Rehabbing some old minis

Over the years, a lot of my miniatures broke, either through rough handling, poor storage conditions, or simple wear and tear.  Unfortunately, a lot of the time the bits that broke off — most often weapons, but sometimes feet and bases, and other larger parts — were lost.  But generally speaking I held on to the remains of the minis in hopes of some day repairing them.  As I became somewhat better at conversions and repairs, I also began to pick up bags of spare parts, broken minis, and such at conventions (mainly Origins, the two times I went) and later I also got some minis in need of some care from generous blog readers who contributed them to the Bruce Galloway Memorial Home.

This guy is a Heritage thief, and I got him, broken, so long ago that I am not 100% sure where he came from.  I think it was from one of buddies who flirted briefly with D&D back in the early 1980s but  didn’t really get into it.  He had a number of Heritage minis which were beat up and badly painted but even back then I couldn’t turn a mini away.  Missing an arm and his weapon, I used this guy as a zombie for a long time, to fill in the ranks of a hypothetical Undead army for Warhammer (3rd ed.!).  But since then I stripped him and began to repair him.  The new sword is a bit of florist wire and Liquid Nails*. I just drilled a hole and glued in the wire with super glue, and then once dry I dipped the wire in some Liquid Nails and shaped the blade with moist fingers.  The arm is a spare from a Zvedza set for their fantasy game “Ring of Rule.”**  I should probably add a loot bag to the hand at some point.

A noble, maybe? Ral Partha 1992

The next guy is from one of those bags of broken minis I got at Origins.  Someone lopped of his right arm very crudely, leaving a big crease in on the shoulder.  He’s a Ral Partha mini, and probably fairly late given his scale (about 28mm).  I don’t know what he originally held in that arm but I thought I’d just use him as a young noble/civilian type, so I used another Zvedza arm on him.

These gnomes have been broken since my brother had them confiscated in 6th grade and returned at the end of the school year (1982).  The sword is wire and Liquid Nails; the spear is from a Zvedza pilum, and the axe  is from another Grenadier mini, probably an orc.

Here’s another Heritage thief or bandit, whose legs broke off.  I could not find them, but made new ones (very crudely)  again with wire and Liquid Nails.

Holy symbol aloft, and vial ready in the other hand, he’s ready for some undead bashing.

Here’s a Heritage cleric, which Scottz sent me.  Poor guy lacks both hands (he was holding an ankh and had his other hand open like he was fencing).  I have one specimen in better shape so instead of giving him a new ankh I thought a cross would be a good symbol for this fearless vampire killer.  Both hands are spares from the Zvedza set mentioned earlier and the cross is a bit of plastic sprue.

My, what big hands you had.

Next up, a skeleton which was a MageKnight figure I got for pennies at Origins (about 2004, I think).  He was missing a bow so I took the one from a Lionheart mini I’d earlier decapitated for use in a larva.  A little big but it could be a glove once it’s painted.

“I got something to axe you.”

Here’s a Heritage Knights & Magick mini.  His axe head broke off long ago, and for a while I had him painted with the haft painted as if it were a sword, but since I stripped him anyway, I thought I might as well make him an axeman again.  The axe head is oversized by Heritage standards but still within reason for a bardiche or Danish axe.  It came from the Zvedza orc set.

Here’s a Grenadier thief, who broke off at the ankles and I lost the feet and base.  So, for him the lower legs and feet are entirely wire and Liquid Nails.  In process. Not pretty but it’ll do.

Grenadier horse, Lionheart arm, RAFM shield, and GW or Marauder body!

This guy is cobbled together from (I think) a GW undead rider,  who lacked his shield, arm, and mount.  A Galloway Home donation provided a spare undead steed (Grenadier) and I added a spare Rafm shield (from a ‘build-your-own something or other kit) and an arm from a Lionheart mercenary.

Evil jester or old school goblin

Here’s my oldest goblin — bought in a bag of bits at a BASHCon in 1999 or 2000.  He’s one of the old Minifigs guys, and was missing his sword, and was broken at the ankles.  Wire/Nails sword.  It always feels good to restore something really old.

Would you believe, an owlbear cub? Toucangoat? I give up. Lab escapee, for sure.

This freak came as the draft beast for the Grenadier Orc Beer Wagon.  I used a Ral Partha giant boar to pull the wagon instead, and this guy’s been laying around for over a decade, unused because of his yoke and tackle.  So the other night I fired up the Dremel and removed them as best I could.  I’m fairly certain they were just added as an afterthought & this guy was released sans tackle around the time of the Monster Manuscript series; I’ll need to check.  I just roughed up the areas where the extra lead was ground off to look more fur-like and I think he’ll paint up fine.

This guy is a Heritage fighter (maybe a berserker?).  His sword is laying partly over his shield and broke off at the shield edge.  He was the first one I tried the wire & Liquid Nails blade reconstruction on, and it turned out pretty good.

This one is a Yaun-Ti, and another Scottsz donation.  His sword was pretty close to being broken off when I got him so I flicked it off and replaced it with more wire & Liquid Nails.  I wonder if Swords & Dorkery can get a sponsorship from Liquid Nails if I type that one more time. Liquid Nails.


These two are from one of the first AD&D Grenadier boxed sets me & my bother ever got: the Halflings.  They may look like human dwarfs with overgrown arms but I love them. The javelin thrower (who seems to have a strap on his javelin, which is something that was common in ancient times — it helped the thrower add spin, and thus accuracy) had a broken javelin right out of the box. So he’s waited like 30 years for this repair!!! The other guy had his sword hacked off and replaced with a very crude spear some time back, and after seeing Belched from the Depth’s awesome halfling fighter I had to restore him.  Now he has a spare sword from the Zvedza skeleton legion.

Saving the goofiest for last, this is a Lawful Evil cleric from a Grenadier Action Art set (I think this is another Scottsz donation).  His shillelagh*** was broken, so I made a goofy rod topped with the head from a 1/72 plastic Greek mini (an Atlantic mold, recast by Nexus).  I’ll probably paint it metallic, as a funky mace.

Right now there are several more figures in need of TLC: several Saurus lacking their arms; a GW black orc also lacking an arm; a Reaper flying ape lacking wings and an arm; half of a WotC Abyssal Maw; a headless GW Chaos knight; a legless Citadel baboon; and few other odds and ends.  These will require serious epoxy putty work, or a new home.  Some could become casualty markers.   As a last resort: melted down for more home casting.




*FWIW, “Liquid Nails” is an American brand of construction adhesive, sold both in caulking tubes and smaller foil “toothpaste” tubes.  I like it because it dries fairly fast and is very strong.  Better modellers would probably use an epoxy putty, but Liquid Nails are a good “quick and dirty” alternative if you don’t have any on hand or just need a tiny bit. <Update — Liquid nails now has a new formula, at least in the small tubes, and it is much thinner and not very useful for sculpting. Sigh.>

**The Squadron was liquidating their Zvedza fantasy minis a while back, and I got the orc set and a boxed set with medieval  humans vs.  skeletons in Roman legionary uniforms.  All are nice but the skeletons are incredibly complicated to put together (separate skulls, helmets, torsos, shoulders, arms, hands, legs, feet, shields, weapons…!!!) and the orcs are really ogre-sized (which is ok — they can be some other species, I have tons of orcs anyway).   Best of all, lots of spare parts, like the OLD Games Workshop kits which gave you spare heads and weapons and stuff.

***I believe this is pronounced, “shill-ale-ee”.  My mother had a shillelagh, passed down from relatives on her mother’s side.  In the olden times they even hollowed out one end and filled it with lead to hit harder, but this was more recent specimen, just used as a walking stick rather than a cudgel.  I think my sister ended up with it, which makes sense since she married a Irish-American.

Published in: on September 30, 2011 at 6:00 am  Comments (13)  
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13 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. YES!

    Love what you did with the Heritage cleric! The Heritage K&M weapon on the axe man looks great!

    The Yuan Ti wavy blade is very cool… I haven’t tried Liquid Nails and will have to check that out.

    Using the helmeted Greek head for the Grenadier cleric’s mace head is absolute genius… looks better than the original sculpt!

    • Thanks!

  2. Now this is truly hands on DIY stuff. Those look so cool. I also really like the Yuan-Ti. And I bet these will look great with some paint.
    This makes me want to dig into my own bits box and see what I can come up with.

    • Do it. Badly repaired and back in action is way better than sitting unused.

  3. Thanks for sharing these cool pictures and your hard work. I think the Liquid Nails sword fix is inspired! I was dreading having to use green stuff to make new swords since I can’t sculpt very well, now I will just use Liquid Nails. You and Belched have inspired me to crack open the old Grenadier box sets and fix/paint those guys.

    • Thanks! I

  4. I look forward to seeing these painted! I never considered a sword from liquid nails. I’m intriqued–that really works? I’ve done tire wire crushed in a vice and dremeled down, wire sandwiched between paper and superglue, and wire and brown/green stuff, but all are very labor intensive. Your liquid nails weapons look really nice, however! Recently I picked up a ton of Thunderbolt Mountain weapons for conversions and all of them but the swords are great. The swords are little thin, honestly, but I will still use them, probably, and just use a bit of extra care.

    This prep stage of the action sometimes feels the most laborious to me, and I just went through a lot of it basing and cleaning a bunch of figs. I’m in the mode to prime enough to be able to paint through the winter (what we call “winter” here in California) without having to prime (much).

    Some great figs in this batch–those are the same gnomes I plan to use. If you don’t have the Gold Line gnome king you gotta score one, he’s righteous. 🙂 There are some other great sculpts in here. I look forward to seeing your take on the halfling!

    • so far so good with the liquid nails. I used it extensively on 1/72s, building up hands, etc. and it has not cracked or anything after five years.
      I actually enjoy the prep, maybe more than painting really. I too have been priming like crazy these last couple of weeks. I have just about all my unpainted lead primed now, and I fear that it will hold me for years at my current rate of (not really) painting.
      I do have the king too. I am not thrilled with how i painted him 20 years ago but I am trying not to strip and repaint everything from back then, when there are still other minis who never got a first coat.

  5. Very good job

  6. Awesome, I love rehab pictures (MINIATURE rehab pictures that is…!)

    I don’t think there is an original Grenadier Yuan-Ti that actually has the sword intact. My own will need a similar treatment. This post was inspiring. That Heritage cleric will looks even better painted.

  7. Great stuff Mike! I don’t see your mad scientist work bench when we game. I only get to see the end products. This was kind of cool. I’ve heard of different substitutes for epoxies but never the liquid nails. Is it fairly easy to work with? As in it doesn’t just stick all over your fingers or tools?


    • Thanks, Chad!

      The laboratory sometimes covers the whole gaming table on weekends (as it did when I was doing these).

      But yes, I find Liquid Nails to be easy to work and it dries slowly enough that I can shape it OK (the regular hardware store kind, not the “home” version which is thinner and runny)
      I just keep some water in a jar to dip my fingers and tools in; much like Epoxy it won’t stick to water.

  8. […] The thief is also Grenadier. Now that I see the pic enlarged I see he needs some eyelids — though I guess he could just have hyperthyroidism, or surprised.  He’s one of the minis I rehabbed a while back. […]

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