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I have several types of action figures that need minor repairs (small details broken off) and major repairs (limbs broken).

Some of these parts are soft, flexible plastic, some hard, and some are right on pressure/articulation points.

How do I go about deciding which type of adhesive, bonding agent or sculpting material would be best suited for repairs?

  • How big are these action figures? – Åna Apr 26 '16 at 21:43
  • 6 inch scale, but some are quite large, 10-16 inches – Web Head Apr 26 '16 at 21:44
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It depends what you want out of the repairs.

If you're looking for longevity and quality of repair, an epoxy (resin) is your best bet. They tend to create the best seams and are difficult to break. The downside of these is that you get one shot - getting it wrong quite often either gets the parts stuck in the wrong place, or you very messy. Some epoxy glues also require mixing of two ingredients, which is definitely messy.

For quick-and-dirty repairs, it can be better to use superglue (acrylate-based glues). This takes longer to set, in general, and won't last as long, but can be useful for repairs that won't see much stress or that don't matter too much. Be aware that you can't use superglue on all materials - notably, acrylic won't take well to it.


Information from my own knowledge, supplemented by the information available here.

  • What about plastic-specific adhesives? – Web Head Apr 26 '16 at 22:21
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    @Creation they don't actually tend to be as good as epoxy. – Åna Apr 27 '16 at 9:31
  • That's good to know. The information I've seen is mainly from people that customize figures, and they have so many techniques I don't know where to start as a beginner, and my budget is limited. But I have epoxy, already, because I feel like it's a household must. – Web Head Apr 27 '16 at 14:30
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Many adhesives will work on plastics.

With toys and things like this you first want to consider the age of people handling them. If a child will chew on it, be sure to avoid resins that are known to be toxic.

Avoid superglue and low-surface-tension adhesives. "low surface tension" means that it slips down into cracks easy. Sometimes people call this a "thin" liquid. It causes the liquid to 'wet' surfaces easily.. meaning that it runs into new areas.

You want to avoid superglue because it is more likely to 'leak' outside of the surfaces that you want to adhere. It does this because it 'wets' surfaces easily. When superglue does this, it can cause two main issues:

  1. superglue is usually shiny when dry, and will probably be a different shininess than the thing you repaired. This makes the glue very visible when you look at the action figure, and it will reduce your enjoyment of it. If you're trying to sell the action figure, it will lower its value.
  2. the thing that is being repaired may stick to the table or paper towel where you left it to dry / set.

Use an epoxy that is thicker, this will prevent the wetting. Some epoxies come with a thickening agent. Do not add your own 'thickening agent' thinking that it will get the results you want — thickening agents that come with the kit have specially formulated chemistry. You may only be left with a bigger mess.

Test on other plastics in order to confirm it will work the way you want. You can always take a scrap from something you're throwing out, or find around a trash site — break it, and then try to repair it.

  • There is such a thing as superglue gel. – inkista May 3 '16 at 19:55
  • Having not tested that, I think I should keep this answer as-is. I can't speak to any technique for using such a gel – New Alexandria May 3 '16 at 22:07
  • Just saying super glue ≠ liquid. Effect is same as an adhesive, but you can control placement. – inkista May 4 '16 at 14:55

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