You have a starting point and an initial direction. Now you must gather your tools and implements so you can properly undertake the task before you.

The general method of assembly is to separate and clean the components, then fasten them together in the correct manner, resulting in an ascetically pleasing result.

DISCLAIMER: I am not financially or contractually bound to any company mentioned in these articles. I have found what tools and materials I like, and will promote them by name because I like and use their products. I receive no compensation from anybody for mentioning (or not mentioning their competitors) any specific tool, material or method.

Painting Station

A base of operations is essential. You need a place where you keep all of your tools, implements and general accoutrements in one location. This is my Ultimate model of the Portable Paint Station by War Mage Games. If case of a disaster (the wife taking over my painting room) I can pack everything into one portable tote and relocate to anywhere I can spread out.

paintstation

Cutters & Files

There are two basic types of cutters and you need both. There are diagonal cutters (center below) and precision cutters (left and right). The diagonal is meant for heavy-duty cutting, like wire pins and high tensile metals. It is ground with the cutting edge slightly recessed from the back of the head. A precision cutter is meant for soft metal and is ground flush with the back of the head. Do not confuse the two. If you use the diagonal cutters on finished surfaces, it will always leave a ridge that you will have to file down later. If you try and use a precision cutter to cut hard metals you will irrevocably damage the cutting edge, like the yellow clippers. Notice the two gaps near the tip of the yellow cutters. That's from me being in a rush and using them to cut a paperclip to pin a joint. A close-up is on the right:

clippers

Hobby knife

This is a versatile tool that you use to cut, shave parts (not your face) poke and prod and so on. You will not need this tool on a constant basis, but when you need it, you need it.

hobbyknife

Dental tools

Like the hobby knife, tools to poke and prod, usually during model repair. Everything I said about the knife applies here as well.

dentaltools

Files

Files you will need to smooth mold lines and other imperfections. Do not get too “enthusiastic” when filing, because you could file off too much, then comes the unfun and unnecessary job of having to rebuild what you filed off.

 

files 

 

Pin-Vise

An advanced tool is the Pin-vise. If you have a difficult/heavy part, you might want to “pin” the joint. I will devote an entire article to this later because it is a complex and delicate process. A pin-vise will basically allow you to drill into both sides of a joint and use a short length of a paperclip (cut with the diagonal cutters) to reinforce the joint.

pinvise

Forceps

Basically locking pliars, you will be using this to apply parts to the model with extreme precision when your fat fingers can't do the job. These have serrated tips, so do not apply force when you have a delicate part in its grip. Unless you want to ruin the part, that is.

forcepts

 Adhesives

There are two basic types of glue used in miniatures and model construction. Plastic cement and cyanoacrylate, commonly known as superglue. Each of them bond parts together, just in different ways. Each has their own advantages and disadvantages.

Plastic cement is what we used as kids to assemble the model cars and aircraft growing up. This is a chemical solvent that actually softens plastic parts and "melts" them into one part. The solvent then evaporates and the plastic resumes its hardness. If you get any plastic cement where it isn't supposed to go (like the exterior surface of a wing or outside of a car door) even for a second or two, the cement will start softening the surface and when you wipe it off, there will be a permanent "smudge." This is good for certain types of plastic only. Plastic cement will not work on the plastic miniatures found in the Box Set.

Cyanoacrylate (Superglue) is a liquid that crystalizes in the absence of air. It grabs onto the parts involved and "freezes" them in place. The disadvantage is you must hold the joint still until the glue crystalizes, which can take a while in some cases. It is also very easy to get on your fingers and stick them together.

cynoglue

There are several different types of superglue, the only difference is their viscosity (how think the liquid is and how it flows). You have the "gap filling" type, which is a thin consistency. You can hold the parts slightly apart, then drop the glue onto the parts and it will wick itself into the gap by capillary action. Then you have the “gel” type, which are much thicker and stays where it is put. The type you use is dependent on your personal tastes (don’t actually taste it, that’s bad for you). Be prepared to hold very still for 5+ minutes using this glue, because sometimes it takes that long for the glue to set.

There is a way to cut the cure time down to just a couple of seconds, but it comes at a cost. If you have "Zip Kicker," "InstaCure" or any of the other cyanoacrylate accelerants out there, once you have the glue in the joint and the parts in position, spray a bit on the joint. It will cause the superglue to cure in under 5 seconds by cutting the oxygen off to it. The problem here is, you will sacrifice some of the strength of the bond by curing it so quick. Something to consider. Normally it will not make a big difference in the scheme of things, but if you have delicate and/or heavy parts like wings, etc. I suggest you let it cure naturally and completely.

Acetone

acetoneCommonly known as nail polih remover, acetone is used in modeling as a solvent to superglue. I use this type (obtained at Walgreen's. If someone asks, tell them it's for your wife.) to pump some acetone up to the cotton swabs (explained later). I then dab the acetone onto superglue residue from old joints to soften them before you use your dental tools to get the glue out of the joint so you can reapply new superclue to repair the joint.

Modeling

If it's time to work on the base, a part has broken off, needs to be replaced, or the joint you have just glued is too big, this is when you bring out the modeling stuff.

The first thing you need are modeling tools to cut, manipulate and otherwise work with Green Stuff/Plastic Putty:

sculpttools

You can also use them to work with Texture Gel (that’s next). This was an inexpensive bamboo set because I lost all but the one metal sculpting tool at the top.

“Green Stuff” (epoxy clay) will help you fill in gaps or manufacture extra parts. Green Stuff is a two part epoxy clay that starts out as a two-color ribbon. You cut a small piece of each color off the main strip. When I say small, I mean small. Like half of what you think you need. Don't worry, you can always add more. Knead the two colors together to a green clay, then using your sculpting tools, model it to fill the gap, look like a weapon, whatever you need to do with it. The Green Stuff is pliable for 20-30 minutes after you mix it together. It then hardens and bonds to the miniature. Sculpting tools go with the Green Stuff to mold and shape it while it’s still pliable.

plasticputty

Plastic Putty is exactly that, you squeeze it from a tube like you would toothpaste and work it until it’s in place the way you like it and it hardens.

Texture Gel

This you will use in building the “real estate” around the base of your unit to make it look more believable:

texturegel

This jar should last you for several years, if not the rest of your life. You are literally using tiny portions and this 200ml will last for hundreds of mechs.

Cotton Swabs

These are essential for cleaning up the micro-sized “spillages” that will occur when you assemble and modify units. If too much glue squeezes out of a joint, or you accidentally apply some texture gel to a part of a unit you didn’t want to, a couple of quick dabs of one of these will contain the “oops.”

swabs

Model Pedestal

Once you get to painting, having a firm way to grip the model you are working on makes things a lot easier, hence the pedestal. With a bit of “instant tacky” (used for temporary posters and such) just a dab of it on the top of the pedestal, then press the base of the model onto it and it should hold very well. When you're done, the model comes off with minimal force.

pedistal

Brushes

Your brushes are the most important part of paining your units. A bad brush, in the hands of the best miniature painter in the world will produce a sub-quality product. A good-quality, properly maintained brush will make all the difference between a good paint job and a great paint job. I will cover brushes in their own article at a later date.

brushes

Suffice it to say you will need a variety of brushes because they all do different and specific things, just like the 27 different hammers Home Depot sells.

Paints

Paint is paint, basically. Their containers are another matter. There are two basic paint containers, the “paint pot” as sold by Citadel/Games Workshop, and the “dropper” sold by Vallejo and others.

I consider the droppers to be far superior. I ruined many GW paint pots because I would open one and use it for 2+ hours at a stretch. After the third such stint, the paint went from a semi-liquid to a semi-solid because the solvent that kept it liquid had evaporated. Droppers, when used with a pallate (wet or dry), you only put out 2-3 drops at a time, which you will use up before it can become an unusable sludge. Even if it does, those couple of drops are inconsiquential.

paintpallate

Flocking

One or two spots of flocking on the base of the mech will give a great boost to the esthetic beauty of your model. This comes in many different shades (swamp, desert, woodland, etc.) and for the pre-made tufts, several different sizes. These tufts you apply to the base of the model AFTER you have sealed it, as explained in greater detail in my Assembly article. There is the pre-made tufts (left), basic fine sand (center, found at railroad hobby shops) or static grass (as in static charge, right).

flocking

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