When you decide to repair a broken action figure for your young one, or for one that you own and treasure, you might think of glue as the first adhesive you can use for repair. This might seem good, since glue is affordable, and very effective, but is it really?
However, there is a truth you might not think much about – you do not actually need glue for all situations, even when fixing your action figures. You might wonder whether all glue is great for your action figures, and what you should look for when getting one.
Regardless of what you choose, a good glue should always be easy to apply, reliable in results, and versatile enough to repair your broken action figures. Using the right glue will help to prevent tears later on even when the toys are older, and we recommend the Loctite Super Glue for All Plastics as it is versatile enough to handle action figures.
How does glue for action figures work?
In order to understand how adhesives work, it is important to know two forces: adhesive, and cohesive. Cohesive force allows the molecules of the glue to stick together, while adhesive forces bind the glue to the surface you are using it on. Therefore, for the glue to repair the surface, both the adhesive and cohesive forces need to be strong enough to withstand gravitational force, which makes the glue remain in place and maintaining its position on the surface you use it on.
This ultimately brings up another point on glue: adhesives are relative, because they might not work well on a specific surface while working very well on others. Always remember that a good glue should always be easy to apply, be versatile enough to handle your figures, and reliable in results.
What can I consider when choosing glue to use on my action figures?
Know the details of your toy
Yes, we know this sounds obvious, but it is very essential to know the aspects of your action figure that you are using the glue on. Many action figures will have a variety of different plastics, contrary to initial assumptions that all plastics are the same – and you will need the right glue to handle that. These plastics are:
- POM, ABS, PVC – these are the most common plastics you will find comprising these figures. If the box that came with the package does not specify the plastics used in the figure, then the safest assumption is that the toy is made up of these plastics in various combinations. The main advantage of these plastics is their strong design, and their durability, so they are usually in major parts and joints. Some adhesives will stick to them.
- Polyethylene (PE) and Polypropylene (PP) – these plastics can be in use for a variety of figure parts and packaging. If you happen to break any of them, then you can only use glue that is only for special plastics because PE and PP are resistant to many adhesives.
- Polyester (PET) – usually in use for blister packs. It is the most adhesive-friendly of the three plastics.
Know the adhesive
We are trying to state an important fact that you need to always remember: not all glues are great for your action figure. Different adhesives will work in different circumstances – for instance, some will act as a sealant, others will stick to plastics but not others, and some will need a close-fitting bond.
When facing a variety of choices, you can avoid confusion by always reading the instructions you find on the packet. These instructions will tell you what the glue is meant for, and what it can and cannot stick to – for example, it is likely not a glue for plastics if the instructions do not state it can do so. Always confirm whether the instructions on the packet fit the requirements you have in your project.
Apply the adhesive
The instructions will contain the directions you need to follow when applying the adhesive – for instance, you should apply to both surfaces if it states you should do so, and apply sparingly if it says to apply sparingly.
Sometimes during application, using an applicator such as the end of a matchstick might help if the tube’s nozzle is too big; especially if you are fixing a small area of the action figure, like any of the joints.
Always wait for the glue to set after application
While it may seem tempting to continue normal use of the action figure immediately after application, we advise very strongly against that tendency. It is better to wait for a few hours and let the area under repair to reach its ‘full strength’ before using it again.
This is very important because action figures have very small parts, and these parts are under strain – so you need to make the most of the glue to avoid re-breaking them.
Other things to keep in mind
- Always be aware that numerous adhesives will dissolve paint – so be careful on using them on the figures.
- If the action figure is an item you treasure greatly, then test the adhesive on a piece of PVC to see how it behaves before applying it to the figure
- It is very tempting to use PVA glue (normally used on wood) because of how affordable it is, but it never works well on plastic – so stay away from it if this is the case.
- This point only applies to adhesives that do not need ‘close fitting’ bonds: Using the adhesive on shiny plastics like PP and PE can seem challenging, but you can increase the glue’s effectiveness by scratching the surface slightly using a craft knife, then applying it. As a general rule, glues will stick better to a rough surface than a smooth one.
- Always stay away from hot glue guns when repairing figures. The problem with hot glue guns is that the ‘glue’ they use is thermoplastic – that is, it melts when you heat it up. Because most action figures are comprised of thermoplastics (especially ABS and PVC), they will also melt when you use a glue gun, leaving everything in a mess you do not want to deal with.
- Not all adhesives are sealants, but some are. It is best to avoid sealant adhesives when fixing a broken action figure, because their bulky nature dries up to form a rubber-like, soft, spongy substance and leaves the toy in a mess.
At the end of the day, using glue to repair action figures is good – provided you know what kind of plastics you are repairing, and which adhesive you use on them. Avoid going for anything you see, because not all glues are great for your toys.