1/6 Scale custom bodied Barbie

Barbie Tia

When I checked some discounted toys for another cute faced Barbie, I found this 2022 Barbie Fashionistas (nr.189).
The radiant smile of this little latina instantly won me over.

Her face sculpt is a variation on the Olivia/Pizzazz face, a more recent and slightly bigger head but one with lovely features.
With dark gray eyes and salmon pink lip color the face up differs from the bright blue eyes and cool pink lips of the initial batch of this Fashionista. The new colors are warmer and make her expression even more lovely.
As with most recent playline Barbies, her face-up is printed but looks really well done, it takes a magnifying glass to spot any printed dots or dithering.

Her pink hair looks and feels like polypropylene rather than the nicer and more durable saran hair Mattel used before. The polypropylene hair is rather stiff and harder to style so I left it as it was.

Once out of her box I noticed that she could not stand unsupported despite her flat feet and sneakers, it looks like the packaging had caused the lower part of her prosthetic leg to bend sideways.

Fortunately her skin tone was exactly right for the cloned Fashionistas body that I had modified for Kayla.
When that bodies chest joint broke I had to disassemble Kayla for the repair. Once repaired I decided not to put Kayla back on the body and instead use it for Tia.
Using this body makes Tia another one of my 'Spares-box Sweethearts'.

The lovely Barbie dress she came with complements her vibrant looks perfectly.
So here she is, still without lower legs, but that is not keeping her from having a good time.

Barbie Tia
ID picture




Member SinceApr 5th 2023
bodyCustom, based on cloned Barbie Fashionistas body
head2015 Olivia/Pizzazz
sculpt codeDMF32-1 (©2015)
remarksDIY ball jointed neck
DIY ball jointed torso

More pictures (click for larger version)
Barbie Tia Barbie Tia Barbie Tia, portrait

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 similar to the 'trach pin' inside a Barbie bodies neck, so fitting a Barbie-style neck post might also work.
After cutting away the alignment pin and 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 1.5mm tall 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 glass 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 head of the 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.

parts of neck joint For the new body for Kayla, I changed the materials used for the joint.
For the ball I now used a 7.5mm diameter acrylic bead.
For the neck post I used a 13mm length of Plastruct TB-1 butyrate-coated steel wire inside a 17mm length of Plastruct TB-3 butyrate tubing.
The TB-1 wire fits inside the TB-3 tubing and runs from the bottom of the bead to halfway up the head of the neck post.
A 2.4mm diameter hole was drilled lengthwise through the head to make it fit around the TB-3 tubing, a 0.7mm hole was drilled through the head at 3mm from the top to insert a locking pin for the vinyl adapter.
The parts were joined with CA glue.
The resulting joint is an improvement over the original one, so I plan to use these materials for any future bodies as well.

Repairing a broken torso joint

broken torso joint The bodies torso joint suddenly broke.
The joint consists of a post with a ratchet hinge on either end, the lower hinge allows the torso to bend forward, the upper hinge lets the torso tilt backwards.
The post had broken off at the lower hinge.
The plastic of the body is rather thin, so I did not want to crack the body open for the repair and decided to try and replace the lower hinge with a ball joint.
First I checked if the parts of the joint could be glued using CA glue by applying a drop of CA to the end of the joint post, letting it cure and checking if it adhered, which it did.
I decided to fit the socket of the ball joint to the lower body and the ball to the bodies joint post.

Tools and materials used for this repair:

ball joint and adapter There is plenty of room for a ball joint inside the torso, so I picked the largest size from a Yellow Submarine PPC-20 set (ball diameter 6mm, socket outer diameter 9mm, mounting pegs diameter 3mm).
The bodies joint post has a diameter of 4mm, so I made an adapter tube to join the peg of the ball joint to the post.
For the adapter tube I cut a 11mm piece of Plastruct TB-8 tubing, which has an inside diameter of 3.2mm.
I increased the inside diameter on one side of the adapter to 4mm using a handheld HSS drill bit, drilling 6mm deep.
On the narrow end I rounded off the outside edge to make sure the tube would not jam against the socket of the ball joint when tilted.

hole and recess drilled into lower hinge The ball joint needs to be fitted at roughly the same position as the lower hinge as that is the center of the arc of motion for the torso.
First I fixed the bodies lower hinge firmly into position by applying CA glue to all of its seams.
Then I marked the center of the body, fitted a 3.0mm drill bit to a pin vise and drilled a 3mm hole through the lower hinge all the way down. This hole will hold the mounting peg of the ball joint socket.
Next I used a handheld 9.0mm HSS drill bit and gently created a recess around the 3mm hole to hold the socket of the ball joint, drilling 1mm below the surface of the joint (see diagram).
I used a ball shaped cutterhead on a motor tool to make the shape of the recess match the shape of the ball joint socket.

The diagram shows a cross section of the assembled torso joint with the ball joint in gray, the adapter tube in white, the CA glue in blue and the joint post in pink at the top. diagram of ball joint fitted to body

ball joint fitted to lower body After making sure the recess matched the shape of the ball joint well, I glued the ball joint in the recess using CA glue.

adapter tube fitted to ball joint With the ball joint fitted to the lower body, I fitted the adapter tube to the ball joint, leaving 1mm of the peg of the ball clear, again to make sure the tube would not jam against the socket of the joint.
I inserted a strip of paper between the adapter tube and the peg of the ball joint to fill the 0.2mm gap, applied a liberal amount of CA glue and let it cure for a few hours.

joint post cut to size Finally I cut the bodies joint post roughly down to size, then trimmed the post and the top of the adapter tube to their exact length (5.5mm, depends on how deep the ball joints socket is fitted down into the body) by repeatedly test-fitting and trimming.
For trimming the joint post I used a flat cutterhead on a motor tool, as that was the easiest way to do precise trimming inside the torso.

As the top of the adapter tube was trimmed to the same depth as the length of the trimmed joint post, its edge will touch the upper hinge.
Once glued in place the adapter tube should prevent the joint post from breaking off at the upper hinge.

Once the joint post had the exact length, the adapter tube was glued to the joint post and its edges to the upper hinge using CA glue, which completed the repair.

range of motion of new torso joint The end result is that the repaired body has a greater range of motion and the torso can now also be tilted sideways and even be twisted by a few degrees.

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.
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.

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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