So, youíve decided to modify your model horse. Maybe the color is all wrong. Or you just want it to have a more active pose. Rather than trying to create your own version from scratch, relax in the knowledge that it is possible to do some nifty customizing.
The first step is to have a clear idea of what you want from the finished product. Then you can gather together the necessary tools and get started. Remember that, while it is possible to make some substantial changes, practice always makes perfect. It might be sensible to do minor modifications the first time, while you get used to the tools and processes. Take a little time to research how real horses look and move, as this will lead to a more accurate finished product. Live horses, videos, photos, and other models can all serve as inspiration.
Next you will need your model horse toy plus the right equipment. An x-acto knife or Dremel tool will be needed to remove unwanted features. A heat gun (or paint stripper) helps soften the resin. Epoxy putty is used to create new features, along with some simple sculpting tools for modeling. Aluminum foil and newspaper will fill empty spaces. Files and sandpaper smooth the surface of your new horse. Modeling paste and acrylic paint finish the job, making your one-of-a-kind model horse.
Changing a model horseís position - To move the neck, tail, or legs, use your heat gun to warm up the target area, moving it back and forth to make it more pliable. Donít forget to include all necessary parts - like joints and muscles - so that your model horse looks realistic. Start with small changes, and reheat as necessary. Once the right position is reached, run the area under cold water. If you are moving a leg from straight to a right angle, remove a small piece at the back of the joint to prevent folds.
A larger change involving the shoulders or haunches will require more careful and invasive toy surgery. Once the whole area has been heated, use an x-acto knife to isolate the part to be changed (but leave it attached to the horseís body at the top joint). Then warm up the part again and move it into the desired position. For example, if you are moving a front leg forward, start at the shoulder and then move down to the lower joints. If there is a small hole left, fill it with foil, newspaper, or modeling epoxy-type filler.
Removing whole body parts - Sometimes, you may take off the entire head or a leg. This can be accidental or deliberate, but the reattachment principles are the same. One possibility is using stitches to put the body part back on. Since the toy is too rigid for normal sewing, create small holes in both the body and detached part, then attach with fine wire. Another option is to use sturdy wire to create a skeletal structure that extends from the body into the missing part. Make sure to cement the wire in place to set the position. Both approaches need filler to smooth over the join and other gaps.
Before you actually remove a large part on purpose, check the horse toy. Make sure your actions will not create bigger problems. If you are planning to move the neck and head, the mane will need to be reworked. If the tail is attached to a back leg, keep this is mind before starting to cut. Itís sensible to start with smaller changes and work up to complete remodeling - thereís a lot of horse anatomy to master.
Adding details - Adding windswept tail hairs or anatomical features will require some sculpting tools. These can be low-tech, from fingers and toothpicks, to high-end modeling tools. Depending on the details, some experimenting is useful. Consider how fine-scale the features are before selecting an appropriate tool. Small parts like facial features, ears, and hooves may require small bits of filler or epoxy. Wipe with rubbing alcohol to remove residual dirt and oil and help epoxy bond onto the surface. Keep referring back to reference pictures to get the right look.
To create tiny details like veins, try mixing water, paint, or gesso with some modeling paste until it is spreadable. With a fine brush or other tool, paint on the mixture.
Once the desired effect is reached, smooth the surface with a wet brush (either water or rubbing alcohol). Before continuing, clean all your tools to prevent the epoxy from hardening.
Finishing touches - When the model horse toy is dry, sand the surface down with a file or sandpaper. Be prepared to repeat the process several times to get a completely smooth effect. Fix the surface with gesso or white enamel primer. Then you can start painting. Before you know it, youíll be able to create any look you want.
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Joe Kanooga is a father of two kids, a successful business owner and the author of numerous articles about horse toy hobby items. Click here to download a free model horse guidebook filled with hobby tips, ideas and information.
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