I'm a commercial customizer, I sell my work to other people who pay a hefty amount of money for a unique personalized figure and as such, I cannot even think of using anything that has a "hint" of toxic components in it, whether tested or untested, it's a chance I CANNOT and WILL NOT take. Here is a link to the material safety data sheet from one of the most popular sealants out there, KRYLON Crystal Clear sealant:
As you can see on the composition there are Propane, Butane, Toluene, Naphtha-friggin'-lene!, and more Lenes than Russia...But hey, jump to sections 3 and 11!! the hazards include, nervous depression, irritation of the upper respiratory system, unconciousness and "possibly" DEATH. I mean, I'm not a chemist, I did take some chemistry classes in my University in Peru, was a lab assistant and all mind you, but I mean come on, I have too much depression already when I watch the news, I'm already irritated at several politicians and no, I don't want to die, so NO THANKS!
There are too many chemicals in this can, I don't want them in my toys, and certainly I don't want to put them in the toys I'm giving to my customers...Just to be safe you know? Common sense, I don't want to bore you with a chemistry class, but when something harmful arises too many questions, is best to avoid it so you don't spend time trying to find the answers.
"But Hunter, everyone does it!" Well, we live in this amazing country called the USA, you can do anything you want, -it's your right and you are well damn entitled to choose to do it or not- you can jump off a bridge with a rope, get high on glue, meth, or both, but you know? It's my choice not to use sealants, and WILL NOT use them on any figures. Out of the more than 1000 figures I have made in my career NONE have sealants in them. It's a choice that I took way back in 2008 When I started HKC.
But enough with the snarkyness and let's find solutions:
"But how do you get that flat look on the figures Hunter!!??" Easy: just use FLAT paints. I personally dislike "shiny" finishes on a figure when the character does not call for it (A shiny bat suit? NO, Shiny trench coat on Gambit? NO, Shiny armor on He-man or Red knight? sure! Shiny leather on Black cat? You betcha! ) Several brands make great quality flat paints like Model Masters acryl, Citadel, Tamiya and Formula P3, they all conform with the non toxic ASTM D-4236 standards, since they are non toxic water bourne acrylic paints. (though Model Masters can irritate your eyes) Of course it all comes to personal preference and if you want to make a shiny Batman, by all means!
"But I use Model Masters acryl and they are all shiny!" Well, that is when the wonder of Acrylic paint comes in handy: MIX THEM with other brands!
All the paints mentioned above can be mixed with each other with no problem at all. But if you still want a flat even look, guess what? a soft cloth is your uncle! BUFF the figure with a soft cloth. The static electricity created will do the rest. Yes, it's free and you don't have to sacrifice your lungs or sanity in the process.
"But Hunter! What about chipping the paints at the joints?" Well, that is another myth I'm tired of hearing: Sealing a figure DOES NOT avoid paint rub/chip at ALL. It's a MYTH it does NOT happen. I can even make a video of it and show you how a figure after many coats of sealant, WILL chip and loose the paint. How do you do it? Disassemble the blessed figure (see picture) and using a Dremel rotary or stylus tool sand each joint to the point that they don't touch each other. If you don't have one, use the 220 sandpaper and sand away! I know, it's a hell of a job, Meticulous, frustrating and boring! You have to try them time and time again to make sure, but if you want to make a good figure, you have to invest in the time it takes to make it. Your customers will appreciate it, your figures will achieve killer poses and will get you more exposure. All that does not come from the nozzle of a spray can. No shortcuts, Sorry.
If you ask me how to take a figure apart I will blow a fuse....I have done videos on how to do it and won't expand on the subject. Just go to my website hunterknightonline.com under the "tutorials" section and watch away.
Some people get mad, even betrayed, when I say I don't use what they've been taught by the status quo, which begun way back in the 90's in the old pages of Toyfare, but the hobbie has evolved ever since, and as time keeps passing, it will evolve even more...(I miss my Toyfare...dammit!!)
I write this small article not to stand above anyone else, on the contrary, I do it cause it worries the hell out of me that more and more of my fellow customizer brethren are poisoning the hell out of their lungs while making these, I mean come on! these hazards are most dangerous at the moment they are being applied and that is on OUR side of things when we make them. This is a hobbie supposed to be fun, experimental, bring you joy or some extra income and it would blow if you catch some illness out of it, SPECIALLY in these days that getting sick can get you and your family bankrupt So blame me, unfriend me, or criticize me if I worry about you....(yes, you...the one reading this...)
Customize away, have fun and enjoy this amazing hobbie...just don't get your lungs melted
P.S: please...for the love of everything that is holy, Don't use enamel paints...Or you'll be wondering "why hasn't the paint dried after 3 weeks??" That is a whole other subject...
A proper way to prep your figure to avoid paint rub...I know BORING!