Tuesday, 18 October 2016

Tutorial: Dealing with tiny feet in basing

So there I was, putting together some minis for a client when I came across a common problem: Tiny, tiny feet on a model that needs to be glued directly to the base. Now, I know how to solve this problem and it's fairly straightforward, hence, a small tutorial. A tutorial-ette if you will.

A join is only as strong as its contact area allows it to be. That's why those slottabases or cast-on discs that most miniatures use are useful. They allow for a small foot while also giving a firm footing. Equally, in plastic it is less of an issue. The welding effect of the polystyrene cement makes for a strong join even with small contact areas. The model above? That is not plastic - nor is it resin for that matter - it's that restic stuff that a few manufacturers use. It can't be glued with polystyrene cement. That leaves only brittle, brittle superglue, and that needs special treatment.

So we've got a cleaned up miniature. You'll want to do some test fitting to see how the model stands best. You don't want to be pinning both feet so look for the one that is the "leading" foot: the one with the most weight on it. That will be the flattest on the floor so the best contact area.

Using a pin vice, aim into the bulk of the leg and drill away. You'll be wanting about a 4-5mm hole, any shallower and it won't resist shearing forces properly and won't work. For some models - especially female ones - this will be tough. I've replaced stiletto heels with a pin before in order to find enough surface area to drill into.

While you've got the pin vice out. Drill a hole into the base where the foot will lie, see? Those test fittings were useful. Shows you where to drill. If you've got a fancy solid cast resin base you can just drill all the way through and insert a wire through it like normal pinning. For the hollow plastic bases, you need another approach. I've tried using modelling putty, filler, all sorts, but the best and fastest way is to bend a length of paperclip wire into an 'L'-shape. Be generous with the length. It's a paperclip, so cheap as to be virtually free. Don't risk the join failing for a few mm of paperclip. Oh, and use bare metal paperclips, not those plastic wrapped ones. The plastic isn't properly adhered to the wire. It'll be like gluing to a painted surface, only as strong as the paint bond to the primer.

Push the wire through the base from underneath, then, using a generous amount of superglue, glue that sucker down. Superglue gap-fills on distances less than a mm or so, thus the generous amount helps to form a firmer bond. Usually this isn't the case, small amounts and very close bonds are how to make superglue be your friend. This is a round wire being glued to a flat sheet of plastic. It needs some extra help.

Now, dry-fit your model onto the wire. The amount sticking out between the foot and the base is the excess you need to cut off. Remove the model from the wire and trim down the wire by the amount sticking out. Once this is done just put superglue on the wire and the feet and stick it down.

And there you go! Like I say, this is straightforward, but I've got the process down to a fine art now and like they say: "It's only simple when you know how". With the increasing popularity of models in things like board games (this chap is from Shadows over Brimstone) but without the design experience that wargames manufacturers have, I foresee more of this kind of thing coming up. Now the knowledge is out in the world. Go forth, and break off your minis no more.


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