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Open Source Action Figure with 70 Points of Articulation (aka Dexter)

by jasonwelsh Jul 12, 2013
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Parts really do not scale down well to 50%. I mean, it does, but you have to do a LOT of finishing and filing to get everything to sit together.
Otherwise, its awesome.

This is so cool!!!!! Thanks for sharing.

How big is this model?

Am I missing something? I just printed the lower left leg and I can't figure out how I am suppose to get the round T part into the calf. The part that attaches the foot to the calf. The way it is cut, you can't simply slide it in. I must be missing something fundamentally easy... anyone care to help me out on how to assemble the lower leg?

If you take one of the round pieces and try to place it in but then rotate it it will slot straight in and the other piece will go on top.

This is simply AMAZING!

Say, would you allow a "mod" of this design? Not just referring to licenses, but your personal input on this!

Thanks for sharing.
I´ve been looking for something like this for some time.

This figure is freaking awesome... NOW, to make it only 7" tall to fit in my RC trucks..

Saved and on deck for the next print!!! Simply amazing.

Question on the PLA pins. Have you considered slightly over-sized Brass or Steel rods? I have tons of it from other hobbies. I will try regardless but thought I would ask you even before I print.

Thanks for this model!

Hi all. Just a quick tip from me... If you scale the parts down to 80% the 1.75mm filament works great for spikes and joint pins.

If you decide to print the fully articulated hand and fingers then you can use regular staples to join the fingers.

You are insane man!

Woah, dude I used to watch your blender tutorials on youtube like way back! I saw your profile picture and immediately thought I know this guy. Cannedmushrooms on youtube. I know you don't know me but thanks for all the videos you had on youtube. Cool to see what you are up to these days.

This is utterly perfect!
now, to attempt to attach SPARTAN Armor to it, while trying to keep the quality the same
and then scale it to about 1/12th scale
that's uh, 170.58mm
much larger than the average 1/12th figure
so it shouldn't be as hard...
perhaps shapeways' Frosted Ultradetail could do it, but I'm not sure...

i know ppl have scaled it down but has anyone tried up scaling it to full scale human sized???

If you do attempt, please show us pictures!!!!!

That would be AWESOME!

Comments deleted.

Can it be scaled smaller? Like 7-inches?

Is there any reason why you used ABS over PLA or any other type of filament?

Thankyou for your kindy sharing, i am building my own character head already and i was thinking about how can i build the ction figure body itself; thanks to you now my action figure can be completed. ... thankyou so much

this is really great as a drawing mannequin! love it.

I am in the process of printing this figure. I would like to use it in stop motion, but I was thinking that as the pins in all the joints allow movement, is it always free movement? As I would like to adjust each pose incrementally for stop motion, would PLA pins just let it drop to one position all the time?

I know this is a very late reply, but you can use "Spring Pins" in the joints which expand outward when installed, and should work well to pose the action figure. There are many types available. http://www.mcmaster.com/#spring-pins/=xjrcxu

Hi there,

I am in the process of making one (full size), but one quick question:
how to print those hips? My printer can't print in mid-air.
As of layer 15-16, it has to print in mid-air to create the circles where the joints (round) fit in, but off course the plastic drops down, and does not create a circle in any way.
Make my own supports?
Thanks for an amazing thing!
EDIT Nevermind, my printer DOES print in mid-air apparently ;-)

Hello, spectacular ... but how did you do the pegs for the joints?

This is amazing work, I can't wait to play with one. But when I look at it, all I see is ways of adding components to make it look like a Samuri, and to fold it into fetal position and build a transformer around it. My question for you Sir is this.
What material did you use? and were there any tips you might have to someone trying to get this level of detail?
Im guessing you print it with a thick skin( or solid build), and a little larger so you can smooth it out with wet sand paper.
Really awesome and inspiring design. When I get my printer in the spring this will be the very first thing I plan on printing.

just a suggestion but, would it be reasonable if this thing was posted on shapeways? I really want one, but I do not have a 3d printer! idk how expensive this would be but, it would help people get this thing into their hands!

is It ok if i use your model action figure parts and add armor then reupload them and give credit to you for the awesome Figure?

Go for it. That's what the intention was when I created the little guy. Would be nice to see an accessory line. Jet packs / helmets / robo dexter - etc etc.

Thank you so much for your great video's. You tought me alot and opened my eyes in a new way! keep up the good work sir =)

Thanks for this. I'm halfway through printing but its been fun to do so far.

that is so cool, how long does it take to print though?????

Great modeling, and thanks a lot for the sharing !

I am working on a very differently illustrated storybook for children and am needing to purchase pose able figures. Could these be purchased in multiple units? Would you be able to also supply various heads for the units to depict multiple characters? Please send me a reply with phone number if this would be a possibility. Great job by the way!

Why don't you use the boolean functions in blender instead of exporting/importing into zmesh?

I've started this with a newly purchased Ultimaker clone. I'm going to use the original model sizes of both your male and female for studio maquette's.

Don't have a 3D printer, but would love one of these as an artists mannequin. Anyone building these things for sale? Cost? Possibly interested in both male and the female at the full 18" size.

I'm not sure it would be cost effective to try to print these for sale. But let me see how difficult and time involved this is. I may cast the originals in latex for resin casts. I'd hook a fellow artist up for the cost of mailing it. I'll keep you posted if you like.

Please do. Most artists mannequins are either useless (wooden ones), not anatomically correct (the really big head on the Art S. Buck female mannequins) or prohibitively expensive (sfbt-3) with a manga style head/face I could use poser, but I prefer a real model..

If you could cast these so that you could quickly assemble them, then perhaps it would be worth making them for sale. Its open source, just print a card with the thingiverse url and history of the original.

I will probably be a while printing the rest of this. My printer has design flaws in it's extruder feeder and I'm reengineering it a bit.

To be clear though, I'm not interested in making anything for sale myself with the file. I'm chiefly looking for a larger scale model than my Buck mannequins to use for posing ideas and less detailed body parts (head/abdomen/feet) to wire together for maquette skeletons.

I will. I have a complete head printed after one day and am working my way through the parts list. To give you an idea of the time, that assembly took an entire day of printing. I'm still tweaking a new printer though. That and it's my first one. I will keep the forum posted though.

Have you ever used Ambroid "pro weld" for smoothing or welding?

A single file containing all pieces "mounted" together could be useful to setup a figure virtually before printing a static version of it.

That's actually in his file. The figure is laying down. Some of the smaller major assemblies are done likewise.

Does anyone know how many grams this is in total?

Great work !
I add my vote for a female version.

Added some other hand choices to Dexter

This is truly incredible work Jason, nice job. I really look forward to making a few of these once I have my first 3D printer. Have you released the files for the female version? If not, I would really like those as well. I imagine that you made the over all shape of the whole body subtly different.

can I use this for a custom super hero I am making?

Dexter is open source, you can use abuse him to your hearts desire. A mention of my name as a originating point and a link to where he lives is all I ask if you.

But I bet he can't beat the articulation of my Stretch Armstrong!

Blender and Zbrush -- Blender for the technical joints and Zbrush for the sculpting.

Hey, what program did you use to design Dexter?

Dexter is now Scalable down to 50% or 9 inches. If you scale him down that far you will need to re-drill the holes using a 1/16 bit or 2.0 in metric to use the PLA spikes. The really small joints are a .1 drill or Circuit board drill bit and you will need to use 22 gauge solid wire bent on the ends and clipped.

You will need to use the solid hands ..

I used .15 layer height along with 2 outer perimeters and .15 infill.

the perimeters are for the re-drilling support.

Watch the video to find out how he looks along with the other figures.


Video added to help those that are putting joints together. I don't file to much but I do use Acetone alot. And here is how I do that..


Hips are now 2p0, Bigger ball and no friction collar.

Shoulders have been updated to 2p0, Bigger ball and no friction collar.

How are the shoulders articulated? Can this action figure shrug?

No but that could have been done using another ball joint.. Good idea.

Shoulders do not fit

They have a .25mm tolerance (pretty freeken small) I'm redoing them in a few days to bring it up to the female characters quality.. Her balls joints are better.

Thanks for the heads up on these things btw

A VERY VERY good stick to the build plate is required on this guy. Any lift and parts will not fit. I used more then 4 layers of hair spray each time.
All inner joints must be sanded ( I used 80 grit) and some filed to get a good fit.
The inner rotating hinge on the thighs have an asymmetrical hole which makes insertion of the glued together other side impossible. I had to clip the sides to get the part into the void.

If you sanded the inner joint he will fall down.. Only a tiny bit of that friction glue is required. The kneecaps were just on different build plates that fit together to make it symmetrical. (updated).. I never noticed that part because I just printed both build plates at once. One side of the kneecap is thicker so if you stuck 2 thick sides together that would explain you having to sand it to death.

I had to omit the rings in the joints. The joints simply worked better without them. I used the anti-grease material hot glue in the joint.

Added static posed hands for those that do not want to print the pose-able ones.

Very easy to print but support is needed.

The base prevents hands from tipping via print and the column between is a cooling form that makes the head travel to that form before the other hand. This way no cooling via fan is required.

Looks like 100% Better IMHO with the static ones.

:) thanks jason

like I said on the "Female Action Figure" comment, you have inspired me to learn Zbrush. I hope to one day make cool 1:18th (3 3/4) action figures and accessories. Have you ever considered making accessories for these figures? Keep up the good work!

Nice going..
One question...
Why are you using superglue on ABS when you can mix up a bit of ABS with Acetone and use it like glue? I have done this on many parts and works great.

regular plastic model cement works too but not the nonToxic stuff it dont have what it takes to weld the plastic

I get a few dollars every time I mention their brand on video ;)

j/k I just like the feel of the setup time on it and the strength. Also not a big fan of brushing on ABS glue dealing with the whole brush mess and cleanup anytime I just want to glue something. Smaller parts arn't melting so much from super glue either. Gosh I never thought I hated ABS glue before I wrote this but I guess deep down I have real issues with it.....

So ya personal preference I guess.

One serious problem- in download pack are two right lower legs, not left leg... left lower leg is like right leg... What can we do? Jason, can we mix this problem?

you might had downloaded it a few minutes after I released it. It had that problem because of naming convention on the file got mixed up. Thought I slipped it in there in time. Did you recently download the legs?

Hello Jason! I already mix the problem- I made in Blender left leg from right easy way: "Mirror" tool...

Finally printing the last file. Dexter seems to need more then 1/2 of a 2lb spool of PLA even though I lowered the infill to 15%. This IS a relatively BIG project. Assembled the hands. Need to pay attention to the finger parts to get the right length per finger so he looks correct.

That is why there are so many finger parts. You ween down the length per finger by using the different lengths together. Good catch on that btw ;)

Don't suppose anyone has a combined layout printable at one of the print services, in the 12" scale?

I knew i recognized your voice, been following your tutorials for a few years now :D

Problem with l_lower_leg file. Can't get it to sit flat. Impacts the ankle and foot parts.

Seems to still print ok though.

Problems with the Left lower leg file. Not all parts are on the same minimal Z axis. The part that acts as the ankle and parts of the foot. They do not start printing until the 2nd and 3rd layers.

Added a lower resolution set of hands for people having a hard time ripping the other ones. Same level of detail just fewer polygons. I also increased the the plane that holds all the finger parts to .1 thick just in case your printing from a replicator II.

Now I have not printed these hands myself so they come with a no money back warranty.. ;)

Probably not needed. Printing 0 infill with a raft worked fine. Even the holes are perfect. It will take awhile before I can fully assemble him but the build is coming along fine. Good tolerances for PLA. Printing the hips without support was a major thrill to watch and required a bit of clean up to get the rings to rotate well.

Let me try and work some poly magic on them. Seems to be a common problem. Give me a few mins ;)

Most hobby stores carry 3mm or 1/8 Brass tubing. It makes great rivets. The solid stuff works good also but you will need to make a mushrooming cap to hammer against. Youtube -- brass rivet making

whats your tip for those who dont have 3mm material to make rivets? (mine is 1.75) use regular metal rivets?

Fantastic Jay ! you can use a Acetone bath for smooth all parts !!

His name shall be Dexter named after my son. When he reaches the age where he doesn't bumble about on 2 legs and yells at you in unintelligible jabber he will know he has his own action figure. ;)

Wait till you put the hand together..... remember the .1 drill bit I will save you hours of wanting to kick small fuzzy creatures as your putting together the small Phalanges together.. I made all the groves the size of a extra small standard file so that you can file them easier also.
1.5, 3.5 and 4.5 are very important design sizes to remember.......Tip

Thanks about the name... never thought of naming the little guy...

Your tip on the material hot glue as an anti-grease is exactly what I've been looking for. Thanks! I will try it on this guy (he needs a name... and you should be the namer). I'll also be sure to share the tip with my puppet fabricator daughter working on stop mo in LA.

A totally wonderful thing. A+.

but... The hand files... Fingers are small and need a raft or they come off. The square under them is too thin and is missed by Skeinforge

Took 5 tries to get the hand to print correctly in PLA. I suggest rather then tweaking packing density so that the infill on the tiny fingers does not jam the extruder... print the hand with zero infill. Worked ok with my Rep2.
I would recommend to anyone who wants to make this guy to start with the hands. If your bot can do it you are good to go for the rest of him...
BTW... he really needs a name!

Thanks for the spike and rivet tutorial. I hadn't thought of that and it will be way useful in some of my planned designs!

I am impressed ! the time it must have taken to draw this is incredible. I am making a hand and I think I could use some ideas from yours. You did a fantastic job with the detail. Thank you for sharing your creativity.

Printer is based on Mendel Max 1.5 along with some parts here and there from the designers here at Thingiverse and myself (no kits). I have 6 of the same build. 3 at home and 3 in my classroom. You really get to see the limits and ways around the limits in a design when you self build a printer IMHO. I knew absolutely nothing about 3D printing when I first started building them.

My basement print lab ;)

nice printer lab!

just a question! What printer did you print this out on ?

Wow thanks for the great comments and now featured! Your voices must have been heard by somebody ;) And 8000+ downloads? gees!

I think action figure was the first thing I searched for 1 year ago when I first started 3D printing. Now I just have to remember what the 2nd thing was....... May he bring happiness to all those that could never bring yourself to take the action figures out of the box ;)

lol looking forward to see what you do with whatever the second thing you searched for :P

Well done

HAHAHAHA told you it would be featured!

Awesome, great design!! I couldn't believe when I saw it in your video, and now that it is finished it looks astonishing!!

omg dude, i looked for something like this at stores here in São Paulo - Brasil, and i never could find something so articulated as this, and even the ones that came close to this cost a fortune, thank you man! i knew you before, becouse of your arduino lab and other stuff, and i already find you amazing, now... YOU RULE DUDE!! thanks for sharing this with us!

This is awesome. I've been looking for, and trying to figure out how to design, something like this for years now. Kudos to you, sir.

Amazing design, I also really enjoyed the PLA rivet video you included. Nice work!

I want to honor Jason not only for the great desin, but also for the fact that this design with a vast commercial potential ( I am envsioning a zillion of Chinese have been alrady molding couple of millions of copies as we speak) was simply shared with us. Thank you, Jason!

I am also wondering why this work has not been featured at Thingiverse. Who make decisions? Are they blind?

For abs I used 30%, Support is recommended but I made the arms and legs without it. The chest should have support and the heads.

Thank You Jason! I'll take in mind Your recommendations! Only my 3D printer software Axon2 too long build "left hand" printing file...

How much to put Fill density? I'll try 41% PLA... and I'll to put support material PLA too. I hope that will be good.

How easy or difficult do you think that it would be to scale this down from 18 inches to 12 inches so that it can be used with 1/6 accessories?

The hands are the key to scale since they are the smallest. I was able to print a .75 scale hand and it looked like it would be ok to assemble. I have a .5 head on my printer so sometimes it is a pain to print super small stuff. By my calculations you would have to print him at 0.686 to get him to be 12 inches tall. So scale the hand to .686 and print on your printer. If you think you can assemble it the rest is easy to assemble once you print all the parts at .686.

The hands are higher resolution. It takes awhile to rip them, I would also suggest the latest slicer. But ya I have a slower machine hooked to the printers. I cant use it to rip the hands either. Find yourself some horsepower and you should be ok.

True, ive tried it on core i5 and it worked. I think that the intersection between fingers and the plate beneath them is causing all the problems.

Grat Job! But I think that theres something wrong with hands. I cant slice them with slic3r.

Video added covering Surebond Fabric Hot melt for joint friction and surface blending techniques for the action figure.

Regarding the female- Maybe 2.0 could be female. Might be a little while though the honey to do list got filled up pretty bad over the course of this project. ;)

"I'll do that later" I think later must be now ;)


Very nice! I'm still learning 3d modelling but already I can see how I might make new heads for this guy. Any chance of a female version anytime soon?

wow 2800 downloads in 2 days. That is a virtual army of action figures. I have two of them together now.. Let me know if you see anything that might need tweaked. I'll grant you another tip -- Don't sand the arm and leg joints too much. The harder they fit the better the action poses.

Fantastic...very good job

Very Nice! Thanks for showing us vision!

Now with Carnage head option! (see preview image)


i been breaking my back making something like this on my own.. should of checked here like 14 hours ago.. im not even close to the detail on this guy.. great work man..

Thanks for posting the video links for us folks who are new to 3d modeling and blender etc.. it helps to see someone who is proficient and experience using the tool in realtime.

This is fantastic! I need to make this ASAP for artist's manikin purposes.

quite an achievement! well done.

Wow! You are big master, I think it's not so easy made... hard work! Thank You, I'll print it and paint!

Very very impressive!!!

O ya some of the TMNT have that now, you need to do it. Had to do some pretty good toy island research for this project.. Hard life I tell you ;)

Need to make a carnage head for this guy next ;)

:D go for it would be kick ass!

You are soooo getting featured for this! Very well done :D You beat me too it was going to design one too:P but just in time for my 3d printer !

thought i want to try make the ball joint style ones with elastic that runs on the inside of the body.

do a winter solder toy becaus the film cold Capten amarica sivel war and it is an faimos film!

why dont you do a BB-8 younet!