In my previous installment of The Essentials, I discussed how to get started with the gear that you need for painting your minis –like paints, brushes, and so on. Hopefully that made sense and didn’t leave you with a ton of esoteric questions requiring answers from a spiritual advisor, higher power, mystic or mountaintop guru.
Today, I’d like to get into some of the additional items that you’ll probably need when you’re starting out in the wargaming hobby world – some of the tools of the trade that sometimes you don’t realize you need until it’s midnight, you’ve been trying to put a mini together for the last two hours and you’re ready to cry.
Plastic Nippers – If you’re dealing with plastic or metal miniatures that have pieces that arrive on sprue (the frames the pieces are attached to), then you will need a pair of these. I know from vast personal experience that trying to cut off these pieces with an X-Acto knife just won’t cut it, takes forever and creates more problems than it solves. You can often find these in a hardware store near where they sell pliers and wire cutters. Be sure to find nippers that have a fairly delicate point and/or will cut flush, so you avoid having to trim off excess material. Nippers will also work when you need to cut off excess flash (remaining metal fragments hanging off of a miniature) as well.
Hobby Knife – You’re probably more familiar thinking of them as an X-Acto knife, but there are tons of different kinds and manufacturers out there. You really don’t need an expensive one. These knives are great for removing mold lines from plastic minis (carefully), cutting out decals from a sheet (CAREFULLY), and literally a hundred other uses that will come to you when you need them (WATCH IT – I said carefully!). Just be safe – I’ve cut myself with my hobby knife more times than I’d like to admit.
Palette – When you’re painting and you need to thin your paints, mix your paints, etc., you will need a palette. Again, an expensive one is not necessary. Never spend more than a couple of bucks on a palette. Wet palettes (a device that keeps your paints moister, for longer) are all the rage now, but I’ve never found a use for one and, at this beginning stage, neither should you. There are different kinds you can get – there are palette pads, for example, which are pads of paper with a special coating, are useful but more expensive – but a regular plastic palette works wonderfully.
Craft mat – An absolute must. While, yes, you can certainly protect your work surface by spreading out some newspapers and then painting, newspaper won’t save you when your hobby knife slips and you’ve cut a nice, big slash in the tablecloth and ruined the finish on your dining room table. There are a number of different brands and sizes; I recommend getting a decent sized one, and you’re likely to spend some money on this, but it’s worth it, because you’ll use it forever.
Hobby light – After years of painting under regular bulbs in my dining room and basement, I finally broke down and bought a fairly inexpensive LED light from Amazon. It’s saved my eyesight, and my painting has improved. It’s just a good idea because, hey, you’ll be able to actually SEE the projects you’re working on. I know it may feel like a luxury item, but trust me, it ain’t.
About the Author;
Peter Kuebeck is a writer, gamer and award-winning mini-painter living in the Midwest. He wages a constant battle against the ever-growing tide of unpainted minis in his basement, and occasionally GMs role-playing game sessions with friends. Catch his hobby shenanigans on Twitter at @popculturecube