As we have been teasing during this week we acquired a couple of Puyo Puyo character (Arle, Amitie, Ringo, Carbuncle, and Pixie) Charagumins by Volks Inc. We regularly like finished action figures or statues, as you can see on our “unboxings section“, but we opted to get these because there are not many Puyo Puyo main character figures around for sale and nor less for international purchase. Let’s face it, it is pretty often when someone hears “Model Kit” to have a certain rejection to immediate purchase, namely because it means that you’ll have to do a lot of work in sanding, assemling, and painting, and not many of us are kinda experts in doing so… Add to it that there’s also a big chance you won’t be reaching the professional result displayed in the box if you try this for your first time. Luckily, the good guys at Volks Inc., think about us, amateur noobs, as a good market, releasing a special line called Charagumin. These lovely model kits are more like a huge Gashapon / Kinder Surprise toy, were the plastic parts are already in the final figure’s color (regular model kits are regularly in plain white or transparent colored resin), leaving just a few detail parts to paint anyone can do, so you can just spend an afternoon assembling your kit knowing you’ll reach the same result as the product shots.
Very well, let’s do this!
The first thing you’ll need to know is that most plastic figure parts are made from molds by injecting PVC or ABS/PVC which work like a sandwich pressing one against other while the material is poured (just imagine how many molds are used for your Bandai or Figma action figures!), on that process the molds are covered with a greasy coating so that the plastic doesn’t stick to the surface. Leaving that grease won’t allow us to glue or paint parts, we’ll need to get rid of it. So the first step is soaking for 5 hours all our kit parts on water with “Oxy Clean” type detergent (I regularly use windows detergent, which works perfectly fine), and I say 5 hours cause the Charagumin kits are a wonder, they don’t have that much residual grease, regular kits require at least 12 hours! I recommend using different tuppers for each model kit so you don’t mix or lose parts.
Once the hours have passed it’s time to retire water with the mixed detergent, use a stainer so that it catches all the figure parts and prevents you from accidentally throwing one on the sink. You can dry the parts with a dishcloth or a dry cleaner, if you use the latter be sure to use cold wind or else you might deform/melt the parts due to the high temperature.
Now, the fun truly begins! You’ll need a cutting board pad or surface, cutting pliers, sand paper, glue, and cutters. Be sure to get a really fine and small grain sandpaper, so that you don’t scratch or damage badly the plastic parts, cut it on small portions so that it becomes easy to manage for this. We’ll start by using the cutting pliers to remove the extra plastic pivots caused by the molds, be sure to do it on an open area cause some pivots might get shot, you don’t want that to hit anyone’s face, we refine the remaining plastic bumps with the cutter and sanding the surface so that if becomes plain without trace. Remember to soak the sandpaper in water so that it doesn’t scratch that much your plastic part.
Be sure to preview snap the parts before applying glue, that way you’ll know if you need to refine or cut more plastic. Once we have a fair amount of parts for a body part structure we glue them together, we can remove the glue excess with a toothpick, if glue gets stuck on a visible plastic area you can quickly remove it with alcohol. And that’s it for the simplest forms, the Puyos and Carbuncle.
Here comes the tricky parts. For Arle, Amitie, and Ringo, more care is required, we take a look at the instructions to identify which are the few parts that require painting, no translation is needed, the diagrams are pretty clear.
As we can see, all their faces, Arle’s cape and armor, Amitie’s belt, and Ringo’s skirt, socks, and vest need paint, so we’ll need to paint those before gluing and assembly. Before applying the paint don’t forget to sand the surface so that the paint sticks to the surface, otherwise you’ll have an infernal time painting many times before reaching a full painted surface and the color tone you desire. You can use the type of paint you like, I use Polytec Acrylic Vinyl (artist painting series only sold in Mexico) and Comex (house paint only sold in Mexico) because these ones are pretty solid once they become dry, since these use polymers and are like just adding another coat of plastic, simulating them as part of the figure, they also dry pretty fast, which is convenient. Don’t forget to cover at least 3 times with paint so that the color sticks in full.
Now for some parts that use straight lines, you can mask with masking tape across the border, apply the paint, and once it becomes dry, use a cutter to separate the paint from the masking tape by tracing along the tape’s border, otherwise you’ll get exposed to remove paint along the tape from the surface leaving irregular areas.
The next part must be the faces, which require more care than the rest of the parts, we start by detailing the faces with a small thin brush, I used the Acrylic Vinyl paint because when it is still fresh it can be easily removed with alcohol or water in case you make a mistake, which might happen very often on small areas that require precise pulse. Once the face structure is done, we add the stickers to the eyes, since this is a small area and your fingers might become clumsy, I recommend fixating the stickers with the cutter, just place the sticky part on the razor edge, and remove the cutter once the sticker has made contact with the eye holder surface. We add the hair parts and glue all the head together. However the head must be the last part to be glued to the body, I’ll explain why in a few.
Amitie’s hat might become annoying to glue, since it is a curve surface, so I recommend using a rubber or magic tape to hold the pieces together while the glue dries and fixes the parts together. Once it has been set, we can clean the remaining glue on the surface with alcohol.
We start assembling our figure starting with arms and legs, once these are done we glue from legs to waist, we do this in this order because it will provide a solid structure to hold while we add more parts, it is important this is glued so it can support the whole figure weight, so test it becomes solid before adding the rest, if it falls glue it until it is stable. Then, we add the torso with arms.
Before adding the head, we take some time to retouch paint were needed, that way we have solid structure, and our hands will find it easier to rely on more surface. We also avoid painting the head by accident if it is not present.