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Thread: Successful thumb surgery - 1982 GI JOE Zap

  1. #1
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    Successful thumb surgery - 1982 GI JOE Zap

    I still have my original 1982-83 GI Joe collection. About 5 years ago, I decided to buy replacement parts to replace the 3 arms with broken thumbs in the collection and a couple accessories. the one figure I never bought was Zap the bazooka solider. I don't know why, but I never got him. I didn't know that he would be the hardest to find with his thumbs intact. I have been looking at shows and on eBay for a while. It turns out that I'm not willing to pay what it would cost to get one with both thumbs. So I went with plan B. I found the nicest I could with 1 broken thumb. He cost around $30 instead of over $100. Then he went for surgery to have a thumb transplant. My technique is a little different then others I have seen online. I drill a hole in the hand, attach plastic rod with a plug, and then shape it. Hope you like the results.









  2. #2
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    Great job!

  3. #3
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    Where did you get a plastic rod that size? Wow, great job blending in the paint as well. What did you use to smooth out the transition to the thumb?
    Was ToyTalk in a past life.

  4. #4
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    Amazing! I'd be interested in hearing more about your technique as well.

  5. #5
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    My local hobby store sells styrene plastic in many diameters. Some of them are solid rod and some are hollow tube. The first picture shows the rough break from the original thumb. First step is to use a xacto knife and small file to make the surface flat. Then I used a pin vise with a 1.1mm drill bit to make a hole in the hand. The repair is made using a piece of 1.1mm styrene that is krazy glued into a larger diameter styrene rod that is hollow. You have to do some test fitting to make sure the rod will seat nicely to the hand and is at a good angle for a thumb. The next part requires some carving and shaping skills. I use an xacto knife to shape it and small files and sandpaper to smooth it out. I put a little extra krazy glue around the joint of the repair. You have to sand some of the original surface to get the junction smooth. I mix acrylic paints to match the other hand. Once it's a match, i paint the whole hand. Takes a couple coats to cover and I make it thin so the brush strokes don't show. After all dries, I use spray shellac to make it semi shiny and protect it.

  6. #6
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    I love seeing repair pics/vids/instructions of toys, furniture, tools. It's satisfying to do these kinds of repairs, but I also find it gratifying, or soothing even, to see the before and afters of other people's work. (I'm a weird-o) Awesome job and thank you for sharing what you did!

  7. #7
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    I checked the brands of the plastic rod. I buy both Plastruct and Evergreen. I use the same products and also their flat sheets to make model car parts. The most dangerous part is drilling the hole. Just make sure you mark the center so the bit goes where you want the hole. Other than that, you really can't mess up the figure worse than it already is with a broken thumb. The first one I did took 2 tries. I have also done four thumbs on my Buck Rogers figures and an extra GI JOE steeler I have that had 2 broken thumbs. He was easiest since he has black gloves. I have not tried any figures where the hands was molded in skin color yet.

  8. #8
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    That is a phenomenal amount of work. Thank you for sharing your step by step. I have a broken Thumb Stalker that I needed to replace. Now that I see what you did and how fantastic it turned out, I'm considering fixing it myself. Thanks again. Great Work!
    Was ToyTalk in a past life.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by HeartofGlass View Post
    That is a phenomenal amount of work. Thank you for sharing your step by step. I have a broken Thumb Stalker that I needed to replace. Now that I see what you did and how fantastic it turned out, I'm considering fixing it myself. Thanks again. Great Work!
    Thanks for the compliments. I do get a sense of satisfaction from fixing things and also sharing it with others. Don't get overwhelmed by the number of steps. I can have a thumb ready to paint in about 15-20 minutes.

  10. #10
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    that's great. the ingenuity that people display in repairing vintage toys always amazes me

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