Cleaning Miniatures

Another, less than popular aspect of the hobby is clipping, cleaning and gluing the minis prior to any kind of painting. Logically this topic should have come before even touching upon priming but I'm nothing if not ass-backwards.

Clipping is only usually an issue with plastic miniatures, removing the parts from the sprue (the access plastic that they come on). Clipping may also be needed for some metals where there is either a sprue (often the case with Heresy miniatures and some Hasslefree minis) or if the casts have flash (excess bits of metal that stick out from the surface like pins - flash is actually the residue from risers in the mould, necessary to get a high level of detail in the model). The best method of clipping, I have found is with side clippers, you can oftn get these for only a few quid and they work perfectly. If you can, get two - one for plastics and another for metals... the ones used for metals will get notched and worn a lot quicker, when they are unusable, get some new clippers for the plastics and use your old plastics clippers for metals.

Filing & Scraping are two sides of the same coin, they are both used to remove the mould lines that inevitably occur where the two halves of the mould meets. With most good casts, the mould lines should be barely visible and often little is needed to remove them. Filing is specifically for metal miniatures, it is not viable for plastics as, although it works, the plastic filings tend to gum up the files and ruin them very quickly. A set of needle files will get you a long way in this, I'd recommend a set of at least 8 to ensure you have a good selection of flat, rounded and edged files that should reach into all the awkward little recesses. For plastics, scraping can be used - this is a simple process where you take a sharp knife and scrap it across the edge of the mould line. Due to it's softness, the plastic will gently scrape away with this technique. BE CAREFUL! Modelling knifes like to eat fingers and miniatures alike. If you aren't careful the knife will end up cutting into either your miniature or your finger.

Washing - This is a step that I have never tried personally although I have heard several good reports of it. The theory is that when models are cast, they have a thin layer of lubricant on them which makes it easier to release them from the mould. By giving the miniatures a quick scrub with an old toothbrush in a bowl of warm water with a bit of detergent (washing up liquid or laundry detergent), you take this layer of lubricant off and ensure there is a really good clean surface for the primer.

Gluing is one of the most obvious stages, but is not without its problems. Always use polycement for plastic on plastic and superglue for everything else. I can tell you that no matter how hard you pray to the gods of wargaming - Uhu just isn't gonna cut it. Polycement is the perfect glue, it disolves the surfaces of the touching plastics and allows the molecules to cross bond, in theory making the joint exactly as strong as the surrounding plastic. It also means that if you are careless with it... you're gonna melt your miniature. I like the style that comes with a brush rather than a nozzle as I find them much easier to control. Super glue is a great thing, but I find the brush style containers - the brush is often ruined with a couple of applications so I tend to choose gel tubes which allow some decent control owing to the thickness of the glue. An important consideration with gluing is when. It is always nice to be able to paint a fully assembled miniatures, but anyone who has collected Space Marines will be all too aware of the difficulties that can occur when parts you glue obscure other areas that you can see, but you can't access with your paintbrush. Choosing what to assemble before painting and what to do after is very much dependant on skill and personal preferance. I have recently started gluing on bases before painting as I know that, if I am careful, I can make sure there are no overlaps on the ground or shoes. In my younger days it would have been asking for trouble!

Filling in gaps left from glued joints (especially with furry creatures I have found) is another matter of personal preferance. I am not very good at using epoxy resin (what I would recommend for the job) and so I try to avoid it where possible, but sometimes you just can't get away from a glaringly obvious seam that needs to be covered over. As much us possible I put these miniatures to one side and do a batch in one go as I am terrible and knowing how much epoxy to use and always end up with waste.

So there you have it, a rather rough and ready guide to preparing miniatures. Tomorrow I am hoping to get some close-ups of my zombies as I make a bit of progress on them
Raggy, signing out