Wargaming Tradecraft: Getting Started: Assembling Models


Getting Started: Assembling Models

If you haven't been following, I'll be putting on an event called Workshop in Progress at Maker Expo 2016. In preparation, my wife, a friend and I have been assembling a lot of miniatures. This seemed like the perfect opportunity to add another useful article to my series on Getting Started.

Assembling Miniatures

Once it's time to put your minis together, the process is pretty straight forward, but I'm still going to cover some of the basics.

Materials and Glues

I've gone into extensive detail about Glue before, but here are the basics:

  • Plastic Models
    • Use Plastic Glue.
    • Chemically melts plastic, each side dries together as one piece.
    • Once the pieces are stuck together, you've got a little time to position them.
    • Does not glue your fingers together.
    • I'm a fan of Testors brand, but Games Workshop sells a glue that I believe is less toxic.
  • Resin Models
    • Often mistaken for plastic.
    • Plastic glue won't melt it or stick it together. Use Super Glue as described below.
  • Pewter and other Metals
    • Use Super Glue.
    • Once the pieces are stuck together, hold them firm and don't move them around at all.
    • Using Accelerator can weaken a super glue bond BUT it's still stronger than two pieces you're having difficulty connecting. You can add a little more super glue after it's dried.
    • Available in Gel form which is less messy and won't flow everywhere.
    • LocTite's a good brand while BSI has multiple thicknesses.
If you've never seen plastic glue at work, look how it eats at that plastic.
Tip: Good for making fire, melt, acid type damage.

Whether you're using plastic or super glue, the way that models go together are basically the same. Remember, "less is more." You don't need much to create a strong bond - too much super glue flows everywhere and too much plastic glue squeezes out. Make sure the pieces fit together cleanly, especially with super glue.


I like to start by gluing feet to bases and building up from there. Some parts (Like the torso below.) need to be put together first. Some models, like this marine, have rounded joints that allow you to pose them as you want.


If the model is large or heavy (usually metals, not plastics.) then you should consider pinning the model together. This adds a skeleton to the model for support.

Assemble After Painting

Sometimes it's better to assemble parts of a model after it's painted. The shield below is an example; It's huge, the inside is hard to reach and it blocks the side of the model.

Before you glue painted parts together, scrape the paint off first like on the small shield.

Caution - Glue and Paint

The only danger with this is that glue can sometimes have an adverse affect on paint.

Super glue fumes can whiten painted or varnished areas. CAREFULLY clean this white off using a foam applicator or Q-Tip and some rubbing alcohol. If you're too aggressive, you can rub the paint off completely.

If you use too much plastic glue when assembling painted models, the glue will eat the paint.

Converting Static Poses

Some joints are designed to go together one way. In these cases, you can cut the shape a little smaller if you want to repose it.

Gap Filling

In larger situations, when you repose something that's designed to go together one way, you end up with gaps.

Use filler like Green Stuff

Mix the blue and yellow putty together and roll out the green stuff. Lay out the putty around the joint and push them together.

Cut off the excess with a knife or use a sculpting tool to blend it out.

Green Stuff Isn't Glue

Green Stuff is sticky, but won't create a real connection. You can use thin super glue over it afterward or leave some space and glue the pieces together before they're joined.
Dynamic Poses

When models give you the ability to pose them, USE IT. This is what makes your army come alive.


Kits often come with bonus parts to glue on your models where you want them. For example, shoulder pads and accessories for belts.

Most of these are designed to glue on and generally fit. If you feel like it, you can cut, scrape and gap fill to make them look better.

Some of these accessories can be added to bases or you can use a little green stuff to bring them to life.

Scoring Joints

Just don't.

Little background: Some people suggest that you score (cut or scratch) each side of a joint before you glue them together. I've read different theories and whether this works better for plastic or super glue.

Plastic glued joints end up as one whole and are very firm.

When you're super gluing, you want the parts to fit together cleanly and scoring just messes up the connection. That doesn't mean the surfaces should be super smooth, a little texture or filing is fine.

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