Customizing Funko Pop!s | What You Need (Part 1)

Everything you could possibly need to customize a Funko Pop! vinyl toy! I explain their uses in the video above, but here’s a detailed list with corresponding Amazon links. If you have any questions, post a comment below!

PART 2: How to Prep Your Figure

PART 3: How to Sculpt & Sand


  1. Funko DIY! Pop!: male vinyl figure or Funko DIY Pop!: female vinyl figure
    You can use regular, factory-painted Pop!s too, but you’ll have to strip the paint off them.
  2. Acetone and paper towels/cotton buds
    Use acetone to rub the paint off regular Pop!s, but be careful: using too much can destroy the vinyl.
  3. Magic Sculpt (alternatively, Apoxie Sculpt)
    Two-part epoxies like these are the best for sculpting on Pop!s because they harden on their own without having to bake in the oven. Unfortunately, this also means you have a limited working time with them– after mixing the two parts equally, you have about two hours before it’s no longer flexible.
  4. Super Sculpey or regular Sculpey
    Sculpey (which comes in a variety of colors) or Super Sculpey (which only comes in beige but is of higher quality) is a favorite of customizers, though it’s trickier with Pop!s because you need to bake it in the oven for it to harden. Putting Pop!s in the oven is dangerous: they can melt or release toxic fumes. If you need to use Sculpey, you can try boiling the figure or using a heat gun on only the Sculpey parts.
  5. Sculpey liquid clay softener
    If your Sculpey dries out, a few drops of this fixes it!
  6. Sculpting tools
    Rubber-tipped tools like these make it easy to carve edges into wet clay in ways that you can’t quite accomplish with just your fingers. Make sure you wet them with a little water first if you’re using them with 2-part epoxy, though!
  7. Fantasy Creatures in Clay (formerly known as the Creature Sculpt book)
    Emily is one of the best clay artists I know of, and her book has a ton of tutorials, tips and tricks for sculpting and painting. Great for beginners!
  8. Zap-A-Gap adhesive
    Useful if you sculpt separate pieces that you need to stick onto your figure. While I don’t usually have trouble with Magic Sculpt sticking to the vinyl, sometimes I’ll make smaller Sculpey accessories that I bake and then want to attach. Please note: you cannot use this to stick unbaked Sculpey to your figure and then bake it. Zap-A-Gap is not oven-safe and can release toxic fumes if baked. Instead, you can use Polybonder, which is oven safe.
  9. Sandpaper in assorted grits
    If you sculpt on your Pop!, I highly recommend sanding down at least those sculpted parts to ensure a smooth surface for painting. Some customizers sand their entire Pop! even if they don’t sculpt so that the paint has something to stick to– the choice is yours! Note that, for sanding, you’ll want to start with the lower numbers (coarser grits, like 180) and work your way up to the higher numbers (finer grits, like 400). Cut the sandpaper from the big sheets into smaller, manageable pieces.
  10. Dremel 7300 cordless
    For altering the shape of a base Pop quickly and easily. Sanding by hand is very time consuming, so this will save you a lot of time and effort when you want to chip off chunks of plastic.
  11. Dust mask and eye protection
    For sanding: protect your eyes and breathing holes! Tiny epoxy or vinyl particles are not good for you.
  12. Krylon primer or Rust-Oleum primer
    I always prime the sculpted parts in my figure, because the epoxy surface isn’t great for painting. Some customizers prime their entire figure, too, so that it’s all the same base color and the acrylic paint reacts the same way.
  13. Folkart / Americana / Craftsmart / Citadel acrylic paints
    There are a ton of cheap acrylic paint brands ($1-$3) available at your local craft store. Take advantage of them! As long as you thin what you’re using with a few drops of water, they all end up looking just as good. For Pop! parts that are more flexible, however (like Batgirl’s cape), I suggest toy-specific paint like the Citadel brand, which is made to take abuse. I do recommend acrylic paint over other types, because it’s water soluble and dries quickly. Enamel paint, for example, is not water soluble, so mistakes are more permanent, and oil paint takes far too long to dry.
  14. Liquitex Flow Aid
    Water is the cheapest and easiest mixing agent for acrylic paint, but if you want a little extra smoothness, invest in this. Regardless, you should use something to thin your acrylic paint at least a little bit (whether that be water or Flow Aid). Using paint straight out of the bottle is not a great idea: it’ll be too thick and your layers won’t be as smooth. It’s always better to paint with a few thin layers to achieve opacity than to cheat with one thick layer.
  15. Citadel, LaComeille, Roya, Royal & Langnickel or Princeton brushes
    Brushes are a little different than paint: invest in good ones! They’ll last you longer than the cheaper crafts store brands. My favorites are Citadel and Royal & Langnickel. Get some of varying sizes and shapes (square, round, thin liner brushes, thick flat ones).
  16. Pink Soap
    Be careful with your brushes, too. Clean them thoroughly but gently with special soap like this and dry them facing down so that the water doesn’t seep into the ferrule (metal part).
  17. Masterson’s Sta-Wet Palette
    Acrylic paint dries super quick, but that can be both a blessing and a curse. I never finish my painting in one sitting, which means if my batch of blue dries up, I have to mix up a new batch later… and it might not look exactly the same. So I invested in this product, which is basically a container with a sponge under special paper. You can mix your paint on this paper and it stays wet/usable for up to a week if you close the container!
  18. Paint mixing cups and water
    If you don’t want a Sta-Wet pallete, then this is what you use to mix your paint in!
  19. Krylon matte finish spray
    After you have your Pop! the way you want it, you need to seal it so that the paint doesn’t rub off or flake with time or handling. I like matte sprays because they produce a look that’s most like a factory Pop!, but there are also glossy or satin varieties. Just make sure that your finishing spray/sealant is safe for vinyl and plastic– some aren’t and can destroy your hard work.
  20. References
    I didn’t mention this in the video, but references are very important when customizing if you’re trying to create a certain character. Refer to them often while working!

The links above are affiliated, FYI, so I do get a little cut if you purchase through them! Thanks, y’all. :D

37 Comments

  1. Tom September 28, 2015 at 2:33 AM

    Hi I have an idea for a custom pop design but have discovered a problem the best head I have found is a bobble head. Can a bobblehead be converted to a normal head?

    Reply
    1. Marlene October 25, 2015 at 8:54 PM

      I’ve actually never tried that before! I think it’s probably possible, though it would take some work to pull the spring off the neck. You might want to bulk out around the neck with some air clay, then glue it into the rest of the body. Good luck!

      Reply
  2. Estela December 23, 2015 at 2:48 AM

    I’m having a really hard time sculpting a beanie on one of my figures, and I can’t find any for reference. Any suggestions?

    Reply
    1. Marlene December 25, 2015 at 7:49 PM

      Hey Estela! If you’re using a two-part epoxy, I would recommend mixing it, rolling it into the rough shape you want then letting it set a little (or perhaps putting it in the freezer for a bit) before working with it. Stiffer epoxy might be easier to manipulate into the shape you want. :)

      Reply
  3. Taylor January 23, 2016 at 3:22 PM

    Hey Tom,

    Why not just buy any non bobble head,

    if you boil it in hot water for about 5 mins the glue on the plug deteriorates and you can pull it off and glue the plug onto your bobble head. Done this many times and it works like a charm :)

    Reply
    1. Marlene January 24, 2016 at 8:16 PM

      He probably found a bobble head that has the right shape for the base he wants, but it doesn’t have a regular (non-bobble head) counterpart. That happens a lot. :/

      Reply
  4. Nicole January 24, 2016 at 1:57 AM

    What do you suggest for sanding really fine details such as changing the shape of the fingers on a hand?

    Reply
    1. Marlene January 24, 2016 at 8:17 PM

      Your best bet would be a small sanding sponge or, better yet, a sanding cone attachment on a dremel. :D

      Reply
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  6. Nicole February 4, 2016 at 7:49 PM

    After putting clay on the Funko Pop, do you need to bake the whole figure? And would that be safe?

    Reply
    1. Marlene February 4, 2017 at 11:00 PM

      Hi Nicole! If you’re using air-dry clay like Magic Sculpt, you don’t need to bake the figure. If you’re using something like Super Sculpey, then I recommend you sculpt what you need and glue it on the figure later, since I don’t know how safe baking the whole figure could be.

      Reply
  7. Ash February 22, 2016 at 2:34 AM

    For making a relatively small alteration to an existing pop (darkening skin color), would it be okay to just paint over the original paint without stripping it? The pop in question is Katniss from Hunger Games, I want to make her skin more like she’s described in the books.

    Reply
    1. Marlene February 4, 2017 at 11:01 PM

      Should be fine, in my opinion!

      Reply
  8. Dameon April 7, 2016 at 8:12 PM

    Curious if you figured out the closest color to the fleshtone the use. I wanted to clean up and repaint a Funko Pop

    Reply
    1. Marlene February 4, 2017 at 11:02 PM

      I mix a bunch of Citadel paints to reach a flesh color, but I’m afraid I don’t have a specific recipe!

      Reply
  9. Sofia April 18, 2016 at 12:50 PM

    Hey, I was wondering if it’s possible to turn a DIY funko into an amputee? I was planning on making a hand amputee, but I don’t know if I could just cut the hand off or if that would throw the figure off balance. And I don’t know if they’re hollow inside or not, so I was wondering if anyone here knows anything about that.

    Reply
    1. Marlene February 4, 2017 at 11:02 PM

      They are indeed hollow inside, so you should have no trouble cutting off a part. If for some reason it becomes unbalanced, which I doubt, you could always fill in that limb a little with clay.

      Reply
  10. theyvetakenmywheezy April 28, 2016 at 12:19 PM

    When can we expect to see part 3?

    Reply
    1. Marlene February 20, 2017 at 7:12 PM

      Part 3 is now up on my channel!

      Reply
  11. Jeremy April 28, 2016 at 12:44 PM

    I have mirror spock it has small scratch on hand what color paint should i use please

    Reply
    1. Marlene February 4, 2017 at 11:03 PM

      I don’t have a specific recipe, unfortunately. You can mix some beiges, browns and pinks until you get something close!

      Reply
  12. Monique May 17, 2016 at 5:31 AM

    What if you wanted to use the body of a factory painted pop but you didn’t want the head or the hair of it? Is it possible to um swap the diy pop head with the other or no?

    Reply
    1. Marlene February 4, 2017 at 11:03 PM

      Yes, absolutely. Please see my part 2 video for how to remove the head.

      Reply
  13. Kyle May 23, 2016 at 5:02 PM

    I did some experimenting with designs with markers before painting, but I can’t quite get the tint from the markers to go away completely. Any tips? I considered bleach.

    Reply
    1. Marlene February 4, 2017 at 11:05 PM

      I’d try acetone.

      Reply
  14. Joretta Warren May 24, 2016 at 4:33 PM

    I am wanting a Funko Pop figure of Quicksilver from the Avengers Age of Ultron movie. As far as I can tell there is not one available on the market. Do you ever do custom figures for others and sell them?
    I don’t think i can do this myself.

    Reply
    1. Marlene February 4, 2017 at 11:11 PM

      I do customize figures, but I typically auction them for charity rather than sell them. :D

      Reply
  15. Milo san luis August 5, 2016 at 1:11 PM

    Hi, i just want to ask, do you have any idea on how to print small letters or designs on funko pop body, like the NBA jerseys?..or the last name of the players, i tried, manually brushing it, but i really having a hard time, and its not as perfect as what the original funko pop..

    Can you give me some tips?..

    Reply
    1. Nam August 31, 2016 at 11:37 AM

      You could use decal stickers. There’s decal sheets you can use to make custom logos. I my Photoshop program to make custom decals for my model cars. And go to Sportlogos.net to get the jersey logos.

      Reply
  16. Sabrina January 6, 2017 at 8:30 PM

    Thanks a lot for this tutorial! This is very helpful, I will keep it in mind for when I finally have the courage to try one. I will also share the link to your article with my Funko Pop community :)

    Reply
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  18. Kaden February 18, 2017 at 11:13 AM

    Does your sealant have to be an aerosol or could it be a paint on one? (Like a cheap acrylic sealant from a diy store or smth?)

    Reply
    1. Marlene February 20, 2017 at 7:13 PM

      You can definitely use a paint-on sealant like Modge Podge, but I find those are much harder to get an even result with.

      Reply
  19. Caio February 18, 2017 at 11:49 PM

    So, can I actually boil a POP with Sculpey to harden the clay? I made the stupid mistake and used that instead of an air dry clay and really don’t want to start over because the mold looks great.

    Reply
    1. Marlene February 20, 2017 at 7:12 PM

      I’ve definitely heard of people boiling to harden Sculpey, but as I have never tried it myself I’m afraid I can’t guarantee the results!

      Reply
  20. Kaden February 20, 2017 at 7:32 PM

    Another kind of random one, if you were trying to create a burnt effect on a funko, could you just actually burn it to get that kind of raised scar thing??

    Reply
    1. Marlene February 20, 2017 at 10:57 PM

      I’m not sure, but I don’t think plastic would melt the way you want it to. I’d suggest a combination of sculpting and sanding instead to get the right effect.

      Reply

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