How to assemble miniatures
From Ex illis wiki
A large part of what makes miniature wargaming so unique is the hobby of collecting, building and painting an army you will use for years to come. If you are new to this hobby and have never put together a miniature before, look no further: this document is for you! Using the Ex illis starter kit as a reference, we will walk you through the process of assembling your miniatures in an easy to follow step by step guide.
What you will need:
- The miniatures on their sprues;
- A pair of clippers;
- A bottle of plastic glue;
- A hobby knife and cutting board (optional);
- A file (optional);
- Some epoxy putty, commonly known as «green stuff» (optional).
You can find all of these tools at your local gaming shop. If you are not sure about a certain step or about how to use a particular tool, do not hesitate to ask a store employee. Most of them are hobby enthusiasts and will be glad to help you.
Miniatures can be fragile which is why they are shipped on protective sprues to makes sure your models arrive in perfect condition. The first step in assembling your miniatures is to remove them from these sprues using your clippers.
Use the flat part of the clipper to cut as close as possible to the piece without cutting into it. Be careful, however, since some finer parts like weapons and accessories can be extra fragile. If you feel unsure about a particular piece, take your time, be gentle and you will not damage it.
Removing the excess plastic
Once you have unclipped a piece, chances are a bit of plastic from the runner is still on the model. Use a hobby knife and/or a file to remove that excess plastic.
Warning: Be extra careful when cutting through plastic with a hobby knife: plastic can offer resistance at first and suddenly let the knife go through. Use a cutting board and be cautious not to hurt your fingers in the process. These hobby knives are meant to be sharp!
Once you are ready to glue two pieces together, put a thin layer of plastic glue on one part of the joint, stick it to another piece, hold it for roughly ten seconds and voilà!
The time it takes for glue to make its work varies from piece to piece. Trying to glue a long and heavy part on a small joint requires you to hold the pieces together for a long time in order to fight gravity, while gluing a head to shoulders is almost instantaneous.
If you mess up... Yes, you will mess up from time to time. Do not worry, it happens to everyone. If you let go of a piece too quickly or need to remove it because you made a mistake, you will probably see that part of the joint is viscous. This is because glue melts the plastic to fuse the two pieces together. This half-melted plastic will prevent further glue from working properly. Remove this excess with a knife before trying again.
Speeding Things Up
The more attention and care you put into something, the better the result will be. This being said, assembling a whole starter is a big job! Here is a collection of tips you can use if you want to speed things up a little.
Some pieces may need more time to glue properly. If you want a perfect angle, you can hold them together manually or you can simply use an old book (or any other small object) on which you lean the pieces in an angle that you like. This way, you can start gluing something else while they dry. Saving thirty seconds per piece will quickly add up at the end of the day.
However, be careful when using the leaning technique: if you do not lean the pieces properly, they may start to slide and fall into a position you may not want. Make sure it is set the right way before letting go of it.
As you get more confident with unclipping your pieces, here is a trick you can use: hold your sprue in one position and cut the joints of all similar pieces. Then, rotate the sprue and do the same for the other joints. The time you gain may not seem like much, but this movement is repeated so many times that even speeding things up just a bit can make a big difference in the end.
Assembling a whole model one piece at a time is the most entertaining way to work, but it is also the longest. Here is a way that, albeit it feels more factory-like, it will help you gain a considerable amount of time when assembling your starter.
- Locate and unclip all the pieces related to a unit on every sprue;
- Line up all these pieces in an orderly fashion;
- Start by gluing the same piece for every model in the unit;
- Once you are finished, the glue on the first model will probably be dry so you can start gluing a second piece.
Of course, this method removes part of the craft out of the experience of assembling your army. You are the best judge of which method suits you.
If you plan on spending a lot of time painting your models, here are a few techniques you may want to consider. They are entirely optional and may seem excessive to someone new to the hobby, but they will make a big difference if you are aiming at getting a good quality painting on your troops. Remember that you are likely to keep these miniatures for a long time: taking extra time may be worth the investment.
Words of wisdom: When starting a hobby, it is important to gauge how much time you are willing to commit to your new activity. Go too slow and you will bore yourself before you are finished, leaving you with a half-done project you will not be proud of. Go too quickly and you will make mistakes you will regret later. A good starting point may be to spend more time on an important hero or on a unit you particularly like, and keep a steady pace for the rest. You will be able to choose what technique you like using as you gain more experience.
Cleaning Up Mould Lines
Plastic models are produced by injecting plastic into the two halves of a mould. Sometimes, a thin line forms where these two parts join up. This line may not seem like much now, but if you intend on using a painting technique called “dry brushing”, your paint will stick to that line and will make you regret not removing it in the first place. To clean up a mould line, gently scrap it with a hobby knife or a file until you get a neat, flat piece. Take your time and be gentle: you do not want to damage your model in the process.
Sometimes, two parts may not line up perfectly and you will find yourself with a small gap in your model. If you want to fix a joint perfectly, you will need a bit of epoxy putty (green stuff). Here is how to proceed:
- Start by cutting a small amount of each part (blue and yellow);
- Twist, roll and mix the two parts together until you get a warm, malleable and uniformly green putty;
- Apply the putty on the joint and, if you feel creative, shape it to your liking with a hobby tool.