View Full Version : Removing Heads
08-11-2003, 03:21 PM
How do you remove the head from a figure without stretching it out or breaking it off?
I tried boiling it along with the torso and pulling the head off, but, this method resulted in either the stem breaking off or the stem of the head stretching. When the stem is stretched and installed in a new torso, it is very loose.
To avoid stretching out the head, I ended up smashing open the torso.
So fans, is there a better method that avoid smashing up torsos?
08-11-2003, 03:43 PM
I posted a few ways to do it And I also posted some backup plans....need any more help just ask or PM me.
Any customizer will tell you that the best method to remove the head from your figure is the "boil-and-pop method, described below. This allows you to remove the head from any Star Wars figure with the stem intact and no damage to any parts of the figure. This is useful when you want to do a "head swap" Remember that many figures have different sized neck posts. Some heads may not fit on their new bodies.
Place your figure in a simmering pan of hot water for several minutes. This makes heads and neck posts very flexible.
Being careful not to scald yourself, remove the figure from the hot water, then quickly tug the head from the socket. The post may stretch as if it's going to tear, but this is unlikely as vinyl is very resilient at this temperature. Keep pulling firmly and the head should eventually pop out. The stretched post and stem will return to their original shape. You've just completed the boil-and pop.
After you do the "Boil and Pop" method there are a few methods to reattach the head to the body.
Boil figure for a couple of minutes and then carefully pop the head out.
Sometimes if the head is still soft you can pop it right back into the body you want. Depending on the head and the body this can be very easy or very hard. I use a small phillips head screwdriver, (because it's blunt) to help push the peg back into the body but be very careful.
It can help to cut away a small piece of the neck peg before popping it back in there. If the plastic cools off and hardens just throw it back in the boiling water for a few more minutes.
Why can't Hasbro just make all the neck pegs the same size??!! You'll find many heads do not fit with certain bodies. If this is the case throw the figure back in the boiling water until it softens and pop one or both of the arms off. Now stick your exacto inside either the head or arms holes and cut the plastic rod inside the body that holds the torso together. Now cut along the seam of the torso and pry apart the two halves. Sometimes you can stick some pliers or something in there and just pry the torso apart with one quick move. I do suggest to cut at least half of the seam though because I've ruined a couple of torsos by trying to rush this process.
Take on half of the torso and place the head in the neck slot. The peg is either too long or too short.
If it's too long there are a couple of things you can do. Compressing the neck peg doesn't work very well (For me anyway, it just pops back to the original shape. I prefer to cut the peg part of the post off,(larger part at the bottom.) Then cut the post down to the correct size and superglue the peg back on. A small screw can help reinforce this. I've also made my own neck pegs using Sculpey or A/B Epoxy Putty-(Much stronger)Try to keep as much of the post as possible and then sculpt a new peg around it. It's okay if it's too large because after it dries you can sand it down to the proper size. Sometimes the head or limbs are a little loose in there. You can also use the putty to sculpt inside the torso right along the seams and joints. This can make everything a little tighter inside.
If it's too short you need to cut the whole peg off and find one that will fit better. To reattach see the "Neck Post repair" article. Basically you just superglue a small screw inside the head and then scre on the neck peg. Use a dremel to cut away any excess metal or plastic.
Removing Astromech Heads
Things differ for the various R2's Once you take it off though there is no going back.
Step 1 A
(POTF2 & EP1 R2-D2)There are a few different methods for getting the head off these R2's You may want to completley remove the entire head in which case you cun just use a cutting wheel to chop it off. The boil and pop method doesn't work for these guys. You can also take the body apart using a sharp exacto knife although this is very difficult. I like to cut just the very top of the head off with my Dremel Cutting wheel leaving a small lip that can still turn. You can then superglue the new head right onto that lip and it will still turn. I did this with my R3-B1.
Step 1 B
(Power FX R2)I wanted to keep his lights and sound but only managed to kept the light. If your really careful with your cutting and your glue you can salvage the sound. Now with a Dremel, cut R2's head off very carefully starting with a small hole on the top of the head. You can now look inside and see the mechanism, do your best to cut around it (Be careful with that led light!!) Try to save the "holoprojector" and the "eye" to glue on the dome later. Use your Dremel cutting wheel to smooth out the body so the new head fits flush. The R2-D2's with mechanisms like Datalink R2 or Rocket booster R2, your going to have a real hard time if your trying to keep articulation. I recommend using the ones above, especially HoloLeia R2 if that figure is ever more available.
Try to find a perfect, clear, small, gumball dome and buy a bunch of them because they are very easy to crack. Use that same cutting wheel to cut the dome down to size. Use a regular R2 figure for size reference. If you have a larger cutting wheel you can grind down the entire surface at once. Turn the Dremel on it's lowest setting and while holding the top of the dome place it dead center on the wheel and grind down evenly a little at a time. The plastic will melt along the edges so try to pick it off as you go or use a file on it. Here's where the plastic likes to crack.
Now use the Superglue (or the Model Cement) to attach various odds and ends including FX-R2's inner electronics for the "brains". I positioned the light so it would be next to his main eye so you could see it light up in there, it's really bright! Get creative with all the other various "Brain" parts. I used chopped up blasters, electrical wire and some pieces of old models. Make sure not to over do it, (I always do) every now and then place the clear dome on the body making sure it's still flush. You may have to reposition stuff a little bit to get the light where you want it. Be careful with those wires, this is how I lost the sound. You may want to add some paint details to the "Brains" or completely paint and coat the body before continuing. (See Step 7 below)
To attach the dome to the body do not use Super Glue, it will make the clear dome turn all white and fuzzy. Get the Model Cement that comes in a clear glass container,(you can find the "Testor's" brand anywhere.) The squeeze tube is messy and not as strong. Paint a thick even layer along the seam of the body and carefully with very clean fingers place that clear dome on there, center it and press down. Now let that sucker dry for a couple of days.
For the "eye" I sculpted it with A/B Epoxy. You could also cut the eye out from the old head. (There are casting techniques as well.)
Now using the Model Cement glue the "holoprojector" on or make one with a tiny cylinder. Careful with the glue on that nice clear dome, (can I stress this anymore!!!!! )
Paint the final touches but you can't use any "dull or gloss coat" unless you can cover up the dome completely.
Neck Post Repair
The boil-n-pop method is not always that reliable. What ya gonna do when the stem breaks? Use this simple method.
With the dremel, drill a hole in the neck that goes up inside the head.
Now take the screw and drive it into the head. You might want to see that the hole is big enough, or the head will swell up.
Now, glue the screw up inside the head.
Ok, now force that screw into thee neck hole of whatever figure. If the screw's too big, these things can be fixed with the dremel.
08-11-2003, 04:35 PM
Thanks. I did use the boil and pop method but I perhaps did not boil the head and torso long enough resulting in a stretched peg or worse yet, a broken one.
Next time I'll leave it to boil longer unless someone has a better idea.
08-11-2003, 07:10 PM
Here's another Tip after boiling it....Run the head under hot hot while you hold on the feet and use something to pull the head off (try not to get burned).BTW who's head you poping off?
08-12-2003, 02:41 PM
I was working on making a better Vader using parts from the Saga Vader and the Imperial 4 pack Vader. I wanted the arms of the Imperial 4 pack Vader but the legs and head of the Saga Vader. The result would be a taller Vader without the crappy loose arm and cape of the Saga version.
You can read about it in my post for the Review of the Saga Vader.
I was also working on the new Sandtroopers. I bought the Army Builder pack and had a couple of "dirty" Sandtroopers with grey shoulder pads. I wanted to have three clean troopers with the grey pads so I started to pop heads and exchange the pads with the white and black padded troopers.
Well, the boil and pop method resulted in two heads being broken off at the stem. Fortunately, there was enough stem to insert into the torso. I was successful in putting good heads on the troopers with the grey pads so I got what I wanted (3 clean troopers with grey pads).
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