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Articulating Legends Class Figures Tutorial!

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Old 11-18-2008, 01:19 PM   #1
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Articulating Legends Class Figures Tutorial!

Here's a step by step on how I go about articulating Legends Class figures. We will be using Hound for the tutorial, but the techniques are adaptable for each figure, just think it through and you'll find the best way to do each particular segment of each figure.

The tools I will be using are very basic and probably already in your toolbox.
They are:
1. Hobby saw (preferred) or jewelers saw.
2. Hobby files and rasps
3. X-Acto blade type hobby knife
4. Pin vise ( small handle type device used to hold miniature drill bits)
5. miniature drill bits (.8mm, 1.5mm, 3mm will be used, you can get a complete kit for about $20-25
6. Needle nose pliers (with cutting area at the base of the needle nose)
7. Cyanoacrylate glue (Superglue) and accelerator (forces near instant drying/curing of glue)

The only additional parts I will be using are:
1. #18 x 5/8 wire nails (you get about 100 for a buck at a hardware store): qty x 4
2. plastic single ball joint 1.5mm shaft, 3mm ball: qty x 2
3. plastic double ball joint 1.5mm shaft, 3mm balls: qty x 2

**I buy my ball joints from www.hobbylinkjapan.com , but you can use 'em from anything lying around.

LETS GET STARTED!!

First grab an unassuming Legends Class figure like 'ol Hound here! Note the rather stiff pose and sad face!

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1. The first area I like to tackle is the legs. I find most Legends have a knee joint due to the transformation, so starting on the legs is usually easiest and gets your mind geared up for the other steps. Pop both the legs off and take a look.

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There is an obvious place right under the square ball socket to cut to make the legs have thigh rotation. This is where we will cut. FIRST take your pin vise and drill a .8mm hole down the length of the thigh, be sure to stay as centered as possible. I suggest a .8 mm drill bit because the wire nail is about 1mm in diameter and pushing it through the .8 hole will give added tightness.

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After drilling, take your hobby saw and cut the square hip socket off. BE SURE TO LEAVE A FLAT AREA ON BOTH THE HIP SOCKET BOTTOM AND THE SMALLER THIGH TOP!! These are the mating surfaces and both sides need some material.

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Take your files and hobby knife and deburr and clean up the cut areas. We now are about to mate the two parts together with a wire nail but first there is one more step to assure a great fit. We need to take the 3mm drill bit and drill a relief in the hip socket so the nail head doesn't get in the way of the hip ball. We are essentially going to make a countersunk divet so the nail head sits below the hip ball, but take care not to drill all the way through the bottom of the square hip socket or the nail will have nothing to keep it from falling through! Check this pic carefully to see what I mean.


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You see by the reference drawing the nail goes through the hole we made, but the nail head will sit in that red countersunk area. Note there IS material under the countersunk area to hold the nail head up into the square hip socket. Now we can simply compress the leg onto the nail. I use the pliers to give me the leverage I need. Push the nail as far in as you can and it should lock the upper and lower thigh together tightly. If it doesn't, pull the nail out and clip a tiny bit off the tip and do it over until it fits right. If you are using the same size nails I used you won't need to cut the nail.

Let's take a second and see Hound feels about his new leg joint!


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Ahhhhhhhh.....He looks happier already! Repeat the above steps for the other leg and go get a soda, the fun is about to really begin!

Okay now we will move onto the head and waist articulation. These are a bit more involved, but use the same nail technique, and the same basic principles!

We start by stripping down Hound (sorry buddy!). Remove the legs we just did, arms, and windshield. We have to take the front end/chest off as well. It takes bit of pressure, but it does pop right off.

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Turn the remaining body/head piece over so the yellow painted part is up. Take your pinvise with the .8mm bit and drill through the waist top to bottom. TRY AND STAY AS CENTERED AS YOU CAN! Drill until the bit pokes through the bottom of the crotch area (ouch!!). Now we will decide the appropriate place to saw the waist off. There is a fair bit of room here so make sure you leave some material on both sides of the cut!

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Once again use the pliers to help you mate the two parts together, compressing tightly. There will be a bit of the nails tip poking through, use the hobby saw to cut it off and the files to clean it up

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The head is next! Drill with the .8mm bit straight through the top of Hounds noggin as far down as your bit will go! Take care to think about the placement of the hole, this should be thought of as his neck's centerline, so take a moment to consider how his head will look when turned in relation to the position of the hole.




Now we can really bring out the Decepticon in us, and saw Hound's head off! Pretty straight forward, I usually just cut it flush with the chest area.
With his head off, take your .8mm bit again and reinsert it into the body-side hole you just made. Keeping it straight and centered we are trying to drill through the dashboard side just above the gearshift.




Now we need to take the 3mm bit and enlarge the hole ONLY ON THE DASHBOARD! This is going to be our entry point for the neck nail, it's the only way to get a straight shot in!



Take your pliers and feed the nail in through the dashboard, pushing it into and through the neck hole. You most likely can't push it through enough from this side, so you can grab the nail tip with the pliers and pull it up the rest of the way.





Now push the head on and use the pliers to compress again. You may or may not be able to push the nail all the way through the head. If you don't it is okay, the remaining part of the nail is in the body cavity and won't interfere with anything. If you do push it through all the way, just saw the nail sticking up out of Hound's head off and file it down.

Let's grab another soda here and admire what we've done so far! Hound's lookin' real good now!!



Alright! Now for the hardest part of the operation: the arms. Be patient and think each step through over and over until you can visualize what's happening in each step. The arms are tough in so much as there are two joints being added in such a small area, it is easy to mess up. Also you can end up with arms that are odd looking when folded in jeep mode!

I will be using two different types of clear plastic ball joints, a single for the elbow and a double for the bicep. I used these because I had them, no other reason! If you have something else, by all means use 'em! Just take these techniques and adjust them to the materials you have on hand.

First thing is to cut the arm away from the shoulder like this. You can clearly see the area where the shoulder and bicep meet.



Turn the arms over so the grooved side faces you. The groove is about 1.5mm wide, so the shafts of my ball joints worked perfectly! I just had to make a 3mm ball area for the ball to go into. Don't drill all the way through, your simply opening up the 1.5mm part to 3mm. Check those pics and you will see what I mean!





The forearms/elbows are tricky too, but not too bad. I separate the biceps from the forearms by cutting through the first BIG groove on the forearm, not directly at the "elbow". Look closely.



Clean off excess forearm material from the bicep. I glue the peg end of the ball joint into the groove on the bicep, using the cross beam to support the peg of the ball joint.
Now we have to trim up the forearm to allow a range of motion. see the pic and you'll know what to cut. Take your time and cut as little as possible. You can always cut more if you need to, but you can't put it back on if you cut too much!!!



The last step is opening the groove up to 3mm so the ball will fit it, just like we did for the upper arms. Pop it all together and reassemble Hound and BAM!! He's ready to take on all those Decepticons (all the Legends Class ones anyway!)

Here is a couple pics in action poses not possible without these mods!





We did a great job here! The proof: he still looks great in Jeep mode!!

]

Using the added articulation allowed me to turn the hips, head, and arms for my Swindle 'bot mode! Side by side with Hound 'bot mode!!

]

Taking the Swindle/Hound idea further, I am making a Legends Punch/Counterpunch using the techniques described throughout this tutorial!!

You can finish it off with a light overall sanding/filing, and I like to fill in the hollow cavities with epoxy putty to make them look more realistic and "solid". This will also help the nails stay nice and tight too!

Remember, just 'cuz they are smaller doesn't mean they are easier! It takes as much work to make a great Legends Custom as it takes for a Deluxe Custom. Arguably more, considering there is practically no margin for error!

But follow along closely and slowly and it really isn't so bad! Your Legends will thank you!

Enjoy and have fun!!

~Big Hank
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