Do you like expensive things? If you’re into scale modeling hobbies and miniatures, e.g., painting and assembling model kits, then you may be interested in what an extra hundred or more in your budget could buy. Over the years, I’ve shopped around for different tools and things that could give me a competitive edge, or simply make my life more interesting and fun. I’m always on the lookout for gadgets that can help me assemble models with less frustration, paint miniatures faster and better, or engage in hobbies with less pain. What I learned is that if you have the money, there’s always a product that promises to satisfy the revolving needs of the ambitious hobbyist, miniature painter, or artist.
In this article, I share with you 7 luxury products that you need to want in your miniature painting hobby arsenal. These are the most useful (and expensive) gadgets you would love to own and operate for painting miniatures and models. If you’re a traditional artist or scale modeling hobbyist, this list may be for you, too!
Read on for more details about the exorbitant hobby things you wish you had in your back pocket (figuratively speaking).
Do you need expensive hobby art supplies?
Painting miniatures can quickly become a very expensive hobby, especially if you buy the most expensive materials. If you are trying to keep a close eye on your budget, then you might decide to buy the cheaper materials to save some money, but will this affect your painting skills?
People often wonder whether expensive materials make you a better painter or if it’s all down to your own skill. This is a tough question to answer and overall, it’s a bit of both. Let’s have a look at three potential benefits of buying more expensive materials and equipment to paint your miniatures.
3 Main reasons you may want to spend a lot of money in your hobby
1. Better hobby tools can give you a better finish
One of the main reasons to spend more money on your materials is to get a better finish. If you use high-quality art supplies like good brushes and paints, you will often find that the paint goes on smoother with less effort, e.g. better coverage in a single pass, and you are likely to achieve a better finish at the end. This is especially true when painting the fine details on your miniatures.
Cheaper paint is more likely to drag brush strokes over your piece, streak, and leave marks. Cheap brushes may lose bristles, splay, or hinder your ability to paint details. In the rare case, a brush failing you during paint application can ruin your day. Spending a little bit more on good varnishes creates an more durable sealant that lasts much longer too. Protect your hard work!
However, high-quality paints and varnishes won’t make up for poor paintwork, so if you are not a very experienced painter, you won’t suddenly become amazing overnight. It’s not about making you a better painter, it’s about stopping low-quality materials from holding you back.
2. Bad tools can damage your technique
Many people don’t realize that low-quality tools can hamper their technique. Say, for example, you are using cheap brushes to apply paint. You’re having trouble getting the details right, so you start adjusting your technique.
The thing is, you are adjusting your technique to make up for the shortfalls caused by your bad brushes, which often means that you are making your technique worse as a result. If you then switch to some better brushes and use the same technique, you’ll find that the end result isn’t as good.
3. New equipment can speed up the process
It’s not just about quality, it’s also about the time you have to invest in each miniature, model, or art piece. If you are painting a large set, it can require a huge time investment. But you can speed the process up a lot by investing in new equipment.
Using an airbrush, for example, allows you to quickly administer your primer and base coats before using a regular brush to fill out the details. The finish will be even and it’s so much quicker than using a regular brush for the entire miniature.
There is no denying that high-quality materials do have a big impact on the quality of your miniatures. Spending a lot of money on the most expensive supplies you can find won’t magically make you an amazing painter. However, using cheap supplies can ruin work done by a good painter. The best thing you can do is use the most expensive materials you can realistically afford.
Can you go too far with hobby purchases?
There will come a point when your spending produces diminishing returns. Spending more on your hobby won’t help at all, and you’re tossing money into the fire pit.
Here’s when you start saying to your friends (or yourself) that buying new hobby things is beyond need. You’re in the want category. Having the next best things is now a new hobby inside your current hobby. Buying cool stuff is a meta-hobby.
Can you buy too much stuff? Sure, if you run out of money. But, if you have a slush fund and want to enjoy your free time in a certain way, I say go for it!
In fact, I encourage you to check out a few things I wish I could dive into myself. Not that I need more stuff, but rather these things would be cool to have in my miniature painting and modeling hobby. Some are quite outlandish.
7 Luxury hobby goods you want to justify for painting miniatures and more
The Four E’s Scientific LED Digital Vortex Mixer is more than $160 USD and falls in the luxury column section of “hobby needs”. Ever have a pot or bottle of miniature paint that takes forever to shake into a proper mixture? If you have a huge collection of model paints, then you have experienced the dreaded paint pigment seperation.
This vortex mixer takes the budget mini vortex mixer to another superior level (see a full review of a similar model paint vortex mixer here). A powerful vortex mixing action that agitates paint bottles and pots into a smooth slurry in under 3 seconds is definitely on the “want” list for many miniature hobbyists and painters.
If you’re familiar with chainswords in the Warhammer 40k universe, or the vibroswords (e.g., vibroblade) in the Star Wars lore, then The Wondercutter S should intrigue you. This is your traditional hobby knife on steroids with the addition of a ultrasonic actuator that sends a mind-boggling 40,000 vibration per second through the blade. That’s 40k hertz (Hz) for those who took college physics 101.
This means that the blade can carve through almost any material with a ungodly ease. You can slice through cardboard, plasticard, sprues, and some softer metals like a hot knife through butter.
This ultrasonic knife is designed for the “budget liberated” model maker, prototyper, industrial designer, and wargamer who wants to wield the best tools modern technology can deliver. I’ve tried this tool, and it works as advertised. Of course, the price clocks in at around $400 USD.
Did I mention you can cut through plywood, circuit boards, rubber, MDF, leather, and perhaps much more? Do you want to clean up your 3D resin or PLA prints with less effort? Simply power up the hand-held, ultrasonic hobby knife and slice away with surgical precision. Check it out!
Is the Iwata Custom Micron B Airbrush the best airbrush money can buy? At over $450 USD, this is one of the most expensive and capable airbrushes you can get for painting miniatures. I’m not 100% sure why anyone would want to spend this much on a single airbrush for painting wargaming models or board game miniatures.
The most expensive brush that I’ve recommended is the Harder & Steenbeck Infinity airbrush, which may have more useful features than the Iwata Custom Micron B. If you’re looking for a true hobby workhorse airbrush for miniature painting take a close look at the Badger Patriot 105 (and a comparison with other recommended airbrushes).
The Iwata Custom Micron B airbrush is a luxury hobby item with an accompany high cost of ownership, too. Replacement parts for this airbrush, for example, the nozzle and nose cone assembly are upwards of $50-100 USD. But, if you’re looking for the absolute best built, highest quality components in an airbrush that will spray models and miniatures with a reliable and precise spray pattern, this is probably your top choice.
Do you want to make your own miniature terrain for wargames, or a scale model railroad? Sure, you could get a 3D printer for a reasonable price, but for large terrain pieces or small tokens, a laser engraver cutter like the Orion Motor Tech 80W CO2 Laser Engraver Cutter will take your endeavor to new heights.
At close to $3000 USD, this laser cutter will cut or engrave large projects with a resolution up to 4,500 dpi (dots per inch). This laser cutter is huge, allow you to work on surfaces up to nearly 4 square feet (or 1.2 square meters). Built in safety features reduce the risk for dangerous accidents, e.g., fire and smoke hazards.
With a powerful laser of 80-watts (most hobby laser cutters are under 50W), you can work on a huge range of materials. This includes wood, medium density fiber (MDF) board, rubber, acrylic (for gaming tokens), and even some treated metals. Software for operating the machine is open source, meaning you can use your favorite third-party applications to prepare your cutting instructions.
If you’re making terrain and models with foam, then you know what a good hot wire cutter can do for modeling. Suffice it to say, there’s a lot for a hobbyist to love about a great laser cutter. This powerhouse of a laser cutter will set your imagination (and your wallet) run free.
Oil painting miniatures is growing in popularity. With the surge in alternative ways to paint miniatures, there has emerged a whole crop of artists who are looking for the ideal tools to enjoy their hobby. With oil paints, there are already a few highly recommended oil paint brands you can get for miniature and model painting that won’t break the bank.
However, for those looking for artist-grade oil paints that you can use for traditional art or modeling hobbies, e.g., dot filtering technique, washes, etc., then Gamblin is high on the list of luxury hobby goods. Gamblin is an oil paint brand based in Portland, Oregon in the United States. They have a storied history of making oil paints that are sought after throughout the world.
Here, the Gamblin Artist Oil Color Paint – Professional Curated Collection is a set of 24 oil paint colors that any hobbyist or miniature painter who uses oil paints would love in their collection. Smooth, color vibrant pigments, formulated in a professional-grade oil medium, these are some of the best oil paints money can buy.
At about $13-14 USD per tube, they are obviously expensive. Of course, as a bundle you’re saving quite a bit of money compared to buying each oil color a la carte. Take a closer look!
No one likes to work on their hobby while in pain. Many miniature painters and hobbyists complain of sore necks and backs. Much of this is due to bad posture and simple aging. Of course, one way to relieve paint is to take breaks. Standing up, and taking a walk every 30-60 minutes from working at a desk can do wonders for your health.
Take it a step further and get a Massage Executive Office Chair that can improve your blood circulation through your back and hips. Heat and massage transducers in the chair help your muscles relax, allowing blood to move through sore tissues, and can relieve pain. Why not improve your hobby comfort and make that free time more enjoyable?
Oh, that’s right. It comes at a cost. This chair is about $230 USD, which places it squarely outside the “need” category for many hobbyists and miniature painters. Will it make you a better painter, modeler, or artist? Not really. So, why splurge on a nice massage chair?
You could get a standing desk, which would alleviate the problems of sitting at a desk with bad posture. Although most good standing desks for hobby work would cost as much or more than a massage chair. It comes down to your ability to spend on nice things. What do you think?
7. Tiny House
Yes, I put a house on the list! But, it’s not just an house. It’s a tiny house. A tiny house is defined as any home structure that is between 100 and 400 square feet (or 30 to 120 square meters) (source). For a point of reference, you could fit about 144 tiny houses on an American football field.
Why did I put a tiny house on a list of luxury hobby goods? Well, it’s simple. Don’t you wish you had a private space to escape to where you keep and work on all your fun hobby things, e.g., miniatures, models, and games? This tiny home is the perfect man (or woman) cave for the discerning hobbyist who wants a distinct space away from their actual home.
Sure, you can get a portable hobby workstation. But, wouldn’t it be better if you had a portable hobby “space”? A tiny home is mobile. You can drag a tiny home around and drop it wherever and whenever you wanted to use it. This particular tiny home comes with a bathroom, a second floor loft, and huge windows for that ideal natural lighting for painting miniatures.
It’s a ridiculous pipe dream of mine to one day have an entire house dedicated to my miniature painting and modeling hobby. Maybe, there’s even enough space to host tabletop games and boardgames in this small, cute domicile. Other benefits include environmental sustainability. A tiny home forces you to manage your resources and reduce waste. It’s a win-win for you, the Earth, and by extension, hobbyists everywhere.
Have I gone too far?
Hobbies are all about using your imagination. Leveraging your creativity through model making, miniature painting, and other crafts, is a great way to show off your humanity. When it comes to stuff you use in your hobby, remember the purchasing guide I like to hype: “Buy the quality you need”.
If you’re considering a hobby goods that cost an arm and a leg, and you don’t need it, then you’ve cross into the luxury aisle. Of course, we all know that top shelf doesn’t mean better, or does it?
I prefer milk in my coffee; while others need a dash of Kahlua in their life.
Happy painting and hobbying!
Do you have any luxury hobby items that you think should go on this list? I’d love to know!