Gathering an army to your banner isn't as difficult as you might think. Practice, patience, and good planning will win the day if you follow the brief steps outlined below. Oh, and there can't be enough said for having the proper tools for the job. Your time spent enjoying the Warhammer hobby will be more rewarding if you're not trying to cut your plastic models free from a sprue with a hacksaw!
Single-Piece Miniatures and Model Kits
Games Workshop miniatures come in two forms: either single-piece miniatures or a model kit. Single-piece miniatures are solid metal or plastic and include a base. Model kits contain multiple components such as arms, heads, weapons, and the like.
Metal models usually have the advantage over plastic models in that they are made of less pieces, unless of course you're dealing with a massive daemon or vehicle. However, with that advantage comes a drawback. Metal miniatures are much harder to convert (the process of changing a model's appearance by adding or subtracting a part of the whole) than plastic models, which by their very nature are easier to cut and thus offer more variety. The majority of Warhammer characters - large creatures as well as quite a few war machines are either single piece or multi-piece metal models.
Once you open your boxed set or blister pack and pour the contents onto the table, you should check over each and every component for minor casting leftovers. The following are examples of a few of the things you may run across when cleaning your models:
- Mould lines
Metal models are produced from rubber moulds that consist of two halves. Some models may have a line that runs all the way around the metal piece where the two mould halves join. If you can clearly see or feel this line with your finger, it will probably show once the model is painted. Use either a knife or file and carefully scrape or file away the mould line. Pay particular attention to highly visible or smooth surfaces.
Vents are thin channels cut or drilled into the rubber moulds to allow air to escape. This procedure ensures that air is expelled from the mould as it fills. When the vent itself fills with metal, the model will appear to have a thin metallic string hanging from it. This is a good sign as it means the mould has filled completely. To remove these vents, cut them off with clippers where the vent meets the model.
Flashing sometimes occurs where hot metal runs between the two mould halves producing a thin layer of excess metal. It tends to look like tin foil and can easily be scraped or cut off with a knife. Look for flash near the joints of your models, especially focusing on the legs and arms of a miniature.
After you have cleaned your models, test each piece for a proper fit. Some pieces may not fit exactly and this can easily be fixed by filling down the rough area so that the matching parts fit more smoothly. If the model has a slottabase, make sure that the tab (the metal piece attached to models feet) fits snugly into the slot. If it doesn't, use needle nose pliers to bend the tab for a tighter fit.
Once everything has been cleaned and checked for a proper fit, use superglue to join the metal pieces together. Hold both parts together for a few minutes to make sure the bond has cured. Then, set the model down on some newspaper to let it dry completely. Try not to put the model on a surface that you care about. The chemicals in the glue will scar almost every surface in your home, from plastic and glass to your wooden kitchen table!
Many Troop choices in Warhammer are made up of plastic models. Hybrid boxed sets or blisters contain both plastic and metal components. Plastic parts are molded onto frames or "sprues." All the components should be attached to the sprue, but keep an eye out for any loose or missing parts. To easily remove the plastic sprues from the steel mold during the production process, the molds are coated with a mold release agent. This oil leaves a greasy residue on the first few batches, so it is a good idea to wash your sprues with warm water and a mild hand soap. This will allow the primer to adhere to the plastic once you're ready to start painting.
Follow these steps to prepare your plastic models for painting:
After washing the mold release from your sprues, use clippers to remove your models from the sprue. Clippers will lessen your chance of gouging the soft plastic than a hobby knife will.
Once the components are removed from the sprue, use your knife or file to scrape away any mold lines and injection scars.
Plastic pieces should fit well right out of the box, but you may prefer to slightly change the angle of an arm or head. These are easy adjustments to make with plastic models. Use a knife to shave away part of the join to get the angle you want. Watch your fingers, though.
Once you're satisfied with the way the pieces fit together, glue them in place with polystyrene cement (or plastic glue, as it's more commonly called). This glue actually bonds the miniature together on a molecular level, adhering the two parts by melting them together. Just be careful not to get any glue on the details of the model as the glue will dissolve its surface.