In this Welcome to the Hobby, I will be introducing some techniques for building metal miniatures from the blister to completion. Metal can be a challenging material to build and keep together, but it has a great level of detail that is difficult to get onto plastic or resin miniatures. For this particular tutorial I will be using the Earth Elemental kit from Reaper Miniature’s Warlord range. They have the best selection of metal miniatures in the market, so check out their miniature line at http://www.reapermini.com/ and you wont be disappointed.
Gather your tools! For this project you will need a hobby knife with a fresh blade, a pair of clippers or side-snips, a file, putty or green-stuff (optional, super glue or metal glue, and shaping tools (optional).
Below I’ve taken all of the content out of the blister, and we have a legs part, a chest part, two head options, and two arms. Most metal miniatures come in fewer pieces, but some of the bigger characters will be in more parts like this. Like shown in my plastic tutorial, use clippers to carefully snip the parts from the extra. If at all possible, cut with the flat most edge of the clippers as close to the part as you can get without damaging the part. Also snip any excess bits of metal from the miniature (called flashing). Then you’ll want to use the scraping method (pressing your hobby blade up against the part at an angle, and scraping upwards blade side down) to remove mold lines from fine detail areas, and filing (involves brushing your file up against the areas with mold lines very gently) to remove mold lines from wider areas.
Since the legs are attached to a slot piece, test-fit the slot into the base. If it doesn’t quite fit, cut down the edges and file the sides until it will fit in the slot properly. Then spread some super glue on either side of the slot and on the bottoms of the feet of the miniature and place it into the base to dry. Metal miniatures without a slot should be pinned to the base (I’ll show pinning later in the article).
Next I went ahead and test-fitted the body and head to the legs, and glued them into place. These joints fit snugly, so there was no need to pin them together for extra strength.
Often joints of a metal model don’t fit quite right, or there isn’t enough contact area between the points for super glue to hold well. For these joints we use a technique called pinning, which uses a pinning vice (a small hand-operated drill) with a small drill bit to drill a hole on both sides of the joint, and glue in a rigid pin to add extra strength to the joint. I started by drilling a hole in the body’s side of the joint. The hole should be fairly deep, but not so deep that you’ll damage the model you are drilling into, just deep enough to anchor the pin into place.
Next I glued in some rigid wire. A paper clip of the right thickness works fairly well.
Next I drilled a hole in the arm-side of the joint. Since this part isn’t as thick, I needed to drill a more shallow hole. Then cut down the pin that you glued into place so that it fits nicely in the other joint, and test fit it to be sure.
When I test fitted it, I recognized that the joint still wiggled a bit, and that there were gaps in the joint itself. Some larger miniatures have gap issues, where when you put the pieces together there are exposed areas that aren’t textured, or cracks in-between the parts that would be unsightly when you paint it. You can use green stuff or some other kind of putty to fill those gaps by mixing equal portions of each part, and wrapping them around the joints you plan on gluing, you can also stuff it into the gaps when the glue is dry, both methods work fairly well.
Once I glued on the arms, there was quite a bit of excess putty, so I decided to texture the putty to make the arms seem more seamless with the rest of the model.
I smoothed off the putty with some shaping tools, and gave it a rough rock texture to blend it in with the rest of the miniature. Putty shaping can be a tricky technique to learn, so I will be writing other articles on it later on.
That concludes the metal assembly article, I hope you found the content to be useful. Let me know what you think with a comment or by Emailing me at email@example.com