Fans create custom Nendoroids of Genshin Impact characters and more

Howl Pendragon, the dashing young wizard of Howl’s Howl’s Moving Castle, might steal fans’ hearts, but the dreamy-eyed idol doesn’t yet have her own official Nendoroid. That’s where fans come in: build their own by buying Nendoroids and mixing and matching the parts to create their own custom figures.

These palm-sized chibi figures made by Good Smile are a popular choice among collectors and fans alike. Since the release of the first Nendoroid in 2006, Good Smile has listed 1,800 different versions of its bighead figures, featuring favorite anime characters like my hero academiavideo games like Surveillance, Disney franchises, and more. There are still plenty of characters that don’t have official Nendoroids, so fans use character parts that Good Smile sells, as well as individual parts from unofficial retailers, to bring their favorite characters to life.

Kate, who goes through Rose.Arrow online, is a 21-year-old college student from Texas who started making custom Nendoroids as a hobby in early 2021. She maintains a TikTok account and an Instagram page where she posts her minifigures. Since her debut, she’s been sharing custom Nendoroids for characters that don’t have them yet, like Howl Pendragon, as well as game characters like Genshin Impact.

“The process starts with studying the character you want to create. It helps to really know what their outfit, hair, and face look like before you go shopping for parts,” she told Polygon via Discord. Nendoroids have interchangeable parts, so you can switch features like faces, clothes, and hair between different figures.

While there are tons of places to buy Nendoroid parts, that first step can be tricky, according to Kate. “The trickiest part of the process is really finding the right parts to use,” Kate said. “Sometimes I had to buy an entire Nendoroid for just one piece. Although I try to avoid that as much as possible. After mixing and matching Nendoroid parts to get as close to a replica as possible, Kate modifies the figures with air-dried clay which she later paints.

How long it takes Kate to do each depends on the level of detail. “Howl’s jacket took me quite a while with all the little lines!” she says. “However, I’ve also created custom Nendoroids with much simpler recolors that took me a lot less time, like Tomoe from Kiss Kamisama.” Kate told Polygon that she typically pays between $90 and $120 for parts and materials, but the number can increase dramatically if she has to buy an entire Nendoroid for just one piece.

Kate got the idea to make them after seeing fellow TikTok user Apeachbun post a video showing a custom Nendoroid Tartaglia. Kate felt inspired to take up the hobby herself: “During this time, I was finishing a college semester entirely online, so I wanted something fun to do from home!” From there she was able to get support from custom Nendoroid groups and Discord servers, and she has since continued to create characters from shows like Ouran High School Host Club, Kiss Kamisamaand more.

As for her favorite, she said it was hard to choose. Characters like Xiao, Razor, and Haruhi will “always hold a special place in his heart,” but “some of my favorite custom Nendoroids are book characters!” There really aren’t any official Nendoroids of books outside of Harry Potter, so I really love having them!

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