Building a Better MOUSER

In my last post, I made reference to possibly adding ball jointed ankles to those little TMNT MOUSER figures. Figuring that one of the black MOUSERs would be a good test bed, on the grounds that that’s the easiest to paint over any patch work if I totally botch the attempt. Turned out, it went pretty well. Drilling into the legs did leave some stress marks, but I was able to mostly eliminate those, by just scratching them out with my thumbnail. Learned that little trick, when I was a kid. Never one to leave good enough alone, I went ahead and cut the legs off at the hips, and added ball joints there, too. One hip wound up being a little bit closer to the body than the other. It’s not that noticeable, and both hips sit pretty close to the torso. This limits their lateral movement, but still lets them move outward a bit. Happy with that, I repeated the whole process on a silver MOUSER.


I was careful to keep the hips more even this time, and moved them a little bit farther out to allow wider footed stances. Unfortunately, I got one of the ankles just a little too far back in the end of the leg. It’s pretty minor, so I’m gonna leave it. I’m not good at tutorials, and the way I work every third step is “Locate small black plastic part on black work surface.” Basically, the hips are cut by just slipping the X-acto blade blade between the leg and the torso, and pushing it into the hip peg. I like to go part way through from one side, and finish from the other. The feet are cut off similarly, cutting at whatever angle feels right, as close as I could get to the molded in detail. The ball joints are Lego levers; the little bits that plug into slotted hemispherical bases, and work as all kinds of detail pieces from antennas to levers. These are just the lever section, and the part that plugs into the base is cut off. I bought 200 of these for a penny or two a piece off Brick Link, a couple of years ago. I bought them to ball joint the hands on GI Joe figures, a trick I learned from Miko Matsing.

The sockets were drilled out with small drill bits in pin vises. I find it easier to start with small bits, then work up to the size I need. After that, I hollowed them with a spherical engraving bit in a moto tool. I’ve got a cheap single speed from Harbor Freight I use. Its size makes it feel less clumsy than my Dremel. There are two types of these bits; diamond abrasive, and high-speed bur/cutter. The abrasive bits work great on ABS plastic. The MOUSER legs are not made from ABS plastic. They’re made from an engineering plastic I believe to be from the nylon family. It’s slippery, and a little flexible, but not rubbery. It will laugh at your abrasive bit, and leave it crying in the corner. You want the bur/cutter style bit. Be sure to use one that’s smaller than the ball you’re hollowing out the socket for. You’ll end up making the opening too big, with a large bur.

Tooling the nylon like that will raise a lot of little plastic fuzz sticking off the piece. It will mock your attempts pull or cut it off. Remove what you can, and move on. (or, nuke the site from orbit, if you want to be sure.)

All the pieces should now just pop back toogether, giving you a MOUSER that can stand with his feet flat on the ground, without having to have them side by side. The pose in these pictures gives an idea of the range of motion.



And, one with the feet together:




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