Sunday, 11 July 2010

Assembly 101 (Guardsmen)

Okay so here is the promised basic assembly post.
If you wanted to take these in order of build/paint etc, then you should probably start here and work back through the face and camo painting tutorials afterward. Either way I hope you find something of value in this.
I’m going to take you quickly through tools, cleaning, building and finally a little GS work.
Please bear in mind this is the basic set of techniques for tabletop, front line guys, centrepiece models get very different treatment, which I will go over in a later post if there is interest.
This is my current set of tools that I like to have to hand when assembling and converting.
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Left to right:
GW Sprue Clippers – these GW ones are really very good, regardless you need some flush cut slippers like these.
Emery Board, Fine grit sandpaper, Needle file – some form of gentle abrasive really helps smoothing rough areas. especially on contours.
Scalpel, Exacto  - there’s no getting around it, you need to cut stuff in this hobby, and you need control. the truth is you are less likely to cut yourself with a sharper blade, as you need to use less pressure to cut, and therefore have more control. I use the scalpel for almost everything but the exacto for really tough cuts (I break a lot of scalpel blades)
Pin vices / drill bits – everything from drilling out gun barrels to pinning large pieces together, you really should have 1 of these, and a couple of sizes of bit – to fit different bore weapons and to fit your wire/rod for pinning.
Haemostat / pliers – for holding/bending/picking things up sometimes you need a bit more grip. I wouldn't be without the haemostats because of the way I pin / paint more complicated pieces.
That’s the stuff I like to have to hand, it’s be no means al utterly necessary. if fact for what I’m doing today you can probably get away with :-
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But I’ve been at this a while, and I like my gadgets :)
Prep Work
Today I’m building three lasgun guardsmen to replace the test models you will have seen elsewhere on the blog, and a sniper to round out a 3-man counts-as Ratling squad.
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the first thing I do is lay out the sprues and pick my parts. I’ve got a normal set of Cadian shock troops sprues and a sprue form the command squad box here.
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Once you know what bitz you want, it’s time to get them off the sprue. here’s where the flat-edge clippers come into their won. you can clip right up tight against the part you want and minimise the clean up later.
if you don't have flat edge clippers, you are probably better off using the scalpel flat against the part, that using pincer style clippers.
NEVER twist parts off, you can damage them beyond use.
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A wee while invested here and you will have lovely, neat piles. here is a small pile of bitz for each guardsman I intend to build, and a modest pile of “dress” parts. – extra bags pouches etc I intend to use while putting these guys together.
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This is a mold line. Every cast part has them, whatever the material they will be present to varying degrees.
I hate them.
Before assembly I go through and clean them off, yet I always miss some. whether I get carried away building and sub out a part I have cleaned for one I havent, or I just zone out and miss one. but the more we do at this stage to minimise them, the better.
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I’ve seen people talk about de-burring tools and have yet to try one myself, I use the flat of my blade to scrape away the offending flash. just be careful not to gouge the model, or yourself.
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For areas like the top of the helmet here, where we have both a contour and a smooth area, I like to use an abrasive to sand away the mold line. its safer and the result is smoother as long as you use a fine enough abrasive.

Simple Conversion
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I’m going to digress a little form the “101” nature of this post for a second because I am attempting to replicate these guys pictured above, who you will have seen as test figures in an earlier post. these guys go a smidge beyond normal assembly as they have “Las carbines” to mark them out as vets.
I’m going to mention it rather than ignore it because simple effective changes like this can really personalise your figures and are much simpler than you think.
the process is identical to normal assembly:
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Identify your parts, make the necessary removals from sprue (or other parts) and re-assemble. above you can see the lasgun with its barrel removed, the muzzle break removed from that (the middle portion of the barrel discarded) and half a pair of binoculars from the IG vehicle accessory sprue.
these just get glued together, so:
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Lets talk glue.
I personally only use two types of glue on figures, superglue and liquid poly.
the two behave very differently but both hold well and set quickly.
superglue often prefers the taste of flesh to the taste of plastic, and has to be used sparingly or will take a year to set. best applied from a piece of card with a toothpick or needle.
liquid poly smells funky and will literally melt plastic together. best applied with a dedicated brush.
I use superglue for stand alone parts with not much surface area contact, and for things I think I might need to pop off and reposition.
I use liquid poly for large surface area contact points like arms, where I know what I want to build.
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the first thing I do Is glue the legs to the base. this gives me a stable platfor for experimentation and assembly.
Now, if this is a kit I am not very familiar with, or If I want to be sure I get these guys looking “right” I test fit.
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A little “poster-tack” of a “blue” nature helps me to assemble without gluing
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yes, it bulges, we are just checking out the fit here, it’s okay.
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Once we are happy with the pose, we can disassemble the tack and glue the guy together.
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Accessorise. Also, Don't be afraid to tweak things. It didn't  look right to me to have his bayonet there.
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So I cut the bayonet from the equipment piece and glued it to the other side of the model.
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This guy went together with similar ease. but there were two “special cases” during these builds I’d like to discuss before we move on.
The first was a guardsman I wanted to model looking down his scope.
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I pulled it off, but not without his head being on a very odd place in respect to his neck.
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My solution was twofold. I cut his collar off.
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And repositioned it, in a more natural place. I will GS a camo cloak on this model, and use that to cover up the hole in the collar.
The other “special case” is the command squad box sniper.
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I find it makes more sense with these guys to assemble the upper torso separately, rather than glue the torso down then try to get the cloak to fit.
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Once I have something I like here, I can mate it with some legs.
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So there we have it. that’s assembly.
Bonus Material
As a little bonus for having bothered to read all that, here’s a very rough video, showing the GS work I did to fill the gaps on the sniper bodies. these gaps presented a nice, large scale opportunity to demonstrate simple gap filling.
There we have it. Thanks for reading, and I hope this was useful.


  1. wow really nice tutorial. very informative and well laid out. keep up the good work!. and I am totally going to steal your carbine scope idea. I have like a billion binoculars in my bits that I just didn't have a clue what to do with.
    great stuff =)

  2. Very enjoyable tutorial, Karitas. Clear and really well laid out. I loved your converted pencil-spike....definately going to have a go at making one of those!

  3. Thankyou gentlemen, it pleases me greatly that theres somehting you can each take away from this effort.

    M, I had a similar problem, it wasnt untill I tried to remove a set from some unfortunate's hands that is split a pair and struck upon a new use :)

    Sidney, It's actually a brush handle, but a pencil would work as well I am sure. infact I used to use a pin superglues into the handle of an old propelling pencil, but it wasnt really robust enough for my clumsy paws.



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