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Simple Customs: Tail Swaps

Most days when I start a new custom mini model, I get out my saw and cut off the tail and Dremel off the mane with the intent of sculpting new hair from scratch—but upon closer inspection, I’ve noticed that it isn’t that the original tails are all terrible, it’s just that I’m tired of seeing them on that particular model.

My first tail swaps began with Valegro’s tail. Here it is on a TWH:

And again on Mirado, but rotated:

I thought I’d share a little bit about my process for those of you who want to experiment.
  1. If you are keeping the mane (and it isn’t braided) find a tail that matches in sculpting style. For example, the G3 Peruvian Paso and the G4 Driving Horse (now sometimes called the Walking Warmblood) both have hair with many detailed sections—a perfect Jane Lunger match!
  2. Carefully cut the tails off of both models with a small saw, always being mindful of your fingers and using a vice to hold the towel-wrapped model if possible. 
  3. When the tails are off it’s a great time to sand seams on the hindquarters and hind legs.
  4. The next step is drilling the holes for the wires that will attach the two pieces. I’m using large paperclips for my wire, so my drill bit is approximately the same thickness as the paperclip wire. The hole in the horse’s body is about 1/4 inch deep, and the corresponding one in the tail a bit less because I didn’t want to drill all the way though it. I am also attaching it at the leg. (Ignore the two holes in the hind end, I misjudged the location.) 
  5. Now I cut the paperclip to length with wire cutters/needlenose pliers. This can send sharp bits of metal flying, so safety glasses are good. I try to hold on to both pieces of paperclip or put the short piece in the hole in the horse/tail as I cut so it doesn’t get lost. I test fit the tail on the wires, and trim if needed.
  6. Using pliers to hold them, I coat the wires in gel super glue and place them in the horse. Then I coat the other end and wiggle the tail in place. I let the glue dry for several hours.
  7. The tail-to-hindquarters connection always needs a little touch-up. I use Aves Studio’s Super White two-part epoxy. Mixing A and B, and using a little rubbing alcohol or water, I fill in the area and sculpt the missing hairs. A pencil, silicone blender, or other scupting too is sometimes handy here. This takes 24 hours to cure before sanding and priming.
Step 2: Tails have been cut off with a small saw.
Step 4: Drilling the holes. Sometimes they don't work and I try again (see 2 in hindquarters) Note the one in the hock for a second attachment.

Supplies: Dremel with drill bit, large paperclip, and gel super glue.

Two wires make the tail extra sturdy.

Mane and tail (Mirado's) in place. Mane needs to be heated and bent down near ears.
Finished Morgan mare.
Finished gaited horse.


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