So, you have blisters of Mechs sitting on your workbench, and you can hear them crying, "Build Me!!!" but you don't know where to start. You did the right thing by coming here.

Assembly and preparing a miniature before painting is the basis on which everything else is built. If you do a bad job here, the most fantastic paint job in the world will not save it.

So we will discuss how to assemble and base your miniatures. First, gather your tools & implements.

Just so you have an idea how these are cast, here are two videos from Reaper Miniatures as they explain and show to a tour group how miniatures are cast.

 

To begin, take everything out of the blister pack and make sure you have all of the pieces. If you can, have a picture of the miniature you are assembling so you know what it's supposed to look like. Below is the unit for this article, the WHM-X7 "The Lich."

assembly1

Take your precision clippers and separate the parts from their sprues. You will also use your clippers to remove any flash from the parts as well. There are two different types of things you will be cutting off and trimming from your pieces. The parts with red circles around them are sprues, made from the channels that the liquid metal when it is cast pours from the center of the mold into the individual pieces. The orange circles highlight flash, which in this case is from vent holes that allow air to escape from the mold as the metal flows in.

assembly2

Closely inspect all pieces for errors and mold lines. When you see something like this, these are “mold lines,” caused by an imperfect match between the parts of the mold. Take a file of the appropriate type for the job to gently and smoothly remove any unsightly bumps, mold lines and flash that your precision cutters can't reach. Take your time and use the files gently and delicately on the miniature. Not because the files might break, but it is difficult to replace metal you filed off the miniature because you were too, "enthusiastic." The red circle below highlights a mold line.

assembly3

Now, test fit the parts. Make sure they fit well. You may have to file a bit more to help the pieces fit together. During this phase, it is essential that you make haste slowly. You need to move quickly when you have glue on parts, however you should never rush the assembly of a model. Apply your glue, then quietly sit there until the glue initially sets and can hold the piece without support. Then carefully put the model down and leave it be for about 10 minutes to make sure the glue has fully hardened. Take your time, because the best painting job in the world will not make up for a crappy assembly job.

If you have a delicate joint, you can do something called "pinning the joint." This will add strength to the joint and make it less likely that the joint will fail. I am writing an article exclusively on that.

Now you have an assembled miniature! But wait! You're not done yet. Just a few more things.

assembly4

I highly suggest you superglue any Mech to a hex base, for the simple reasons of stability and improving the look of the miniature. A model on a hex base is less likely to fall over if bumped and provides some "real estate" for you to decorate to try and sell the believability of the miniature. We do this here before painting because it will look better than if you had done it as the last step.

Apply a large drop of superglue to the inside of the base, and place the miniature on the base. Let it naturally cure.

Now what you want to do is fill in the hex base so it has a consistent surface. There are two ways to to this.

assembly5

If there is a gap between the base of the Mech and the edge of the hexbase, I suggest you use spackle or texture gel. Apply your filler on the base using your modelling tools in very small amounts. Like 1 cubic millimeter at a time.Take your time on filling the gaps and smoothing the surface out. If any of the filler gets on the miniature or on the outside of the base, get it off with your cotton swabs before it dries. There will be some shrinkage, so you will probably have to fill in any inadequate spots a second time. Let the material dry thoroughly dry before reapplying. Remember, doing it twice is preferable to doing possibly too much on the first time and having to scrape the dried excess off or scrape it all off and start from the beginning.

If the base is integral and smooth, take a medium brush that you don't use to paint with anymore, and spread a layer of white (or PVA, as it's called in England) glue on the top of the base. Then dip the base in railroad ballast (a very, very fine sand), shake off the excess and let it air dry. Voila! You now have a base with the beginnings of some personality.

One miniature down, 35 to go! Get to it so we can do some painting!

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