Multipart plastic kits have lots of mouldlines. The material is easy enough to work with, but it is bothersome to remove them all.
- Two steel needle files (flat and half-round) are super-useful here, and it's worth getting some good ones from a hardware store. You can check these in person to ensure that they have a good, fine, even, and sharp cutting face. When using these on metals, rub a touch of chalk or talc on them first so that they don't get gummed-up and dull.
- Emery boards, like those used for ladies' nails are great for finishing to achieve smooth surfaces on bigger areas. Very cheap to buy, but handy to use.
- Electric manicure nail drill. Not essential by any means, but for just a few pounds, this tool is very handy for removing a lot of mouldlines quickly from plastic models. Fetching pink colour notwithstanding, these can be had cheaply on the likes of Amazon for a fiver, are usually powered with a pair of AA batteries, and are much easier to use than mucking about with over-priced scrapers. A quick pass, followed by a finish with either a file or emery board, and you're done.
Get a set of decent all-metal ones from a proper brand like X-Acto or Maxx. Cheap brands have plastic collets (dangerous) and short handles (awkward to hold and use). Expect to spend about £15-20 for a decent set of three. Spare blades from Swann Morton are cheap enough to buy, and you can get razor saw attachments too for big cuts if needed. Given how many accidents hobbyists have with knives, best to get a good set that will be sturdy and safe to use - bonus is that they will last you for life (mine have done me for over twenty years so far!).
Get a good set with a flush face. I have some posh ones made by Lindstrom because the cheaper pair I had before started hurting my hands! Other good brands are available, and decent pair will last you a lifetime of hobbying. A good pair will also cut more easily and cleanly, which also saves you time and clean-up work.
- Milliput is cheap (less than £2/pack for yellow-grey) and tools very well indeed when fully cured. It can both be softened and smoothed with water until it's cured too, and the "Milliput Wash" is an old modellers' classic. Perfect for bulking up conversions, and for bases - either used when just mixed to sculpt with, or after it's cured as broken stone or for carving patterns into.
- Green stuff (or "Kneadatite", to use it's official name) is very common in the hobby. Pricey though, so shop around and get a bigger pack of it. best to get the stuff that comes with yellow and blue parts separate so that they keep better. Cut off smaller sections for use, and store the rest in the freezer to keep it fresh.
- Grey stuff (usually known by it's brand-name "ProCreate") is just like greenstuff, but is easier to work with when freshly mixed. I prefer it personally, but people's preferences are all equally valid here I think.
You may need a pin-vice drill. I'd get a manual one, they're normally about £5-6 online. These are very useful for drilling small holes to pin model parts together. Whilst this may be of less concern with plastic figures than metal ones, for drilling out hands for flagpoles/spears/etc they are still invaluable.
For drill bits, I buy them online. Get ones which are ground not rolled (more even, sharper, less likely to stick and break inside the model) even though they are a touch more expensive. I would buy these after you know what diameter rods/pins you need so that you get bits that are 0.1mm bigger. A pack of 5-10 are sually about £2 delivered. I would go with carbide bits over high-speed-steel (HSS), but carbide coatings on HSS is fine too.
When you use the drill, an old trick is to drill into a wax candle first, then the model. This helps to stop the drill bit sticking in the model and breaking. You can use oil and such too, but I find it tricky to clean up afterwards - any residue risks spoiling the bond of the glued joint.
Buy these from a hardware store. Seriously. The GW glue may be the same as an industrial brand, and may even have the same cost/volume/consistency. However, most hobby/craft glues have less adhesive content in them than the industrial equivalents (i.e., they are effectively diluted even though it may be hard to tell sometimes).
For gluing plastics, the Revell Contacta with needle applicator is popular. If the needle gets gummed up, wave the needle briefly through a lighter flame to unclog it. Do be very careful in doing this though, and give the needle half a minute to fully cool before you use the glue again! It'll leave the needle working like new however.
I prefer to use a solvent like Ambroid Pro-Weld or EMA Plastic Weld for plastics. Use a brush to apply a little to a joint you're holding closed. The gap will draw the solvent into it and give a fast strong bond. You can also brush a little over rough areas on plastic models to smooth the surface (for example, where you've filed an area, or not quite removed a mouldline completely).
Use automotive spray-on primer. Halfords in the UK is where I usually get mine.
It's cheap, fine, covers well, and is forgiving of ambient conditions. White and black are the common colours, but I like grey as it gives me the best of both worlds and is easy to see the details on the model. Other colours are available, like red, browns, greens, and tans. If you have lots of metal to do, you can also get metallic colours too.
I don't bother with hobby primers any more - too expensive, too inconsistent/temperamental, and it's usually unclear if you buying primer or regular paint.
Citadel is easy to get hold of. It's expensive though, and has a wide variety of different consistencies which you may or may not appreciate. For example, they do gel paints that are essentially pre-dried for drybrushing, and their layer paints are pre-thinned to be more translucent, etc.
Vallejo is also easy to get hold of, and is very good value. Their Game Colour range is very nice, and is a close copy of the older Citadel ranges in terms of the colours they offer. Their Model Colour range is huge and has lots and lots of more "natural" and militaristic colours. My preference from the range is for their inks - I have all the Game Colour inks and find them invaluable.
Army Painter is pretty cheap and they do bundle deals which are even better value. I do see a lot of comments around forums about the consistency of their paints though, so quality control may be a low-risk issue with them.
Coat D'Arms are made by HMG Paints in the UK and are the old first and second generation Citadel paints with a new label. If you liked those, and want a match, these are probably of interest to you.
Foundry paints. Quite popular, these are sold in "triads" which means that when you buy a set you get a base-shade-highlight for a colour. If you're not great at judging colours for shading and highlighting, these can be very helpful.
Reaper paints. Absolutely lovely to work with; they have a super consistency, coverage, totally matte finish, and are available in singles, sets, or triads. Getting them in the UK is tricky though, and you're best off ordering directly from Reaper and taking a hit on Customs charges IMO. My top recommendation from this range is their flesh tones, which are excellent (not too yellow/pink/orange/harsh).
Privateer Press Paints ("P3"). These are also made by HMG paints in the UK, and can be found in a fair number of places now. Decent value, they also thin down to a glaze very well indeed. They do need a good shake every time you use them, and have a satin finish. However, if add a touch of matte medium to the paints, this kills the shine; alternatively, matte varnish at the end does the same. I know the satin sheen annoys some people, but the solutions are so simple I'm not sure why it's even an issue. These are my preference for painting, as it's fairly compact range (something like 72 colours?) that has a good balance of bright and natural colours.
There are even more paints besides (Andrea, Scale 75, etc). I feel that you're better off looking elsewhere for more in-depth reviews if you want to buy some, as they can be tricky to get hold of.
Lots of schools of thought here, so I'll just give you my process and reasons!
I game with my models, and even though I'm careful, I want them to not get damaged. Gloss varnish is therefore the only real choice here. However, I don't like the gloss varnish finish, preferring a matte instead.
Therefore, I use a floor-grade UV-resistant non-yellowing water-based polyurethane varnish for protecting the model. A small tin of a decent brand like Ronseal is expensive, but will last forever. I put a little on a palette, add a drop of water to thin it, and apply with a brush all over the model. I will usually do a second coat on any prominent parts likely to catch (pointing swords, swooshing cape edges, etc), and on the base rims.
For the final finish, I use Testor's Dullcote spray. Apply lightly and let it dry fully overnight. Any bits I miss in recesses can be touched up with some thinned-down matte medium applied with a brush.
Get a decent sable artist's brush. There are lots of brands to choose from (Raphael, Rosemary, Winsor & Newton, etc) so choose something that you like the look of.
What you're after is a good bristle length, a sharp point, and a nice "snap" to the bristles. A size 1 will most likely be your workhorse size. Don't be seduced by getting teeny-tiny brushes though - the paint dries too fast in the brush to allow you any real control, whereas with a sharp enough point on even a big brush you can paint eyes easily!