This week’s Fangirl Feature is from The Mini Details of Dr H
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What games/systems are you most interested in/do you collect?
Mainly Warhammer 40k. But I do have a few models from other games scattered throughout my collection. I like the freedom of the far future where anything is possible.
Any specific armies?
A very (un)specific army; my own.
I’m collecting a home-brew army that incorporates members from all the armies available and mixes their equipment together for unique conversions.
I even have some fluff written to explain how the army was formed. Short, short version; Scientist makes himself hyper-intelligent, by accident, and goes crazy. Starts reanimating and/or brainwashing anyone and anything to serve his cause of balancing the chaos and order of the universe to avoid it’s death to entropy. Hence the name “The (Mad) Scientist and his army of the second law”; the second law of thermodynamics being related to entropy, which is a measure of disorder or chaos.
It’s all an excuse to collect, build, convert, and paint whatever I want.
There’s no one colour scheme for the army either. For example, each space marine is from a different chapter (I hope to have one of each eventually). I would get bored painting all the miniatures of an entire army the same scheme. The only unifying thing on all the models in my army is the basing; I have a flame pattern about the rim.
What aspect of the hobby are you most interested in?
You may have guessed from my previous answer. Building, converting and painting. The more complicated the build, the better; I like a challenge.
I do enjoy the lore, but from an inspiration point of view for the building and painting.
I’ve never actually played a game of 40k, or any other similar tabletop wargame. Not because I don’t want to, I just don’t know anyone in “real” life that plays these games. And I don’t want to inflict my blatantly illegal army on a random at a gaming store/club.
One day, I will. When the army is at a playable state; as in, I have something for each role in an army. I’ve been creating a custom codex for the army as I build it’s members, so playing is a goal. Just not quite yet.
I’ve played a few computer games over the years, from the original Space Hulk on our 386sx, to something on the original Playstation, to Dawn of War II more recently. But not everything that’s been available.
What compelled you first start or restart the hobby?
I’ve been building plastic model kits (from Airfix and the like) from when I was a child, but never thought to try tabletop wargame miniatures as I thought of them as just gaming pieces and I’ve always wanted complex building projects. I was aware of 40k back then, because I remember drawing pictures of space marines etc. and would look in to GW stores as I passed. But never considered buying any.
Then in 2012, it got to a point that the sort of models I needed to buy, to scratch the complexity itch, were getting very expensive and very large. So after finding it difficult to find somewhere to store a half-metre wide 1:32 Hurricane that cost £70 but only took a week to build, I decided to try out some GW Terminators: I could get 5 models for half the price, and they are easier to fit on a shelf.
That led me to the internet forums for inspiration and in turn to more advanced painting techniques and the world of converting and kit-bashing miniatures. From there I started scratch-building and have even created and cast my own models.
Do you have any future plans for your hobby?
Projects… I have so many projects I want to do. I have a long word document that’s filled with ideas for potential model projects; from a single line idea, to detailed plans with thought put in to parts required and design cues.
I want to build a fully modular gaming table (again, going back to wanting to play the game above), but I currently don’t have the space or money to throw at something this size.
The main plan, personally, is to continue with the army. I want at least one of everything available for every army in my army/collection. I don’t get nearly enough time to devote to this to keep up with the release schedule though.
And I particularly want to build a tabletop-scale H. G. Wells tripod, as described in the book. But storage space is a issue for that project; it’d be about half a metre tall.
What sort of materials do you use to create your hobby? How long does it take you to complete a project?
I prefer plastic miniatures and models (polystyrene specifically), as that is the material I’m most used to working with and it’s easy to modify and glue back together.
I tend to use Milliput for most of my epoxy putty needs, but I do have a little green stuff for when I need something with it’s specific properties.
One material that I champion the use of is the plastic sprue that the models come attached to. Being the same plastic it can be worked and glued in the same way as the models themselves. It’s effectively free and many people just throw it away. I could go on forever about it’s many uses. It’s good for re-posing miniatures (glue in a wedge etc.). I’ve carved weapons and hands from it and even built an entire wooden hut using only sprue.
I also use a great deal of household junk in my scratchbuilds. Anything with an interesting or useful shape gets saved (hoarder alert) for my models. Packaging, broken or old tech’, and the boxes the replacements come in are all valid materials.
And then there’s plasticard, foamboard, cardboard, paper, plaster, clay, etc.
Everything is pretty much considered a valid building material, and if it’s free (waste / junk) then that’s a bonus.
Also, as it’s unusual within the hobby, I almost exclusively use Enamel paint on all my models. They are what I’m used to using from the model kit days, and I have various techniques that I use, on a day to day basis, specific to those paints. I’d have to learn to paint again if I were to switch to acrylics now. They are also cheaper on the whole.
How long a project lasts depends on the project.
A single troop-type miniature can take 20-30 hours, spread over days. A special leader-type mini’ can push that over 50 hours. Depends on how much modelling and changes I make to the base model or if it’s “just” a paint-job.
My Predator tank conversion, with a full interior, 2 occupants, scratch-built sponsons and dozer-blade, and many more additions and changes throughout, took 8 months to complete. But I did have some side projects on the go at the time.
I’ll take a lot longer on personal projects than I do on something to sell. It’s a balancing act between the time spent adding more to a model, and how much you can realistically sell it for.
Most projects I’ll get done between 2 weeks and a month, I reckon. But that’s not solid work on just that project, I’ll usually have a couple on the go at once (typically one building, one painting) and switch back and fourth as glue or paint is drying. I note the times I start and stop on any particular (for sale) project to keep track, set prices, and give myself an idea of how long a project may take me for potential quotes/estimates.
The Foetid Bloat drone I recently finished converting into a tripod was done over 4 months, but only took 56.5 hours. In that time I also created 2 1:1 prop replica sculptures in clay, which accounts for a fair bit of the whole time.
I’m not a fast builder or painter, and I spend a lot of time thinking about how to do something before committing. None of the time-saving techniques I’ve come across over the years have make me faster, so I don’t worry about it now, I focus on details and uniqueness instead.
What inspires you to keep going? Do you admire any other hobbyists?
I admire anyone that really pushes the building and painting side of the hobby to and beyond it’s limits with an attention to detail. Crazy scratch-builds with intricate detailing, or finely detailed paintwork are what make me happy. I love tiny details, this is why my brand became “The Mini Details Of Dr H”.
There’s a group of modellers on the DakkaDakka forum that calls themselves The League of Extraordinary Riveters: Mostly focusing on terrain building, but with a love of the small details, such as adding rivets, hence the name. They are a great bunch, very helpful, inclusive, and highly talented. Too many to name here, but you can spot them on the forum by the League’s banner in their signature. You can only get this banner by invite or by winning one of the League’s terrain contests that are almost continually running. Riveting the roof of my sprue hut is what got me invited.
What keeps me going is… that long list of ideas that I keep adding to… lol
I am currently on a bit of a break from modelling though, while I try and kick-start an attempt to find a “proper” job that will give me more time and money to do more with my modelling. But I am feeling the itch stronger and stronger each day, so the next project will start soon.
Also, my shop has added quite a bit of motivation over the years. Building things to sell has allowed me to create larger things that I don’t have to worry about storing permanently, paint squads of miniatures in a unified scheme, and try new projects that don’t have to fit with my collection (such as terrain for Infinity). Knowing that I have happy customers, enjoying my creations, across the globe is a great feeling that makes me want to create more.
What do you find most frustrating about the hobby?
Time, Space and Money. I don’t have enough of any of them.
I have so many ideas for projects and not enough time to do them all, and I want to do them all now.
If I could do all the projects now, I don’t have the space to store them all, and they do all need to be on display (I’m not going to pack them up in boxes, I make things to be looked at).
Selling my creations has made my hobby sustainable, and actually profitable to a small degree. While it pays for the small stuff, like paint and glue, it doesn’t quite allow me the largest of projects.
Do you have any tips for any aspiring hobbyists – beyond the usual ‘practice daily’?
Don’t be discouraged from your own model work when you see someone else’s “unobtainable” work. You can’t know how much they have gone through to get to that stage; the masters have failed more times than you have tried.
Instead, ask them how they achieved the look or a specific piece of their work. Many will be pleased to tell you, often in exhaustive detail, how they did it. The more specific you are in your question the better the answer you receive will be.
Then give it a try. You won’t get close on the first try, so give a few goes. Adapt it to your needs, methods, style. If it doesn’t work for you, try another technique. There are many ways to achieve any specific look, find what works for you.
Try one thing new with each model you make. Incorporate what you like into your method for every model, and add another new thing for the next. You own personal style will emerge from this.
And then compare your latest work with the only fair comparison; yourself. Look back on your early models and see how far you have come. You may find that eventually you’ll be creating work that would have looked “unobtainable” to the you that made that earlier model.
Don’t stop there, keep learning new things, everyone else is too.
What is your fondest hobby memory?
Probably the sprue hut.
Someone on the forum ran a friendly contest with the theme to use waste material to create a piece of terrain. One of the examples they gave was plastic sprue, and I fixated on just that.
It was a lot of work, but in the end I built a damaged wooden hut where everything between the base (a CD covered with tissue and dried-paint chunks) and the roof (scraps of card) was made from sprue. This includes furniture, bottles, plants and a metal ladder, as well as the frame and planks of the hut.
I also created a tutorial that shows how to create everything there and paint it. That tutorial is the most exalted (liked) tutorial on the forum and is the only tutorial in the top 50 threads on the website (at 22). I still refer to it myself to this day. I should translate that over to social media at some point…
Anything else you would like to tell our readers?
I don’t just use my modelling skills to build things for tabletop wargaming.
A stylised Sci-Fi city in the space of a CD, placed within an old personal CD player. Just as an art piece.
A 1:48 scale model of part of a windfarm turbine from the engineering CAD files. Made for the company that builds the real thing.
A range of dolls-house scale paintings, complete with hanging wires. To dip my toe into a different scale.
And I also create presents for my family’s birthdays and Christmas. These range from prop replicas at many scales (all the way up to 1:1) to dioramas, N-gauge railway terrain, sculptures, and earrings.
Knowing how to stick things together and paint them is a useful set of skills outside of the hobby. I repair a lot of things too…
Thanks for reading.
Many thanks to Dr Steve H for taking the time to answer these questions for the Fangirl Feature this week.
And if you’d like to be featured on the blog then please, don’t hesitate to get in contact.