Friday, June 4, 2021

Heads Will Roll - Converting Figures


Fife and Drum Miniatures Continentals have shed their tricorn hats and taken up round hats.


I spent part of the week converting some of my Fife and Drum AWI Continentals by swapping out cocked hats for round hats. The Fife and Drum figure range currently does not have Continentals wearing round hats, noting that such head gear was commonly used during the American Revolution.

I resolved to address this short fall by converting my own figures. This involved lopping off the tricorn/cocked hats of the Continentals, lopping round hats off of some of the civilian and British figures, and then swapping heads on the figures.

I cut off the heads using a fine-tooth Exacto small mitre saw. This gives a nice clean cut of the head from the torso. By this I mean that once the head is removed, the torso has a nice flat surface on the neck line. This means that one doesn't have to file the torso flat.

The next step is to drill a hole in the torso and another in the head that you want to attach to the torso. I use a "pin vise" which is nothing more than a hand drill with tiny drill bits - perfect for working with miniatures. Before drilling, I take a sharp Exacto blade and create a dimple in the metal to serve as a guide for the drill bit. The drill easily cuts through the metal and creates a nice hole into which I will put a pin that I make by cutting off a tiny piece of metal from a piece of wire.

I put the pin in the torso, making sure that it is not sticking up too high - we don't want a figure to have a long neck. I test the head join by placing it atop the pin that is in the torso and make sure that the join will work. Once satisfied that the head will sit "just right" on the torso, I put a tiny ball of green epoxy putty into the torso hold, add a small drop of glue, and then push the pin into the hole. If I need to build up the neck on the figure, I will roll out a length of putty and wrap it around the pin.

Now it is time to join the head to the torso using the same method of attaching the pin to the torso: a small ball of putty goes into the hole under the head, add a drop of glue, and then place the head on the pin on the torso. You have about a minute to work the head into position before the glue sets. You might want the figure to be looking off to the side rather than the conventional straight ahead position.

The six figure conversions that I made.

Comparison of the original figure (left) and the converted figure (right): drummer, officer with pole arm, and ram rod.

(Left to Right) Cocking musket, at the read, and standing firing.

The first couple of attempts were a bit dodgy, but after doing several head swaps I had figured out how to do them in an acceptable manner. I might do some conversions with the master figures and add them to the Fife and Drum Miniatures range. What do you think?


  1. They look great with their new heads!

  2. Jim,
    Very nicely done and I think a definite addition to the rang

  3. Jim,
    Very nicely done and I think a definite addition to the rang

  4. Masterfully executed (ahem) work, Jim! The coversions look as thought they came right out of the molds that way.

    Best Regards,


  5. Nicely done! A worthwhile exercise considering the mish-mash of uniforms in the AWI.

  6. Well done, Jim.

    I use very thin saw blades in the shape of an X-Acto #11 blade that can be purchased from Micro Mart. Mounted on an X-Acto knife handle, they give you a lot of cutting control.

    Anything else on the drawing - er...cutting - board?


  7. Excellent conversions; they look perfect. I'd never have known if you'd not mentioned it. It's amazing how different figures can look with different head-gear and colours.
    Regards, James