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What Are Your Miniatures Made Of? Part 1: Molten Metal

Metal Miniatures how to

A few years back, I was browsing at my favorite gaming store in Bloomington, Indiana, when a couple of gamers walked in. Both were probably in their late 40s, and they stood behind me as they surveyed the racks and racks of minis (most of these were Reaper Bones minis). And, as I stood there, one said to the other something to the effect of:

“Plastic minis. Kids are never going to know what it was like to use metal ones.”

Their conversations continued, discussing how metal minis were better than others.
Now, whether you agree with them or not, one thing is absolutely true: No matter if your minis are metal, plastic or resin, they all are different and need to be treated differently when you’re working with them. So today’s article is the first in a three-part series about the different kind of minis and what they’re made of.

Today’s subject: METAL.


One thing you need to take into consideration when buying a metal mini is just what the heck kind of metal is it made of? I’ve seen metal minis advertised as “white metal”, “pewter” and other materials. Just be aware that there’s the possibility that these kind of minis could potentially contain lead.

Unlike plastic and resin minis, the kind of cleanup you may need to do to metal minis can be time-consuming. Extra bits leftover from the casting process (called “flash” or “flashing”) will need to be taken off, and this usually has to be done with nippers. Additionally, mold lines on metal minis can be extensive and may require removal with a file or other such tool.

If using super glue when assembling a metal miniature, be aware that you’ll likely have to hold the pieces together for up to a minute or longer to get them to adhere, and could require a few tries. This can be annoying, I’m not going to lie.

Though somewhat old-fashioned, metal minis can still be found widely. While many of the more recognizable minis companies (with the exception of Privateer Press and Warlord) have switched over to plastic minis, many Kickstarter projects still advertise that they’re making their miniatures offerings in metal, a number of smaller companies exclusively work in metal, and a host of the older Games Workshop minis still available on their website are metal as well.


While the actual painting of a metal mini really isn’t any different than how you’d paint any other mini, note that you WILL need to prime a metal mini, or else the acrylic paint may not adhere to the metal surface.


Being made of metal, these type of minis tend to be particularly durable. Some gamers prefer metal miniatures because of their reassuring, sturdy heft. Unlike some plastic minis, if a sword or spear, etc., gets bent, you can fairly easily bend it back into place without much fuss.

Do realize that metal minis tend to chip their paint more often than plastic ones if they fall, are bumped, etc. So I definitely advise using a coat of varnish, etc., to seal them to help stave that off.

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

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