Need Advice on Modifying a Mannequin Bust


Sr Member
I’ve tried searching through the data base here and haven’t gotten much useful info specific to my needs. I was hoping a few of you might give me a few tips on a project I’m doing for someone.

A friend of my husbands’ has been a huge Zombie fan for over 30 years. He came in possession of the top half of a mannequin a few years ago and finally decided to put it to use and convert the thing into a Zombie for his home or office, which I volunteered to do for him.

Here are my problems:

  1. It doesn’t stand flat; (it must have come off of a reclining mannequin), so I am going to have to find a way to either saw off the bottom on an angle somehow, or build up the bottom with weights to secure it. (It’s kind of heavy and tips over easily). Question: how do I cut this thing? Will it cut with a handsaw? I don’t have access to power tools. I think it’s made of fiberglass, but I’m not sure. It is a Hindsgaul 1992 mannequin.

  1. I think I need to remove the head entirely, because it’s facing sideways, doesn’t move and I want it to face forward. It also has extremely ‘pretty’ facial features, which seems to me will be difficult to ‘horrify’ in the way that I’d like. I was thinking of possibly drilling out the eyes and mouth and sculpting with Apoxie Sculpt. Question: Will Apoxie Sculpt or 2-part epoxy clay adhere to this fiberglass mannequin material?

  1. I also am considering keeping the head for a different project and replacing it with a skull and sculpting around the skull to achieve a decayed zombie effect. Question: If I remove the head entirely, what would be a good way to secure a skull or reattach the turned head to the rest of the body?

Also, it’s missing an arm and two hands (they think they have the arm somewhere in their basement, but can’t find it at the moment), so I will have to make due with the parts that I have of him.

I may have bitten off more than I can chew…if anyone can give me some advice on modifying this mannequin, I’d truly appreciate it! (Pictures attached)

Zombie work.jpg
Zombie work2.jpg
Pardon the crappy paint drawing, but why not work off of what you have? You can very easily alter what you've got to some fantastic results.

Zombie work.jpg

If that doesn't work for you,I'll answer your questions.
You can indeed cut the mannequin with a hand saw.. it will take a long time, but you can. I have modified one to make a Freddy display, and the fiberglass was nothing like I've ever seen.. and I've been molding with fiberglass for a very long time. It was weird stuff. Terrible smell.. terrible dust. Do it outside and wear a respirator!

I've never put Apoxie Sculpt on a mannequin, but there is no reason why it shouldn't work. Perhaps sand down the gloss a little to promote adhesion if you're really worried.

If this mannequin is anything like mine, the whole chest inside is most likely hollow and the walls are very thin. It makes mounting another head very difficult. Mine is still partially in pieces because I haven't found a good way to mount the cut pieces back together. It's definitely very challenging.
Mr Mold Maker, thank you so much for your help! I see your points about making due with what I have to work with. Maybe I can support the bottom by filling it in and make it look like bloody intestines and perhaps I can avoid sawing the thing. So you think drilling out parts of the face and body with a drill won't be too much of a mess then? Yeah, I think the body cavity is hollow; at least it sounds hollow.

Great ideas Mr Mold!
No problem. I'd still recommend drilling and cutting it outside, but it shouldn't be too much of a mess.

Make sure you post whatever you end up doing. I'd love to see how it turns out!
I cut one down on a bandsaw and it had more of a tendency to melt rather than cut, so I'd imagine a handsaw would be a better choice (it'll just take longer). As for remounting the head, I blew some rigid foam in the head and neck area so I had a solid gluing surface. So far mine has held up fine. Not sure about the apoxie, like mr mold maker said, I'd rough up the surface first. Not sure about yours but mine had a really weird type of paint on the outside, very flexible, so I don't think it would've stuck on its own. Hope that helps!
Few thoughts: Level the base on a (plastic covered) table with a few shims and add bondo to the base to make it stand as you wish.

fiberglass will dull any steel cutting blade. If you are going to do a lot of cutting and re-positioning, think about getting a carbide blade for either a jigsaw, or rotary cutter. Be sure to wear Dust mask and eye protection!

If you wish to cut and re-position the head, it needs to be fiberglassed from the inside. To do so, you need to get access to the inside, which means cutting an access door (generally, on the back). If you cut out an access door, you need to be able to re-attach the door back onto the mannequin. That is hard to do if the door was cut out of the back, because the door is smaller than the opening by 2X the thickness of the saw blade. So you need to install something for the door to rest on, while it is being cemented back into place.

This is going to be harder and messier than you originally thought.
Clonesix, thanks for your info and input. Ugh! I had a feeling it wasn't going to be as simple as a few quick cuts with a sawblade and reglue as desired. I'm so glad that I asked instead of going with my first instincts and then getting in over my head. I don't want to turn this into a year-long project.

Yeah, I think propping up the front with filler to make it stable is probably the best route for this and me. I'm also going to try a few experiments with Apoxy Sculpt to see how it adheres to the fiberglass, and make some final conclusions about the style the Zombie head is going to end up taking.

Thank you all for your advise!

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Well, I finished this Zombie Mannequin! It ended up being a bit of a crazy rush-job due to the fact that I ended up giving it to my husband's friend for his 70th birthday, which is today. I'm happy with how it turned out though, considering the time constraints, and I just wanted to thank you all for your advise on this project.

Here are a few pics:

ZombieMannequin.JPG BeforeAfter Zmbi.jpg


BeforeAfter Zmbi.jpg
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Had to add this tidbit:

The person that I gave this to has it in his home office. But everytime their dog went in there it would be so alarmed at the zombie that it would bark like crazy, cry and run out of the room. He finally had to put a bag over the zombie's head to keep his poor dog from getting the heebee-geebees!
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