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How to Make a Customized Auton Action Figure from Doctor Who

Supplies: Pliers, scissors, X-Acto blade (scalpel), cutting board, 4 straight pins (I'm always bending and breaking pins when I sew. I recycle them in projects like this.), 1 extra staright pin, 2 doll house hinges, 1 action figure, preferably with no pre-existing hair sculpt. I used a basic GI Joe figure.
Use the scalpel to cut off part of the figure's right hand. You'll notice that there already is a line or crease sculpted into this figure's hand, to simulate the way a human hand looks. I simply followed that pre-existing line. Why make more work for myself? Make a long deep cut by drawing the blade slowly along that line. I couldn't cut straight across at first, so I actually started slicing in the middle of the hand, about where my blade is positioned in this picture. After I'd sliced through the hand, I went back to the "top" of the hand (between the thumb and forefinger) and sliced it. Trim away any straggly bits so you have smooth surfaces. They don't have to be perfectly smooth. Don't obsess.
Cut 4 pins. Hold the top of the pin, since this is the bit you want to keep. If you point the sharp end down at the table, it shouldn't fly off too far when you cut it. Cut the pins very short, or they'll poke through the figure's hand later. I wound up cutting this pin to about half the length shown. Don't obsess on exact measurements. Put the pin far back into the scissors - closer to the hinge gave me a better ability to cut the pin.
Here is what the sliced hand will look like. My straight pins now look a lot more like nails. I'll drive them into the hand to secure the hinge.
Use the extra straight pin to start a hole in the hand. I had better luck attaching the hinge to the finger section before the palm section.
Grip the end of the straight pin with the pliers, and push it down into the hand. If you actually have the hand strength to do this without assistance, more power to you! When the pin is about half way in, I put the flat side of the pliers against the end of the pin, and pushed it the rest of the way in. I drove the first pin through the hole closest to the hinge, then put a pin through the hole furthest from the hinge.
Here is the hinge with the staright pins "nailing" it into place, holding the two sections of the hand together.
The hand sort of closes. I plan to hold the hand closed with a little bit of Plasti-Tac. (That putty you can use to hang posters.)
Supplies: acetone (nail polish remover), cotton balls, Q-tips, flesh colored acrylic paint, paint brush, water (I cut off the bottom of a soda bottle to hold water), container to mix paint.
Wet a cotton ball with acetone, and wipe the face paint off the action figure's head. You might want to use a Q-tip wetted with acetone to get paint out of the corners of his the eyes.
Mix the acrylic paint with water. The result should be very watery. It reminds me of skim milk. Trust me on this. I always want to slap on a single thick coat of undiluted paint for quicker coverage, and every time I do, it looks awful - brush strokes everywhere. You get much better results with lots of coats of diluted paint. It's been a long time since high school science classes, but the phrase surface tension or liquid cohesion keeps coming to mind. The water helps to spread the paint for you using that principle, I guess. I usually start a coat by laying the figure flat on his back, then brushing paint over the eyes and nose. Gravity also helps to spread the paint across the face. I forgot to count how many coats of paint I used, but I *think* the first 3 or 4 coats had some brush strokes visible, and the project was painted in 4 to 6 coats. It sounds like a lot of work, but if you alternate what you paint (two figures, or head then hands, etc.), the time goes by pretty quickly.

Here's a picture of the first coat. See how thin that is? Luckily, it also dries quickly. I do two Autons at once. After I put a coat of paint on Auton #1, I put a coat on Auton #2. By the time I've finished painting #2, #1 is dry and ready for the next coat. You can also alternate painting the head, then the right hand, then the left hand.
Here's a picture of the head and hands after several coats of paint. This is the point I realized that I should have made the hole and inserted the Auton's weapon *before* I painted its hand. D'OH!
After buying so many action figures, I have lots of left over guns. I found two identical weapons with narrow barrels, and cut the ends off with the XActo blade. Sorry it's out of focus, but I think you get the idea.
I used the XActo blade to carve a hole into the hand right above the tip of the hinge (because it made such a good landmark). I started small, and enlarged it gradually. You can always make the hole bigger. You can't make it smaller. Well, not as easily, anyway.
I stuck a gun barrel tip in the hole. You'll notice I've painted the hand interior. I freeze framed images from some Doctor Who DVDs and sketched the interior. You'll need black, red, yellow, and light blue acrylic paint. The raised yellow "button" is really the head of one of the straight pins holding the hinge in place. It wasn't placed exactly accurately, but it was too good of a detail not to use it.
Varnish the head and hands, with 2 or 3 coats, to get that plastic-y Auton look and to keep the paint from chipping off.
You can kitbash an Auton outfit (blue jumpsuit and black boots) from Power Team's SWAT uniforms. You can find them at Big Lots or KB Toys for $8 or $15, depending on the figure you pick, and you get some cool accessories too. For the belts, I grabbed a strap from another Power Team gun belt. It was actually long enough to wrap around these figure's waist. Wrap some scraps of black fabric around their necks, and they're done.

Just so you can see your options, on one figure I pulled out the gun barrel and used Plasti-Tac to hold its hand shut. The other Auton has its hand open on its hinge. There's a noticeable gap between the fingers and the hand when it's in the "closed" position, but you can get around that by being careful about the angle you use to shoot your pictures.
Here is a Photoshopped image of my Autons in action, getting ready to shoot some poor unsuspecting soul. If you want to see more images of my Autons in action, you can check out my Auton page or some Autons featuring in my first attempt at animation. Have fun making your own Doctor Who monsters!