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Author Topic: Advice for reposing/modifying plastic minis  (Read 836 times)

rogueranger1993

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Advice for reposing/modifying plastic minis
« on: 05 January 2019, 19:55:02 »
Hey all. Now that I've finally found a local group willing to run Battletech, I figured I'd finally break out the minis from my 25th Anniversary box set. And on that note, I finally decided to try and assemble the BattleMaster that came with it...

Except that I want to try and pose it doing something other than 'standing at attention' :D - I'm thinking I'd like to do something along the lines of the BattleMaster shown on the cover of Total Warfare. So, can you guys with experience give me some tips for how to do this?

Also, while we're at it, can we go over how to modify plastic minis as well? I've wanted to repose my JagerMech's arms in a firing position ever since I got the damn thing...

1. Incoming fire has the right of way.
2. The only thing more accurate than incoming enemy fire is incoming friendly fire.
3. Always remember that your weapon was built by the lowest bidder.
                                   - excepts from Murphy's Laws of Combat

Mendrugo

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Re: Advice for reposing/modifying plastic minis
« Reply #1 on: 05 January 2019, 20:23:34 »
I just finished modding my Christmas gift of the 1992 plastics.  To give the Dougram ones more articulation and poseability, I cut them at the shoulder and, where applicable, the elbow joints and superglued them back together with a pair of 3mm circular rare earth magnets.  I like the increased dynamism (especially the Shadow Hawk’s now-adjustable autocannon) though all it really adds to the Archer is the ability to enter the “hands up, I surrender” pose.

You can get packs of 3mm and other size magnets off Amazon for a fraction of what specialty sites charge.  They work better on plastics than on metal minis, because the heavier metal parts can cause limbs to droop, but the light plastic arms hold their poses.
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worktroll

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Re: Advice for reposing/modifying plastic minis
« Reply #2 on: 05 January 2019, 21:27:10 »
Can I recommend this thread - Chop Shop! :)

The plastics are perfect for reposing. Don't forget to share pictures!

W.
* No, FASA wasn't big on errata - ColBosch
* The Housebook series is from the 80's and is the foundation of Btech, the 80's heart wrapped in heavy metal that beats to this day - Sigma
* To sum it up: FASAnomics: By Cthulhu, for Cthulhu - Moonsword
* Because Battletech is a conspiracy by Habsburg & Bourbon pretenders - MadCapellan
* The Hellbringer is cool, either way. It's not cool because it's bad, it's cool because it's bad with balls - Nightsky
* It was a glorious time for people who felt that we didn't have enough Marauder variants - HABeas2, re "Empires Aflame"

rogueranger1993

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Re: Advice for reposing/modifying plastic minis
« Reply #3 on: 05 January 2019, 21:38:07 »
Thanks, Worktroll - I did a quick search for a thread just like that, but didn't come up with anything. I'll definitely try to post pics once I get around to working on the mini, which is hopefully going to happen eventually so my players can end up fighting one (and getting to salvage it if they're really lucky!).

I'm really looking forward to the new BattleMaster mini included in the new box sets, but I also like the original Project Phoenix version as well, so it'll be really fun to have one of each!

1. Incoming fire has the right of way.
2. The only thing more accurate than incoming enemy fire is incoming friendly fire.
3. Always remember that your weapon was built by the lowest bidder.
                                   - excepts from Murphy's Laws of Combat

CranstonSnord

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Re: Advice for reposing/modifying plastic minis
« Reply #4 on: 06 January 2019, 01:29:51 »
Also, the CamoSpecs youtube channel has a short video talking about reposing plastics:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DaE-OdlFGTk

Nips

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Re: Advice for reposing/modifying plastic minis
« Reply #5 on: 06 January 2019, 15:53:27 »
I actually did a couple of conversions on the premium plastic BattleMaster, maybe you can use these as inspiration.

Here's a BLR-5M:


The limbs are actually super-duper easy to work with.  Here's what I did:


For each knee you make two cuts with a sharp knife, one up underneath the kneecap (red line), and one back along the circular servo (blue line).  Then you can shave down the corner on the circular servo, and reposition the lower leg at any angle you choose; I'm particular about pinning, so I added a metal pin where the purple line goes between each part of the leg.  Superglue, and boom, done.

HOWEVER!  This is gonna look funky if you don't reposition the thigh-hip joint (red circle with arrow).  What I did was trim off the top of the leg (thigh), so that the leg could rotate just a bit away from its stock position.  It might take a little fidgeting to make this work; the peg and hole for these two parts is pretty well fit to begin with, and you may need to take some material off the peg up inside the hip cowl.  Doubly-so if you're counter-rotating the leg away from the direction from how the pin and hole mate; this makes more sense when you have the two parts in hand.  Just make sure to dry fit things a few times before you glue them.
Other than that, glue and move on!



Repositioning the arms is really trivial; the shoulder socket allows perfect rotation, and then you can either set it and forget it, or for a more dynamic pose you can bend the arm at the elbow.  For this build, I cut the arm apart at the elbow joint (red line), added a bent pin (purple line) between the parts, and then glued and gap-filled with epoxy putty. (Worktroll's method with modeling clay would work just as fine here).

As for the rest of this model, I trimmed the shoulder armor for a smooth look, cut the SRM launcher, and added a MWDA gun bit to the arm for the Light Gauss (or ERLL, which barrel is which is not actually important).

Second up, here's a BLR-1S


For this one, I did the same thing to the legs and arms as the -5M.  I cut the barrel off the right arm and drilled two holes for the SRM-2, added a bit from a MWDA fig for the SRM-2 in the Left Torso, and then added the BIG HONKING LAUNCHER on the left arm by using a tube of styrene and some epoxy putty.  Arms up and in firing positions, on the run!

The most important thing when making these alterations is USE A CLEAN, SHARP BLADE.  The plastic cuts with very little resistance if you're using a good sharp edge, and then you don't have to force it and potentially make a blood sacrifice in the process.

Here's some more pictures, if you're interested in seeing a few more angles:
https://imgur.com/gallery/qbLsXXl

Good luck, happy converting!
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Weirdo

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Re: Advice for reposing/modifying plastic minis
« Reply #6 on: 07 January 2019, 14:21:40 »
Oh yeah, the plastic Beemer is FUN to repose or convert... :)
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Daemion

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Re: Advice for reposing/modifying plastic minis
« Reply #7 on: 08 January 2019, 23:53:15 »
While the plastic will glue together well enough and bond solidly, I'd still recommend getting a hand-pin-vice (drill) with 1 to 1.5 mm drill bits and pinning your connection points with something like floral wire, if you can get it to fit.

I've done this a lot and it's helped keep the minis in solid shape, even after a fall on a concrete floor.

The pin also makes for easy reattachment should something come off.

Each of the plastics I've reposed I've done this.
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Charlemagne

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Re: Advice for reposing/modifying plastic minis
« Reply #8 on: 11 January 2019, 11:58:10 »
While the plastic will glue together well enough and bond solidly, I'd still recommend getting a hand-pin-vice (drill) with 1 to 1.5 mm drill bits and pinning your connection points with something like floral wire, if you can get it to fit.

I've done this a lot and it's helped keep the minis in solid shape, even after a fall on a concrete floor.

The pin also makes for easy reattachment should something come off.

Each of the plastics I've reposed I've done this.

I second this, but have an alternate bit of advice as well.

In my circle of friends I am the assembler and modifier, and have lost track of the number of mechs I've drilled using a pin vise. My problem is that all too often I snap the fiddly little drill bit, usually inside the hole I was drilling, and then not only have to find another bit, but drill another hole because the broken bit is now lodged inside the first hole, too deep to pull out, and without enough protruding to use it as a pin.
What I've done lately is taken my battery-powered, single speed screwdriver, slipped a 1/16th drill bit in, and used that to drill holes instead, and then used a little bit of 14 gauge galvanized steel wire (I also fiddle with making chainmail now and then  ;) ) for the pin.
I find it's so much easier on my hands than spinning a pin vise with my fingers, and in general the 1/16th bit holds its sharpness for so much longer than the tiny little bit in the pin vise.
My cautionary note on this is as follows; even though the screwdriver is a very slow speed rotation, it can be pretty easy to drill right through the piece, so back off the drill bit regularly, and check the depth of the hole often.
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Daemion

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Re: Advice for reposing/modifying plastic minis
« Reply #9 on: 11 January 2019, 19:29:32 »
My cautionary note on this is as follows; even though the screwdriver is a very slow speed rotation, it can be pretty easy to drill right through the piece, so back off the drill bit regularly, and check the depth of the hole often.

This is actually true of the pin-vise, too, when drilling plastic. I've accidentally opened a hole where I didn't want one and had to re-glue the scalp. 
It's your world. You can do anything you want in it. - Bob Ross

Every thought and device conceived by Satan and man must be explored and found wanting. - Donald Grey Barnhouse on the purpose of history and time.

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Weirdo

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Re: Advice for reposing/modifying plastic minis
« Reply #10 on: 12 January 2019, 02:21:31 »
One advantage of the pin-vise is that you can put a finger on the mini where the bit would come out, feel when it just barely starts to bulge, and stop turning before punching through, especially stopping before you drill into your own finger bone.
"Thanks to Megamek, I can finally play BattleTech the way it was meant to be played--pantsless!"   -Neko Bijin
"It's just that the Hegemony had one answer to every naval problem. 'I kills it with my battleships.'" - Liam's Ghost
"...finally, giant space panties don't seem so strange." - Whistler
"The BT universe is startlingly deficient in both wisdom and hindsight." - Cray
"Damn you, Weirdo... Damn you for being right!" - Paul
There's no shame in designing customs, so long as you keep them private and wash your hands afterwards.

NeonKnight

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Re: Advice for reposing/modifying plastic minis
« Reply #11 on: 12 January 2019, 11:22:01 »
Not really necessary to pin vice the Battlemaster (or the Thor, or MadCat) as these are made with the same plastic we all know and love for plastic models and as a result any standard plastic model glue will melt/bond the pieces together quite well and quite permanently.

The older 25 Anniversary model are a different type of plastic and the testors/tamiya Poly Cements don't work on those, and so Super glue is your best bet, and pinning here I suppose could't hurt. The newer Lance Packs, the plastic cement works on.

If in doubt, us the the sprues as a test glue and see how well the hold is for the various glues.
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worktroll

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Re: Advice for reposing/modifying plastic minis
« Reply #12 on: 12 January 2019, 16:01:06 »
Pinning is so easy with the plastics - the challenge is, as pointed out, not drilling through the whole piece. And it will provide that level of security, especially when the contact areas for gluing are small.

Where there's a wider contact area, scoring both sides before supergluing is surprisingly strong.
* No, FASA wasn't big on errata - ColBosch
* The Housebook series is from the 80's and is the foundation of Btech, the 80's heart wrapped in heavy metal that beats to this day - Sigma
* To sum it up: FASAnomics: By Cthulhu, for Cthulhu - Moonsword
* Because Battletech is a conspiracy by Habsburg & Bourbon pretenders - MadCapellan
* The Hellbringer is cool, either way. It's not cool because it's bad, it's cool because it's bad with balls - Nightsky
* It was a glorious time for people who felt that we didn't have enough Marauder variants - HABeas2, re "Empires Aflame"

rogueranger1993

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Re: Advice for reposing/modifying plastic minis
« Reply #13 on: 12 January 2019, 23:32:42 »
Thanks for the outpouring of support, guys!  :thumbsup:

I've actually bought a few metal minis, though none of them are currently assembled - my very first three minis broke up during a move, and I can't put forth the mental effort to reassemle them (though the Cauldron-born is seriously tempting me, since it's one of my favorite clan mechs of all time...) and the Griffin and Highlander I bought later are still sitting unassembled...

Anyway, moral of the story is that I vastly prefer plastic minis.  >:D Preposed if you don't want to deal with assembly, easy to work with from my previous knowledge of assembling plastic model kits, just as detailed as the metal minis, etc. The real clincher for me, though, is that they are MUCH cheaper. I have to spend $15 for a single metal mini on average, but I can buy a pack of four plastic ones for the same price, and can use them right out of the box because I don't have to assemble them! Honestly, it's a dream of mine that TPTB will move over completely to plastic minis - I think it would make new players less leery about joining the franchise, too, since you can build a reasonably sized force of plastic minis without needing to spend seriously huge amounts of money, which is an unfortunate reality with the metal minis.  :(

1. Incoming fire has the right of way.
2. The only thing more accurate than incoming enemy fire is incoming friendly fire.
3. Always remember that your weapon was built by the lowest bidder.
                                   - excepts from Murphy's Laws of Combat

worktroll

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Re: Advice for reposing/modifying plastic minis
« Reply #14 on: 13 January 2019, 00:25:54 »
Pardon me if you've heard this before, but we're likely to be with metals for some time. Main reasons are economic.

- It takes hundreds of dollars to set up a spin mold for metals, and then several dollars per mini made.
- It takes ten thousand or so dollars to set up a plastic injection mold, plus the hundred thousand dollar machine to use it, and then cents per mini made.

Given we're a niche game, with a bazillion different 'Mechs & vehicles ... guess which is likely to dominate?

In addition, I'd like to make a big call out to Iron Wind Metals. Battletech minis are only a small part of their production, and certainly not the most profitable. Many minis sell less than 6 units per year. Despite that, they stick with us, and add new and wonderful minis. I dips me lid most sincerely, gents.

Who knows what the future will hold for BT minis - but I reckon Iron Wind will be there with us, be the minis in metal, plastic, resin, or 3D printed in kale ;)

W.
* No, FASA wasn't big on errata - ColBosch
* The Housebook series is from the 80's and is the foundation of Btech, the 80's heart wrapped in heavy metal that beats to this day - Sigma
* To sum it up: FASAnomics: By Cthulhu, for Cthulhu - Moonsword
* Because Battletech is a conspiracy by Habsburg & Bourbon pretenders - MadCapellan
* The Hellbringer is cool, either way. It's not cool because it's bad, it's cool because it's bad with balls - Nightsky
* It was a glorious time for people who felt that we didn't have enough Marauder variants - HABeas2, re "Empires Aflame"

Heavyguard

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Re: Advice for reposing/modifying plastic minis
« Reply #15 on: 15 January 2019, 10:56:55 »
Here's one of mine all cut up and pinning ready to go!

Colt Ward

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Re: Advice for reposing/modifying plastic minis
« Reply #16 on: 15 January 2019, 11:33:02 »
While what worktroll said is absolutely correct, I want to say that you are not alone in the plastic love.  Since they released the Lance Packs a large part of the fanbase has been talking about Clan lance packs, AS Box Set, we got the new box sets (which are supposed to be higher quality than the Lance Packs), and we have folks talking about new lance packs from that box set.  I think its for a lot of the reasons you mention- I know I bought a box for my kid's 1st Christmas (3 months old) and he now has a company sitting in shrink wrap still since its not something he will break as easily.

If you want to work with plastic more I suggest looking for the OP MWDA stuff.  worktroll provides a excellent list of what can work on the table in rough scale with BT products, and I have used it as a guide though have different opinions about a few things.  One thing he suggested that I absolutely jumped on was MWDA's Phoenix Hawk L works very well as a BT regular Phoenix Hawk- I bought the one with a ATM3 or MML3 arm (cannot remember which it was supposed to be) and sliced it off to mount IWM Phoenix Hawk arms which works pretty well.  I may go back and trim the thighs but not really sure about that . . .

The BA definitely fit in though they will be generally a different size than what you get from IWM.  I know some people trim the waist on the Fenrir, but otherwise they work pretty well.
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worktroll

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Re: Advice for reposing/modifying plastic minis
« Reply #17 on: 15 January 2019, 20:14:42 »
The BA and infantry work great. There are some clangers - the Fa Shih is a monsterously large freak, the Hauberk makes a great base for kitbashing lights, and the Achileus is a bit butch, but on the whole they look fine next to IWM 'Mechs. Likewise many of the vehicles work well - Saxon, Ranger, Giggins, MHI APC (a little tubby, but for IT8 it's OK), Tamerlane, Thumper, Danai, etc. The DA Carnivore is only slightly larger than the (oversized) IWM Carnivore best I can tell, and the DA Scimitar II is slightly smaller than its IWM brethren.

And those that aren't right? Great stock for kitbashing. The JES missile carrier, for example, provides three Arrow IV launchers and two pairs of SRM-4s ;)

W.
* No, FASA wasn't big on errata - ColBosch
* The Housebook series is from the 80's and is the foundation of Btech, the 80's heart wrapped in heavy metal that beats to this day - Sigma
* To sum it up: FASAnomics: By Cthulhu, for Cthulhu - Moonsword
* Because Battletech is a conspiracy by Habsburg & Bourbon pretenders - MadCapellan
* The Hellbringer is cool, either way. It's not cool because it's bad, it's cool because it's bad with balls - Nightsky
* It was a glorious time for people who felt that we didn't have enough Marauder variants - HABeas2, re "Empires Aflame"

rogueranger1993

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Re: Advice for reposing/modifying plastic minis
« Reply #18 on: 21 January 2019, 22:07:24 »
Thanks for the info. Honestly, I can definitely understand the need for cost efficiency, especially due to the small fanbase. Nice to know that I'm not alone in my love for the plastic minis, though.

Speaking of MWDA, those were actually my first minis I got for Battletech, though I don't recall whether it was after they stopped production or if it was just right on the very tailend of that franchise. In any case, I only got a starter box and a expansion or two, but what I did get is now sitting quite happily in my box of unbased minis waiting for me to put it to use. Maybe I should look around on E-Bay and see if I can find some bulk lots of them for cheap, would be a great way to expand my pitifully small collection more quickly, and fill my bits box with some cool pieces at the same time. I've also considered buying up some 1:285 scale modern or WWII minis (I once saw a Stryker Brigade set somewhere online for $60) to fill out my vehicle forces - if I can get 'em in bulk lots and kitbash 'em, it may be a cheap way to build a decent vehicle force that I can throw down on the tabletop.

Another possible option I might explore is 3D printing MWO figures - my cousin has a printer, albeit a lower end one, so I could see about printing a few figures every now and then on it if the machine can handle it. Decent selection of minis, and I suspect that if a good printer is already available, just buying sprues for it would be a bit cheaper than buying metal minis.

1. Incoming fire has the right of way.
2. The only thing more accurate than incoming enemy fire is incoming friendly fire.
3. Always remember that your weapon was built by the lowest bidder.
                                   - excepts from Murphy's Laws of Combat

worktroll

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Re: Advice for reposing/modifying plastic minis
« Reply #19 on: 22 January 2019, 05:29:54 »
Small point - the MWO minis are not actually authorised minis, so please don't post or discuss here.

Short form: HBS only have rights to the computer game. They have no rights to authorise or licence minis. They have chosen, for their own reasons, to release the 3D models to the public.

Folks can make copies for their own personal use only. Technically, this means you download the model yourself, use your own 3D printer, and only use them when you're there. No prints can be sold, traded, bartered, or even given away without breaching IWM's exclusive licence.

Yes, there are a very few exceptions, such as promotional items.

Now if you use your cousin's printers, and just print a few for your personal use, it's unlikely IWM or Topps will unleash the ninja lawyers on you.

We also ask you don't post pics of them on these forums - we can't tell the difference between personal use prints, or those sold without a licence.



That over with, good luck finding affordable DA lots. I'm afraid they're drying up, and the prices aren't low that often. 1:285 scale armor - eg. MicroArmor - often looks very small next to BT minis; an Abrams is slightly over an inch long, and half an inch wide. Usable as a Vedette ;)

W.
* No, FASA wasn't big on errata - ColBosch
* The Housebook series is from the 80's and is the foundation of Btech, the 80's heart wrapped in heavy metal that beats to this day - Sigma
* To sum it up: FASAnomics: By Cthulhu, for Cthulhu - Moonsword
* Because Battletech is a conspiracy by Habsburg & Bourbon pretenders - MadCapellan
* The Hellbringer is cool, either way. It's not cool because it's bad, it's cool because it's bad with balls - Nightsky
* It was a glorious time for people who felt that we didn't have enough Marauder variants - HABeas2, re "Empires Aflame"

 

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