There is more to assembling Warhammer miniatures than having paints and models. To even make a table top quality figure requires many tools. Some tools are essential while others make the process of assembling and painting more enjoyable. In this article, I will discuss some of the essential tools needed to assemble miniatures. I will also recommend some great additional tools that can be used to make the modeling process more efficient.
The following are tools every modeler’s tool box must have to assemble good quality models:
- Xacto knife
- Cement and super glue
- Water/thinner dish
- Adequate lighting
This small list is all that is needed to begin making quality miniatures. Starting from the top, an Xacto knife will be the workhorse of any model maker. From cutting pieces out of the sprue to removing mold lines, this tool is a must have. I recommend buying a good name-brand model from companies such as Xacto or Excel. Both brands will run only $3-4 for a nice starter set.
Cement or model glue is a no-brainer. What isn’t quite apparent are the different types of glue. Some glues actually melt or fuse the plastics together (plastic cement) while others simply make a surface bond (super glue.) Plastic cement takes longer work. Typically, a bond is formed in around 1 minute, but it does not fully cure for several hours. It makes a very strong and perminent bond. Super glue, on the other hand, is very fast acting. It can make a bond within a few seconds and is fully cured after only several minutes. Super glue is not as strong and is considered a brittle bond. It is good for small objects such as guns, bags, heads, and such. Plastic cement should be used for larger pieces that are under higher stress such as the base of the model, arms, vehicles, etc. Super glue allows fast model making, but don’t use it for everything.
Brushes are a topic far too broad for this article. A good assortment of brushes is needed from the smallest that can be found up to larger size 6+ for vehicles, buildings, or base coats.
A water/thinner dish is obviously needed for painting. Some thought needs to be put into the dish though. Some thinners, if using enamels, can corrode or melt plastics. I would recommend using a glass/ceramic dish because they are very resilient as well as easy to clean.
Scissors are needed for various tasks such as cutting some protective matting to trimming faux grass strands. Any old pair should do fine.
One of the most important decisions is what kind of lighting to use. A lot is a good answer. The more lighting the better. I use a clip light with a white light or natural light bulb. Do not use incandescent or the colors will not look correct when they are mixed. A model may look nice in the workshop, but when they are under florescent light at the gaming shop they may look much different. Simply buy the highest wattage bulb they sell.
While the previous list of tools are all a modeler needs to make great looking models, there are additional tools that make the experience much more enjoyable and make the results even better while using less time. The tools I recommend are:
- Sprue snips
- Pin vise
- Carrying case
- Color wheel
- White glue
- Tooth picks
- Storage jars
- Assortment of files
- Sand paper
Sprue snips make cutting out the plastic bits twice as fast, literally. The flat side lays against the model, this makes for a clean cut that is flush with the model but does not harm the model. They are so good that I would consider them essential for myself, but a razor does work. If you have an extra $5-10, definitely pick up a pair. They can be found in the jewelry section of most large hobby shops for cheap or GW makes a more expensive pair.
A pin vise is used to make small adjustments to fitment holes or to add barrel holes to weapons for a more realistic look. An example of its use can be seen on my Dreadnaught. Tapes are used for masking off paint lines, securing models/matting, and more. I recommend two types, normal masking tape for all-purpose uses and specific painter’s tape for masking. White glue is a very cheap purchase and makes decorating the base of a figure a breeze. Simply heavily lay some glue onto the base and then dip it into sand to get a natural texture.
A color wheel, some tooth picks, and storage containers all help make the painting process easier. Toothpicks make for great paint stirrers. They also come in handy for quick mock-ups or supporting pieces while the glue dries. I use my color wheel to give me inspiration, or to let me know if something is going to clash. Storage containers are nice to have around if you mix a great blend of paints and want to save some for later. They are also good for mixing washes and inks.
Files and sandpaper are sometimes needed for smoothing surfaces or making the fitment on certain pieces better. Although GW models are very well made, there are still times when some pieces do not fit perfectly. Having an assortment of each can take those situations from being a roadblock to only being a few minute’s work.
Having some non-caustic cleaner on hand can make accidents no big deal. I always keep my workspace surface very clean. Any dust or contamination can cause lost time and could ruin an otherwise perfect model.
Finally, having a carrying case to hold all the accessories and “traveling” paints is pretty much a must-have. Keep yourself organized and you will save a lot of money and time in the long run.
Buying all these accessories in one run could be expensive. At the bare minimum, load up on the essentials and save the recommended for later. However, if a little bit of time is taken to find cheap routes to purchase these things, everything could be had for under around eighty dollars.
Check out my Pinching Pennies guide to find low cost alternatives to the GW accessories!