For Seeburg Ray-O-Lite War Conversions

A collector contacted me about my Ray-o-lite figure copies and offered to let me copy his original Hirohito in exchange for another figure. I was delighted to add a new figure to my collection. I used the same methods I used to cast other figures to cast the Hirohito.

Some things I learned or applied:

  • Re-read the directions and don't rely on your memory.
  • Follow the directions exactly for the chemicals.
  • Wear gloves
  • Do NOT use corrugated cardboard to seal the top of the large inner tube because the plastic will flow into the open corrugations and make it harder to punch through so the sensor tube can fit. I had to use a Forestner bit to drill them out instead of cutting with a utility knife. Use flat cardboard instead.

Original Hirihito on the left, compared to aged copy on the right.

  • I sealed the bottom using florist's foam(the green kind that is mushy) and masking tape(use the low tac kind to prevent it from peeling paint from your figure) This worked well to prevent the mold compound from breaking through the tape and filling the figure cavity.
  • I used small hose sections to raise my figure off the bottom of the casting box. This meant I did not have to secure the bottom or support him with clamps to keep him off the bottom. I did have to place a weight on him to keep him from floating up though but it worked well.
  • I used rubber bands to hold the mold together and made small notches on two sides for each rubber band group so they would not slide off. This made it easy to keep the mold together and aligned.
  • Don't forget to place a ball or plastic cap in your first half of the mold so when you pour the top half it will create a registration or alignment point so your mold is always aligned. I used bottle caps from my mix bottles this time.
  • Remember to use a clamp and wood or cardboard to hold your mold together. I did not do it on this project and tried using extra rubber bands. That did not work. When the plastic sets it also expands and pushes the mold apart so my first figure was ruined. I held pressure on the molds by hand because I did not have clamps handy but you should use clamps as I explained in past projects.


If I have not mentioned it before, you should be able to cast a figure using five pounds of mold compound. If you design your mold box correctly, you will have enough to mold one figure. You do not want to run out and have to order more. The rubber will not harm the figure, but if you leave a figure in the mold for a few days, it will turn it yellow as the chemicals from the rubber seep into it. So you don't want to leave a figure in a mold longer than overnight as it dries.

The Hirohito figure was made of plaster and it appears to have straw or strings in the plaster to give it more strength.


I have had many people ask me about painting figures and other models in games. So, here I will explain in more detail how I paint figures.

First, I want to say that slopping paint from the can onto a figure is always the wrong thing to do. I see this too often. Someone has a rare game and they try to make it more valuable by repainting the baseball men or the airplane models and ruin it. They end up with an old looking game and some globby solid color baseball players that look new or they try to repair chipped paint on a model airplane in a game only to have an aged red airplane with a bright red spot that is clearly uneven and does not match in color or texture.

Don't do this to your game. A few extra minutes can make a repair invisible or make your repainted figure look like it is 100 years old.

The techniques I use can be used for any arcade figure or model so you can blend your work in and make it look original or better than original.

Painting Tips

I use a combination of paints, acrylic for details, some enamel(like model airplane paints), I also get the sample paint cans at Home Depot that are close to the color I want which is enamel and use those for large areas like the body.

I like to paint the solid areas, then spray clear polyurethane, then do the details over the polyurethane. If I mess up the details, I can easily wipe off the acrylic paint with a damp cloth and try again. When finished, I polyurethane again with three to four coats over the details using a satin finish clear polyurethane. For the details, I get the acrylic paint kits from the hobby shop with all the little plastic pots of paint because I don't need much of any one color, I think there are 64 and 128 color sets which work well. I like to get premixed colors as close as possible first, then I can just add black/white or another color to get it as close as possible without mixing a lot. For my chicken sam I found a perfect spray in blue for his coat so I sprayed him blue and painted in the details.

Think in layers, don't expect to paint it once and be done. Paint once, let it dry, change your color a little, then paint again on areas like the face. Paint is translucent so you can see one color through another. It adds depth and takes a couple of coats to cover darker or lighter primer or base coats. You can also use a sponge(painting type sponge) to take off excess and give a splotchy aged effect when painting a color variation over another. Like on the Hitler figure, I just sponged on his rosy cheeks and then sponged them off to make it very subtle. It took several tries, but painting on the polyurethane made it easy to take off and retry. Hobby shops are great for supplies and ideas, faux painting guides at home depot too will tell you how to do crackling paint if you want to really make something look old.


Body Painting

To paint his body I used a rusty metal primer brown which was lighter than the original. I added sunrise red to give it a little red tint to match the original. I always prefer to find colors as close as possible to the color I need and then tweak it until it is perfect. This is easier for me than trying to mix colors to match. I have a good eye for color from photography, but I cant mix colors very well, they usually come out a muddy brown. So always try to find a color close to what you want, even if it is a spray paint. I painted my figure then I let it dry.

Detail Painting

After you have the large areas painted, like the base body color, face color etc, spray with clear polyurethane. This gives you a surface to paint on for the details. If you mess up a detail, you can easily wipe it off without affecting the painting you have already done. If a detail stroke is wrong, wipe it off with a wet paper towel or let it dry and you can scrape it with a toothpick to get it perfect. Be careful though. You can wipe away other dried brush strokes because they are just sitting on top of the polyurethane.

Sometimes it is hard to match fine details. You are painting one figure. The person who originally painted may have done hundreds and had more experience. I sometimes use a color magic marker with a fine tip that is close to the color I need or lighter. Draw in the detail, wipe and redraw until it is right. Then take paint and paint over that using it like a guide or paint by numbers. It is easier and you don't have to paint the edges perfect because they blend with the magic marker if the color is close.

Next, after your details are painted, spray with clear polyurethane to seal and protect those details so they do not rub off. Two or three coats is good and let them thoroughly dry between coats. You may have to let them dry overnight. Then over this clear coat we will paint our aging effects. Over the brown areas I mixed a 2:1 rusty metal primer brown to flat black and used a painting sponge to apply and then remove the darker brown. Both paints were enamel but you can use any paint. This truly gave the paint some depth and it really made it look old. I only did this over the brown parts. Over the yellow sections I mixed 2:1 yellow with black and used the same sponge technique to remove most of the paint. The little that was left made it look very old. This is your formula to make anything look old, mix flat black with the original color and sponge on a slightly darker color to make it look aged and dirty. If you mess up your aging or it is too heavy, you can easily wipe it off of the clear coat base and try again without messing up your painted details.


The final step is to spray with clear satin or gloss polyurethane. This is necessary because your details and aging effects are painted on top of clear coats which means they can easily come off. Spraying with a final 2 or 3 coats of polyurethane will seal the paint layers and hold them in place. You can also spray with 5 coats and then use steel wool to knock off the shine so they look old.






This is where I started. I had an original Hirihito and a Siamese Rats I had re-created. To copy the original, I had to make a copy of the Siamese Rats to trade the owner of the original. In this photo I have set my filler tubes beside each figure. These were made from cardboard tubes using wood glue. They will keep the inner cavity open when casting the actual figures in plastic.



I created mold boxes with masking tape(easy to adjust) and cardboard. Take your time when creating the boxes and double seal every seam. If you do not double seal each team your mold could leak and you may not have enough material to complete the mold. Double seal all seams, cut your cardboard to size so the mold is as small as possible with 1/4 to 1/2inch of mold material on all sides of the figure.

You will also need to raise the figure off the bottom. In the past I just let him sit on the bottom and covered the small hole. This time I cut some 1/4inch sections of hose and used them as a stand for the figure. They held him up and became part of the casting when it was completed.

Here is Hirihito in his box ready for casting.


I sealed the bottom using masking tape. I should not have wrapped it on the outside. That later proved to be difficult to sand smooth. Previously, I had always only taped on the bottom. I used florist foam on the inside so the tape was not floppy and weak. You could also use regular cardboard, but the tape needs something under it otherwise it will separate.



I forgot that the figures would float! In the past I held them in place with a clamp. This time I used heavy cans to hold them down onto the stand I made with hose sections until the mold material solidified(overnight).


The next day I applied the release compound to prevent both sides from merging into one big mold, poured the second half of the mold, then when it was cured pulled out my figures. You can see on the left side where I had three hose sections that supported my figure to give me enough mold material for a solid mold.


Now the casting process begins. I insert my cardboard tubes with some masking tape on them so they don't overflow around the edges and fill(a little is OK). Remember to hold the two sides together tightly with CLAMPS. Not just rubber bands like in the photo. Rubber bands are good to hold them together while you work on them but the plastic material will expand when it cures and push the mold apart which means your plastic runs out and your figure is ruined. Use clamps as I have shown for other casting projects to hold the two sides together while they cure(a few minutes then let cool for half an hour, too hot to touch).


I use a cordless Dremmell to smooth out rough spots and the line between the mold pieces. Some dry wall pads(the kind used to smooth dry wall that look like mesh) work great for smoothing too. If you have air bubbles, you can fill them with wood putty, plastic putty or similar materials, then sand smooth. It is best to jiggle and shake your mold some while the plastic is in it to get out air bubbles if possible. You do not want to do too much sanding or it smooths the surface and does not look like the original.

Close up of of a bad separation where my mold halves pushed apart and I had to trim off the excess plastic that squeezed through.

I made several Hirihitos. It is about as easy to make several as one and about as easy to paint several as one so you might as well make more than one while you are at it. These were sprayed with primer and yellow spray paint to get the heads ready.

I used my last bit of plastic to make just a head for a paint test figure.


Here I am testing my sponge painting technique against the original. Rust primer paint as a base with darker brown acrylic sponged on/off matched the original very well. Used the same technique over the entire figure to make him look old as the final step.


Unfinished copy next to original Hirihito.


It is hard to see but this is a finished and painted copy on the left compared to a copy on the right that has been aged. Some of my past figures looked too new so I decided to age this one. I smeared dark brown(don't use black, use a darker version of your base color) on the figure then used a sponge to spread and remove the paint until it looked right. If it was too much, I just wiped it off of the polyurethane coating. When it was dry I used a paper towel to remove excess too which left dark spots that looked like dirt which matched the original very well.


Close up of un-aged copy on left and aged copy on right.


I did not have legs for this figure so I re-cast some Chicken Sam legs and smoothed them out some, then painted like boots.

This is the original Hirihito. You can see where someone slopped on some paint(before I was born) to fix up a bad spot. The techniques I outline above can be used to fix spots like this and make them blend in invisibly, just remember to work in layers and do not expect to get an exact match in one coat.