Saturday, 23 November 2013

Basic tips on working with metal miniatures

If you have been working with only plastic and resin miniatures so far, it is only natural to feel slightly intimidated with a new material such as white metal. But fear not, most of the principles that are used when handling resin (described in an earlier blog post) and plastic miniatures also apply to metal miniatures with a few minor adaptations. Most Knight Models miniatures are white metal model kits while some come in a mixture of resin and metal.

Knight Models Iron Man (Special Edition) comes in a mixture of large and small metal parts
In contrast, Knight Models Zombie Girl comes in a few, easier to assemble metal parts

Handling of resin and metal miniatures - What is similar?
Metal miniatures go through the same process of cleaning (removal of mould lines and flash) as well as a need for a final wash with soap before being glued together. Moreover, the main tools used when handling resin miniatures are also used when dealing with metal model kits. We can still use the same hobby clippers to separate pieces from the sprue as white metal is very soft; the hobby knife can still be used to remove mould lines although some new tools will be used to complement the knife; and finally super glue is used to fix the parts together.

Removing metal parts from the sprue with hobby clippers
Cleaning some minor mould lines with the hobby knife

So what then is different?
Rougher abrasives to clean the miniature
Essentially, some of the tools used will have to reflect the medium we are working with i.e. metal. Mainly, rougher abrasives such as diamond files and fine steel wool can be used to better clean the metal miniatures. As always, work slowly and careful so as to not to destroy the details on the miniature when using rough abrasive tools. Patience is key.

Cleaning some stubborn and larger mould lines with a diamond file
Using fine steel wool to polish up the metal miniature
Additional techniques to glue heavier parts together
a) Use of green stuff (putty)
Using a bit of green stuff (putty) on the joints when you glue them together with super glue can help keep the metal parts together as the glue dries. Metal parts are unique in that they are heavier and can often come apart while the glue is drying. But be careful not to use too much green stuff as it will prevent the parts from adhering properly.

Using green stuff to help keep the parts together as the glue dries

b) Use of baking soda with super glue
Another technique used by modellers is to mix super glue with pure sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) which is said to create a very strong bond that dries faster than super glue. This is very helpful when you want two metal parts to glue together faster and stronger.

Dealing with out-of-shape metal parts
If you can recall, resin miniatures sometimes face warping issues. While this is not a problem for metal miniatures, you do on occasion find some metal parts bent out-of-shape. Not to worry because with white metal being soft, you can easily (but carefully) just bent the parts back into shape.

A fully assembled metal miniature in the form of Iron Man

Hopefully, this simple how-to guide can help you get started on your own metal miniatures. Till the next update on Shire Works, stay well and happy.

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