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How to Make a Custom McFarlane Sports Pick
Like many other McFarlane Sports Picks collectors, I wish I could sit at the table when they decide which players will be, what poses they have, and what uniforms they wear. This is where custom figures come in. I may not be able to influence McFarlane’s decisions, but I can create a custom figure of anyone I want!
Simply put, custom figures involve taking an existing figure apart, modifying it, painting it, and reassembling it. There are many different ways to create a custom. What I have included in these guidelines is a combination of my personal experiences and those of other adjusters. Feel free to email me if you feel something important has been left out. I plan to update this page regularly based on the feedback I receive.
Custom building for the first time is not cheap. The good news is that once you get these things, you probably won’t need to replace most of them for a while. I put approximate prices in parentheses to give you an idea of the costs associated with custom fabrication. The best place to get most of these things is at an art store like Michael’s. You can also get a lot of these things online.
- Brushes – Get one or two of the small 10/0 and 5/0 sizes for detailing, as well as some wider brushes for larger areas ($10)
- Value pack of acrylic craft paint (usually holds about 32 1/6 oz. of paint). This is great for colors you only need a little ($15)
- 2 oz. acrylic paints for more commonly used colors ($1 each).
- Testors Primer ($4)
- Micro Scale Decal Solutions: Micro Sol, Micro Set and Liquid Decal Film ($10)
- Testors Glossy Clear Acrylic and Flat Clear Acrylic ($8)
- Sticker paper ($1 per sheet, usually sold in quantities of at least 20)
- Scissors, masking tape, crazy glue, brush cleaner, exacto knife, sandpaper, clay and anything else you think you might need ($40)
- Image ($10 and up)
- Decide who you want to make and find as many of their photos as possible. Google and eBay searches are great ways to find pictures, as well as old magazines, sports cards and posters.
- Decide which McFarlane figure you want to paint. A good place to look at pictures of all the figures is on the McFarlane site. Try to match special features like the style of helmet they wear, bracelets, shoe styles, and anything else that might cause extra work to add or remove.
- Buy a figure. You can compare sales figures on eBay, Amazon, and SportsLizard.com to find the best deal.
- Open the figure and clean it with mild soap and water.
- Decide what you will need to disassemble to be able to paint a character. This varies from figure to figure. You want to make sure that you can easily paint every visible part of the figure. Sometimes this requires a lot of disassembly (head, helmet, facemask, arms, etc. on a football figure) and sometimes no disassembly at all (basketball figure).
- Soak the figure in very hot water to soften the rubber. This will allow you to remove all the parts you need. An exacto knife can also come in handy here to help remove the parts.
- Make a figure with several thin layers of white or gray primer. Don’t forget to mask off any parts you won’t be repainting.
- Color the figure from light to dark, leaving a white spot in any area that will need a sticker. You usually have to apply about three coats of paint to get a good look. If you need more, do more. A lot depends on the color of your primer and the color you’re painting.
- Find numbers and logos for stickers. The best place to locate the numbers to work on is the Logos & More section of Jomo’s Customs. They have templates for all NFL teams and many teams from other sports. If they have the team you are looking for then you are good to go. If not, look at LogoServer to find your team’s logo and use Jomo to find a team with a similar letter/number font to the team you are looking for.
- Make stickers. Use photo editing software such as Adobe Photoshop to resize images and change colors if necessary. Be sure to print once in black and white on plain paper to make sure they are the correct size before using the sticker paper.
- Coat the decals with liquid decal film. Be sure to do two or three coats to make sure the colors won’t run when the decal gets wet.
- Cut out the stickersleaving as little space as possible around the image.
- Apply stickers. Coat the imaged area with Micro Set before application. Wet the back of the decal paper (with a brush or by dipping it in water) and push the decal into place. Coat the decal with Micro Sol to soften it and carefully push the decal into creases or uneven surfaces.
- Color the stickers to match.
- Reassemble the figure. Use an exacto knife to cut the joints to help them fit better. Use crazy glue when needed.
- Add dirt or grass stains to your figure if you want. The best method is to brush it with “dry paint”. This can be done by letting the paint dry on the brush and then brushing the dry paint onto the figure. Be sure to use an old brush when doing this.
- Apply several light coats of Flat Clear Acrylic on all surfaces except decals and helmets.
- Apply Gloss Clear Acrylic to stickers and helmets. You can spray this on with a spray bottle or gently with a brush.
- Make a stand. You can modify the original stand, mount it on a piece of wood (drill holes the same size as the pegs on the figures), or create your own stand. Some people also like to make custom packaging for their figures. VansCustomFigures can make packaging for you.
Visit our complete customs guide for more information and photos.
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