How to fix loose joints on action figures

Written by cristel wood
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How to fix loose joints on action figures
Loose joints leave your action figures sitting around. (two sitting toy soldiers image by timur1970 from

Action figures are enjoyed worldwide, by children and adults alike. Many enthusiasts have a hard time resisting the urge to remove their action figures from the packaging and start playing right away. Unfortunately, excessive play can cause the joints of action figures to wear out and grow loose, and pretty soon those beloved action figures are sitting down instead of creating dramatic poses.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Clear nail polish
  • Coloured craft paper
  • Toothpick
  • Razor knife
  • Freezer
  • Soft kitchen scrub pad

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  1. 1

    Assess the problem areas. Usually, more than one joint will need tightening.

  2. 2

    Disconnect the joints that need repaired. Do this by holding the area on either side of the joint and gently pulling the joint apart. For example, if you want to work on a knee joint, hold the thigh in one hand, and the calf in the other hand, while you pull the joint apart. Your joint should pop apart easily, without having to use force.

  3. 3

    Apply a coat of clear nail polish to the ball of the joint as well as to the socket of the joint.

  4. 4

    Allow the nail polish to dry for at least an hour.

  5. 5

    Reassemble the joint by pressing the ball side of the joint into the socket side of the joint.

  6. 6

    Test your joint's tightness by moving the joint back and forth.

  7. 7

    Repeat Steps 2-5 as needed. Especially loose joints may take two or three coats of nail polish before being sufficiently tight.

  8. 8

    Place your action figure in the freezer for about 30 minutes in order to reset any stressed plastic. The cold air will tighten the plastic that was softened by pulling the joints apart.

  1. 1

    Assess the problem areas. Tighten only joints that require it.

  2. 2

    Cut a small piece of craft paper to about 1/3 the size of the joint. Choose a colour of craft paper that is close to the colour of the joint.

  3. 3

    Use a toothpick or a razor knife to carefully insert the piece of paper into the joint. You may need to move the joint back and forth while inserting the paper. The craft paper should not be visible after insertion.

  1. 1

    Assess the problem areas. You will want to start with major joints and work your way down to smaller joints to avoid making a mess.

  2. 2

    Apply a single drop of clear nail polish to the joint. Try to get as much of the nail polish inside the joint as you can.

  3. 3

    Move the joint back and forth in order to disperse the nail polish evenly within the joint.

  4. 4

    Allow the nail polish to dry for at least an hour. Periodically move the joint to prevent the nail polish from sealing the joint into one position.

  5. 5

    Repeat Steps 2-4 as needed. Several drops of nail polish will be required for very loose joints.

Tips and warnings

  • Apply nail polish in small amounts to avoid making a mess.
  • When working with swivel joints, it might help to use a toothpick to apply the nail polish.
  • Use a soft kitchen scrub pad to buff away visible glossiness caused by excess nail polish.
  • Use caution when using a razor knife. Sharp objects can damage your action figure and cause injury to yourself.
  • Super glue can be used instead of nail polish. But it can be corrosive to some plastics, can leave white flakes and is messy to work with.
  • Nail polish can leave glossy fingerprints if you get it on your fingers while working.
  • Do not force joints. Use only gentle pressure to avoid damaging your action figure.
  • Do not leave your action figure in the freezer for longer than 30 minutes. Doing so may cause your action figure's plastic to become brittle.

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