The Beginner Modeling Toolbox
Like just about anything else in the world, miniature modeling is a lot easier when you have the right tools. If you take a wander through a hobby store, the sheer range of different tools and supplies can be a little overwhelming if you don't know what you are looking for, so here we'll break it down a little with a list of the things that it's handy to have in your toolkit when you are first getting started.
Plastic models generally come on a frame or sprue that needs to be removed before the models can be assembled. Models made from other materials also often have excess pieces of material attached to them, and the easiest way to remove these, regardless of the material involved, is with a pair of clippers. Look for 'flush' or 'precision' clippers that have a good pointed tip and a flat back on the cutting blades. The pointed tip lets you reach in to tight spaces to clip tricky parts, and the flat back is best for getting right in close to the part being clipped, to clip it cleanly and avoid accidental damage.
An Exacto-style knife with a #11 is a must-have for every modeler's toolkit. These can be used for trimming off injection points, or dragged sideways along mould lines to smooth them down, and obviously also to chop up model parts when you want to modify them. Look for an all-metal handle, as the sort with plastic parts can snap, and don't tend to hold the blade as securely. It's also worth noting that these knifes have an unholy thirst for human blood, and will try to roll off the table and attack your leg or foot if given the opportunity. You can avoid falling victim to your knife's bloodlust by putting an old pen lid or a small spring clip on the end of the handle, stopping it from rolling when you put it down.
This is potentially an 'optional' entry. Some people find that their knife is perfectly sufficient for cleaning up mould lines on their models, while others have trouble getting a smooth finish with the knife blade and prefer the control afforded by a micro-file. You can often find these files in sets of 4-6 different shapes, and in a wide variety of sizes. For 28mm modeling, look for the smallest files you can find, as they'll be the most functional.
There is a massive range of different glues available for all sorts of modeling-related applications, but if you're not really sure where to start, superglue is a fairly safe option for just about any models. If you're going to be working with plastic models, then polystyrene cement can be better, as it gives you more working time and a stronger bond. For more detail, check out our Miniature Materials and Types of Glue articles.
Whether you choose to go with a self-healing-style cutting mat, an old chopping board, or just a sheet of cardboard or newspaper, it's a really good idea to put something down where you are working to protect the surface. This is particularly true if your 'hobby space' is the end of the kitchen table or the coffee table in front of the tv, and scratches from tools or errant drips of superglue or paint may result in a sudden reduction of your lifespan.
That about covers the basic necessities. There are other things that you might find useful as you go along, like putty for gap-filling, or razorsaws for converting miniatures, and these will be covered in future articles when we go a bit more in depth into the hobby. Next up, we'll also take a look at what you need to get started putting some paint onto your miniatures once you have them assembled!
For more modeling articles covering a wide range of different types of kits and materials, check out our Tips and Techniques, Modeling Articles and Terrain Building Articles Hobby sections.
You can find the full range of Maelstrom's Edge models in the webstore here. Be sure to share your modeling projects on the Comm Guild Facebook Group!