These are just the steps that I found to work best for me so far this year! I’m sure others have different methods or insights, so mess around with this and do whatever works best for you. It’s totally possible to make a custom funko for $10 if you use the $1 bottles of acrylic paints and parts from cheaper funkos!
You can use one of the plain white custom bodies as a base if you’re a fan of that hulking stance, but using parts from other funkos as a base gives you a greater variety of bodies to work with. If you want the end result to look totally factory-made, then do steps 1, 2, and 6 (which still take time) to mix & match existing heads and bodies. Otherwise you can add whatever you want with clay and paint to make it look like any character you’ve imagined! Here’s an example of a glittery Rhysand I did:
Here are the basic steps once you have some funkos to use as a base:
1. Put them in a bucket and start boiling some water
Pour the almost-boiling water into the bucket above the necklines of each funko. The bodies and heads all have a different sizes/thickness, so some will need actual boiling water or a longer soaking time to be removed cleanly. Timing is really important. If you pull it out too soon, you can break the neck. If you wait too long then the entire thing starts to get deformed. Experience will tell you how long to wait for each, but generally let them soak for 3-5 minutes.
2. Off with their heads
Put a finger on the circular neck plug part as you pull the body off. Sometimes the plug still comes off with the body, so you’ll need to take a razor and cut that neck piece off the body while it’s still soft (but do not actually cut into the neck). Then you need to reshape it to its correct form and glue it back on before it cools:
3. Paint the parts to look like whatever you imagined
See my supplies list for tips on paint. If you’re having a hard time getting the paint to stick then sand the surface first. I know a lot of people use the cheaper $1 bottles of acrylic paint, so that’s definitely an option to make it more affordable! I use Golden Heavy Body paints, which makes the cost of supplies a bit higher. Most characters take at least 4 coats of paint, so definitely make sure each coat dries for at least a day first or else it will clump. And make sure your paintbrush doesn’t have even a single hair sticking out awkwardly because the surface you’re working on is so tiny.
See the supplies list for more tips on paints!
4. Do any clay work you want
You can use a self-hardening clay to just add details (like pointy ears, crowns, swords, capes, etc). Or the possibilities are endless if you decide to use the kind of clay you can actually sculpt with and then bake to harden. You should spread a thin layer of clay on the funko first so then the rest of the clay sticks more easily. Then you can cover the body with clay to modify the clothes slightly, add extra hair, wrap a clay braid around the head, or whatever you want. This kind of clay is much cheaper than the self-hardening kind, but does release toxic fumes while the vinyl funko is being baked (so that’s something to keep in mind).
I’d also recommend wearing gloves for the clay part so you don’t leave fingerprints in the clay.
I’ve found that the sturdiest clay for pieces that stick out (like wings & swords) for shipping purposes is a self-hardening kind (Apoxie Sculpt), but it’s also really tricky because you have to mix equal parts of A and B in order to get the clay to work. It’s best if you leave it sit first for like 20 minutes, but then you have a limited time to make your wings, capes, crowns, or swords before the clay hardens. I’ve lost a lot of material because of that short time frame.
5. Finish any decorating
This is the part where you add glitter, swords, crowns, jewels, capes, or whatever else you want and then touch up the paint.
6. Put the heads back on
Some heads go on quite easily! But most heads and bodies will not fit together. Depending on the problem, you’ll either have to carefully soak the head (and hope your paint job stays) to soften the vinyl so you can carve the head’s hole to fit a larger neck, or else pad the neck with clay so it fits into a larger head hole. If it’s a bobble head then you might need to reshape the wire with a pliers and/or make the body’s neck larger with clay.
When you’re fitting the head onto the neck you just padded with clay (or gluing one on), you need to prop the head correctly so it dries at the right angle. Wiggling the body around to position the head will make the hole too big again, so don’t mess around with this for too long. Also, if the clay seeps out underneath when you put the head on, don’t wipe it around. The residue is next to impossible to clean up. Try chiseling it off later… or just leave it if it’s not super noticeable.
Also, sometimes the neck is the right size for the head but then ends up being the wrong shape. So then you’ll need to sand the neck into the correct shape. If you end up sanding it too far, you’ll need to go back a step to the clay padding part.
And this is just a major pain if you have to fish that neck base back out:
Note: I sadly do not have a secret magical funko store where I get them for a cheaper price. I got all of mine from Walmart, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, eBay, Target, etc. Prices will fluctuate, so I’ll have some posts up soon of the pieces I used for each character and what the average prices over the past 7 months have been!
Also, I know that removing the heads from the bodies might not be a step everyone is inclined to do, so I’ve started selling some of my extra supplies in my Etsy shop! That way steps 1 & 2 are already done for you.
I think that’s it for now. Let me know in the comments if you have any questions. And have fun!<3