Making Miroku Part 2: The Props
WARNING: VERY LONG POST AHEAD!
After I managed to get my Miroku doll sorted out, next was the hardest part besides the doll itself... That aforementioned staff. I went to several craft stores and bought all kinds of materials to make that staff. Key rings, round beads in various sizes, jump rings, wooden dowels/bamboo skewers, even any tiny earrings or charms of crescent moons I could find. I had to be able to conjure something up, right?
Well, as with most of my crafting projects, I buy materials, have ideas in my head, but then my perfectionism kicks in along with my impatience and butter fingers, and I wind up looking for something to buy. LOL
My husband couldn’t use his Glow Forge to make the staff because it would be flat and not 3D. That wouldn’t look right at all. But then I thought, hey, what about a 3D printer... I don’t own one, but surely someone on Etsy does, right? Yep, and there are several people on Etsy who take 3D print commissions! And I was even able to find a free 3D print file for Miroku’s staff! Granted, it was in life-size because it was meant for cosplay, but I took some measurements and gave them to an Etsy shop owner (3DDeluxe) and asked if he could scale the file down. And yes, he could! That was a big relief!
All I had to do was paint the staff and add jump rings to it! Or so I thought. The file for the staff didn’t include the top part for some reason:
Well, that looks like a simple enough design... enter Crayola Model Magic! Form the shape, let it dry for a few days (to make sure it’s completely hardened), and then glue to the staff and paint! YES!
Scratch that - NO! Looking closer at the staff in the photos, plus with figures I have, the top design seems to be more long/tall rather than wide. So I broke out some of the small crescent moon charms I’d purchased and stuck one of those on top of the staff. Before doing that, however, I had to remove the ring holding the jump ring in place that allowed the charm to be added to a bracelet or necklace. Using some side cutters took care of that, and my eyes glanced at the small half-hoop that came off the charm, and my brain saw tiny earrings! So I removed the earrings I’d previously had in the doll’s ears (and by “in” the ears, I mean glued on LOL) and, after much of the glue wound up in my fingers, I had earrings closer in scale to what they should be! Yay!
First earrings (4mm jump rings):
Current earrings (half-hoops from charms):
Now, back to that staff top. I’d purchased some porcelain air dry clay previously, so I broke that out and started sculpting with it. My counter was a complete mess with all sorts of attempts at creating what looks like a simple design... but all mine seemed to come out resembling the Assassin’s Creed symbol. So I tried a different approach and rolled little pieces separately until my counter looked like it was full of grains of rice. But doing that helped, because I was then able to take some clay that wasn’t yet dry and attach it to that said grain of rice to create the desired effect. I made several and finally picked a suitable candidate. Still may not be perfect, but I’m happy with it!
Oh, and those jump rings? I’d purchased a few different sizes so I could see which ones looked best in terms of scale, and finally settled on the 12mm ones. Of course, the only ones I could find were silver, not gold. But that’s okay, since I wanted to make sure they were the same color as the staff itself, so I just painted them. That was fun, let me tell you! LOL
Next up: Prayer beads! After making lots of mini necklaces of the sacred jewel (some with clasps, some without for photos, one based on what’s seen in the anime vs. the one you can actually buy, etc.), I was sure I could make some beads that didn’t even need a clasp.
Big surprise - it turned into a chore as well. I thought the beads consisted of a strand of beads held together by one larger bead. Well, no, there are smaller beads tailing that large bead with tassels on the ends. This meant I had to have three different bead sizes (and finding the perfect color was fun LOL, so many shades of blue/turquoise/light blue) in the same color (can’t always find the same brand/color in different sizes) plus make teeny tiny tassels.
I managed to find lots of miniature tassel charms, but even they were too large in comparison to the beads. So I tried some embroidery floss. It worked for making tassels, but looking closer, these tassels are mostly just the tails sticking out of the beads. So I didn’t need the top part. So I achieved that effect by tying a knot in a piece of embroidery floss and cutting off one end.
My first instinct was to try to push a needle through this tassel to secure it to the string holding the beads together. Well, that wouldn’t work because the tassel’s knot kept coming out and the white bead string was visible through the purple tassel. So I tried one final tactic - stringing the beads through the same embroidery floss as the tassel, then tying a knot after the beads to secure them in place, followed by tying a separate strand of embroidery floss around the knot securing the beads to create a tassel effect. That worked! At least, it did, until I went to wrap it around the doll’s arm and the knots came out, sending beads flying.
Apparently the string didn’t leave enough room to allow me to wrap the beads around the arm. I’d tried removing the doll’s hand and arm wrap, then putting the beads on the arm and draping them over the arm wrap, but no go. So I had to redo the entire thing... a few times because of knots and various other issues. Glad I have plenty of beads! I finally finished the strand, though! Fingers crossed that it doesn’t come undone LOL.
They’re a tad loose compared to what they should be, but that does allow me to help “shape” them and remove them if I want to without them getting snagged on the fingers.
I wasn’t going to give Miroku his ring because the tops of his fingers are primarily covered by his arm wrap (it’s just the design, can’t be helped). But then I decided to go ahead and do so because of the pictures I took of him using the Wind Tunnel. To make the ring, I looked up some tutorials on YouTube and they were all pretty consistent - use jewelry/bead wire, place it on a doll’s finger, and bend and cut. DONE! That was the easiest prop of the entire bunch, and yet the one I almost didn’t even make LOL
The ring was the final prop! Miroku is now complete! I’m very pleased with him overall. He definitely had less props than Kagome did - I may even make him some sacred soutras down the road if I can figure out what some of them say. Because, again, I’m nothing if not accurate! hehehehehe Stay tuned for my next custom doll - Sango!
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Making Miroku Part 1: The Doll
WARNING: VERY LONG POST AHEAD!
I started working on Miroku and Sango in one-sixth scale doll form at roughly the same time, and I was sure I’d have Sango done first. The primary reason for that was because anime male dolls are few and far between. And then there was the issue of the lecherous monk’s staff. It has a unique shape, and while breaking it down gave me images of small beads and crescent moon shapes, I wasn’t entirely sure how I was going to pull that off.
But it turns out, I’m going to be on point with the manga and anime - Miroku was the second companion to join Inuyasha and Kagome on their adventures after Shippo (I have a figure of him made by a dear friend for this very project!).
How did I luck out? Well, it was quite a journey, much like Kagome!
First up was finding the doll. As I said, anime male dolls seem to be slim to none. There are a few out there, but they’re super pricey and based on a website I looked at with a huge guide dedicated to various anime style dolls, most of them were too short anyway.
But then I stumbled upon this doll, a Tsukuda Hobby Full Action Doll Series Akima doll. No idea what that is, if it’s from a certain anime, or what. I didn’t care. I was looking at the shape of the face, and look at that black hair - in practically the perfect length to tie back into a ponytail!
Plus he was super cheap for a male anime doll, so I took the plunge and ordered him. I was ecstatic to find that his skin tone was compatible with my Inuyasha and Kagome dolls that are already done, and his hair was indeed the perfect length!
The only issue was his body. This doll was significantly taller than most fashion dolls. Inuyasha is 12″ tall, whereas this doll is 14″. Not only would he tower over the show’s namesake, he’d be too tall to fit inside my diorama.
Plan A: My ideal candidate was one that wouldn’t need to be rerooted (check!) and, if necessary, have a simple head swap with a Ken body. After all, Kagome is on a Barbie body, so that should work, right?
Yeah, not only did I have to use my small craft Dremel to sand down the neck peg so the head would go on (the head hole is insanely tiny), but the neck looked WAY off. Completely out of proportion, plus there’s an obvious gap between the head and neck! The horror!
Plan B: There are people out there who can actually cut joints and limbs off dolls to shorten them or make them articulated, and I was debating doing that. But I would be a nervous wreck doing that LOL. I was desperately scouring the Internet thinking my only option at this point besides major (literal) plastic surgery was finding a new doll candidate, even if a reroot would be necessary. But again, male anime dolls... UGH!
I’d looked up 30cm male doll bodies (roughly 12″), thinking maybe Obitsu would have something I could use, and I found some websites where several people were suggesting using Volks male bodies as opposed to Ken bodies (this was before Ken had advanced articulation). Volks is a great doll company, and back in the day, they specialized in 1/6 scale dolls. Sadly, now they’re solely 1/3 scale (Smart Doll size), so finding any fashion doll size dolls by Volks is rare (and pricey).
But I took a chance and went to eBay and just typed in “Volks anime doll.” And what popped up but a group of custom anime dolls someone had made years ago - there was even an Inuyasha doll in the mix! I put a bid on that auction just for the Inuyasha doll, and was surprised to actually win the auction! Then the big box of dolls arrived... and something miraculous happened.
Inside that box, besides the Inuyasha doll, was another male doll with what appeared to be a Ken-size body. My eyes bugged out as I grabbed that body and stood it up next to a Ken body. The height was the same! And since it was a Ken body, I knew the height was right to go with Inuyasha.
The next test: skin tone. I held the doll’s hand next to the candidate’s face, and BOOM! It was a match! Not exact, but close enough that I could live with! The final test was seeing if the doll head would go on the body. I tugged the current head off, which was fortunately an easy task. Inside was this neck peg:
That looked small enough to go inside the narrow hole in Miroku’s head. So I grabbed the head and literally plopped it onto the body... and it fit! Sort of. It was super loose and tipping the body upside down causes it to fall off, BUT that’s an easy fix thanks to rubber bands!
Once those were on, putting the head back on was simple and now it’s snug on the body! For the most part... if you tip the doll over, yes, the head will fall off, but considering this doll is not meant for play and is for display/collector purposes, it’s okay! It turned out to be a blessing in disguise because when putting on the outfit, beads, etc., it was good to have it removed so the ponytail didn’t come out due to all the shifting.
So... I DID IT! I CREATED MIROKU! (Hallelujah chorus sings)
Upon closer inspection, I looked on the back of the doll, and what did it say? VOLKS INTERNATIONAL. Yes! This perfect body is a VOLKS 1/6 SCALE BODY! That alone was worth the cost of the entire lot of dolls I wound up with! (In case you’re wondering, I didn’t use the Inuyasha doll body because A) I have plans for that doll and didn’t want to tear up an Inuyasha, and B) that body is too short). YES!
Next up was the signature monk robes. I knew I had that in the bag because the aforementioned friend (FabHat) had already made the outfit for herself because she’s a fan of Miroku, and she said she could make one for me as well. DONE AND DONE.
Next up was customizing the doll. I knew the eyes would need to be repainted because they were the wrong color and style. So I pinned back the bangs so I’d be able to once again utilize my tiny paintbrushes.
First, I took some acetone and removed the small eyelashes off to the side of the top and bottom of each eye. I tried a different approach to painting the eyes than I did with Kagome after watching some repaint tutorials on YouTube. I have to say, I like this method better and am looking forward to using it on Sango as well! Must resist the urge to redo Kagome’s... :D
Liking the color, but those eyes are totally not the same size. That’s how the original eyes are, like the left eye (right in this photo) is smaller than the other and the mold even seemed to be indented a bit. Then there was the issue of those black lines above the eyes and the angle of the brows. I was using these photos for reference, and yeah, Miroku doesn’t have black lines above his eyes and his eyebrows are angled upward and tend to get thicker at the top before thinning back out at the sides.
With that in mind, I decided to try something else. Normally I paint over the iris of the eye that’s already there, but in this case, it just wasn’t looking quite right. So...
Slight success! I painted above the mold and used the black lines already there to create the new eyelashes. At least they’re the same size now LOL. And then:
I thickened the eyebrows and was finally satisfied! I used a toothpick to clean up any messy brushwork, and finally sealed the paint.
Next up was the hair. Remember how I said the hair was the perfect length for the ponytail? Well, that’s not entirely true - it was just short enough that I was unable to manipulate it into a ponytail. NO!!! And I knew I didn’t want to have him rerooted. He didn’t need that - what he needed was a hair extension.
I looked up some tutorials on that, but then I remembered - I had some rerooting stuff in storage! I’d tried a reroot before... it didn’t end well. That doll’s head split and the needles kept breaking, plus I severely scratched up my finger jabbing it with the needle getting at the hair that finger was holding. I learned how to properly grip the hair though, and I had a spray bottle nearby so I could wet the strand I was working with.
Of course, nothing is that simple. This doll’s head is like a ROCK. I had to use a hair dryer to soften it just so the reroot tool would go inside the head. And even that cost a few needles.
But finally I got some hair inserted so I was able to properly tie a ponytail! Any excess hair was cut off, including original hair that didn’t look right outside the ponytail.
The final verdict:
Is it perfect? No. Did it prevent me from having to pay for a professional reroot (and a pricier one because of how hard the head is)? Yes. Am I satisfied? Yes.
The final step was the earrings. I knew how I’d pull those off - teeny tiny jump rings! I got little gold 4mm ones. All I had to do was pull them apart and then clamp them onto the ears. Easy peasy, right?
When will I ever learn? Nothing is ever that simple lol
The little jump rings can only be opened and manipulated with small pliers, and setting that against a doll head and trying to do all that is very difficult. Plus, since the head is a very hard plastic and not rubber, there’s no room for maneuvering. So then I tried some thin bead wire from Walmart - I chose that one because it’s very flexible, which was ideal for getting the little rings placed. Well, I got them in the ears, but they didn’t stay. The slightest movement would cause them to fall, and considering how tiny they are, they’d easily get lost and I didn’t want to make them again LOL. If the head had been rubber, I probably could have actually “pierced” the ears and slipped the rings through. But due to that super hard head, that wasn’t an option. So... break out the super glue! And this is what I came up with:
They were a bit big, but I was happy with them overall... until a happy accident occurred when making the staff top that gave way to this:
Yes, I had to use super glue to secure them in place, and yes it got messy. I managed to clean most of it up with acetone, but I didn’t want to remove too much for fear of the adhesive coming off completely. It’s much less noticeable in person - my camera tends to pick up a lot of extra detail that I don’t necessarily like lol. More on how those earrings were made from leftover materials in the prop post!
For the sandals, I totally invested in a lifeguard Ken because he was the only one I could find with flip flops LOL. Technically the shoes should be bamboo/straw sandals, but with a fresh paint job, they look okay! They should have straps on the back of them too, but they’re a little bit big for the feet so there’s no way to properly secure them. I may try to add them later on, but for now they’ll stay as they are. The feet are smaller than Ken’s, which is why the shoes are a bit large. But they’ll work, and since they’re flip flops like Barbie’s, they’ll match the shoes Sango will be wearing, which is accurate to the anime.
And that’s it! My Miroku doll is now complete! I never thought I’d be able to make him due to so few anime male dolls on the market (at least from what I’ve been able to see), so I’m thrilled that I was able to create a doll that will work! Next up: Sango! Stay tuned!
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