Intro to Miniatures

Wednesday, 16. June 2010

As modern gaming progresses more and more visually, it would follow suit that props would take a greater and greater role.  In this particular case, the miniature takes the cake as the main tool.  Used to denote character locations, as well as being an art object, mini’s of good quality have become more and move available as the market demands them.  As with any such item, quality can vary vastly.  Here are a few things to look for when choosing one as well as the inevitable painting that will follow.

For starters, all of these models are either poured or injection molded.  The quality of the mould that’s used can vary wildly, but there are a few things to look for in quality.  When the molds are misaligned, it produces excess material called flashing that needs to be removed.  In a worse case in my opinion, it can also produce a ridge line that needs to either be filled or filed down for a clean appearance.  Most of the models will also have sprues, tabs used to inject the material into the mold.  These will need to be removed before painting.

Model quality is another consideration to look at.  In addition to the points in the molding that was just mentioned, the models sharpness is of prime consideration.  The edges that separate the details on the model should be clean and crisp whenever possible.  This carries into painting later, as it makes dry brushing and washes on the model considerably easier.

There are a number of different materials that are commonly used in cast models.  The ones typically used are plastic, resin and a lead free pewter.  The price on the models tends to escalate as you move from left to right.  Plastic is common in the more mass produced models, and tends to have the most flashing and sprues to clean up.   Resin is used in higher priced models and tends to be well crafted without too much work needed to be paint-able condition.  Pewter is the heaviest as well as the softest of the material.   It is probably the most common as well, which means the quality of it can vary wildly.

Without getting too deep into the process; when the model is picked and finally cleaned up, it needs to be washed in a little soap and water to remove any stray oils that would affect paint adhesion.  After which, the model is usually primed before painting.    Typically a water based paint is the best to work with, as it’s easiest to clean up without much in the way of fumes.  The better quality brushes that are used also make painting easier.  They retain their shape better, as well as loading with paint more effectively.

As mentioned earlier, there is a very wide variety of models now available.  The following information will hopefully lead to picking a better class of miniature, making painting and preparing it that much simpler.  I’ll follow later with a series on model painting.

Good luck, and good hunting!

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