I have to admit I’m a total sucker for modelling tools, but there are some tools that you would use time and time again and so they are the ones that make it into your mobile modelling kit, these are the ones that I take.
A decent craft knife: this can be anything that works for you, I personally prefer the ones that have replaceable blades, I also find that buying scalpel blades is far cheaper than buying dedicated hobby ones, the Hobby blades are stiffer but I quite like the soft bendable nature of a scalpel, it makes cutting and trimming much smoother.
Reverse tweezers: These are just tweezers that are closed by default, I use them for holding onto parts for painting or for holding parts together while glue dries, you mainly find them in electronic stores.
Standard Games Workshop scraper: Yes I have one of these, I use it when I want to relax, when have got a tonne of stuff to remove the mould lines on and am not paying the attention to detail i would do with a one off model.
Short metal ruler: Used most for cutting straight lines with the scalpel, note: Unless you buy a very expensive one you can cut strips off the ruler as well with a sharp enough knife so be careful.
Pin drill: The standard Games Workshop one works well for me, and I don’t know why but I keep all the drill bits in the little plastic container rather than inside the drill itself, which is apparently what you should do, I also keep a pin here (you always need a pin).
Drill bit chuck: A bit of a strange one this, but basically I tend to drill quite a lot of holes at 5mm and 4mm wide in models and none of the pin drills chucks spread that far, I have found a simple £3 Chuck solves that problem and works just perfectly and that means you can use any drill bit you want, also it fits inside a magnetic screwdriver handle so I sometimes carry one those as well.
Decent side cutters: You can get many different makes of these, some specifically for modelling, a lot just for general electrical work, I personally favour Japanese modelling ones, they just work well for me and they’re stronger than a lot of the other modelling ones that I have found, These ones are a few years old and are nice, small and sharp, I wouldn’t change them for the world
Mini files: Most of the tiny files you will come across are quite rubbish and that includes nearly all of the major modelling companies, they seem to be marked as disposable, the good ones aren’t, you can clean them up and unclogged them with just a fine wire brush, these ones are again a Japanese make (TAMIYA) they’re just the basic model and have been better than any other company I’ve used.
Really fine metal tweezers: Particularly these slightly bent ones, you will thank yourself that you got a decent pair that come to a fine point and that can be used to retrieve things have got lost, or got down to find details where your fat fingers won’t fit. It turns out that engineering and electronics tweezers are much better than beauty tweezers as they hold their point far far better.
Plastic tweezers: Normally rubbish for everything else, they are absolutely fabulous for working with magnets, in fact its impossible to work with magnets without them.
Old toothbrush: Just the best small brush for modelling, don’t get anything fancy, Good for cleaning out bits from models and generally useful. keep one around.
Very fine fibre tipped pen: An idea originally from the Japanese for doing the edges of Gundam models, a decent type like this is perfect for when you’re trying to do text on Scrolls and the like, far easier and less faff than paint
Little spatula: For use with texture paint and all the other kind of pliable materials you work with, I found the Stock Games workshop one is just about perfect and I haven’t seen a reason to get over excited and look for a different one.
Microfiber cloth: Just brilliant for when you want to wipe things but don’t want to leave bits of thread and stuff on whatever you’re trying to clean up, everything from glue to oil paints in fact its better than even cotton tips for wiping details as they scrunch up to nice tips.
Paint pot: Amazing how people can get excited over paint pots, but most people agree that of all of the tools that GW makes, their base paint pot is one of the best, nearly Indestructible has all the right ridges and scrapes to keep your tips sharp and clean, indispensable and cheap.
Magnifying glasses: I’m an old man, f*** off
Bit of cutting mat: This was just cut off an existing cutting board that was near the end of its life, and stored in the back of whatever toolbox you’re using, far better to use than wrecking what ever table you are working on.
Wet palette: This is going to be a review all of its own, but you of course have to take a wet palette with you, once you’ve started using them you wonder why you ever survived without them, they remove a lot of frustration, this one is by frontier war gaming and is a strange mix of awesome and bloody rubbish, the awesome, the case itself is absolutely fabulous, completely airtight, fits into a small space far better than the other ones I use, but for some reason they decided to pick the greaseproof paper as a really thin not very good type, and the foam they provide is rubbish as well, so I’ll talk about that later.
Milliput (Black) : I like it better if it looks better on a base, I think it’s the best way of gluing anything to anything, yes I know that most people favour green stuff, but I don’t like it, I end up fighting with it, it sticks to everything, falls apart on me, I use Milliput when I’m sticking magnets to the bottom of bases or otherwise doing something when I want a nice hard surface, it does take a while to dry but worth it.
Tissues: The forever useful item, everything from wrapping up a half completed model to make sure it’s not damaged in transit, to wiping brushes. just keep a packet with you.
Plastic putty: Another replacement for liquid green stuff, more like bathroom caulking than anything else (the stuff that goes between the tiles), it’s got the finest tip you can imagine, it doesn’t stick to everything and it dries nice and hard, I am unsure why everyone else doesn’t use this instead of liquid green stuff, but I’m a complete convert, it is the best behaved and easiest way to plug tiny gaps.
Magnets: I like them for basing far more than storing minis in foam carry cases (they are best used in conjunction with Ferro Sheets to store and transport your minis) I like them just in general, I think they are an excellent addition to the hobby, and give you a versatility for a lot of items, I carry a bunch around, usually favour 2mm deep and 3mm wide (for swappable arms), 4mm wide (for bases) and 5 mm wide (for scenery).
Paperclips: The eternal useful item, use them for pinning metal models, use them to stick your base models to corks and hundreds of other uses, just keep a few your in your pack.
Notepad and Pen: Obvious, but when you’re working on models its a good idea to just have something to note things down, recipes, tips, that kind of thing.
Brushes: When I first started I got tons and tons of brush sizes, but the more experienced I got and the more advice I took, the more I realised that really you only need about 3 to 4 brushes, A size 1, size 2, a dry brush and if you’re really serious, a fine detail brush. Up to really recently all the best brushes were Sable, The synthetic ones ‘hooked’ very quickly and didn’t hold paint well. Then Citadel came out with the best synthetic , they last for ages, they hold their paint well and they don’t shed or do anything strange, even a number of good painters have moved over to them, so I would fully recommend them
Modelling handle: This is a contentious subject with some people having very very definite opinions, on which one of these is the best for the pre-made ones, I like the old version 1 handle made by Games Workshop, it works and holds securely and it doesn’t mind you screwing holes in the bottom for magnets (so it sticks in your case), however for most of the day today painting I tend to paint individual parts and then glue them together once painted, so I much prefer a cork stuck to a standard base (with a couple of magnets in the bottom), and then I can just use paper clips to temporarily hold models in place while I paint them.
Blu-Tack: A big blob of Blu-Tack, stick to the brand name version here, all the other makes go a bit funny when they get acrylic paint on them, where as Blu-Tack seems to hold its consistency even when its filled with paint.
Little boxes: To hold the parts of your models for your current projects, I was very very lucky when my parents made me some small boxes with felt lining to them for a Christmas present, I stuck a little bit of white board on the front of each one so I could mark contents, but plastic tubs with kitchen paper in them work nearly as well.
Glue: I know this seems like a lot of different types of glue to carry around, but they all have there uses, first is Revell Professional, A good solid plastic glue, I feel its better than the Games Workshop version (Quick tip: if and when the long metal tube gets clogged up, take it out and run a cigarette lighter along it until it bubbles out the end, don’t do it indoors or around people), Next ordinary loctite superglue works well, sets nice and fast but a bit on the brittle side especially for metal miniatures, what goes as a good complement to this is Gorilla Glue gel, which sets with a little bit more give, but it does take ages to dry. When dealing with both of these a useful item is Super Glue debonder, which I need far more than I would like to admit to, this turns your super glue in to mush that you then wipe off without any trace. Finally we have the very thin glue “Mr Cement”, used only to glue plastic together, it does not melt like normal plastic glue but it is also really really thin with no visible residue or anything like that. only really good for Close fitting plastic parts where you don’t want any glue to show.
Now I know that this seems like a lot but it all fits in to a couple of small trays and it all gets used every week when painting.
Next Post we move on to the Case.