How to Make a Polymer Clay Figure

Making a polymer clay figure is fun. To make something out of some wire, tinfoil, and clay leaves one with a great sense of accomplishment. Here’s another way of creating a polymer clay figure.

The leftover polymer clay face

As seen in an earlier post, I threw together a tutorial on how to make a polymer clay face. Unfortunately, I wasn’t happy with the way the video came out. The quality was poor and the camera was too far away. But, we all make mistakes and we learn from them and improve ourselves. I ended up making another three faces before I was completely satisfied with the video quality.

Polymer clay sculpture
The leftover face from an earlier tutorial.

After creating a total of four faces out of polymer clay, I realized I didn’t have any plans with them after that. So, I thought about it for a while and came up with the idea of making polymer clay refrigerator magnets. While I used three of the four faces, I pulled the smallest one from the bunch. I figured he’d be better for an action figure prototype. That leads us to where we are today.

Creating an action figure prototype

There’s nothing more exciting than creating a new action figure prototype. Keep in mind, an action figure prototype doesn’t have to feature moving parts, it’s simply a draft of a character that may someday be developed into an action figure. Sure, it’s old school but creating a figure from polymer clay is much more fun than creating one digitally. Besides that, you leave a piece of yourself with everything you create. It’s your legacy, or at least, part of it. So what are you waiting for? If this sounds like something you’d like to try, go for it. My site is ever-growing and has all the information you need to get started in polymer clay sculpture.

Success in the entertainment business concerning action figure prototypes

It’s interesting to look back at the last thirty or forty years. Let’s go back to when the first line of He-Man and the Masters of the Universe hit the market. These action figures were hot and filled a much-needed void. As I understand, the original idea was to go with an action figure toy line based on Conan the Barbarian. What a limited toy line that would have made. For whatever reason, the idea was scrapped but the producers still wanted a fantasy action figure toy line. I’ve heard o story that the original prototype of He-Man was a Mattel insider who presented a Ken doll with clay muscles on it. The accuracy of such stories isn’t the point here. The takeaway is that you need an “in” to get into the toy business.

There are some many talented people out there that make incredible polymer clay creations. If you don’t have connections, your creations go unnoticed. Well, that’s not the case anymore. The measure of success you reach is still highly questionable but with the internet and YouTube, everyone on the entire planet with an internet connection can see your work. In fact, you can reach more people in more places than the original first run of the He-Man line touched. It’s really incredible when you think about it. Unfortunately, the internet also has its dark side. If you come up with a really good idea, someone in a place with power can easily steal it. This is why I registered all my figures for The Quest for Kimel Drago with the US Copyright Office. Just in case, you know what I mean?

There are no guarantees in the business world

I’m not saying my creations are better than anyone else’s, but there have also been many failed attempts creating action figure toy lines where a lot of money was lost. Remember the obscure toy line, The Sectaurs, from the 80s? How about the Gobots? These were only two of many failed attempts with big budgets at stake. The Sectaurs are funny, humanoids with insect features. They had a comic book too. Don’t be too hard on them though. You can’t hit every ball out of the park. In business, there’s never any guarantees but at least you tried. That’s what it all comes down to, trying something out and seeing if it works. Sometimes you get lucky. He-Man was cleverly marketed. The mini-comics introducing the characters and story-line was a brilliant move. The funny thing is, the cartoon created a completely different storyline which eventually crossed back over to the mini-comics. The story of “Skytree” originally appeared in the cartoon but they also eventually adapted it to a mini-comic. I can’t remember what action figure that comic came with. Perhaps it was one of the figures from the Evil Horde spin-off.

What it really takes to make a polymer clay figure

When it comes right down to it, you have your craft wire, tinfoil, sculpting tools, and all the different colors of polymer clay available. There’s one more ingredient you need to make this work. An imagination. What’s really wonderful about creating polymer clay figures is that there is no right or wrong involved. Sure, people have their opinion of your work which may turn out positive or negative. Don’t worry about naysayers, especially if they’re not creating anything themselves. Art is completely subjective and open to individual interpretation. Just don’t copy anyone else’s work and try to pass it off as your own. It’s not only morally wrong, but it can also cost you money. You can make a tribute to Beast Man from the original Masters of the Universe toy line for your own viewing pleasure, but don’t ever advertise it or attempt to sell it.

Keep your polymer clay work original and avoid trouble

Keep your work original and from your own mind. Believe me, even though it seems like all the ideas have already been taken, if you just relax and think, you’ll find your vision. Sure, it’s perfectly fine to take inspiration from something but make it your own, completely. When I created Lupus Warwulf, I wanted a centaur but not in the traditional sense. I researched other animals used in this context so I could pick something that’s never been done before.

Polymer clay centaur
Lupus Warwulf of the Wilkolach. A centaur combining a man with a wolf rather than a horse as in traditional Greek mythology.

I came up with a wolf-version of a centaur. Keep in mind, no one owns the copyright to Greek mythological figures such as the Minotaur, Satyrs, and Medusa. But if you create your own interpretation of these characters, don’t base it off of someone else’s work.

For example, take Medusa from the original Clash of the Titans movie. Ray Harryhausen created Medusa in a distinct manner, the lower part of the body was serpent-like instead of having human legs. The tail of Medusa also cleverly featured a rattle, like that of a rattlesnake. If you were to make your own version of Medusa, you wouldn’t do it this way. If you think about it and come up with an original idea, do a little research to make sure someone else didn’t think of it first. If everything is clear, go for it! Of course, the basic feature of Medusa is having snakes instead of hair on her had. That part is an open game because it’s the most distinct part of the original myth. It’s what she’s known for most.

Shall we begin with our tutorial?

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Action figure prototype

How to Make a Polymer Clay Figure

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