Getting Started With Plastic Miniatures

By Steve Daldry and Callum France


Callum: Plastic sets are fantastic; you can find lots of cool models and optional poses on a single sprue, and they’re very beginner friendly - but there are still tips and tricks to getting the most out of your miniatures if you’re looking to dive head first into Nuka World and Fallout: Factions.

Steve: I’ve put together just one plastic mini in my life. When I was a kid everything was lead (yes, I’m old), and since starting the Painting Hangouts with Callum, everything has been resin.

The plastic mini I made was a T-45 and I had no idea what I was doing. Clipping was done using nail scissors and fully 50% of the assembly time was spent unsticking components from my fingers or the table. I have a lot to learn here, clearly.


  • Hobby clippers
  • Hobby knife
  • Glue (Super Glue or Plastic Cement)
  • Hobby File
  • Tamiya Sanding Sponge Sheet (I use 1000 grit)
  • Cocktail sticks


Steve: Knowing how badly I was improvising for my T-45, Callum wisely insisted I get a pair of clippers. I chose a pair from Army Painter, but they are pretty standard across the board. I’ll never go back to nail clippers again.

Callum: The first trick to clipping models from the sprue seems counterintuitive, but hear me out. Don’t clip up to the very edge of the model for your first cut. The harder you have to squeeze the clippers to cut through the plastic, the more likely it is that the stress applied won’t cut directly along the clippers edge, and might take a divot out of that beautifully sculpted plastic instead. Clipping further out, then making smaller adjustments closer to the model means less force is being exerted on the plastic, and therefore will provide cleaner, sharper cuts along the clipper edge.

Once you’ve gotten most of the point of contact removed, I’d recommend switching to a sharp hobby knife or miniature file. These tools allow for greater accuracy. Just be careful with any sharp edges!

Steve: Because I wasn’t following Callum’s advice I managed to bend a few bits of plastic when I clipped them from the sprue. Especially susceptible were long, thin parts, like the barrels of rifles. When I started approaching it more tactically, cutting the sprue loosely around the piece I needed, before removing these smaller pieces, things were definitely easier.

Callum: That bending is also a result of too much stress being applied across the sprue. Who knew plastic was so particular! As mentioned before, try to clip thinner parts out first, that way the stress is distributed to thicker points of contact on the sprue.


Callum: Once you’ve gotten all the components clipped out and cleaned up, test how well each part fits together. This is known as ‘dry-fitting’, and is really important. You don’t want to find out mid-gluing that two pieces don’t quite fit together!

As for the type of glue, you can use either Plastic Cement or Superglue. Both come with pros and cons. I tend to use Plastic Cement; it works by melting the pieces to each other rather than sticking them, and has a little more wriggle room in the drying time - meaning you can spend more time getting the pose just right. Recently I’ve been using Tamiya Ultra Thin Cement, which is great, but also incredibly runny. If you’re using it yourself, be careful that it doesn’t overspill and run into the recesses, as it did to me on stream!

That’s not to say Superglue is perfect. As Steve found out, Superglue tends to adhere pretty instantaneously…

Steve: I have a bad track record with sticking my mistakes in place (or to my finger). As a result, this is the part I was most nervous about.

Instead of applying the Super Glue directly to the components, I started transferring a small amount to a cocktail stick first. This definitely reduced how often I over-applied the glue, and was far more controllable too.

Seeing as this wasn’t as challenging as I worried it would be, I instantly started going off script and thought I could get away with not following the assembly guide. Hmm. . .

Mixing and matching combinations that weren’t quite designed to go together definitely let me create some fun poses. However, it also resulted in gaps around shoulders and waists. I forgot to file back and alter the connective surfaces to make my new combinations fit together perfectly. Lesson learned for next time.


Callum: One of my favourite parts about these new plastic sets are what we refer to as ‘base toppers’. They’re small bits of sculpted, narrative detail that you can add to any of the bases in the set, or indeed any plastic base! Conceptually, they help to bridge the gap between the fully sculpted resin bases and the new plastic bases included in the Nuka World gangs. However, before you decide to stick any base toppers down, you need to check where the feet of the model will sit on the base.

Once your model is fully assembled, place it (without glue) on the base, and test to see where you’d like them to be positioned. Usually, looking from above, the head wants to sit almost centrally. Obviously it’s up to you exactly where the model stands! Once I’m happy with the position, I mark out the ‘footprint’ with paint, then remove the model. This is because I like to paint my models and bases separately. Leaving the footprint means that we know where to leave blank, so that the model attaches firmly at the end!

Steve: While Callum got on with his basing, I got carried away assembling more and more members of The Pack instead.

However, after the stream, I went back and had a go at basing another model (one of The Disciples) using the footprint method he described. I was worried it’d require advanced, Tetris levels of object orientation to get the planning right, but fortunately it was nowhere near that hard. Not only that, but planning out the layout of the base elements - including base toppers from the sprue, the footprints, and other recycled bits and bobs - was really easy and fun.

Especially pleased with how I added a small pile of tiny sprue offcuts to the base before covering it in scatter material, creating a small mound.


Callum: I think that covers all the bases, if you’ll pardon the pun.

Steve: . . .

Callum: Plastic miniatures are a great entry point to your hobby journey, and equipped with the above tips, you’ll be building hordes of models in no time.

Steve: Given how much better this went overall than my first T-45, this was a success! I no longer fear the sprue. In fact, this spurred me to bite the bullet and assemble an entire force of Disciples for use in Fallout Factions.

I clearly benefit from a bit of planning before diving in and clipping things off the sprue. Plus, a little Green Stuff in my kit wouldn’t go amiss either.

Callum: The biggest key is planning and double checking before gluing; as Grandpa France often says, ‘if you fail to plan, you plan to fail.’ Wise man.

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Callum and Steve run the Painting Hangout on Modiphius’s official Twitch Channel ( on the first Friday of every month. If you have any suggestions for things they should cover, come and join the discussion on the Modiphius Discord channel (

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