There are a multitude of craft materials available to refinish children's plastic toys or completely change their appearance. Glue, paints and other decorative finishes are available in nontoxic forms that should be safe for general use. However, if a toy is intended for a baby and there is a risk the child will suck on it, then extreme caution is advised before refinishing a toy without seeking professional advice. Before refinishing, check the toy to ensure it has no broken edges or sharp points.
Glitter paint can disguise designs or scratches because it is thick and has a textured finish. Paint the entire toy with a base coat of thick, nontoxic craft paint and leave to dry. Then use glitter paint to decorate. Its metallic finish is useful for decorating toy cars or planes, while its sparkle is ideal for toys associated with magic, such as fairies or wizards, and royalty such as princesses.
Update toys by decorating them with your child's favourite cartoon characters. Cut them out of magazines and paste them in découpage style. Depending on the state of the toy, you could cover it entirely with overlapping cutouts or paint a base coat of nontoxic craft paint then place cutouts, as desired. When you cut out images, leave no borders. This will help appear that it was painted on rather than pasted on. Coat the toy with a layer of PVA glue, dampen the cutouts with a little water and place them on the toy, then brush over them to secure. When dry, coat with a varnish of clear PVA glue. If you use cartoon characters that are copyrighted or trademarked, you might be in breach of certain laws if you try to sell toys that feature them.
Toys that are cracked or damaged can be refinished and built up with papier mache. Stack plastic building blocks into different shapes and mould them together with papier-mâché. Alternatively, use a toy as a frame for your papier-mâché and shape it to give whatever features you desire, such as turning a doll into an alien monster. To make papier-mâché, rip newspaper into small strips, soak them with PVA glue and start layering them on the toy. Allow the papier-mâché to dry every three or four layers, then continue. When you're finished and the toy is dry, paint it with nontoxic craft paint and varnish it with a final coat of PVA glue.
Refinish geometrical plastic toys or those with flat surfaces with sticky-back plastic. You could also use this material for large toys that have an expansive surface that requires refinishing. It is available in a wide range of colours and patterns. Lay the surface you will use to cover the toy on a sheet of sticky-back plastic and draw around it. Cut out the shape with a craft knife. Peel off the plastic's backing and stick it onto the toy. If desired, cut out additional shapes and patterns from other colours of plastic and layer them on top.
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