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How are PVC Figures Manufactured? Mikatan’s Factory Field Trip! – Part 3

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This was the business trip of Mikatan went to visit the PVC figure factory in China. I took this off the official Good Smile Company blog, Mikatan’s blog. All credit goes to Mikatan. Since the official GSC blog is being updated very frequently and it is really hard to find and keep track on the old news. So I decided to copy the whole “Mikatan’s Factory Field Trip” here as a record.

Onto part three of the factory trip!

So far we have been though the creation of molds and the actual molding process!

“It really, really is just like a taiyaki mold…!”

It’s getting old now, I know – but it really is the easiest way to think about it!

“Taiyaki? Huh?”

If you’re wondering about that then you probably missed out on the first two blog entries – you should read them first!

Now we move on to the painting process!


The first thing that needs to be done to paint a figure is getting the right colors…

Here we have the color-mixing room!

Completely unrelated to the painting process, but I have to add that the factory had tons of the ventilation fans seen in the above picture. It really made it feel like a factory. ^^;

Mixing colors!

“T-That’s a LOT of paint!”

I guess this is what you’d expect for mass production… if you’re going to need to paint a lot of figures I guess you will need a lot of paint…

A large rod about the size of a wooden sword was used to stir up the paints and mix the colors.

These parts are going to be painted!

These are the little parts that were molded in the previous article.

All those parts have been neatly organized into their respective containers!

Painting Production Line!

The factory workers all work with air brushes to neatly paint the little pieces.

Let’s take a closer look…

Looks like some hair is getting painted!

” It looks like each person works on something different…?”

First it’s given a base coat…

Then a gradient is layered on top!

You can see in this picture the ends of the hair use a darker yellow to create a nice gradient effect.

You can also see they are all painted nearly identically!

Even though the painting is all done by hand and done very efficiently, each piece still comes out almost identical to the next! This is the same for hundreds and thousands of the same parts! The factory workers are amazing at what they do!!

Bananas…?!

Nope, these must be twin-tails!

Even small parts like these still have the same gradient painting used on them. I only showed the one hair piece, but in actual fact almost all of the parts go through the same process.

Lunch time! Let’s invade the cafeteria!

The factory workers all get lunch made for them at the cafeteria!

The person wearing the apron on the far right serves everyone!

Looks delicious!

And it was delicious as well! I had no problem with Chinese food at all.

I’ll get more into the food another time though.


So after filling up with lunch it’s time to continue the factory expedition!

This is a ‘mask’!

“And… what exactly is a mask? “

If you’re not sure about that one…

A mask is something like this…

The molded part is covered with the ‘mask’ to prevent certain parts from getting painted!

That’s pretty much how it works.


In this example, just the white bits showing through the mask will be painted.

That white bit is actually…

Part of a Nendo Petite!

To actually see how tiny they are is almost unbelievable. They are absolutely minute!

Anyway, basically certain parts on each figure are painted this way over and over again!

The buttons are also done with masks!

These are actually parts of a figma… you can see just how finely the painting is done!


Huh? Is this also a mask?

It looks kinda like a Nendo Petite… but it’s… pink!

This is a mask for the mouths!

A separate mask is needed just for the little mouth painting! Incredible!

The masks are also wiped down once in every few products to make sure that the painting doesn’t go off target. It’s the little things like that which really help create high quality products!


There are also some masks that have little holes to insert things into –

For painting both sides at once!

It seems there are a bunch of different kinds of masks that can be used. But just what is going to be painted with the mask in this image?

Areas that can’t be painted with a mask are painted with a brush!

Gakkun from the production team
“Things like Nendo Petite’s shoes
are hand- painted with brushes.
…they don’t use masks.”

Ah-hah!

So there are some really small parts that can’t use masks…

It’s like each figure is handmade!

Masks are being made inside this bathtub like thing!

Guy showing us around.
“This is the Sea of Decay.”

That’s from Nausicaä!

Copper is placed into some acid in order to make the masks…

But I’m afraid I didn’t really understand this part too well myself. I’ll try make better sense of it next time!!


The one thing that surprising me the most was this!

The place for the joints of a figma are padded with something…?

They are padded like this is so that no paint can get inside the joint area!

This is done for each and every joint!

That’s just incredible…

The blond haired character at the start of this blog also had this padding to make sure no paint entered the joints.


I was also really amazed at this!

The gradient painting of wings!

The unpainted clear parts are in the bottom right.

The painted ones use a single color!

Click here to watch the video

It shows how beautiful gradient painting can be! Plus they do it so quickly!

I grabbed a video as well, take a look:

Sunset in China.

It’s about time for the working day to come to and end.

Although, there is still lots for the manager and Gakkun to work through. They need to find more and more ways to make the process smoother and better for the best products possible!

To everyone at the factory,

Thanks for all the hard work you do!

It was great getting to have a look around the factory, and I manged to learn a lot!

To think how many people work together to bring you just one figure is absolutely astounding.

Simply put, I’m going to be taking even more care of my figures now!

Keep up the great work!!

The next factory tour we’ll be looking at how the eyes are painted!

I’ll continue these blogs on days that there are no new products to take a look at, so look forward to the next one!

Once again though, remember that this factory tour was looked at very quickly and simplified for me, and I’m sure the actual process involves a lot more jargon and specifics – I hope that my fellow workers and experts in the field will forgive the basic explanations.

That’s all for today!

I’ll see you all again tomorrow! (・∀・)ノ゛

Mikatan’s Factory Field Trip! << Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 >>

1/8th Scale Senjougahara Hitagi << Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 >>