Whether you think of them as collectibles or as an important part of creative children's play, action figures are a classic cultural symbol. Action figures bring beloved fictional characters to life in miniature, three-dimensional reality. If your favorite characters don't have their own action figures, or if you'd like to see some of your own fictional creations brought to life in plastic, create your own action figures using moldable plastic and paint.
Pour the plastic beads into a large mug or microwavable bowl. Add enough water to cover the beads, plus about an inch worth of liquid.
Melt the plastic beads by microwaving for two minutes on high. (You may need more time depending on the heat of your microwave. The beads are done when they are completely clear).
Pull the plastic from the container with a fork. Let it cool for a few seconds.
Form the legs. Pull about a tablespoon and a half worth of plastic; place the rest back in hot water so it can stay hot. Separate the plastic you're working with into two equal pieces. Form them into legs by rolling them into long, thin snakes of about three inches. Taper one point on each leg into a foot shape, then bend this at a 90-degree angle to form the foot. Pinch the plastic about a third of the way up the length of the leg to create the indentation for the knee. Form the thigh by pressing and compressing the top half of the leg, making it thicker.
Create the figure's torso. Pull about 2 1/2 tablespoons worth of plastic and roll it into a ball. Form the ball into an oval by rolling it between your hands a little, then form this into the torso shape by pinching one end of the oval into two boxy corners. Press the shape between your hands to make it slightly flatter, like a person's chest. Attach the legs while the torso plastic is still hot.
Make the arms. Use about a tablespoon of clay to form the arms in much the same way you did the legs, only form the hands as balls on the end of the arms. Pinch these into mitten shapes, then carve in the shape of the fingers using the tip of a darning needle. Attach the arms to the torso.
Sculpt the head. Pull a teaspoon and a half of plastic and form it into a ball. Form the neck by pulling and pinching a small amount of plastic from this ball into a short cylinder. Pinch the chin into shape in the same manner. Attach the head to the torso, then sculpt any facial features or hair into the shape of the head as it cools using the needle.
Paint the figure with acrylic paint. For best results, layer the paint, painting the first layers with the largest color sections (such as the color of the clothing), then adding smaller and smaller details in subsequent layers.
If you are creating an action figure based on someone else's fictional character, be careful of the possibility of copyright infringement because fictional characters, particularly characters that have been graphically represented, can be protected under copyright law.