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Dreamblade Repainted

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slobberblood writes:

great work, trolling Ebay right now….

Revision Log
7 November 2007page first published

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Hundvig Fezian writes:


As some of you may have noticed, I'm not a real big fan of prepainted minis, and I positively despise randomly-packed "collectable" ones. So why am I writing an article on Dreamblade figures, of all things?

Two reasons:

  1. They're dirt cheap on the secondary market. The game isn't hugely popular and the collectors are avoiding it like the plague, so commons and even uncommons go for absurdly low prices from any of a variety of online sources. As long as you avoid the handful of figures in each set that are popular in tournament play, you should never be paying more than $1 USD a model. In today's market, that's a bargain.
  2. There are some very cool sculpts in the range. The factory paintjobs and lousy catalog photos (best seen here) make it hard to tell, but many of these minis would probably get good reviews if they were done in pewter. Many of the figs are truly strange, and having more oddball monsters for RPG or scenario purposes never hurts.

So with that in mind, I decided to see exactly what I'd need to do to go about turning a bunch of Dreamblade minis into something a little more generally useful.

Circling the Bases

The first problem is the base. All Dreamblade minis come on huge square bases with the game stats printed on them, both top and bottom. If you're actually playing Dreamblade, that's a plus. If (like me) you're planning on using the fool things as D20 minis, they're a bit on the inconvenient side, and ugly to boot. You could just add some flock/sand/static grass/whatever to the existing base, but it's still going to be awfully big - and a quick experiment shows that white glue tends to peel off the surface rather easily.

Of course, you could rebase the model to something more to taste, like the 25mm and 40mm GW round bases I used. Which brings us to one of the oddities of the Dreamblade range... unlike every other pre-paint I've ever seen, the figures aren't attached to the base. They're actually cast as part of it, with the center of the base being a square of relatively soft vinyl plastic, which is then glued into a larger hollow square of harder plastic with the stats printed on, and a label with more stats glued to the bottom.

Fortunately for those who feel the need to rebase, that vinyl center square is fairly soft, and you can (with some effort) use a hobby knife to slice through it beneath the feet of the actual mini. This works best on figs with fairly small contact points (usually feet), since there's less cutting to do.

Really squat, wide figures are easier to remove by taking a pair of wire cutters or tin snips and literally trimming the base away from edges of the model. The harder outer square of plastic will fracture as you do this, so be careful of pieces flying about as it happens. You probably won't manage to put out an eye, but stepping on a lost fragment later on is a painful reminder about the merits of workplace cleanliness.

In both cases, you'll probably need to shave the bottom of the detached figure flat so that it will stand on its new base evenly. Dreamblade minis are generally too large to fit on a 1" washer or 25mm base comfortably, but something in the 40mm range will work for even the largest models.

Now, if all that sounds more effort than its worth to you... well, you're probably right. If I had them all to do over again, I'd probably just flock the integral bases and cope with their odd size and shape and the somewhat questionable glue adhesion.

But they sure look better on those standardized round bases, so I can kid myself that it wasn't wholely wasted work. grin

Cleanup and Priming

The next step (before actually rebasing, if you're doing so) is to clean up the figures. The factory paintjobs are fairly basic, and disguise casting imperfections and mold lines quite nicely. Once you do some highlighting and detail work, though, those flaws will stand out like a sore thumb. Best to get them off now.

The main things to watch for are attachment points where the liquid vinyl that was forced into the mold, and moldlines where the two halves of the mold came together. The latter can be easily removed by scraping with a hobby knife, or even with a file if there isn't too much surface detail in the way. Attachment points are a bit trickier, but they can usually either be shaved down or scored up a bit to make them blend with the surrounding surface. You could also cover them with greenstuff or Magic Sculp, although none of the figures I've seen needed that level of effort.

When doing this, remember that the plastic you're working on is fairly soft and flexible. You don't run any risk of snapping a part like you might on a GW styrene plastic kit, but it's important not to apply too much pressure or you'll damage (or obliterate) sections of surface detail.

Another thing to consider is whether to perform any surgery on the model before priming. That soft plastic will flex, and the thinner the component piece is, the easier it will bend. You can get paints that resist flexing, but they're expensive and the color selection is a bit limited. I used several techniques to get around the "bendy" problem, which I'll explain under the individual photos.

Finally, there's the question of stripping the factory paintjob. I waffled about this for a bit, and then decided to try just priming directly over it with some basic Krylon black and working from there. To my mild surprise, this worked very well. There's no noticeable loss of detail in the process, and the paint seems to bond fine to the paint beneath it... which in turn is fused to the plastic strongly enough that even a file doesn't remove it easily.

Frankly, after all the work I'd done rebasing (perhaps pointlessly), I was perfectly happy not having to strip the darn things as well. grin

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Still reading? Cripes, I guess I'd better give you some photos to go with all that text, eh? Without further ado...