The first time I build miniatures for Warhammer I absolutely wrecked those poor minis. At the time I did not know, and I could not see that I had ruined it – but I had!
Assembling a miniature is actually really simple, but a few mistakes can really mess it up.
In this article I am going through how to assemble a Warhammer plastic miniature step by step, so you can avoid messing things up.
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1. Get your tools
ready to build miniatures
- The frames/sprues for the plastic miniatures you are going to assemble
- The manual that came with the box of miniatures
- A pair of clippers. Make sure one of the ends are flat, or else you are going to have a harder time cleaning the pieces. I prefer to get clippers that are really sharp because it will give you a cleaner finish.
- For plastic miniatures, you will need some plastic glue – specifically poly cement glue. Citadel is fine, but I prefer the small nozzle of the Revell. It just gives a bit more precision, and I hate getting glue on places I do not want.
- To remove excess plastic, from the sprue or from mouldlines, you will need some sort of tool. You can use either a hobby knife or the citadel mouldline remover. For a beginner, I would recommend the citadel remover (it gives less chance of you cutting something off by accident). When I clean plastic I switch back and forth from the knife and the remover, so getting both is totally worth it in the long run.
- To remove excess glue a bit of paper towel is very handy.
- You are going to end up with quite a bit of small plastic bits. I usually have a cardboard box that I try and get the small plastic bits into (just to not make a complete mess of the living room).
2. Cut out the first few pieces you want to
Looking at the manual and see what numbers the first pieces on the first picture has. Cut those outs and only those. To cut it, lay the flat end of the clippers as close to the piece as possible. If you do it correctly you will get the minimal amount of excess plastic on the piece (but you cannot avoid getting a bit extra on it). Getting a clean job is an essential skill to building miniatures.
While you cut out the piece, try and memorize where the parts was connected to the sprue. The next step is easier if you know where to look for the exces plastic you need to get off.
3. Remove excess plastic and mouldlines from the
Take your mouldline remover and gently scrape off the excess bits left from the places where you cut the plastic piece off the sprue. I find that the leftover bits stand clearly out from the rest of the plastic because the sprue plastic has been warped and discoloured from when you clipped it off.
At times it can be hard to use the mouldline remover to get it off. This is mainly if the plastic piece you are cleaning is very small, or if you have a lot of spikes on it. When using the mouldline remover you have to apply some force to the plastic to use it correctly. Sometimes this will cause you to bend the piece you are trying to clean, making the whole process a waste of time. At those times you might be better of using an
After you have done this, look closely at the model. Notice any small lines that looks out of place on the model? Those a mouldlines and do not look good when the model is painted. New GW miniatures have very minimal mouldlines, but they are still visible on some models. Over time you will get better and better at recognising, noticing and removing these mouldlines.
To remove the mouldlines simply scrape on it gently with the mouldline remover.
If you are using a hobby knife and not the mouldline remover, you have to take care you do not cut of plastic that is part of the model. This can look much worse than what the mouldlines did and
4. Test if the pieces fit together
This step is sometimes skipable, but it can be a good idea to just check if the pieces fit snugly together. Sometimes it can be a bit fiddly how the parts actually go together, so it is nice to know before you get glue all over the place and plastic starts melting in.
Just make sure you know how to put the pieces together before you get glue on them. Look closely at the manual if it is not immediately apparent. GW has actually gotten really good at making manuals and illustrations, so apart from the odd pieces, you should have no trouble getting things to fit together.
5. Put glue on the pieces that will connect the
Because the glue melts the plastic, make sure you only get glue on the parts of the model that will be glued together. If not, you will get a weird melted look (cool for Nurgle stuff, but otherwise a bit of a bummer).
Be careful not to get glue on your fingers and smear them on the model, as this will leave fingerprint marks.
6. Attach the pieces
You will only have to hold the pieces together for a few seconds before the plastic will start to meld together. Sometimes the balance of the miniature can be a bit off, where gravity forces the two pieces apart. In those cases, it can be helpful to let the glue dry a bit before attaching the pieces. That way, the plastic will have started to melt on both parts making the bond between them happen faster. You can also just hold the pieces together with your finger.
If you need to reposition the pieces, hurry up and do it while the glue has not melted the plastic. It is very hard to reposition once the plastic has turned to goo. Remember that after the plastic has bonded, it can be almost impossible to tear the pieces from each other.
7. Remove the excess glue with paper towel
8. Repeat the steps until the miniature is
Answers to common questions regarding assembling miniatures
How do I clean the nozzle of the glue?
At some point it will happen: the nozzle on your plastic glue is blocked and nothing is coming out (if you look closely at the gifs in this article you can see that mine is pretty blocked, making it hard to get the glue out. To clean it, simply take out the nozzle, hold it in some metal tweezers and burn that little thing. The dried glue inside will pop out, and it will be ready for use again (see gif below).
Why not clean all parts of the miniature in bulk?
It is perfectly viable to “bulk” the process above. Cut out all the pieces one at a time, clean all the pieces one at a time and glue all the pieces in the end. This was the best way of doing it, back when all arms and legs would fit on all torsos in a box of miniatures. But with the new Warhammer miniatures, it is much better to follow the instruction manual to the letter. It can become very hard to discern what pieces fit together, once you have lost track at what the number is for each piece. This is why I suggest to take it one step at a time.