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Article by Paul Nortness

Back in the day, the phrase "plastic miniatures" meant those little green army men you got in the big tub as a kid. Thanks to companies like The Games Workshop, plastic is a viable option for war gaming miniatures.

Plastic miniatures are excellent because not only does plastic keep the cost down but they are much easier to work with than metal. For $8.25 I was able to purchase a pack of three Space Marine miniatures. Each miniature is equipped with a back pack, weapon and round base.

The Games Workshop prefers to call their miniatures "models" and when you purchase a set you can see why. The miniature requires assembly and the parts are on plastic sprues just as you would find in a model from Revell.

The parts are very clean with no flash. In this tutorial, I will walk through cleaning these models up and show you how to spruce them up to really give them a great look.

plastic miniature

To follow along, you will need a hobby knife, pin vise with drill bits, snips, plastic cement, liquid green stuff and paint brush.

plastic miniature

To begin, snip all the pieces off the plastic sprue like you would with any other plastic model. Gently remove any remaining stubs from the sprue on the model with your hobby knife. Once you have cleaned the stubs, we need to remove any mold lines. These mold lines are caused when the hot plastic is poured into the mold. The lines are where the front and back of the mold come together. Removing them is a very simple process. To remove them, take your hobby knife and drag the blade along the mold line and at a 90 degree angle. The edge of the blade dragging along the line will "shave" off the line while keeping the plastic around it nice and smooth, just like your face in the morning! Now just go over the entire model until all the lines are gone. Don't forget the lines on the back pack as well!

plastic miniature 2

Alright, now it is time to attach the back pack. The pack has a peg that slides into the hole in the back of the Marine. Of the three marines in the box, I found one back pack fit properly without the need for adjustment. It is important to test fit all pieces before gluing. Make any adjustments you need to make the back pack fit properly. In this case, I just trimmed the peg a couple centimeters and it fit fine.

plastic miniature 3

While Games Workshop touts these models as not requiring glue, I still prefer gluing the parts. Not only do you get a better looking model, you also get a solid model that won't shed parts if it drops off your gaming table. I use the same solvent based plastic cement that I do for building scale models. That is another great perk of plastic miniatures. There is no need for specialized tools, what works on your plastic models will work on these miniatures! At this point, I also like to glue the figure down to the base. These models have a tab that connects the feet and the base is slotted. The tab on the model fits into the slot on the base. Then just apply glue to secure the model. It is easier to apply glue from the bottom of the base.

plastic miniature 4

Now let's do the weapon. The gun these marines carry look like small sub-machine guns. But something is amiss! The barrels of these guns are flat. How can a marine shoot an ork with a gun barrel that is clogged like that? Well, enter Mr. Pin Vise! This process requires patience and a steady hand, but the results are well worth it. Slowly and carefully drill a hole in the center of the gun barrel. Make sure the drill bit is as close to center as possible. It may drift a little when you first start, don't panic.

plastic miniature 5

After you have drilled your hole, take the hobby knife and put the tip into the hole. Enlarge the hole by very slowly rotating the hobby knife. If your hole was off center, you can correct this by concentrating the hobby knife rotation on one side. Stop and blow out any excess material and inspect your work. The walls of the gun barrel should be thin and symmetrical. Once you are satisfied with your work, drill out the exhaust holes on the side of the barrel. Now that the barrel is nice and thin, these holes should be very easy to drill. Ah, now that is a weapon worthy of a Space Marine!

plastic miniature 6

Alright, now all that is left to do is attach the arm. There is a peg that fits into a hole in the main body. The trouble is the other hand is off a bit. To fix this, attach the hand with the peg and cement it in place. Once that dries, apply cement to the other hand. Now, press down on the hand with the tip of your fingernail. You want to press the hand down so it is almost flush with the arm. Just hold that in place with your fingernail until it sets. It should set in about four hours, so keep holding! Just kidding, it should take a minute at the most.

plastic miniature 7

After the glue has dried on the arms, take your paint brush and liquid green stuff to fill in any seams between the hands and wrists. The Space Marine is in armor, so don't make the seam completely flush. Leaving a small seam will give the appearance of a gap in the armor in the joint so it is acceptable.

plastic miniature 8

Alright, now that you have completed your Space Marines you just need to paint. Go check out the adventures of Harstov the Irongrave Knight Lord for tips on painting and completing the base.

Have fun and happy modeling!

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