Way back in July of 2006 I posted about "How to make a hipster record bowl". Well after looking around for ideas and better tutorials I've decided it's time to post my new closely guarded secret of "How to make an Army men bowl".
- Firstly recruitment. You may be lucky enough to have a large platoon of vintage Army men collecting dust somewhere, which is great because it is my belief that they just don't make Army Men from good plastics anymore. In any case you need quite a few depending of the size of bowl you plan to make and the only kind I could find here in any great number are called "Super Solider". I picked up 3 boxes each containing around 200 little newly drafted guys for $3.99 NZD a box. Not bad.
- Next it's a good idea to find a suitable vessel/bowl that you can safely place inside the oven without freaking out if it all turns into a horrid toxic mess. *Tip no. 1. Take it from me. Save yourself lots of hassle, justification and just plain weird looks by not using any sentimental frying pans gifted to you from your Fiances parents to melt plastic toy soldiers in the oven ... but you know? On second thought, It's your call.
- Preheat your oven to 150 degrees/300 Fahrenheit fan bake.
- Once you have pulled these resources together you are almost there, but not before what might turnout to be the most frustrating part of the entire operation. Laying out the units. You need to carefully and intentionally cover the entire base (in my case a large metal mixing bowl) with men until you can start to building up and around the curvature of the bowl - But be careful sometimes lazy or bad placement of the men in unstable areas can create tumbling avalanches which will have you pulling your hair out and starting all over again, or worse giving up altogether.
- Now once you have an aesthetically pleasing amount arranged in the bowl, (I like to build it up to the rim the whole way away around). Place your bowl carefully into the preheated oven for around 15 minutes on 150 degrees/300 Fahrenheit fan bake to evenly soften them up. Then turn up the temperature to 180C/350F, cut the fan and bake for a further 10 minutes or until you are happy will the fusing and melting. Be sure to keep a close eye on whats happening because things can change really fast. *Tip no.2 Remember, melting plastic creates a highly dangerous mix of toxic fumes (as my now Teflon lungs will testify too) so always cover your mouth and have access to good ventilation when doing this. Let me stress this point once more. This is no joke, you can kill yourself!
- With an oven cloth, remove from oven and let stand, I always take it outside and leave it on the lawn to cool. As it cools the army men should start to harden and in the process start to pull themselves away from the bowl. Give it some time, you can hear it cracking as it pops away from the surface. After 10 or so minutes of cooling you should be able to gently work and pull the bowl out and admire the fruit of your efforts. You may have to bend the bowl to pop any stubborn Army Men not completely free. Be prepared to lose a few good men that haven't fused properly or have broken off while removing, don't fret too much though, they all knew what the risks were when they signed up.