I spent a large portion of today gluing storage case foam together and bases onto miniatures.

Storage Cases

As I said in my earlier post, regarding my new miniature storage cases:

The next thing I noticed was that once I had placed minis in each of the slots, and pulled the fob to remove the top layer of minis, the chipboard flexed a little allowing the 9/16″ foam around those minis to pull away from the thin layer of foam below it. If the two pieces separated further, the minis on that level could fall through. Naturally, this is a bit alarming.

As it turns out, the manufacturer anticipated this and offers some advice. A paper insert accompanies each case and suggests that you glue the bottom piece of thin foam to the larger piece in order to provide a sturdier environment. I haven’t done this yet but it certainly sounds like it will resolve the issue. The thin piece of foam that sits inside the lid is loose and simply sits there. I may glue it in place too. In fact, I may glue the top level of minis to the chipboard as well.

Today I did just that. Before I began, I tested the process by using Elmer’s glue to attach together two of the foam cutouts that I removed the other day. There were two tests actually. First, I just put a line of glue around the edge of one piece of foam and mashed the other up against it. In the second test, I applied some glue to one piece and then, with a finger, smeared it around till I had the entire surface coated and then mashed a second piece of foam into it. About an hour later I checked the two samples. They looked dry but the first sample separated easily so I mashed it back together and left the other one alone. In the morning, both were fully dried and both were firmly attached. Apparently, running a line of glue works just as well as completely covering the surface. This was awesome news as it meant I could save a lot of time and effort.

Now that I knew it would work, I started gluing. I grabbed a thick piece of foam (one with the cutouts in it) and ran a line of glue around the edge as well as the edges separating each of the cutouts (everywhere that this piece would come in contact with the adjacent thin piece of foam). Until I started, I didn’t quite realize how much surface area that entailed. With four cases, containing two levels each, I had eight pieces of foam to glue. I quickly went through the half bottle of Elmer’s I had on hand, went to the store and bought two more, and then used half of one of those. By the time I was done, my hands actually hurt just from squeezing glue bottles.

Once I had finished applying glue to the surface of a large foam piece, I set one of the thin foam pieces on top only to now discover that they aren’t exactly the same size. I centered it as best I could and then gently ran my hands from the center out in both directions in order to slightly stretch the thin foam. This worked and the glue was tacky enough to hold the stretched thin foam piece in place over the larger piece. Naturally, the thin piece wanted to contract, so I set a light weight on top to keep everything flat while the glue dried.

I’m letting the eight sections dry over night. Tomorrow, I’ll glue four of the sections to the bottom of the four storage cases. There are thin pieces of foam that will sit on top of those sections. Then a piece of chipboard sits on top of them (to separate the two levels). I’ll glue those thin pieces of foam to the chipboard separators (I should have done that today – actually, I just went and did that). Then another section sits on top of the chipboard. I’ll glue that in place as well. I already glued a thin piece of foam to the inside of each lid.

When I’m all done, everything will be glued in place inside the storage case except for the removable top layer (consisting from bottom up of: thin foam, chipboard, thin foam, thick foam with cutouts).

Miniatures

Once I verified that nickels would fit as bases, it was time to get out the glue. In the past I had used Superglue. In this tutorial, the author describes his new favorite glue. It sounded good so I picked up a tube of E-6000 and got ready to give it a try. I had a couple things to do before I could begin though. First off, I had to run to the bank and get $10 worth of nickels. Second, I had to clean them. Coins are filthy!

I’ve got something on the shelf called Goo Gone. It is amazing at removing sticky messes like stickers that leave a gooey gummy residue behind. I put all the nickels in a bowl and squirted in a bunch of Goo Gone. Ten minutes later there was a grey soup and my fingers were all slimy but the coins still looked pretty bad. Next I stuck in some TSP. Never used it before but it sounded like it would work. It did… to a point. By this point I was getting tired of messing with them (and wishing I had been wearing gloves). I dumped the lot into a colander and rinsed off the cleansers with water and regular dish soap. Most of the coins looked pretty good. I removed about a dozen of the worst and the rest were passable.

I set up a table in the sunroom (the only place I could conveniently seal off from the cats) and started working. Immediately, I discovered that the fumes were a bit stronger than Superglue and opened a door to get some ventilation. I laid out row after row of nickels (all face up naturally. My OCD personality wouldn’t stand for anything else). The directions recommend roughing the two surfaces, applying a small amount of glue to each, waiting two minutes, and then affixing the two pieces together. Yeah right. Like that is gonna happen for each of the ~200 minis I have to attach bases to. Instead, I applied a liberal amount of glue to the base of each mini and squashed it down in the middle of a coin. Glue oozed out around the edge of each mini but I’m not too concerned about that. It will dry clear and I plan to apply modeler’s putty around the base when I’m done painting. That should hide any traces of glue.

Safety

I have to say that the E-6000 was a pleasure to work with. After smushing each mini down onto a coin, it instantly felt firmly attached (kinda like stepping into thick mud. It’s not a permanent attachment yet but it is firmly held). Naturally, I got a bit on my fingers. When it dried, it simply peeled off. This was a wonderful change from Superglue where you need acetate to cut the glue.

Out of roughly 200 minis, most were just a matter of gluing and smushing. But three of them weren’t quite flat on the bottom. Fortunately, I had already picked up a handy dandy X-Acto knife so it was an easy matter to cut off the offending bits.

But this brought up an issue I’ve been avoiding thinking about. These little bits of metal (tin in this case, but many older minis are made of lead) tend to fly across the room when you cut them off. Cats (and dogs and small children) are quite adept at locating these bits. The metal certainly won’t digest and the edges are rough and sharp. In addition to physical trauma caused from passing these bits through the system, the metals can be toxic. So be wary when trimming/sanding minis. Catch what bits you can and sweep/vacuum the area when you are done. Ideally, you should wet mop the floors and use a damp cloth on other surfaces as these little bits are hard to get up otherwise.

Next Step

Prepping the storage boxes and affixing bases was a huge step forward. Next, I need to remove any extraneous casting bits, file down mold lines, scrub the minis (to remove release agent that was used to aid in removal from the molds), and apply primer. Many people recommend a hard bristled toothbrush for scrubbing which is proving much more difficult to find than I would have expected. Also, I haven’t picked up primer yet. I like the ease of paint-on primer but I’ve been convinced that spray-on is far better. Spray-on needs to be used inside (too cold outside this time of year) which means tarps and cardboard boxes to prevent spray back. The only place I can do this is a place that is inconvenient to keep cats out of. I’m really not looking forward to this step. Once they are all primed though, I can finally put them all away in storage boxes and only have one out at a time as I finally get down to the actual painting!

Most of the supplies/tools have been ordered (including the paints – Thank you Miniature Giant for the awesome prices!). I think all I have left is the spray-on primer, the brushes, and a sealant.