Every militaria collector struggles with this problem. After years of collecting and a lot of money you finally have all the bits and pieces. So you decide to buy a mannequin to display your full combat warrior. So on a rainy day you dress up your mannequin and before you are ready you see all ready that it is nog gonna be what you had in mind.
The problem: Your mannequin is fine for in a shop window but absolutely not suited for a militaria display.
The solution: Custom Painted mannequins. (contact us for more information).

Nederlandse versie van deze pagina / Dutch version of this page

Custom Painted Mannequins for Militaria enthusiasts and collectors

I’m sure we have the solution for you! We can hand paint your doll, and sometimes we have dolls or mannequins for sale. Before you decide to use this service, take a moment to think about your mannequin, the uniform it is gonna wear and the situation or environment it is in. For example: a landser serving in the German ‘Afrika Korps’ who is exposed to a lot of sunshine should not have a very pale color…

Below an example of a teenager mannequin. A teenager doll has some advantages, it is small (and so were the people in the forties) and is available (so it can be bought relative cheap). The hard part is to turn it into a warrior that saw some action! Of course you can also use it for Hitler Jugend or late war German child soldier.

From left to right “before” (standard paint from factory), then after the “first stage” (without dirt and stubble beard) and an example of the final result (little bit stubble beard and dressed up). The hair color was changed from brown to blond. The damage on the nose has turned over into a small wound. The color of the skin, the ears and the lips is more natural now. In most cases the eyelashes are to long (and create a too feminin look), they can easily corrected by us but in the example below they are untouched.

What to look for when buying a mannequin?

To have a good result, we have to start with a nice mannequin (garbage in is garbage out!). When you buy a mannequin pay special attention to the eyes and the shape of the face and the ears. Some well known marks that are a good start are John Nissen and Hindsgaul. There are also a lot of small companies from the seventies that produced really characteristic faces. Keep in mint: Size does matter! Modern dolls are quite large, with a large head and wide shoulders. Uniforms, from World War Two or earlier, are often too small to fit these dolls, keep that in mind before buying a doll! Ask for the dimensions (at least you want to know its length, the head size and the shoulder width).

Is there also some good news is? Yes there is! The doll you are gonna buy doesn’t has to be perfect. Little cracks can be turned in scarves or abraded skin, as a matter of fact, in most cases it gives the head more character. The other good news is, if you want to get rid of your hand painted doll you will find a buyer much more easily. You will make the difference with a quality mannequin.

So you made your decision!

Contact us if you want to use our Custom Painted Mannequins service. We are in the Netherlands so keep that in mint so ask for shipping costs if you live outside the Netherlands.

More examples of custom painted mannequins

In the next section you will find some projects with ‘before’ and ‘after’ pictures of hand painted dolls. Pay also attention to this page about restoring an old mannequin from the 70ties.

I do like the look of an exhausted man, but this is an example without dirt and stubble beard. After all they all had razors and wanted to look sharp for the girls!

John Nissen example

I like to work with mannequins from John Nissen. The skin has the best structure, not so plastic smooth but nice rough! Also the eyes are great to work with. It is very easy to turn them into bloodshot eyes, that give the nice exhausted appearance to the soldier.

Some more hand painted mannequins

The doll on the left was quite a challenge. It belongs to close friend of mine and he considered this to be his most ugly doll in the collection. After the paint job I asked him for a customer of mine if he wanted to sell his most ugly mannequin. He refused, stating that this was his best looking puppet!

The one on the right was really fun to do. The only goal was that the he must wear a Russian uniform and so he must look the appropriate way. I think this mission was accomplished very well!

Hindsgaul example

Most custom painted mannequins are for sale, but this one I bought for myself. One of the best looking faces I ever saw. A good face makes the paint job so much easier. Due to space I had to let this one go.

Special paint Landser mannequin

This one is from my own collection. Of course we all know that smoking was quite common amongst soldiers (and stil is I think) in World War 2, so I decided to add a cigarette. The challenge was to give the impression that the cigarette really burns and after a few try’s I was happy with the result. The good thing about custom painted mannequins is that can have bad habits and don’t get ill.

Examples of window puppets in a militaria display

After the painting a lot of work has to be done, together with a few good friends we have made a nice display. Have a look at the pictures…

On the well known forum, WAF (Wehrmacht Awards Forum) you will find many examples of (hand-painted) window poppets. If you find it difficult to describe what you want and especially NOT want, it might bring you on ideas.