1/6 Scale custom bodied Barbie

Kayla without lower legs Kayla is a 'cloned' Chinese articulated Barbie body that I fitted with a lovely Barbie head.
Once again I bought the Barbie head as a loose item off eBay.
This head was meant to be fitted to a tall bodied 2016 Barbie Fashionistas nr.44 'Leather and Ruffles' (DTF07) doll and has the 2000 'Kayla/Lea' face sculpt.
The expression on the face seems to change with the viewing angle, viewed straight on her expression is a bit 'tough', tilt her head down slightly and she looks much more lovely. In any case it is a beautiful face.

I did not have an action figure body that matched the shade of tan of this head, fortunately the skin tone of the original body for Denyse provided a decent match.
The body is articulated and looks a lot like the old articulated Barbie Fashionistas body-with-movable-torso.
I decided to modify the body to replace the fixed neck post with a ball-jointed one and replace its tiny arched feet.
The body and the replacement parts came from my spares box, making her another 'Spares-box Sweetheart'.

For now I made her a cropped white top and gave her some spare pants from a BBI Perfect Body figure.
cropped white top

ID picture




Member SinceMay 11, 2022
bodyCustom, based on cloned Barbie Fashionistas body
head2016 Barbie Fashionistas DTF07
sculpt codeB5811 ('Kayla/Lea' face sculpt ©2000)
remarksModified neck
lower legs from Dragon Linh body

More pictures (click for larger version)
Kayla, initial portrait Kayla with stump boots, sitting Kayla with stump boots Kayla with stump boots

Modifying the neck

Two things I wanted to change about the tall slender neck was replacing the fixed post with one that swivels and making the neck a bit shorter.

disected neck with new parts I started by cutting off the fixed post so I could inspect the neck. As with the legs the plastic is thin (1.0mm).
From right to left on the picture:

There is a rather thick alignment pin inside the top of the neck, so fitting a Barbie-style neck post might also work.
I cut away the alignment pin, after cleaning up the inside diameter of the neck was about 9.5mm, so I picked a length of Plastruct TB-12 tubing (9.5mm outside diameter) to fit inside the neck. The tubing not only reinforces the neck, but also provides a seat for the ball joint.

To keep the neck from splitting open along the seams I cut a ring out of TB-12 tubing and sanded that to exactly fit the inside of the upper edge of the neck.
The lower inside edge of the ring was beveled to seat the ball joint.
ring for upper edge
The neck post was made from a 7mm bead, a piece of metal rod covered in some shrinkable tubing and a piece of 5mm rod (Raboesch/Maquett cat.nr.400-60) for a head, similar to the neck post I made for Dahlia.
The upper inside edge of the TB-12 tubing was beveled to seat the ball joint.
The metal rod is slightly out of the center of the neck post, this was done on purpose to keep the holes for the rod and for the pin from crossing each other.
fitting neck post
The assembled neck joint was test-fitted to the body, before applying glue. assembled neck joint
The glue I used (Humbrol Liquid Poly) caused the color of the plastic to turn slightly lighter, but it did provide a nice strong join. assembled neck

I added a piece of clear vinyl tubing as an adapter for the head. When I fitted the head the glue join between the post and the metal rod failed.
After retrieving the post from the inside of the head I used some coarse sandpaper to roughen up the surface of the rod and glued the post back on, again using CA glue.

Replacing the feet and lower legs

replacing legs To allow the figure to stand on her own feet, the tiny arched 'Barbie' feet needed to be replaced.
The lower legs turned out to be made out of solid polypropylene (i.e. hard to modify and very hard to glue), so I decided to replace the legs from the knees down.
The replacement legs came from an old Dragon Linh body (released in 2000) that was in pieces in my spares box.
The Dragon legs consist of a pivot joint at the bottom of the thigh which is attached to a double jointed knee that is plug-fitted to a soft vinyl lower leg. Inside the lower leg are hard plastic sockets that hold the plugs of the knee and the foot. Various types of plastic were used for the parts.
I marked a location where the diameter of the thighs matched the diameter of the donor legs and cut the legs off using a razor saw.

curved reinforcement strips fitted The plastic of the legs was thin (1.0mm on average) so, to add rigidity and increase the contact area, I cut some curved strips from the remainder of the Dragon legs and fitted those to the insides of the thighs.
body on new legs After sanding the strips perfectly level with the edges of the legs, I glued the Dragon legs to the thighs, let the glue cure and sanded the seams flush.
Finally I applied some Tamiya Extra Thin cement to seal the sanded surfaces (after I found that acetone left dull stains on the plastic).
The resulting legs do have some "tan lines" but now have properly sized articulated feet.

Problems with aged plastic

After fitting the legs I noticed a lot of fine cracks in the feet. I tried to fix those by applying some acetone but I'm not sure how long that will last.
So I decided to make shoes out of Apoxie and mold those permanently around the feet, hoping that that should keep the cracking feet from falling apart.

foot with broken ankle joint Unfortunately the ankle joint of the lefthand foot broke in pieces before I had a chance to apply the Apoxie shoes.
Inside the foot at the bottom of the ankle joint is a simple ratchet mechanism that puts a force on the ankle joint, eventually causing it to break.
This meant that simply gluing the broken parts back in place did not work: the ankle kept breaking apart.
I looked into replacing the feet with new feet sculpted out of epoxy clay (Apoxie Sculpt). However, the ratchet mechanism at the base of the ankle relies on the foot to be flexible. Feet out of epoxy clay won't be flexible at all so I looked into changing the ratchet mechanism by cutting a groove in the disc which should make the ratchet part of the disc flexible enough to allow a rigid foot to be fitted.

Dragon legs disassembled During my experiments the ankle socket inside the left lower leg also broke, rendering the soft vinyl leg rather floppy.
It looks like the plastic of the old Dragon body is well past its life span, so now I needed to replace the entire lower legs.
The parts for the knee joints sofar showed no signs of aging, so there was no need to replace those as well.

Replacement lower legs, part 1

replacement legs out of Plastruct tubing None of the spare legs I had matched the color or shape of the Dragon lower legs or even matched the rest of the body.
My first attempt at making new legs was to make some lower legs out of Plastruct tubing (TB12, 9.5mm outside diameter) similar to what I had made before for Claudia.
These legs did not look great and fit was a bit wobbly, but it makes for a useful 'last resort' option.
I looked into sculpting new legs out of Apoxie but sofar I did not manage to sculpt some presentable legs.

This bash showed no progress for over half a year, so I decided on a temporary solution to get Kayla out of my projects box and into my display cabinet.
As I needed to use the separate parts of the knees to figure out what legs to fit, I wanted to make something that would replace the knee joints and decided to make some stump boots.
stump boot soles The soles for the boots were made out of some 12mm polystyrene rod, an old CD jewel box tray and some thin PP foam for adding friction to the joint.
The 'key hole' cut-outs in the black upright parts match those of the Dragon knee joints and allow the soles to snap into place.
Using CA glue, a rubber disc was glued to the bottom of each of the soles.

Kayla trying out her stump boots With some boot sleeves out of scrap pieces of black pleather she is ready to move out of the projects box and take her place amongst the other Girls.

I do plan to continue my attempts to make her some lower legs, but at least for now she can stand upright and look lovely.

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