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HPA-2 Step-by-Step Instructions

Links to purchase:
M00015 MOREZMORE HPA-2 Humanly Posable Armature STARTER Kit Stop Motion Puppet – includes hardware, enough for ONE puppet and all the necessary tools.
M00118 MOREZMORE HPA-2 Humanly Posable Armature HARDWARE Kit Stop Motion – includes hardware, enough for ONE puppet, no tools are included.

HPA-2 is an upgraded version of HPA-1 (Humanly Posable Armature).
This post contains step-by-step instructions for the HPA-2 Kits which can be used to make ball and socket armatures, such as these:

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which can be used to make articulated puppets and dolls, such as these:

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The three new features in HPA-2 are:

1. HPA-2 Kits include pre-cut tubes, thus eliminating the step of cutting the tubes. The tools for the tube cutting are removed from the HPA-2 Tool Kit.
2. HPA-2 includes a new chest/hip connector. It is a 6-hole cube, instead of 4-hole cylinder, it is made out of steel instead of brass, and has longer and more secure thread holes.
3. HPA-2 includes magnetic wrists option.

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M00015 MOREZMORE HPA-2 Humanly Posable Armature STARTER KIT – includes hardware, enough for 1 puppet and all the necessary tools.
M00118 MOREZMORE HPA-2 Humanly Posable Armature HARDWARE ONLY Kit – includes hardware, enough for 1 puppet, no tools.

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M00015 MOREZMORE HPA-2 Humanly Posable Armature STARTER KIT

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Click on the photo to zoom,
click again for extra zoom

Includes Hardware: (enough for 1 puppet, additional hardware for 1:6 scale extensions included)

24 pieces joint compression plates (plates for joints)
2 pieces chest/hip connectors (for chest and hip connections)
12 pieces M2x10mm button hex screws (joint middle screws)
1 piece of M2x20mm brass connector (tension regulator)
3 pieces M2x5mm brass connectors (tension regulators)
26 pieces ball screws (for joints)
4 pieces M2 hex nuts (1 for neck joint, 2 for ankle joints, 1 for sitting bone)
4 pieces M2x20 screws (2 for leg extensions, 1 for spine extension, 1 for sitting bone)
2 pieces of cotton-covered finger wire, 32 Ga (to make finger armature)
4 pieces of 30 mm cut tubes 5/32″ (1 for head removable module, 2 for arms removable modules, 1 for hand palms – in magnetic wrists option)
2 pieces of 40 mm cut tubes 5/32″ (for leg removable modules)
24 pieces of M2x10mm brass connectors (for limb connecting, for joint regulators, for extensions)
1 piece of allen hex key (for assembly)
2 pieces of countersunk ring magnets 8mm diameter, 4mm height, 3 mm hole (for magnetic wrists)
1 piece of perforated steel slice (for sitting bone)
2 pieces of clear plastic 10-compartment boxes to hold the small parts

Includes Must Have Tools: (things you buy once).
1 piece diagonal wire cutter (to cut screws to size)
2 pieces long nose pliers (to tighten screws)
1 piece needle file (for cleaning thread after cutting)
1 pack of JB Cold Weld Steel Reinforced Epoxy (thread lock)

M00118 MOREZMORE HPA-2 Humanly Posable Armature HARDWARE ONLY Kit

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Click on the photo to zoom,
click again for extra zoom

Includes Hardware: (enough for 1 puppet, additional hardware for 1:6 scale extensions included)

24 pieces joint compression plates (plates for joints)
2 pieces chest/hip connectors (for chest and hip connections)
12 pieces M2x10mm button hex screws (joint middle screws)
1 piece of M2x20mm brass connector (tension regulator)
3 pieces M2x5mm brass connectors (tension regulators)
26 pieces ball screws (for joints)
4 pieces M2 hex nuts (1 for neck joint, 2 for ankle joints, 1 for sitting bone)
4 pieces screws M2x20 (2 for leg extensions, 1 for spine extension, 1 for sitting bone)
2 pieces of cotton-covered finger wire, 32 Ga (to make finger armature)
4 pieces of 30 mm cut tubes 5/32″ (1 for head removable module, 2 for arms removable modules, 1 for hand palms – in magnetic wrists option)
2 pieces of 40 mm cut tubes 5/32″ (for leg removable modules)
24 pieces of M2x10mm brass connectors (for limb connecting, for joint regulators, for extensions)
1 piece of allen hex key (for assembly)
2 pieces of countersunk ring magnets 8mm diameter, 4mm height, 3 mm hole (for magnetic wrists)
1 piece of perforated steel slice (for sitting bone)
2 pieces of clear plastic 10-compartment boxes to hold the small parts

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Step by step instructions

Part 1 – PUTTING TOGETHER AND MAKING HARDWARE PARTS

First I will describe how to make a humanoid armature,  as simple as possible, with minimum alternations of the existing parts.
After that I will show how to make an armature in 1:6 scale with realistic human proportions.

1. Find 2 compression plates, 1 M2x10mm button hex screw, 1 M2 hex nut and 2 ball screws.
2. Put them together like this:

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3. Tighten the joint, using allen hex key.

NOTE: Go easy with tightening the joints. Different joints need different degrees of tension. DO NOT OVERTIGHTEN. The limbs work as levers and generate a surprisingly strong torque in the joint – enough to break the metal.

4. Make 3 of those joints, these are neck joint and 2 ankle joints.

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5. Same way (almost, using a M2x10mm brass connectors instead of M2 hex nuts), make 6 more joints.

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6. These are shoulder joints, hip joints, knee joints.
7. One more joint – for the waist – with M2x20mm brass connector.
8. Two more – for the elbows – with M2x5mm brass connectors.

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9. Find 2 pieces chest/hip connectors (for chest and hip connections).
10. Screw the neck, shoulder, waist, hip connectors in place.

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11. Find 4 M2x10mm brass connectors and connect the forearms and legs (femur bone parts).
12. Screw a M2x10mm brass connector on each arm, like this.

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13. Find the 30 mm cut tubes 5/32″ (removable arm modules).
14. Slightly pinch the brass tubes (to make it stay on the connector better). The fit should be somewhat tight, but not too tight, so you can remove it when you need it.
15. Put the tubes (arm modules) on both arms.

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16. Find 4 M2x10mm brass connectors and screw two of M2x10mm brass connectors on each leg, like this:

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17. Find the 40 mm cut tubes 5/32″ (removable leg modules).
18. Slightly pinch the brass tubes (to make it stay on the connector better). The fit should be somewhat tight, but not too tight, so you can remove it when you need it.
19. Put the tubes (leg modules) on both legs.

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20. Same way – put the head module in its place.

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The purpose of making removable head, leg and arm modules is to help you to build your puppet.
You will be able remove the modules from the armature and make the head, hair, hands, feet and shoes in peace, without dragging the whole doll around while you are working on the particular part.

The simple humanoid armature is almost complete. You have a little bit of choice how it will look, but not much.
Here is a burly male and a dumpy female versions. If you want a figure more graceful, you can make it – you have the necessary parts in your kit. Keep reading.

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21.  The siting bone. My first puppets kept toppling and tumbling when seated, so I added parts to make this optional “sitting bone”.
22. Find the perforated steel slice, M2x20 screw and a M2 hex nut.
This construction will provide a sturdy bottom for the puppet/doll so that he/she could sit without toppling.

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23. Magnetic wrists. Find M2x10mm brass connector, a countersunk ring magnet and a ball screw.
24. Pinch the tube end with pliers and insert M2x10 brass connector.
25. Slide the magnet ring over the end (it will not stay put until you epoxy it).
26. Shorten the ball screw so that it will fit inside the palm of the hand.

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27. All the parts are done – next thread-locking and assembling.

Don’t expect your armature to stand and do things just yet. We will need to thread lock it with JB Cold Weld Steel Reinforced Epoxy, because everything you screwed together tends to get unscrewed. At this point everything is wobbly, moving and rotating. It is very confusing why something moves – because of a loose joint or a loose thread. So don’t exercise your puppet/doll just yet.

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Part 2 – THREAD LOCKING (with JB Cold Weld Steel Reinforced Epoxy)

28. Find a tray or a shallow box with a towel. This is to prevent the parts from rolling around and dropping to the floor.

29. Find JB Cold Weld Steel Reinforced Epoxy in your kit. Squeeze out equal amounts of both ingredients (about pea size each). The epoxy hardens within about 40 minutes and completely cures overnight. Mix well (very well).

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30. Starting from the head, unscrew the first joint. Work with one joint at a time, so that you do not get lost which part you are working with.
Things can get confusing, so work methodically.
31. Put some epoxy on the screw.
32. Screw the connector in place as tight as you can without breaking. Working with 2 sets of long nose pliers is helpful.

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33. Set each thread-locked part on the towel to cure. Keep the general armature outline, so that you don’t get lost.
34. After everything is thread-locked, you should get this:

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35. Decide on the point where the leg modules will be removable – at the knee or at the ankle.
This is “at the knee” variant.
36. Put epoxy on the ankle connector, slide the tube, pinch a few times with wire cutters so it will get stuck there forever. The leg modules will be removable from the knee in this case.

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Another option – leg module removable from the ankle.

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37. Assemble and epoxy the magnet wrists. The arm modules will be removable from the elbow.

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38. Methodically bring onto the towel the rest of the parts.
39. WAIT UNTIL NEXT DAY TO ASSEMBLE. Seriously, walk away and do not touch for at least 12 hours, better 24 hours.

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40. Assemble!

NOTE: Go easy with tightening the joints. Different joints need different degrees of tension. DO NOT OVERTIGHTEN. The limbs work as levers and generate a surprisingly strong torque in the joint – enough to break the metal. 

The armature is ready. You can now pose the armature and check the functionality of each joint.
The proportion image printout (the guy with the mustache) is in 1:6 scale (11.5″ or about 29 cm).
As you can see, without extensions the armature is short and stocky.
I said it would it be simple, I did not say it would be handsome.
It will work for funny cartoon-like puppets, but if you want somebody beautiful, read on.

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Here is a variant with normal human proportions in 1:6 scale. This is done with putting an extension into the spine, extensions into the shoulders and into the legs (femur bones), also shortening the forearms. To make it, you will need 4 pieces M2x20 screws and 5 pieces of M2x10mm brass connectors, wire cutters, needle file and proportions image.

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Part 3 – PUTTING EXTENSIONS FOR CUSTOM FIGURE PROPORTIONS (1:6 SCALE OR ANY OTHER).

There is a detailed post about making a 1:6 scale armature in HPA-1 Instructions, here on this post I will describe the most important extensions.

1. Prepare your drawing or proportion chart.
My armature is for a man of about 175 cm (5 feet 9 inches).
In 1:6 scale – he is about 29 cm (11.5 inch) tall.

I usually use the chart of “average guy” by Andrew Loomis (the guy with mustache).
Here is one of Andrew Loomis’ proportions charts (I will be using first choice – normal proportions).
You can find these and his other charts on google, they are royalty-free.

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How to print: Some printing software allow to print the image in the particular size.
I usually print my chart on 2 sheets of paper, first – top part, than – bottom part. This is because I have regular 8.5 x 11 paper and my proportions images are larger:  11.5″ to 12″. Then I tape the 2 parts together with a transparent packing tape. Then I cover the whole image with that tape to “laminate” it.

In order to change the proportions of your armature, you need to shorten or lengthen the limbs.

SHORTENING LIMBS:
1. Measure how much to shorten against your proportions chart.
2. Cut the end of the ball screw with the diagonal wire cutter. Cover with your palm while cutting – cut pieces tend to shoot across the room.
SAVE THE PIECES – you might be able to use them somewhere else.
3. Clean up the cut end with the needle file so that it fits into a brass connector.
4. Assemble.

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For example, cut pieces from the forearm shortening can be used to widen the shoulders.
Widening the shoulders with small cut pieces and brass connectors M2x10 mm.

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LENGTHENING SPINE/LIMBS.
1. Find one screw M2x20 and two brass connectors M2x10 mm.
2. Snip the head off the screw with the diagonal wire cutter. Cover with your palm while cutting – cut pieces tend to shoot across the room.

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3. File smooth the cut end with the needle file so that it goes into the threaded brass connector.
In order to see better what I am doing, I use this Magnifier Head Band.

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4. Screw the extension to make the spine/limb longer.

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Part 4 – HANDS.
Hand Armature for Magnetic Wrists.
It is useful to have a hand reference image. You can use this one. For example, my own hand is 18 cm long, so 1:6 scale would be 3 cm long.
Some printing software has an option to print to size. While we are at it, here is the feet image too (resize to about 4 cm for 1:6 scale)


Find the cotton-covered finger wire.
The cotton-covered finger wire in the kit is 18″ (45 cm) long. If you cut ten 4.5 cm pieces, you will have enough for 10 fingers.

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Cut a small 10 mm piece from the 30 mm cut tube 5/32″, with wire cutters.
Put wire fingers into the piece of of the tube (opposable thumb wire from the opposing end).

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Flatten the tube with long nose pliers and, for good measure, carefully pinch it a few times with wire cutter.
Carefully, don’t cut through the metal. Set the hand on a shortened ball screw. Pinch with pliers to tighten the tube around the screw.

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Hand Armature WITHOUT Magnetic Wrists.
It is useful to have a hand reference image. You can use this one. For example, my own hand is 18 cm long, so 1:6 scale would be 3 cm long.
Some printing software has an option to print to size.


Find the cotton-covered finger wire.
The cotton-covered finger wire in the kit is 18″ (45 cm) long. If you cut ten 4.5 cm pieces, you will have enough for 10 fingers.

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Bend the ends with the long nose pliers.

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Insert the bent ends into the tube.
Flatten the tube with long nose pliers and, for good measure, carefully pinch it a few times with the diagonal wire cutter.
Carefully, don’t cut through the metal.

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Measure off and trim the finger wires with scissors.

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Thank you.

18 comments on “HPA-2 Step-by-Step Instructions

  1. Your King and Jester are amazing!! I wanted to let you know that I clicked on the link for HPS-2 Kits and it doesn’t take you to it. It takes you to a blank page on your site that says “Well this is embarrassing isn’t it? The page you are looking for is not found.” I can’t wait to see what you create next! Leann Marshall

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  2. […] I used  HPA-2 Kit for Sophronia, slightly modified by adding an additional joint in the spine. The scale is roughly 1:6. Harold’s armature is experimental. HPA-2 Step-by-Step Armature Building Instructions […]

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  3. This looks awesome! What’s the smallest scale it could be used for?

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  4. Hi, what about mounting feet and is there a way for the foot to pivot at a toe joint?

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  5. I have a small issue. So, all the joints are double joints (obviously). So, you have two “knees” and “elbows” which make it harder to animate because you have to be careful to not bend the second knee joint or it looks weird. Any advice on how to make the second joint for the knees and elbows unmovable?

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  6. You mentioned in a previous comment about the foot being able to pivot. But how would I connect the foot to the table so I could animate the armature?

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  7. Hello. We enjoyed putting together the kit and are getting ready to weld it. One thing we don’t understand is what will prevent the various nuts from loosening, since they don’t get welded? We understand about not over-tightening, but won’t they just loosen up with use?

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  8. […] Posable Armature kits. Description and instructions for previous versions can be found here: HPA-2, HPA-1. This post contains step-by-step instructions for the HPA-M2 BASIC Kit which can be used to […]

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  9. […] – HPA-M2 BASIC. Description and instructions for previous versions can be found here: HPA-2, HPA-1. This post contains step-by-step instructions for the HPA-M2 SUPERFLEX Kit which can be used […]

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  10. […] replaces HPA-2 kit. In HPA-2R there is no cutting, all parts are ready for assembly, also it has aluminum wire for […]

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