The trials and tribulations of assembly

The studio has undertaken a commission to paint up three of the Lieutenants from Descent, Journeys In The Dark. This is a questing game or a”dungeon crawling” game that I have yet to play, but looks very similar to a game that I used to play in the ’90s called Warhammer Quest.

I had some downtime last evening, where I thought it would be great to simply clean up the models ready for the start date of the commission for the client, which isn’t for a while yet. The models I received were three Lieutenants: Belthir, Bol’Goreth, and lastly Valyndra, the Wyrm Queen.

Valyndra is the model that I want to specifically talk about today.

I find the cleaning up of models, really satisfying, but it can be tedious. There is nothing more unsightly than a model that has has a lot of time being painted with mould lines showing. I really felt that as I was developing my abilities as a painter many years ago, even if I couldnt get an ‘Eavy Metal studio paint job on my models, if I could clean the miniature up well, then it helped the aesthetics of the model immensely. I really like to go to town and clean as much off as I can and well sometimes you just can get all, without damaging the model, but I really attempt to have the light shine on the model, to help with finding as much of the mould lines as I can.

After cracking open the blister packaging that the model comes in, I took stock of what I had in front of me:

With this being my very first Descent experience, I immediately found that the model was sculpted in a very beautiful manner. I could tell that there was a major difference in the time required to assemble a Descent model, compared to that of Games Workshop (you could easily spend hours assembling a few models from GW, but that is half the fun). Now dont get me wrong, I understand that the miniatures serve two different markets of gamers. Wargaers who play Warhammer Fantasy or 40k, are modellers and painters as well as gamers and as such command a different level of interaction with the assembly of their models. They like to be able to have multiple parts, so that they can easily convert up models so that one, say, High Elf Lord on a Dragon is different from somebody elses. Whereas gamers who play games with miniatures such as Descent, or Relic, or even Mansions of Madness are primarily board gamers and as such they are a demographic that just want to open the box, setup the game and go for it.

I found that there was a really fine mould line on Valyndra, so immediately I got out my set of files and hobby knife and began to clean up the plastic. The plastic was just shearing off from the edge of the model, making it a really effortless task. I did notice one significant quality to the plastic, of which I will get into in a moment. The mould line, being such a fine line here, was at times a little hard to detect. That actually is a good thing because someone who doesn’t want to do any prep work whatsoever (and for Descent, most don’t) can be assured that they have a high quality miniature that is professionally made. It was clear on certain parts of the body, that because the Wyrm has had the major assembly done prior to packaging, there were slight gaps or minor misalignments evident, but nothing that I couldn’t fix.

Now, as I was filing away I noticed that the plastic was an extremely soft, bendy plastic that I suppose lends itself well to board games miniatures. Its better that if a miniature is dropped, that it bend under the fall. I have noticed that all Fantasy Flight minis for their board games use this particular type of plastic. The main thing I was concerned with is just exactly what type of glue to use here. The two main glues that I have are super glue and polystyrene cement. Super glue is used for any metal miniatures and polystyrene cement is a glue that is used for plastics where you apply a small amount to each of the sides to be stuck together and wait a few seconds. What actually happens here is that it melts the plastic a little and then when you press the two pieces together, the pieces “melt” together and eventually set, resulting in something that is glued together.

I did a little research and found that the material used in production is actually a vinyl plastic, therefore super glue won’t do the trick. Poly cement won’t be as effective as if I were to be gluing GW plastics, so I had to investigate another product. It was something that I actually had already and was called The Last Glue and it is composed of something called Cyanoacrylate. It bonds when the two sides are deprived of oxygen, so if I were to get any on my fingers, everything would be ok, until I touch the two together (which I think is a normal reaction) and it is strong, really strong. I had recently run out, so an order was placed and should arrive in perfect time to glue together Valyndra.

I think my point here is I really like the plastic that FFG use for their miniature products in the preparation, now I just need to get the mini stuck together and painted. There will be many photos of the painting process, so keep on checking back in the future.