Basing GW LotR Miniatures for Mass Battle Gaming (Hobby Post)
I love the Games Workshop Middle Earth range apart from the round slotta bases.
Whilst these are ideal for skirmish gaming they are not so useful for mass battle gaming (eg Hail Caesar fantasy variants etc...) unless you are ok with the War of the Ring tray type system which allows the round slottas to be ranked up.
My solution to this is to clip off the tabs on the undersides of the figures, discard the round bases and mount them in groups on square bases to form units.
Whilst this is pretty simple here are some tips and techniques from my own experiences that may make your life easier if this is something you are interested in doing yourself.
#1 Keep your figures on the original round bases whilst painting them as it makes this stage much easier. You may not even need to glue the tabs into the slots to get a secure enough temporary join.
#2 If you have glued your figures to the round bases yourself or have bought figures ready assembled and/or painted off ebay* then there are a couple of ways to cleanly remove figures from bases.
Firstly you can simply clip off the figure from the base using sprue cutters / clippers carefully following the soles of the feet.
Secondly if this is not so easy due to maybe sand or grit having already been applied to the base you can 'undo' and pull apart the base by cutting it through at either end of the slot leaving the figure with tab intact. You can then clip off the tab.
*ebay is great for finding large quantities of both painted and unpainted minis at good prices. Particularly so if basic Moria Goblins, Mordor Orcs, Isengard Uruks, Rohan Warriors and Minas Tirith Warriors form the bulk of your mass battle armies.
#3 I base my armies on 40mm (Infantry) and 50mm (Cavalry) plastic squares. Ready made bases from the likes of Victrix and Renedra can be used or you can make your own from plastic building card.
The same clippers needed to remove the plastic bases from their molding frames can be used for removing figures from their tabs.
You may also need a small file to get rid of any remaining remnants of sprue frame left on the bases. This file is also good for levelling up feet before gluing figures to bases.
#4 Once you have decide how many figures per base you want and in what configuration you want them posed it's time for gluing.
I use Super Glue in conjunction with Javis Cyanoacylate Activator.
Using both ensures a quick and firm bond that I often don't get from just the Super Glue alone. This speed and firmness is vital as given the earlier tab 'surgery' the figures may not stand up on their own very well until the glue sets or "goes off".
Usually I brush (sprays also available) the activator onto the base where it quickly dries. Then I apply glue to the feet of the figure and stick it where I want it on the base. Note that the bond is really quick so you may have to clip it off if you change your mind about where you want figures positioned.
The Super Glue can either be applied direct from the nozzle or sometimes I put a small amount in an old lid so that I can dip feet into it. Either way when using both glue and activator take care, read the instructions and use in a well ventilated space.
#5 One drawback of using Super Glue is that it can in certain conditions leave a white residue on your paint work as it dries. To stop this and to further firm up the bond I quickly dip the base in fine sand to absorb any excess liquid. As I am going to apply sand to the whole base later anyway this works well.
I should at this point say I don't use poly cement usually for bonding plastic figures to plastic bases as I find it can be slower and weaker. (I also avoid some other glues as they can warp plastic bases.)
Poly cement is however fantastic at bonding hard plastic components together when making conversions and assembling multi-part figures..
#6 Should the feet / hooves etc of your figure be very uneven or only have one hoof for example used as an anchor point you may need extra help to get a good secure join. I use simple plasticine in two ways to assist me.
Firstly a small piece can be used as a temporary support whilst the glue is firmly drying. Once the bond is set carefully remove the plasticine - it's innate flexibility makes this easier to remove without damaging anything.
Secondly small thin quantities can be used to aid permanent basing if Super Glue is applied over it. Green Stuff or Milliput are both obviously much firmer mediums as they both dry rock hard but in many case I find plasticine much easier to work with and that it does the job pretty well - although obviously it does stay softish even with glue on it.
#7 Once based and everything has dried I paint the edges of my bases with Vallejo Game Color #43 Beasty Brown.
After that I apply fine sand with dilluted PVA woodglue.
Next I dip the whole base including the figures in my home wash.
This is stored in an old ice cream tub filled with water plus some black ink, brown ink and black paint. Carefully trial how dark you want it for your own needs and watch for too much accumulating on the bottoms of shields etc...You may need to dab some off if you get too big a build up.
When the wash is dry I apply Summer Hairy Grass and then spray with gloss varnish to get a durable coat and lastly apply a matt varnish spray to get the flat finish I require.
Example below of rebased Games Workshop figures. (These are Rohan riders converted for use in my Dale Army - which I will blog about another time).
You can get most of the hobby items I mention in this post from good model stores either in person, via their websites or on ebay. I sell plastic card, paint and Victrix square 40mm bases in my webstore.