Miniatures - Assembly
The general flow of things:
- Cut the model parts out.
- Try to keep track of the bit numbers and which goes with what.
- Remove extra plastic bits from parts with a hobby knife.
- Spikes and other sharp parts usually have thin flakes.
- Remove mold lines with a hobby knife or a mould line remover.
- It's much easier to do it now.
- Smooth out any leftover plastics with a file, sandpaper or sanding sponge.
- Glue the model together with superglue or plastic cement.
- You can also do sub-assemblies; painting the model in parts and glue them later.
- If you plan on magnetizing your miniature, do it here.
- Fill gaps with a putty of your choosing.
- Smooth out any excess putty with a file, sandpaper or sanding sponge.
- Optionally drill a hole and stick a pin in there for pinning it later to the base.
- When doing sub-assemblies, optionally attach parts into pins with poster putty.
- Prime your model; my spray stick also has pinholes so fast to attach the models.
- Use a spray can or airbrush; it's just faster.
- Alternatively, you can attack the model to a textured base to get it primed too.
- I like to keep the bases separate.
Now you are ready to get the models painted.
Cleaning the Parts
If you notice mould lines once on a painted model, you can never stop seeing them.
Some assembly kits might have a bit of oil on them. There might be some mould storage oil residue left on the first few sprues of a production batch. It's recommended to wash the parts in warm water with a bit of soap if they appear to have oil or grease on them. Primer might not stick to an oily surface.
You should clean any misshapes you can feel with your finger. As a general rule, if you can feel it with your finger, it will show after priming.
Common model part imperfections that require cleaning:
- Mould Lines: Formed when two halves of a mould are pressed together, and they are not exactly aligned or material otherwise seeps between the mould halves.
- Vents: Small strands of material that are formed because of tiny air escape channels in the mould. Very thin strands so easy to remove.
- Flashing: Formed when material flows between the two halves of a mold deeper than a simple mould line. Very thin sheets so easy to remove.
- Detachment Scars: Formed when you cut parts off from the sprue.
Cleaning all the misshapes is pretty similar.
- Use the back of a hobby knife or a dull hobby knife to scrape away the most of it.
- Level it with a narrow file; jeweler's files work great.
- Smooth it with a fine grit sanding paper or a sanding sponge.
Any superglue, instant glue, plastic cement/glue will work. Even the cheapest instant glue can be used to assemble models by my experience. If anything, look for cheaper glues that have more gel-like consistency; they usually mention "gel" or "rubber" in the label. Watery glues will be hard to get to the right places and will flow to unintended recesses to hide details.
I usually use Loctite Super Glue Power Flex Gel or plastic cement.
When you build models from pieces, you always get some gaps between the parts. If they are tiny, your primer will hide them, but most holes you can see with the naked eye will leave nasty gaps in the completed model. Once you begin seeing them, you can't unsee them.
What you can use to fill those gaps:
- Milliput is an excellent epoxy putty to fill gaps of any size. You can remove excess with a damp brush while it hasn't cured yet and after its hard, you can sand it.
- Green Stuff is also another epoxy putty that can be used for this use-case, but I'd say Green Stuff is better for sculpting and making texture than filling gaps because of the elasticity.
- Liquid Plastic Putty like the one Vallejo makes is nice for quick fixes on small gaps. You can use a damp brush to push it deeper into the gaps and clean out any excess. Doesn't work on larger gaps though.
- Mix leftover plastic with plastic cement to create liquid plastic to pour into the gaps. Use a small glass bottle, cut small pieces of plastic to fill the bottom, then add plastic cement until the level is right above the plastic pieces and wait for 24 hours. Now you can use your non-synthetic brushes to brush it into gaps. Works fell for small gaps, not at all with larger gaps
- Re-attachable Weapons and Arms: 1 mm thickness, 2-3 mm diameter
- Large Re-attachable Weapons and Arms: 2 mm thickness, 3-8 mm diameter
- Bases: 2 mm thickness, 6 mm diameter, multiple for larger bases
- Flat Bottom Bases: ~1 mm magnetic sheet
Check that you are buying N52 strength neodymium magnets. These are the strongest ones, you don't want to find out that the pull is not strong enough after assembly.
A good base magnet for bases is 6 x 2 mm.
- 1 mm thickness results in less magnetic pull; inferior but usable.
- 3 mm thickness is too bulky and most bases won't stand straight.
- 10 mm diameter magnets have issues fitting under the base when pinning or using slotted bases. 8 mm magnets are also usable for the most cases, but might cause issues with smaller slotted bases. 6 mm diameter magnets work for most bases, and you can simply use multiple for larger models.
- For reference, with Termagant 25 mm slotted base (a quite standard one), an 8 x 2 mm magnet fits only on the larger side of slotted bases while 6 x 2 mm fits both sides.
If you have drill bits that don't fit to you pin vice, like 5 mm or larger, just wrap the drill bit with duct tape or hockey grip tape to create a handle.
- How to Paint Citadel Miniatures, David Cross and Rick Priestley