Been working on my figures...have decided to go for semi-relief magnets out of polymer clay. The relief gives it a 3-dimensional toy feel, polymer clay resembles plastic in consistency and weight and the magnet ensures that it won't get damaged or bashed about. Facing the mammoth task of making 200 figures by hand. After a lot of trial and error, this is the method I developed:
(Simon Cowell has volunteered for the demo)
1) Cut out card templates for each character, and various body parts. Relevant shapes are cut out of polymer clay and 'stacked' to create a rough relief.
2) Edges are smoothed down using a rubber shaper and various other tools. This completes the sample model. One sample is made from scratch for each character (26 altogether).
3) Character is heated for 30mins at 130 C to harden the polymer clay. (My temperamental fuse-blowing oven makes this stage a lot more precarious than it should be.)
4) Fired figure is covered with Siligum, a silicone moulding putty. Took a number of tries to get it right...my first attempts had too many air bubbles which made the mould useless.
5) Siligum hardens after 5 mins and figure can be released from mould.
6) A soft piece of polymer clay is pressed into the mould and pulled out.
7) Extracted figures are given some finishing touches and then fired.
Stages still to go include sanding the surface of all 200, painting with acrylic, transferring facial features with Safmat film (Letraset film for inkjet printers), varnishing and sticking the magnets. Also sourced a bunch of tiny magnets for Britney Spears' wig and Swarovski crystals to decorate Paris Hilton with.
Desk shot halfway through moulding: