As a long time miniature gamer I know how exciting it is when you get that new miniature home and how quickly you want to get it on the board and playing. Here I will present several steps to getting that miniature ready to play and able to play for years to come.
1. Inspecting the model.
One thing that you might want to do before you even buy it if you can is to inspect the model. Several things to keep an eye for are miss-cast minis that maybe missing parts, have "air bubbles" in them or the two halves of the mold did line up properly and the two halves of the minis are off from one another. Taking time when you are shopping will help you in the long run from long hours of fixing a model that should not have been purchased in the first place.
2. Removing them from the sprue/extra flash
Items required: Flush Cutters, razor knife, jewelers saw, or other sharp cutting tool.
I know some people love to use the tear/twist method of popping minis from their sprue. This is a BAD habit that you need to break, it will because you repair time that you do not need to spend. I recommend using a pair of flush cutters, they give you more control and can normally reach any place you need to go, a razor knife can slip if you are not careful and mar your new minis! Just take your flush edged cutters or your razor knife and cut on the pieces from the sprue. With pewter pieces you have extra pieces of pewter where there was a vent hole (known as vents or flash, these are a good sign, ir means that the model was fully poured) or where they poured the pewter in. Some of these can be quite thick, for these the flush cutter works the best or even a jewelers saw. One some of the smaller pieces you may want to leave part of the sprue or just do the next step before firt before removing them.
3. Washing your new mini (no not the car)
Items needed: Container large enough to hold the sprue or pieces, warm water, a little bit of dish soap, an area to dry.
Set up: Pour enough warm water in the container, add soap, set up area to dry pieces
You have now just removed all the pieces from the sprue or cleaned all the pieces of extra pewter. A lot of people want to get the miniature open and put it together so they can put it on the board, I am guilty of it too, but take a few minutes to take the model (plastic or pewter) and wash it in warm (not hot!) soapy water. When miniatures are made they put a mold release agent in the mold to allow the new piece to come out with no sticking. The problem is afterwards they do not wash them. The mold release can make it really difficult to almost impossible to get glue to properly set the pieces together and can cause primer to not stick to the miniature correctly. By washing it in warm water with soap you will wash away the mold release agent and give you a good surface to work on. Set your minis aside and make sure they dry. If you do not let them dry properly then it can mess up the assembly and priming stage.
4. Erasing the line
Items needed: Razor knife, files, emery boards, Latex gloves
All miniatures, no matter how well they have been molded, plastic or pewter, will have small lines were the two halves of the mold fit together. These are known as mold lines. Nothing will ruin a great paint job then a mold line showing. You also might have imperfections where you removed the model from the sprue or you cut the piece of flash from the model. You have several options to remove these nasty pests. One tool that is handy is the razor knife that all modelers have. If you are very careful you can have the razor pointed towards the line and slowly cut the mold line away. Another option is to use an old blade and run it with little pressure straight up and down, this will wear away the mold line as well. Another great tool is files and micro files. What you want is a set of small files with very fine grit. Just be careful not to over file or to apply to much pressure or you can end up with flat spots. If you can not find a set of file you can also use a finger nail fire or an emery board with fine grit. I recommend using latex glove from here on out when handling your minis on the painting surface so you do not transfer the oil from your hands to the model. If you had to handle the model you can always rewash it.
5. Test Fit
Items needed: Blu-Tac
Now that you have your miniature with no mold lines comes time to dry fit the model. This is where you look to see where you will have issues with painting once the model is together, you can also test the pose that you want the model in at this point. Once again you have a couple options for this. You can either just put the pieces together or keep track of what is going to be overlapping what. You can also use a product known as blu-tac, used to hang posters and other objects on the wall with out damaging the wall. You put a small piece of blu-tac on the area that you would normally glue and put the model together. Keep in mind that blu-tac holds but gravity will play into effect and pull things down. Once you have identified what pieces will be in the way during painting or would be easier to paint on their own we move to the next step.
6. Primary Assembly Stage
Items needed: Glue, 2-part epoxy, latex gloves
During the primary assembly step you will assemble all items that will not get in the way of painting or does not need to be painted separate from the model. A few things to keep in mind if it crosses the body or a part of the minis you might want to leave it off until the secondary assemble step. A prime example is a normal Space Marine. In its standard pose the bolter crosses the chest and the arms press up against the side. Normally when I assemble these I will leave the arms and bolter off. If you are dealing with a heavier pewter piece you might want to consider pinning the model. There are several great tutorials on that subject already to I will fast forward. To assemble a model you will want some super glue or something designed for the purpose of gluing models together. I also use 2-part epoxy. It is normally quick drying and offers a rock hard seal. But be careful for this same reason as it is almost impossible to clean up once it has dried. Once the model is together you need to set it off to the side for a couple hour to allow the glue/epoxy to fully cure. I recommend sitting the model in a model oven or letting it cure 24 hours. Once the model is complete you will want to base your model, if you are doing a really scenic base, finish the base and then glue the model on, if you are doing a standard flocking then you can glue the model on first. This is all about prefernce.
7. Prepping and priming you model
Items needed: Blu Tac, Latex Gloves, Primer, Area to paint,
In this step you will be prepping your miniature for painting. The first thing you want to do is take a small portion of blu-tac to all places where you are going to clue so you leave the plastic bare. When you put the blu-tac on you only need to coverthe places that will be glues, try to not have it overlap into a place that will be painted. The worst part about this step if you need to wait until humidity is low. If you walk outside and it feel wet or there is moisture on the ground you will want to hold off until it is dry out. You really can not get away from it even if you go inside unless you have a paint book with a dehumidfier built in. Once it is dry enough to paint you will want to set up the area that you will be painting in. My normal painting booth is a large box with the front and all or half the top removed. It guards against splatter and once you are done with painting you can rotate it to the wall do little or no dust or other stuff will get on your model. Most important step in priming is several thin coats, not one thick coat. If you can do not lean your model over to paint underneath as the model can get "glued" to your paint booth and screw up your primer. In a future addition to this article I will post some easy and cheap to make devices that will help you prime your models better. Now give your minis plenty of time to dry by leaving them outside or Carefully moving them into a miniature oven.
8. Painting your Minitaure
OK, there are a 1,001 articles on this, go read one of those for the answers to this
9. Assembly step 2
Items needed: Glue, 2-part epoxy, latex gloves
First thing you will want to do is remove the blu-tac from the areas that where covered during the priming stage. You must be very careful when handling the model and will want to use the latex glove to ensure you do not rub the paint that you just applied off. You will now carefully glue the model together. Once the model is completely together you can go back and tough up and areas you might have missed.
10. Sealing your model
Items needed: Some type of sealer, area to seal
This is much like the priming step, you can either use your old paint booth or a different one. As long as the primer is dry, you should have no problems with sealing in the same box. Once again watch for humidty, this can also spoil the sealing step. Once this step is complete you are ready to play!
Let me know if you think there is any steps that should be added. I will get the other half of this up soon. I will be refining it as well and added little notes to the different sections (advice, word of wisdom, smartass comments etc). I will be adding other tutorials in building some of the items I talk about in this article. I will also be updating this seciton as well and expanding some of the secitons.
Last edited by Djinn24; 01-28-08 at 07:09 AM.