Do you get used models for your miniature hobby and tabletop games? It’s quite popular to buy used and repaint miniatures for tabletop games, e.g., Warhammer 40k, Warmachine. Sometimes you get a used model with a bad paint job and you have to refurbish it. How do you refurbish and repaint a used model or miniature? It’s not hard to re-paint used models, with exceptions.
I often avoid getting used miniatures because I don’t enjoy fixing them up. But, I was given a commission project to do a complete refurbish with a tight deadline. As someone who doesn’t shy from a challenge, I accepted. Here’s what happened!
Here are the 5 basic steps for repainting used miniatures and models:
- Repair the surface
- Decide on color scheme
- Re-prime and base coat the used model
- Paint details, finish the base, and add special effects
Is repainting used models worth it?
If you’re trying to expand your miniature tabletop army collection and want to save money, getting used miniatures is a great way to extend your hobby budget. The issue with used models is that they often come in various states of disrepair. Some are badly painted or broken.
You may be lucky and get used models in good condition, but these tend to sell a close to new prices.
So, if you’re asking whether used models are worth the trouble, then the answer depends on how much time you’re willing to spend to refurbish them.
In this particular case, you can pay for someone (like me) to fix and repaint your miniatures. As you will see below, this is exactly what I did for a client with a particular spin that he wanted me to finish the project in less than a week.
Continue reading to see the basic overview of what I did!
The “project” begins (the ask)
At our local game store, a new visitor asked if I could restore and repaint his Cygnar Stormwall colossal.
He gave me a time limit of 6 days (until our next gaming night). I accepted! This impulsive nature of mine needs to stop. It often gets me in trouble with my hobby. There was that one time when I tried to paint an entire 10,000 point Tyranid army with a small point #1 sized brush….
I gave up and ended up using multiple airbrushes for the project.
Step 1 – Inspection
The first thing you have to do with any used miniature before a repaint is perform an inspection. For example, when you buy a used car, you want to make sure it works. Or, at least find out what needs fixing and if it’s worth your trouble.
The same is true for used models that have bad paint jobs. You need to figure out whether you should strip the paint down to the original surface, or if you can simply re-prime over the old paint.
After a quick survey of the used colossal I decided stripping the paint would be too time consuming. A Warmachine Colossal is a large model with multiple complex parts. For this used model, my inspection confirmed that the best course of action was to re-prime over the old paint job.
Step 2 – Repair the surface
Before priming a used model, you should make sure the surface is as even as possible. In other words, the original surface of the miniature should be intact and as close to new as possible. Any cracks or chips in the model should be smoothed out or filled in.
This particular model was in bad shape. The model had torn and chipped paint, poorly glued pieces, and cracks in the resin. This meant a bit of scraping to smooth out the underpainting, re-gluing parts, and filling gaps. For glues, I used super glue as recommended for resin, and my favorite gap filler, Vallejo Plastic Putty.
Since I wasn’t going to strip the model, I worked to restore the surface. Any parts that felt lose or glued badly, I removed (with pliers if I needed to). I cleaned off the part as best as I could so it would glue back on without interruption. A bit sanding and filing and I was able to fix the worst offending parts in an hour or so.
Gap filling was easy with the Vallejo Plastic Putty. This only took a few minutes. I knew the primer job would even out any smaller imperfection and micro abrasions on the model. Wow, was this model treated poorly!
Step 3 – Decide on color scheme
If you’re repainting used models, you probably already have a color scheme in mind. If you’re stuck, here’s an article with ideas about how to choose a miniature color scheme.
In this case, my client already had a complete army color scheme ready to go. My job was to try and match those colors on this re-painted model. I had to dig through my library of paint pots to see if I could match his army’s scheme. A close examination of these paints showed that the army needed a desaturated red/brown tone, accented with baby-blue colors in various places.
I also needed to decide on highlights for the repainted basecoat. All I could think of is “pumpkin” orange. Skipping ahead, since I was under time pressure, I locked down the basecoat colors and mapped out the major zones of color.
Step 4 – Re-prime and base coat the used model
I worked panel by panel. Of course, I realized about half-way through that I needed to paint each and every rivet in gold metallic paint! Crap! That’s going to slow me down. Thankfully, I knew exactly best kind of metallic gold to use. Retributor Armour gold metallic has the best coverage of any gold I’ve used before.
To speed up the paint job, I used an airbrush. I mean, obviously, there were huge open surface areas on the model. This is the perfect scenario for airbrushing versus normal brush work.
Step 5 – Paint details, finish the base, and add special effects
For this repainting project of this used model, my aim was to get the piece to a nice tabletop standard. This meant decent contrast with good dynamic range between light and dark values, and distinct vibrant color zones between parts of the model. I also wanted to give the model a bit of flair, so I planned to paint some OSL in some places.
For more about these different painting techniques, you can check out the other miniature painting articles here.
When I finished painting these elements on the model (you can see in the photo), I worked on the base. I created the base with a mix of PVA glue, water, and sand. I spread this “sandy slush” on the base and let it dry. Afterwards, I then gave it a heavy wash of brown ink and let that dry, too. When I was finished painting the model, I gave it a solid 2-3 coats of Testor Dullcote varnish.
Here is the completely repainted model!
Re-painting used model is an inexpensive way to expand your miniature army collection. I tend to surf eBay for used models for clients. Although I don’t like getting used models for my own collection, my experience for how to repaint anything has come in useful.
I hope you found this article useful and encouraging. This refurbishing paint job took less than a week to complete. And, for the final outcome, I think this model came out great! Did the client like the end result? He sure did!
Thanks for reading! Happy painting!