Christmas is getting ever closer, so join us as we look at last-minute gift ideas for tabletop wargamers and miniature painters.
New wargamers will be delighted with a starter paint kit, and often the game manufacturer has a recommended option. For example, Citadel has kits that are built around the miniatures and models that come in Games Workshop’s Warhammer games and starter kits. Paint sets from The Army Painter and Vallejo are more general but will have the essential paints, white, black, and primary colors and the popular secondary colors and metallics most often used.
Pro painters may already have an extensive collection, often with multiple brands of paint that they switch between depending on color/pigment. For this reason alone it’s hard to buy paint, but there will always be the option of topping up on the colors they are running low on. You may even find a brand of paint they are not aware of, such as the Molotow One4All Refills or Scale 75, Scalecolor Artist series.
Paintbrushes are one of those things that many wargamers don’t think about. On the other hand, miniature painters will have exacting requirements in a brush and often will adopt multiple, different types of a brush to achieve a specific effect. Thankfully, somewhere in the middle, there is a compromise, and it is a great starting point for a last-minute Christmas gift. For the wargamer just starting out, you can’t go wrong with one of the starter brush sets such as The Army Painter Starter Brush Set or Most Wanted Brush Set. These are affordable brushes that won’t break the bank but still provide enough utility to give a great painting experience. Once they are more experienced, however, they may be better off with a more comprehensive collection such as The Army Painter Mega Brush Set or Citadel Complete Brush Set).
If the person you are buying for enjoys making scenery, then the brushes available will range from the artist/hobby brushes that come in the larger sizes to decorators’ brushes. These are the brushes that will be hammered and are often mistreated, so don’t spend too much. Save your money for the miniature brushes, as this is where it really matters. You can also find very cheap brushes, commonly referred to as “beater brushes” as they will only be used for one or two sessions. These are great for handling some of the harsher paints and glues that need to cover large surface areas and can be thrown away guilt-free.
This is another area that is overlooked. As every painter will tell you, a brush needs to be properly cleaned after use, shaped, and left to dry. As part of cleaning and maintenance, a brush should be conditioned, especially if it made of natural hair such as sable. “The Masters” Brush Cleaner and Preserver is widely regarded as essential for maintaining paintbrushes, and it will help extend the life, shape, and tip.
Every wargamer needs to prep their models before they can paint and/or game. Cutting tools play an important role as often, then parts need to be removed from their plastic frame before assembly. There are three essential tools that will make an ideal gift. A self-healing cutting mat will protect your wargamer’s hobby or desk surface from scratches, cut marks, and accidental gouging when doing clean-up with a knife. This is also an essential buy if they are using the antique kitchen table!
Speaking of knives, apart from instilling a strong sense of responsible knife ownership and usage, a good hobby knife with a replaceable sharp blade will not only be safer but it will make model prep and clean-up quicker/ Having replaceable blades is essential as it not only allows a new blade to be inserted but also different shape blades that can provide different utility for different tasks.
Rounding out our cutting selection is a good set of nippers, also known as sprue cutters. These can be bought fairly cheaply for a reasonable pair, but for the pro modeler, there is really only one option. Tamiya is known in the model making hobby for making high-quality tools and has several options available for cutting parts from their frames. The Tamiya ‘74123’ Diagonal Cutter has been designed for cutting plastic and is sharp, as in SHARP! It is also flush and flat, giving a near (if not) perfect cut when removing parts, leaving minimal clean-up.
A decent airbrush is an investment and one you shouldn’t cheap out on. An airbrush provides plenty of utility; it is a great way to lay down paint quickly, such as priming and base coating. They can also be used to apply a white zenithal highlight before starting, a technique that is becoming more and more popular these days. Most of all, a skilled wielder can accomplish some amazing paint jobs with fine detail work that rivals that of a brush.
When choosing an airbrush there are several names to look out for. On the cheaper end lookout for Sparmax, who manufactures airbrushes for other companies and has an excellent quality to price ratio. From there you are looking at the higher end, as there is little in the middle lane. Iwata, Badger, and Harder & Steenbeck all have a great range suitable for miniature painting.
Another consideration is the compressor. All airbrushes work with compressed air ‘blowing’ the paint onto the target surface. Avoid shop compressors, these are noisy and often need ear protection. You can get smaller, airbrush compressors that are quiet and can sit on the desk you are working at. Get one with a tank if you can, this will give better airflow. Make sure you have a face mask, a proper one, not a cloth thing. The paint atomizes as it is blown, and breathing it in should be avoided.
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