Cry out Pendragon, the dashing young wizard Howl’s Moving Castle, might steal the hearts of fans, but the dreamy heartthrob doesn’t have its own official Nendoroid yet. That’s where fans come in: building their own figurines by purchasing Nendoroids and mixing and matching the parts to create their own custom figurines.
These palm-sized chibi figurines, made by Good Smile, are a popular choice among collectors and fans. Since the first Nendoroid came out in 2006, Good Smile has lined up 1,800 different versions of its big-headed figurines, featuring characters from anime favorites such as My Hero Academiavideo games like overwatch, Disney franchises and more. There are still plenty of characters that don’t have an official Nendoroid, so fans use the character parts Good Smile sells, as well as individual parts from unofficial retailers, to bring their favorite characters to life.
Going online through Rose.Arrow, Kate is a 21-year-old college student from Texas who started making custom Nendoroids as a hobby in early 2021. She has a TikTok account and an Instagram page where she posts her figurines. Since the beginning, she’s shared custom Nendoroids for characters they don’t already have, like Howl Pendragon, as well as characters from games 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 buying 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 countless places to buy Nendoroid parts, this first step can be difficult, according to Kate. “The hardest part of the process is finding the right parts to use,” Kate said. “Sometimes I had to buy a whole Nendoroid for a single part. Although I try to avoid this as much as possible.” After mixing and matching Nendoroid parts to get as close to a replica as possible, Kate modifies the figurines with air-dry clay that she later paints.
The time it takes Kate to make them depends on the level of detail. “Howl’s jacket took me quite a while with all the fine lines!” she said. “However, I’ve also made custom Nendoroids with much simpler recolors that take me significantly less time, like Tomoe from Kamisama Kiss† Kate told Polygon that she usually pays between $90 and $120 for parts and materials, but the number can add up if she has to buy an entire Nendoroid for just one part.
Kate got the idea to make them after seeing another TikTok user, Apeachbun, post a video featuring a modified Tartaglia Nendoroid. Kate felt inspired to take up the hobby herself: “During this time I was doing a college semester entirely online, so I wanted to do something fun from home!” From there she was able to get support from custom Nendoroid groups and Discord servers, and since then she has started creating characters from series like Ouran High School Host Club† Kamisama Kissand more.
As for her favorite, she said it’s hard to choose. Characters like Xiao, Razor and Haruhi will “always hold a special place in her heart”, but “some of my absolute favorite custom Nendoroids are characters from books! There really aren’t any official Nendoroids from books outside of Harry Potter, so I love it to have them!”