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Friday, February 20, 2009
In the Beginning…. Part II
Most manufacturers recommend washing figures in warm, soapy water, to remove the “mold release” chemical from the figures. I always forget this stage – I wonder if any of our loyal readers can supply info as to why this step is or isn’t important! I have always felt that the scraping with an X-Acto™ knife or the filing with jewelers’ files would clean most of the “mold release” material off the figures.
As I stated above, I don’t wash my figures prior to cleaning or priming. Considering past experience, and reflecting on the number of times I’ve had to touch up figures or models that have scratched or chipped, it is entirely possible that my failure to wash the figures has contributed to a lowered resistance to scratching/chipping.
It is essential to remove as much flash as possible. This may require a combination of tools. I always have a set of jewelers’ files and an X-Acto™ knife on hand. The X-Acto™ knife allows me to scrape away larger elements of flash from figures, and to get into areas I may not be able to reach with the jewelers’ files. Always use care when working with these tools, as they are necessarily sharp and can inflict bodily harm to yourself or others nearby!
For plastic figures, I almost exclusively use the X-Acto™ knife, scraping carefully along the mold lines with the edge of the blade. For harder plastics, which several manufacturers are beginning to use, the use of jewelers’ files may be a viable option.
After removing the majority of the flash, tidy up with the jewelers’ files; you are attempting to remove any hint of flash or mold line. If you have a really bad gap or mold line on the figure (this is sometimes the case with larger models) use model putty or green stuff to level the seam.
Be careful not to remove too much detail! Over-filing can result in a loss of details – and if you are not familiar with the figures, you can sometimes mistake a key bit of detail for “flash” or a mold spot.
At times it may even become necessary to use a Dremel™ tool, or similar small, variable speed drill. From personal experience I can attest to the potential for damaging both the figures and the wielder when using these tools! Be careful!
One preparation that, in my humble opinion, enhances the final appearance of a figure requires the use of a Dremel™ tool or a small “pin vice” (a very small manual drill). I drill out the barrel of guns (particularly on Warhammer 40K figures!). I drill the barrel proper, and then the side-holes on the flash suppressors. When the figure is completed, the actual holes, rather than black paint lend an additional hint of realism!
Additionally, as a part of the cleaning process, I always keep a large flat file handy. This is the big, honking file that some folks use for auto repair or sharpening their battle-axes prior to a raid. I use the large file to clean the bottom of the bases on individual figures, and sometimes to thin the base down so that it doesn’t show so much under my “basing”.
I cannot emphasize how important it is to pay attention to detail at this stage, in order to have a nicer, more appealing figure when you pronounce the painting job to be "Finis!"