Magpie Model Horses

Links Contact Products Home

Care and Feeding of Your Magpie Model Horse

Hair Care Shell Preparation Closed Shell Assembly Open Shell Assembly

Magpie Model Horses - Personality Collection Hair Care

• Nylon Hair - Nylon is a synthetic hair made from plastic. It is shiny, smooth, and can be difficult to style.

To style, gently comb the hair free of tangles before wetting. Dilute a drop or two of hair gel with water and, with fingers or comb, gently work a bit through the mane and tail. Firmly wrap the mane with cling wrap, making sure that the hair is laying as you wish it to stay, and secure the wrapping with a rubber band (I use loom bands from the Pound shop). The tail can be held between the hind legs or along the belly by a rubber band or cling wrap. Leave to set and dry for a few days.

Resist the urge to blow dry as the heat can melt the plastic hair.

• Viscose Hair - Viscose is a synthetic hair made from wood fibers, it is soft, with a slight metallic sheen, and feels somewhat cottony. It styles easily, and usually stays where it's put.

To style it, gently groom the hair with a clean, dry toothbrush. If the mane needs help lying flat, wrap with cling wrap around the neck and leave for a day or two. Gently brush any crinkles from the mane after unwrapping.

Viscose does not need water to lay flat - it can become crinkly when wet and dries oddly.

• Mohair - Mohair is a type of wool which comes from the Angora goat. It is somewhat more resistant to styling than viscose, and has a thicker, silkier feel.

It can be styled the same way as Viscose, but sometimes it might need a bit more persuasion to lay flat. Unruly mohair can be gently tamed by spritzing the hair to wet it and then combing it smooth with a clean toothbrush. Carefully wipe any water off the painted model, lay a piece of plastic wrap on the neck under the wet hair and wrap the rest of the wrap tightly around the neck, covering the mane. Leave it to dry for a day or so, unwrap, and gently brush with the toothbrush. The hair may still be slightly damp but will dry quickly once unwrapped. The tail can be coiled around a plastic-covered hind leg to add a bit of curl.

Modern (post-2015) Magpies are painted with acrylic paint, so it is not a good idea to leave wet hair to dry directly on the paint as it can cause bubbles. Paint which has bubbled from moisture will often smooth out once dry if left strictly alone.

Washing may give the mohair a slight wave.

• Wool - Wool is only used on our donkeys and foals. Wool can be gently brushed with an old toothbrush, but usually does not require any other styling. The dock of the donkey's tail has been felted and should not be brushed.

Return to Top

Magpie Assembly

Preparing the Shell

Dream Pony Kits are quite simple to assemble; there are two methods, Open and Closed Shell. With Open, you paint the model before assembling, with Closed, you paint after assembling, but before hairing.

Just about any paint can be used on a Magpie shell. Hobby acrylics such as Games Workshop, Tamiya, Revell, etc., or enamel paints like Humbrol, Revell, Testors, etc. being the most common. For myself, I prefer Liquitex Professionals acrylic paints, but not the Basics line.

Before painting, wash the model with dish soap and warm water to remove any grease from the molding process. Rinse thoroughly and allow to dry. Use a dremel, carbide scraper, files, and sandpaper to smooth the molding seams and remove any other excess plastic, I highly recommend one or more of the carbide scrapers sold by Kelly's Studio for this process.

Some of the Welsh Ponies will have an extra "pin" in their muzzle, this needs to be clipped out before the shell will properly close.

Once the shell is clean, you need to decide which method to go with, Open or Closed.

Return to Top

Closed Shell Hairing

Closed shell hairing is the easier technique, and better when you are using finer hair types such as mohair or viscose. You can do it with nylon hair if you make your plugs thin enough.

While preparing the shell, it is not a bad idea to use the dremel or carbide scraper to widen the neck slit somewhat, especially on the Welsh, Arabian, or Donkey shells.

For the closed shell hairing, you will be assembling the shell before painting. To do this you will need the following supplies:

First cut three 12-18 inch pieces of the plastic wrap and set aside. Take your clean, dry, and unpainted shell, run a thin bead of glue along the rim of the shell, place a few drops in the pin holes, and press the shell together. You can get rather sloppy with the glue as there is no paint to ruin at this point.

After gluing, wrap the model tightly with the strips of plastic wrap, and let it dry - I usually leave the shell overnight. After drying and unwrapping, check along the seams as you may need to sand away over-flow glue.

Give the shell another rise, allow it to dry, and then paint as desired. Once your model is painted, sealed, and dry you are ready to proceed with the hair. You will require the following supplies:

1. Select your hair colour and remove it from the package. (At this point I get a larger zip baggie, peel the label off the bag the hair came in and stick it on the zip baggie and use that instead as I can never get the hair back into those tube baggies)

Magpie Model Horses - Kits

Grasp the hair hank firmly in one hand with the end dangling out. Pinch the end of the hair and gently pull out a small swatch. This allows the fibers to come apart in their natural lengths and reduces waste. Lay the swatch on the table and pull a few more, making a neat pile of hair. For me, I usually take five or six pulls for a mane or tail.

2. Leave your hair for a moment and get your plastic sheet, I like take-away box lids. Draw a line of glue on the surface; stay away from the edge or you'll get a mess.

Magpie Model Horses - Kits

3. Carefully pick up your hair pile, trying not to disturb the hair too much. Grasp it firmly and cut one end evenly. Discard hair scraps or save them for flocking material.

Magpie Model Horses - Kits

4. Separate the hair swatch in half. Feather the cut end out a bit so it's not in clumps and lay the cut end onto the glue line you just drew. Don't worry about pressing it down, just lay it on softly. Do the same with the rest of your hair.

Magpie Model Horses - Kits

5. Now the tricky part, getting things gluey. Carefully press your hand firmly down on the hair, near the edge of your plastic surface. Take your spreading tool of choice and start drawing it over the ends of the hair, pulling away from your hand, through the glue. Don't be afraid to press, you want to force the hair into the glue, saturating the hair and pressing it as flat as possible.

Magpie Model Horses - Kits

6. If you are wanting to add layered colours or stripes, repeat the steps above, placing the new hair on the existing layer. Add a few drops of glue to the top of the new layer, press your hand back down on the dry hair section, and spread the new glue through the hair.

Magpie Model Horses - Kits

7. Set the hair aside to dry. I like to use the radiator to speed up the process in the winter. You'll know it's dry when the glue goes clear.

Magpie Model Horses - Kits

8. Gently peel the hair swatch from the plastic. Don't worry if it doesn't come in one piece, it's not essential to have it all in one strip.

Magpie Model Horses - Kits

9. Cut the end of the glue tab off evenly. Leave a good half to quarter of an inch of glue all along the length of your swatch.

Magpie Model Horses - Kits

10. Finally, you need to lightly comb the swatch to remove the loose hair. I find a soft surface works best; your leg is always handy (pardon my jammies). You're going to lose some hair, but don't worry, you'll have plenty left.

Magpie Model Horses - Kits

Once you have the hair swatches made, installation is pretty straight-forward. You will need the following:

Magpie Model Horses - Kits

I refer to my glue applicator "The Squeezy Thing", which I picked up on a whim in The Range. After a lot of Google trial and error, I found similar products by searching "accordion bottle", "glue injector", and "glue squeeze bottle". The particular type I have I was mostly only finding on American sites, though. I remember having a whole basket of these in the late '80s/early '90s when puff paint ruled the kid fashion world.

The main trick to hair installation is trying to keep things dry. Too much glue and it will start bubbling up when you push your plugs in and can also soften the dry glue on the plug, causing your hair plug to swell, which makes it ever so much harder to jam the thing into a small slit.

1. Select a hair swatch and measure it on your horse's neck. The Magpie molds have a pin just behind their ears, so your swatch is going to stop there. I prefer having a bridle path, so this doesn't bother me.

Once you have a rough measurement of how long the swatch needs to be (it's okay to have it a little long, carefully cut down through the glue tab. Just cut through the tab, there's no need to cut any of the rest of the hair. Set your mane tab aside and pick up the left-over swatch.

Magpie Model Horses - Kits

2. From your scrap swatch, cut a piece around half an inch wide. Flip it over to the underside (the shiny, slick side) and put a dot of glue near one edge, just a tiny drop. Fold the hair tab in half, then fold it in half again (you don't have to use glue this time). Remember we want things to stay dry.

Magpie Model Horses - Kits

3. Set your tiny hair plug aside and grab your horse. Insert the tip of the glue applicator into the forehead of your horse and give a little squeeze. You want to lay a plug of glue just inside the hair slit on the head, trying to get a little on the inside edges of the opening.

Next, insert your tiny hair plug, don't be afraid to just shove it right in. The plug is much longer than you need, so it's either trim it or tuck it away. Make some adjustments so the plug is pointing somewhat forward rather than straight up as this makes styling easier later.

After you've got the hair in, turn the model around and give your new forelock a little squirt of glue where the plug goes into the neck - at the back of the plug, behind the ears, not in the front on the face. This helps secure things.

Magpie Model Horses - Kits

4. Now onto the mane. Insert the tip of your glue applicator into the neck slit, starting just behind the ears. If your applicator doesn't fit, just press the mouth of it to the neck slit. Squeezing gently, draw a line of glue from the ears to the withers, wiping with a finger any glue which overflows onto the outer part of the neck. You want a healthy show of glue up to the edges as most of this will get pushed inside.

Starting at the base of the neck, insert your mane plug by sliding the tip into the neck slit. As you can see, my plug is a little long, that's okay, you just apply a bit of gentle pressure along the plug and sort of wrinkle the excess in. This makes your hair a little fuller, but not too much, as a thick mane is difficult to style.

If you are working with smaller plugs, simply poke them in one after another, working from the base of the neck up.

Use a toothpick to gently push the plug in, making sure that the glued part of the plug, or "scalp" as I call it, is fully within the shell. Resist the urge to wiggle or style the hair just now. Set the model aside and take up your other hair swatch.

Magpie Model Horses - Kits

5. For the tail, take your other hair swatch, turn it so the shiny, smooth side of the glue is up (this is the underside of the hair swatch). Roll your hair into a fairly tight tube and measure the plug end against your model's tail hole. If it's a little large, and trust me, bigger is not better in this case, snip off a bit of the swatch and try again. It is easier to roll a small tab of hair into your tail plug if it's too small than it is to jam an over-large plug into your model.

Magpie Model Horses - Kits

6. Once you're satisfied with the fit, roll your plug out flat and dot some glue along the length of the "scalp" section (the dried glue part). Just dot it, you only need a little and we're keeping things dry. Roll your swatch up again, very tightly. I will often at this point pinch the end with a clothes pin and leave the plug to dry before going further with the installation.

Magpie Model Horses - Kits

7. Set your tail plug aside and pick up your model and glue applicator. Insert the tip into the tail hole and squeeze a good big glort into your model. You're not going to fill the shell with glue, but you want to build up a good plug just inside the tail hole, rubbing a bit on the inside edges of the mold.

Once you're all gluey, slowly insert your tail plug; you want to push the glue in, not see it bubble out over the dry hair. You may need to twist the plug a bit and press quite hard. Don't be afraid to be firm, but be mindful of your paintwork. Push until the "scalp" of the plug is completely inside the model.

Magpie Model Horses - Kits

8. Set your model aside to dry for a few hours and gloat over a job well done. Resist the urge to mess with the hair until it is dry! Go and make some more hair plugs or read a book.

Once the glue is completely dry (leave it a few hours, at least), you can gently style the hair with a bit of water and strategic wrapping. This is the time, also, to do any trimming which might be needed.

Magpie Model Horses - Kits

Return to Top

Open Shell Hairing

The open shell technique is the traditional method used for pre-2018 Magpies, and is better if you plan on using nylon hair. After cleaning and preparing the shell as described above, you need to paint your model as desired. Depending on how confident you are about your ability to keep the hair out of the paint, you can save the details like hooves and eyes until after the model has been assembled.

If water-based paints have been used, it is a good idea to seal the paint with a clear coat of varnish, such as Krylon Crystal Clear spray, or Liquitex varnish, which can be brushed or sprayed. Make sure you keep the inner edges of the shell as clean as possible.

Once your model has been painted and sealed and has thoroughly dried, you will need to gather your assembly supplies: Magpie Model Horses - Kits

Use extreme caution with the hot glue as it can burn skin and ruin clothes.

Magpie Model Horses - Kits

There are various ways to prepare the hair plugs. This way is the least hazardous. On a glass or smooth plastic surface, spread a line of PVA glue. Working with small hanks of hair, cut the hair to the desired length, and lay the tip of the cut end in the line of glue.

Holding the hair tightly to the glueing surface, use a flat tool to firmly brush the end of the hair, with glue - going down the length about a 1/4 of an inch. Press fairly hard to work the glue into the hair, and press and scrape the end as flat as possible. Create enough hanks to run the length of the neck plus one for a forelock. Cut longer hanks for the tail and repeat the process.

After the hair plugs have dried, peel them from the glueing surface and trim away the excess dried glue.

Magpie Model Horses - Kits

Open your shell and lay the left side inside up on a flat surface. Use your glue gun to make a line of hot glue along the line of the neck. Quickly place the hair plugs onto the glue line. After 15 seconds or so, gently press the plugs into the glue. The glue will still be hot, so use caution. Lay a few more lines of hot glue over the ends of the hair plugs to more fully secure them.

Magpie Model Horses - Kits

Combine the tail plugs into one large hank. Make a hot glue blob in the shell below the tail hole and carefully press the tail plug into it. Apply more hot glue to fully secure the tail plug.

Magpie Model Horses - Kits

With the plastic glue, carefully spread a very thin layer around the flat inside lip of both sides of the shell, with a few drops on the inside pegs and holes. Be very careful, a stray drop of glue will remove the paint.

Press the two sides together, being careful not to trap any hair.

Magpie Model Horses - Kits

Cut three strips of plastic wrap and use them to tightly bind the belly, neck, and muzzle. It is best to leave the glue to set overnight.

Once the glue has set, unwrap the model and style the hair.

Return to Top