LEGO has been regularly releasing cool key-chains for LEGO-fans. They usually have a LEGO brick or a LEGO minifigure hanging from the chain as a charm. The key-chains are of great quality and they are perfect to hang your keys.
The minifigs hanging from the key-chains are regular minifigures, with the addition of a metal loop at the top of their head to attach to the key-chain. The metal loop is actually the end of a long pin that goes through the minifigs headgear and head, all the way down into the torso.This assures that the key-chain loop is strongly attached, and also that the minifigure doesn’t come apart as people throw about their keys. For the same reason, the minifig’s legs are glued to the torso (the pin doesn’t reach down to the legs).
Some LEGO-fans are happy to keep these minifigs as key-chain charms, but others wish to remove them to use as regular minifigs in their creations. Key-chains, like magnets, are a cheap way to get really nice minifigures!
I will show you some of the methods that can be used to rescue minifigs from their chains. (Before making an attempt at any of these processes please read our Tutorials Disclaimer for your safety here.)
In any of these methods the first step would be to remove the chain from the loop. This can be easily done with a pair of pliers. Once the chain is removed you can choose which method to follows to remove the remaining metal loop:
1. CUTTING OFF THE METAL LOOP: This is one of the easiest methods to get rid of the metal loop sticking out of the head of the minifig. Simply use cutting-pliers to snip the metal loop off as close to the top of the head as possible.
PROS: The benefit of this method is that it’s simple and doesn’t require any special tools. You will easily have a nicely functioning minifigure.
CONS: Unfortunately with this method the minifigure’s parts are still firmly attached. You cannot take the headgear or head off to change it according to your desire.
2. REMOVING THE PIN BY FORCE: Attach a heavy-duty paperclip or other strong metal ring to the exposed loop on the minifig’s head. Grab the paperclip with pliers with one hand, and the minifig’s body with the other (it is helpful to use some kind of cloth or other non-slip material to grab the minifig with, so it doesn’t slide out of your hand). Once you get a good grip pull the pin out of the minifig’s head. (An excellent tutorial of this process with step-by-step picture instructions is available by countblokula on his flickr gallery: LEGO Keychain Removal)
PROS: The method is simple enough, and if it works, you will have a pin-free minifig! You can easily take off the headgear and the head to change it! Also, if you use enough force sometimes the bond between the torso and legs get released as well, giving you a separate torso and leg assembly. A nice bonus!
CONS: This method requires using great force to pull the pin out. Although I know people who regularly use this method, I was never able to do it myself. I guess I’m a wimp! LOL! Also, your minifig will have a hole on its head. However this can be filled in with putty or glue and painted to hide the hole, or just change the headgear.
3. USING A SOLDERING IRON: For this method you will need to get a simple, basic soldering iron, available at pretty much any hardware or hobby store for around $5-$10. This is an electric hand-tool commonly used by electricians. The soldering iron has a heated metal tip to melt and weld metal parts together. (Craftsmen may also use it to burn designs into wood or leather.) Here is mine:
Soldering irons are made by several companies, and may have slightly different specs; some have interchangeable heads for different types of processes, some have temperature control, etc. For our purposes we just need the simplest kind. All we have to make sure is that the tip is small enough to fit into the metal loop on the minifig’s head.
1. Plug the soldering iron into an electric outlet. Wait until it warms up (couple of minutes.
2. Align the loop on top of the minifig’s head in such a way that it has the most clearance. (You don’t want the soldering iron’s tip to touch and melt the plastic.
3. Carefully insert the heated tip into the loop on top of the minifig’s head.
4. Wait a couple of seconds as the soldering iron’s tip transfers the heat over to the pin in the minifig’s body.
5. The heat will gradually release the pin and you can easily pull it out. This should take no mare then 1-2 second. WARNING! If you don’t pull out the heating pin immediately, it will start melting the plastic, so don’t linger. Pull it out as soon as you feel the pin is being released. And you are done!
PROS: This is my favorite method for removing pins. It is simpe and fast!You have a pin-free minifigure with removable head, and headgear within a few seconds with little effort from your part.
CONS: If you have a shaky hand you have to be careful. You don’t want to touch the plastic with the tip of the soldering iron as it is hot and will melt the plastic! An other issue is that when you remove the pin your minifig will have a hole on its head. However this can be filled in with putty or glue and painted to hide the hole, or just change the headgear. The minifig’s legs remain attached to the torso.
Hope you enjoyed this tutorial and feel free to share your thoughts, experiences, or your own tips!