Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Working with resin (Finecast for zealots!!!)

Right it can't have escaped many in the hobby that Games Workshop finally caught up with the last century and have started to produce miniatures in resin, which their marketing department has magically renamed Finecast!!! Huzzah more hyperbolic nonsense. Any who as I'm sure some people out there have never had the delight of working with this amazingly mystical substance I thought I'd share my quick and dirty tips for assembly etc. with you all:

Health and safety

Yeah OK the Games Workshop claim their resin won't kill you dead if you look at it the wrong way but up until 50 years ago there were doctors prescribing cigarettes for coughs. Sorry I'm not taking chances with my throat or lungs. Now I'm not suggesting you buy a gas mask, unless you know something about the apocalypse that I don't, but a decorators dust mask might be a wise investment. It won't do you any harm to keep any fine dust out of your lungs will it any way?


Craft knife   

A good standard craft knife is essential for cleanly clearing any mould lines from resin miniatures. Those blades also need to be sharp because blunt blades can 'chip' resin by snagging and taking chunks out of the mini.

Sharp clippers 

Note that I said sharp clippers. Those ones you've been using on metal minis won't do, they're damaged... Oh yes they are, they'll have marks on the cutting blades that could chip resin and also 'pull' and 'twist' the figure. Invest in a new pair just for resin work.

Pin vice

Now I know most people think pinning models is becoming a dying art with the slow painful death of metal mini's... sorry but you're wrong. You'll want to strengthen certain resin parts with internal brass rod work and for this you'll need a pin vice.


Now many peeps will tell you never to use your modelling files on resin mini's. This is for two main reasons:

  1. It kicks up lots of the aforementioned dust and dust is bad, just ask your mom.
  2. It clogs the files like crazy and can also scratch smooth surfaces on your mini

However how else are you going to delicately file pieces so the join fits together properly? You could use fine grain sandpaper but quite frankly I find files are far better at doing it, give them a firm tap on a desk and the dust should fall out of the file, and if your wearing your face mask no need to worry about all that dust... your mom can clean it up later.

Super glue

Yeah it might look like plastic, hell it might even have some plastic in it, but plastic glue will be about as useful as a condom at a celibacy conference attended solely by nuns. Nope you'll still need that trusty tube, pot or bucket of super glue. The great thing is though as most types of resin are slightly porous, so super glue not only forms a far better bond with resin it'll also dry quicker... take that metal.

Prep work

Stage 1 - Washing

Now I know some of you don't do this with your plastic miniatures, even though you should, but with resin you really ought to wash them first as in the process of casting a substance is added to the moulds to make it easier to prize the minis out of them. This stuff can really mess with your undercoat and the pigments in acrylic paints. To wash your mini you should get a plastic tub of some kind and use some luke warm water (not too hot as this can warp resin) with a teeny tiny dash of washing up liquid, again ask your mom if you dirty little blighters aren't sure what the stuff is and while you're at it you might want to ask about soap too!!! Any way I use an old tooth brush to gently, note I said gently, give the surface a once over to remove any 'film' on the miniatures surface. I then rinse the model under a cold tap (slow trickle of water from the tap) and leave it to dry.

Stage 2 - Cleaning

Which is not quite the same as washing, here's where you'll need those sharp clippers and craft knife. Depending on the miniature you are probably likely to have some form of spru on attached to the miniature and little vents that are there to allow air out of the mould when the resin is poured in. These will require careful clipping with those clippers. There are also going to be mould lines, yeah sorry resin is good but it hasn't yet eliminated those pesky mould lines. However they are way easier to clean up on resin models, why? well the resin is a finer substance and gently running your craft knife over the mould lines (always away from yourself safety fans) will see the mould lines disappear quite quickly. With plastic mould lines aren't so much lines but where the moulds have slipped and so it tends to be a mini re-sculpt job to put right and with metal... well its metal and we make bullets and tanks out of the stuff so its tough. Cleaning resin despite what wimps say is easier than either metal or plastic.

Stage 3 - Assembly

I'm guessing the Finecast range won't come with Ikea like instructions but luckily we all kind of know basic anatomy so we should all be OK with where to stick arms, heads and legs... what you want more than that? Oh OK then. Well you'll need any common all garden Cyanoacrylate based fast acting bonding adhesive, or super glue to the none chemistry minded amongst us!!! It'll work better on resin than it does on metal and do a far better job than plastic glue, which will do sod all, except maybe give you sticky fingers (ask your dad).

You might also be needing that pin vice and those files at this point. As wonderous and mystical a substance resin is, it does at times have its down sides. One these down sides is warping. Now this happens with metal, but with metal a bit of brute force and a lashing of ignorance can normally bend the piece back into place. Try that with resin and you'll be turning the air blue with profanity. There are a few ways you can tackle a warped piece:

  1. Stomp you feet and take it back to the shop and demand a refund while looking all pouty
  2. Attempt a quick fix with some warm water and try to slowly ease the piece back into shape when warm and then leave to cool down properly. This method is most commonly used on droopy swords and is far more effective than viagra (again ask your dad).
  3. sometimes though the warp is on a joint and thats where you'll need your files to re-shape the joint so that the piece fits better. Don't go at it like a convict on a conjugal visit (dad again for that one) as resin is a fine substance and you'll whittle it away soon enough by taking things slowly and being gentle... try buying the resin a drink or too, maybe some flowers, a meal even and then back to your place, plonk on some Barry White and you're away!!!

Pinning. Yeah it'll still need doing maybe more so with certain pieces. You see resin is lightweight but also brittle and sticking a nice piece of brass rod into certain extremities like legs, arms etc will help turn a resin model into a durable gaming piece. It'll also help with securing larger parts together such as wings and stuff... what? Stuff is a technical term!!!

Stage 4 - Undercoating

Please for the love of God if you're a teenage boy undercoat your fecking miniatures!!! It doesn't take long and will make a world of difference to your painting. No really, and do so with an aerosol can, airbrush, Gesso, pixie dust... whatever as long as its a paint that will allow your paint to adhere to the miniature. You won't have to wait as long for a sprayed undercoat to dry on a resin mini as you would a metal or plastic mini because its so porous so it'll just naturally dry quicker. Now that Games Workshop miniatures have gone up in price with resin, seriously ruining your miniatures with a lack of white, grey or black undercoat just got a little bit more expensive... plus stripping the paint off of resin after a botched first attempt is... well lets just say its not advised, although it can be done with Detol on most resins if you're careful, BUT warning I haven't tried this method myself yet on Finecast.


Hopefully that rough guide to working with resin wasn't too bad, hopefully informative and occasionally funny. If however you're a teenage boy looking at a brown substance and some rizla's you got from some dodgy bloke outside your school and thinking WTF, you've just wasted a HUGE chunk of your smoking time and possibly proved you shouldn't be killing anymore of those precious brain cells... well if you've got any left. Peace out!

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