Thursday, 7 July 2016

Restoring Battletech Miniatures

Hi folks,

Battletech was my first foray into the world of tabletop wargaming, back in my first year of highschool (1994). At that stage, the game was already 10 years old and having a lot of intellectual property issues. Basically, the founders of the game had used a bunch of Mech designs from different Japanese animes, that they thought they had rights to, but they didn't. As fans of both Battletech and Japanese anime, my gaming group utterly adored those designs. We ordered in a bunch of miniatures from mail order and waited. And waited.

But they never came.

Overnight, the Mechs we loved disappeared from all of the books and the miniatures were no longer available. They were now referred to as "The Unseen". KuriboGoomba was lucky enough to get four miniatures (a "Lance") of heavy Mechs from his older brother. They were... precious... to us. By then we were playing around with 40K models, so Goomba had a go assembling them and had a shocking time of it. The polystyrene cement seemed to bounce off this stuff, so he ended up using some horribly thick superglue; I think it was the type of glue you use to build houses. Years of being thrown around in a school bag wrecked those figures and we didn't have the skills to put them back together. Then they went missing.

Until now...

O. M. G. (whimpers just a little)

After moving back from Japan, Goomba found this box in storage and brought it over to me. When I opened it, they were like the fricken Shards of Narsil. There were lots of broken or miscast parts, bent pieces and poorly assembled horribleness coated in... I don't know... house paint or something. Still, my heart melted instantly. Here was a little piece of our childhood, in a battered black box covered in pictures of Mechs that had disappeared, overnight, 20 years ago.

I couldn't make any promises; I had no idea what they were made of and all I could remember was the horrible time we had putting them together in the first place. But, dammit, I was going to try. Prayers were said to Crom and I went about using every trick I have learned in the intervening 20 years to put things right.

First step, I gave the four Mechs a long bath in Simple Green. After a careful rinse in clean water, the paint layers flaked off with the help of a sharp sculpting tool (I call it the "Spear of Destiny").

Underneath, I found that the models were in fact cast in resin, which explains how useless the polystyrene cement was all those years ago. I was happy with this, because I knew I could heat up and bend resin, as well as drill it and pin it easily. So, armed with a pin vice, pins and green stuff, I started re-assembling the hell out of them.

This should give you an idea of the size of the green-stuff balls I stuff down the pin holes. I don't always bother pinning resin, but these figures don't go together well and could do with the support.

A little pin in the right shoulder for the SRM 6.

I used water at just under boiling point to heat some parts and bend them. After many (many) hours of some of the most precise pinning I have ever done, I was finally able to give them a white undercoat. For all their faults, I have never been so proud about a modelling project.

Two Warhammers. The searchlights and SRM 6 launchers were impossible to assemble without well placed pins. The PPC's required the most bending of all the pieces.

Battlemaster. All one piece: the easiest of the four.

Marauder.  By far the most difficult; I received it in a few too many pieces!

During the next stage I will need to do some sculpting work on the bases. After that, I can start painting these guys up as ComStar Mechs, as a late Birthday present for Goomba (20 years late!).

See you across the table,