpey liquid clay softener
If your Sculpey dries out, a few drops of this fixes it!
- Sculpting tools
Rubber-tipped tools like these make it easy to carve edges into wet clay in ways that you can’t quite accomplish with just your fingers. Make sure you wet them with a little water first if you’re using them with 2-part epoxy, though!
- Fantasy Creatures in Clay (formerly known as the Creature Sculpt book)
Emily is one of the best clay artists I know of, and her book has a ton of tutorials, tips and tricks for sculpting and painting. Great for beginners!
- Zap-A-Gap adhesive
Useful if you sculpt separate pieces that you need to stick onto your figure. While I don’t usually have trouble with Magic Sculpt sticking to the vinyl, sometimes I’ll make smaller Sculpey accessories that I bake and then want to attach. Please note: you cannot use this to stick unbaked Sculpey to your figure and then bake it. Zap-A-Gap is not oven-safe and can release toxic fumes if baked. Instead, you can use Polybonder, which is oven safe.
- Sandpaper in assorted grits
If you sculpt on your Pop!, I highly recommend sanding down at least those sculpted parts to ensure a smooth surface for painting. Some customizers sand their entire Pop! even if they don’t sculpt so that the paint has something to stick to– the choice is yours! Note that, for sanding, you’ll want to start with the lower numbers (coarser grits, like 180) and work your way up to the higher numbers (finer grits, like 400). Cut the sandpaper from the big sheets into smaller, manageable pieces.
- Dremel 7300 cordless
For altering the shape of a base Pop quickly and easily. Sanding by hand is very time consuming, so this will save you a lot of time and effort when you want to chip off chunks of plastic.
- Dust mask and eye protection
For sanding: protect your eyes and breathing holes! Tiny epoxy or vinyl particles are not good for you.
- Krylon primer or Rust-Oleum primer
I always prime the sculpted parts in my figure, because the epoxy surface isn’t great for painting. Some customizers prime their entire figure, too, so that it’s all the same base color and the acrylic paint reacts the same way.
- Folkart / Americana / Craftsmart / Citadel acrylic paints
There are a ton of cheap acrylic paint brands ($1-$3) available at your local craft store. Take advantage of them! As long as you thin what you’re using with a few drops of water, they all end up looking just as good. For Pop! parts that are more flexible, however (like Batgirl’s cape), I suggest toy-specific paint like the Citadel brand, which is made to take abuse. I do recommend acrylic paint over other types, because it’s water soluble and dries quickly. Enamel paint, for example, is not water soluble, so mistakes are more permanent, and oil paint takes far too long to dry.
- Liquitex Flow Aid
Water is the cheapest and easiest mixing agent for acrylic paint, but if you want a little extra smoothness, invest in this. Regardless, you should use something to thin your acrylic paint at least a little bit (whether that be water or Flow Aid). Using paint straight out of the bottle is not a great idea: it’ll be too thick and your layers won’t be as smooth. It’s always better to paint with a few thin layers to achieve opacity than to cheat with one thick layer.
- Citadel, LaComeille, Roya, Royal & Langnickel or Princeton brushes
Brushes are a little different than paint: invest in good ones! They’ll last you longer than the cheaper crafts store brands. My favorites are Citadel and Royal & Langnickel. Get some of varying sizes and shapes (square, round, thin liner brushes, thick flat ones).
- Pink Soap
Be careful with your brushes, too. Clean them thoroughly but gently with special soap like this and dry them facing down so that the water doesn’t seep into the ferrule (metal part).
- Masterson’s Sta-Wet Palette
Acrylic paint dries super quick, but that can be both a blessing and a curse. I never finish my painting in one sitting, which means if my batch of blue dries up, I have to mix up a new batch later… and it might not look exactly the same. So I invested in this product, which is basically a container with a sponge under special paper. You can mix your paint on this paper and it stays wet/usable for up to a week if you close the container!
- Paint mixing cups and water
If you don’t want a Sta-Wet pallete, then this is what you use to mix your paint in!
- Krylon matte finish spray
After you have your Pop! the way you want it, you need to seal it so that the paint doesn’t rub off or flake with time or handling. I like matte sprays because they produce a look that’s most like a factory Pop!, but there are also glossy or satin varieties. Just make sure that your finishing spray/sealant is safe for vinyl and plastic– some aren’t and can destroy your hard work.
I didn’t mention this in the video, but references are very important when customizing if you’re trying to create a certain character. Refer to them often while working!
The links above are affiliated, FYI, so I do get a little cut if you purchase through them! Thanks, y’all. :D
Next part: How to Prep Your Figure