Hi there everyone, Roamer the Build Monkey here.
This week I would like to talk to you all about the building process of models and how they can sometimes be quite a challenge to put together, and other times a breeze.
What makes a model easy or challenging to put together varies from kit to kit, and not everyone will struggle in the same areas as others when building. Grey for example sometimes has difficulty attaching the dangly wires often found between the legs of a Dreadnaught, whereas I find it quite an easy task. On the other hand, I often find myself struggling with arms on models where the mini is holding a gun in both hands, unable to juggle the shoulders and a wrist joint all at the same time, while Grey just breezes through the process like the pro he is.
So let's talk about some of the reasons why certain models can be a challenge to put together.
Posable vs. Mono-Pose
Mono-pose models are in my opinion the easiest models to put together. They’re specifically designed with parts that just fit. Almost like “Click and Play” models that utilise plastic pins and slots that you just plug together without necessarily even needing to use glue, a lot of mono-pose models are shaped and angled so that certain parts will fit precisely together; but in only one particular way. While this does make them incredibly easy to put together, it does however take away much of the variety that you get with posable models.
Fully posable models often offer a greater challenge for builders because there are no pegs or pins to rely on. With multiple arm and leg choices for each model, making sure you pick the correct pair of matching legs or matching arms is important, because you don’t want your space marine to be standing at a wonky angle, with one leg shorter than the other and holding his gun cack-handed. Dry fitting is an invaluable method when building posable models so you can ensure your model will look how you want it and that you have all the correct pieces in place, and that, for example, one arm isn’t going to be extending left when it needs to be going right.
To Convert, or Not to Convert
The greatest challenge to build comes in the form of a kitbash or conversion. Taking different bits from different kits and putting them together, and taking existing models and changing them with care and attention to detail can be a great way to make your model unique and that little bit more special, but doing this requires a whole other set of skills which not everyone may be entirely confident in.
Whether you’re cutting scratches and scrapes into the armor of a Terminator, or lengthening the wheel suspension on a Space Marine biker, it's important to have an understanding of what you’re doing and what look you’re trying to achieve, because it is all too easy to ruin your model with scalpels, files and pin drills if you don’t have confidence in your abilities.
Old models you may no longer like the look of, or even buying some basic mono-pose or click and play models online can be great to use as practice for learning how to convert and kitbash, and there are a lot of guides and advice pages to help you. Not only this, the Warhammer Community itself is always open and encouraging when it comes to giving advice and information, so always feel free to ask on one of the many social media forums available if you need any help getting started with a conversion or a kitbash.
The Material Differences
Games Workshop models tend to be made of plastic and so you might only need one type of glue (quite often the standard Citadel Plastic Glue) for the whole model you are putting together. However, Games Workshop have also been known to produce models made out of finecast and metal. Add to this the vast array of resin models produced by Forgeworld and things start to get tricky. Metal, finecast, and resin (which tends to always need a damn good clean when fresh out of the box. I tend to use simple washing up liquid and warm water), don’t react to plastic glue which means if you’re building something older, upgrading something, or kit-bashing a model, you’re potentially going to be putting together something made of more than one material. You’ll likely need something like superglue, and this is where it can become a challenge.
A lot of superglue brands don’t allow for much ‘wiggle room’ when sticking one thing to another, so for example when you glue a resin arm to a plastic shoulder, precision is the key. But if you have trouble with unsteady hands or you struggle with your eyesight sometimes like I do (I’m one of those weird people who has to take my glasses off to see what I’m doing, rather than putting them on), then it can mean it might take you several tries of removing, cleaning, then retrying to get that arm’s position just right.
A way around this is to dry-fit your models first. This helps you make sure you have the right fit for your pieces, and that you like the way it’s going to look before you fully commit with the glue. And if you use a gel based super-glue, which tends to set a little more slowly than others, then you have a few extra moments during assembly to tweak your models and get them looking how you want them to.
However if you still find the idea of diving straight in with the super glue after a dry fit a little daunting, and you want to have more time to think about the pose of the model you are making, then a temporary adhesive such as blu tack can work wonders to stick the model parts together. This will allow you the chance to make all the tweaks you want and to see exactly how your model will look when it’s complete.
Full-Assembly Vs. Sub-Assembly
Some people like to paint their minis on the sprues, some people like to fully assemble their models before painting, and some like to work somewhere in between. Whether you want to get stuck in and build your whole model up before getting cracking with your paints or not is up to you, but this will affect how your model goes together afterwards if there’s already a layer of paint on top of the plastic.
Sub-assembly is very good for making sure you can get as much detail onto your mini as you like before you put it together and lose those all important angles, but it does also mean that you won’t be able to use the standard plastic glue to put your model together, and so you’ll have to rely on super glue. And while this isn’t a bad thing, it does mean however that if you make a mistake and need to take the model apart again, you could accidentally ruin that awesome paint job you’ve just given that part. But that’s a small risk for a lot of people and the end result is often well worth it.
As previously mentioned, dry fitting is highly recommended when piecing together any model at any stage because it gives you a chance to see how things will fit together before you fully commit.
Big vs. Small
Models come in a variety of shapes and sizes, from mini’s with tiny parts even smaller than the nail on your little finger, to pieces as large as your palm. But while the big models offer plenty of grip to keep hold of the pieces, they’re not always as easy to put together as they appear. Just as smaller models look like they could be tough to put together because they’re harder to keep hold of (and finding those pieces of grey plastic amongst the tufts of a grey carpet is a nightmare when they ping off the sprue in another direction to the one you were expecting), but a lot of the time they’re relatively easy because of how they’re moulded to fit together.
It may seem odd, but I believe smaller models can be easier to put together compared to larger ones because not only do they have less parts, small models don’t have to contend with the added weight that comes with the size. Daemon Prince wings for example are really heavy, and there isn’t much surface area to glue them to so the weight of the wings can often pull them off again before the glue has set. Not only this, but larger models can often have a few problems with what I call ‘gappage’ as well. Small models have an easier time of hiding imperfections brought about through the printing process, but larger models don’t have anywhere to hide. I have often noticed with Rhinos, Repulsors and Gunships in particular that some of their panels don’t fit fully together leaving little air gaps and uneven surfaces that often need shaping and filling with green stuff to not look like all an opponent needs is a crowbar to pop them open like tin cans.
Beware the Pointy
From my experience, if you want an army to be more chaos-y, you gotta give it spikes. And while this looks badass once painted, the more spikes you add, the more pointy you’re making your model. And pointy models can really hurt.
The pointier the model the harder I personally find it is to hold onto while putting it together, because I’ll inevitably end up stabbing myself more than once during construction, usually under my fingernails or in the skin between my fingers.
That being said, two of my favourite models i’ve ever put together are the Tyranid Exocrine and the Chaos Space Marine Venomcrawler. Two very pointy models that i’ve stabbed myself with more than once and have caused me at least a couple of cuts and scrapes.
Confusing Instructions and Errors in the Guides
Games Workshop do their best to produce some amazing models for us to express our own artistic flair and beat each other on the table, but as good as they are, they can sometimes produce some pretty abysmal instructions to go with their kits.
From missing numbers, to the wrong numbers entirely being printed in the books that come in the kits, these simple errors can make building a model quite a challenge. And with some kits, they forgo numbering the model parts entirely, relying on visual guides alone to show people how things fit together.
Primaris Space Marine Aggressors for example are relatively simple to put together, but looking at the instructions and the sprues, you might struggle to find where to begin. It’s common for Games Workshop to put different parts of the same model on different sprues entirely to avoid people stealing and reprinting the sprues themselves, but there isn’t much consistency in where you need to look to find the pieces you are after. Not only this, with many kits such as the Aggressors, the instructions don’t even begin with piece “number one”. There is a lot of back and forth through numbers, skipping of numbers, and the Aggressors kit itself doesn’t even have a number one at all.
Skilled builders might be able to manage these issues, but If you’re new to Warhammer, such errors can make what should be a relatively simple build a lot more confusing than it needs to be.
As you can see there’s a range of opinions when it comes to building your models, and being aware of some of the issues you might encounter will make for a much more pleasant building experience. By considering the type of model, its size, the material it’s made of, and whether or not you'll need to use a sub assembly technique to build it to enable you the chance to reach all the right angles when it comes to painting, are all part of what can make building your models a very fun and extremely rewarding experience. Not only this, but it gives you a chance to expand your army, and lets you express yourself and show off your artistic capabilities.