How to Boil and Pop
Tim Priebe over at CoolCollecting.com has lent us some tips on how to remove heads from action figures for customizing purposes. Check out his site for more customizing tutorials, galleries, contests and other ways to share your custom figures.
I've had several people asking me for more details on the boil-and-pop method I use to switch heads and limbs for action figures. When I looked for an article or FAQ to refer them to, I couldn't find one. So I decided to write one! Special thanks goes to my wife for operating the camera.
It should be noted that these head and limb swaps are being performed on recently produced Hasbro/Kenner action figures. There are other methods for head and limb swapping, including torso cracking, where you crack the torso into two halves, switch out body parts, and reglue the two halves
Also, the heads in this article have the pegs, and are, therefore, the male part, while the torso is the female part, with the holes. This is true for most Hasbro/Kenner action figures. The boil and pop method also works if all the heads or limbs involved in the switch are the female parts. If this is the case, you can skip Step 4.
Lay out all the figures you want to use to perform the boil-and-pop method on. Personally, I switch limbs and heads on multiple figures at once, thus I put out a lot of figures. You also need to bring your water to a boil. When it's boiling, you can move on.
The first figure you should boil should be the one whose body you're going to use, not the one whose head you're going to use. Submerge the figure about chest deep. You should use tongs. If you have a high tolerance for pain, you can just use your fingers. I don't like pain, so I use tongs. That's deep enough for the whole peg inside the body
to be submerged and get soft. You should leave it in the water for about 1 minute to 1 and a half minutes. I actually normally leave mine submerged for 55 seconds. Why 55 seconds? It's really just arbitrary. I have no reason.
When you remove the figure from the water, it's going to be very hot. You'll need to take the body of the figure in one hand, and the head in the other hand. Grasping both tightly, pull. Because the bottom of the peg is soft, there will be a popping sound.
If, for some reason, the head does not just pop off, but the peg
begins to stretch, try repeating Step 2 for about 30 seconds. If it still
stretches when you do Step 3 again, you may just have to pull it, and the
peg will break. Later I'll cover what to do if this happens.
Repeat Step 2 and Step 3 for the second figure, the one whose head
you're going to use.
Take the head you're going to use. Assuming your peg didn't break, assuming the popping part worked, you'll have to trim the bottom part of the peg. First, use your exacto knife to cut as close to the peg as possible. Then, cut a little more off, but not too much. You want the head to be able to retain articulation if at all possible.
Alternate Step 4:
If your peg broke when you pulled on it, cut the whole peg off.
By cutting the bottom of the peg, you made a corner. Place that corner of the peg into the hole of the second figures' torso. This torso should be that of the figure you want the head on, of course. Twist the head around and around, pushing it in towards the figure. After awhile,
you should be able to work the whole bottom of the peg into the hole.
If the head is too loose after you get the peg in, there are a couple
of options. For the advanced customizer, you can take the peg out and shorten
the peg, and put it back in. Then it will fit tightly.
There is a simpler option, but it will result in no head/neck articulation.
You can just cut off the peg and glue the head on. I'll cover exactly how
to do that in a minute.
The bottom of the peg of the head may not be soft enough. You may have popped the figure's head off awhile back, and been saving it until you could find a custom to use it for. If that is the case, you can submerge it in the boiling water to soften the bottom of the peg, and try Step 5 again.
Alternate Step 5
If you ended up having to cut the peg off, you'll have to glue the head onto the body. Try putting the head on the body first to see exactly where they'll touch, so you'll know where to apply the glue. Apply the glue, and make sure you hold the head on the body for however long your glue says you should hold it. Probably about 20 seconds.
You're done! Whatever head you wanted to switch is now on the correct
Tim Priebe welcomes your questions and comments via email.
This article originally appeared at CoolCollecting.com and is reprinted with permission. The article and photos are copyrighted CoolCollecting.com.