Monday, March 5, 2012

Cleaning horses.

In the last post I mentioned that I had started cleaning up my horses. What does this mean?

Painting wargame miniatures is not unlike painting a room in your house, in that applying the paint is only part of the work. Prep work is a big part of the job.

When you buy wargame miniatures they come to you straight out of the mold. This means that they’re pretty rough, covered with “mold lines” and other little bits of metal that need to be removed before you paint them. This is a painstaking process which takes quite a bit of time. Here’s a photo…

On the left is a horse and a cavalryman. See that tab of metal between the cavalryman’s feet? That’s an example of the spare metal left over from the casting process, and it has got to go if we want him to be able to sit on the horse. Unfortunately that’s just the start, and there are many other bits of metal that have to be filed off.

One of the biggest hassles with horses is cleaning the metal from between the reins. A real horse's reins are thin leather strips, but on a metal casting they’re a single big chunk. In the past I've tried the shortcut of leaving the metal in place and painting it black in the center, but it never looks right. As a result I need to remove the metal between them with a grinding bit. Other areas that need work are between the legs and across the saddle. Often the sides of the saddle need filed down so that the rider sits naturally on the horse. I'll describe "pinning" the riders later.

Horses in running poses sometimes have little strips of metal connecting their legs to the ground. Sometimes I’ll remove them, but often I’ll leave them in place. The added strength helps a lot. Wargame models are handled a lot over the course of a game, so they need to be a bit sturdy. Horses in a precarious running pose can sometimes end up leaning over after a few games, and I’d like to avoid this. I’ll cover that strip of metal with something during the basing and painting steps to make it look more natural.

In the middle is a horse that has been “cleaned.” I’ve cut off the molding tabs with an X-Acto knife, then filed or ground away the excess metal, then polished the casting with a wire wheel attached to a Dremel tool. This takes a while – on a good night I can finish three or four horses...

After the prep work is finished the horse is glued to the base, primed, and painted. On the right is a horse that has been mostly painted – we’ll cover basing, priming, and painting later posts, but I’ve put this one in here so you can see the end result of a good clean-up.

This prep-work is one of the worst parts of building a wargame army for me. It’s not as fun as painting, but if you don’t do a good job it can ruin your work. I’ll be cleaning horses for a while…

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