Checkout this guide to the wonderful world of eBay, and learn the do’s and don’ts of the used minis jungle!
Dear fanatics across the world! There is only so much money you can make, and only so much money our allowance gives us the possibility to buy. But there is always the second-hand market, filled with pink guardsmen, baby blue chaos marines and strangely converted monstrosities out there for a cheap buck to expand your forces!
Finding the bargain
Personally I have dwelled many a time into the world of used minis in order to expand my own collection. There is a trick to finding the right deal online. In thriftshops it goes without saying that you will get a bargain, since the previous owner has already deemed the goods being junk. And you know what they say, one man’s junk, another man’s treasure. On the internet you have to look for the adds that give you that yardsale feel. Many times it is parents selling their kids badly abused minis they got them at the age of ten, which the kid never got into and it has been lying around in the basement or attic for the past five or so years. You will rarely find a deal from a collector or someone who is just selling an army to reboot with a new one. So keep an eye out for the used toys of yore. You would be surprised of how many of these adds there actually are.
I have for a long time argued that this is a question of semantics, and it is about time I share my truth with you dear fanatics on the matter. Unless you have ordered the commission personally from a studio or painter, it is just another used model. There are, of course, some talented painters out there, selling their models under the label “pro-painted”, and by all means if you deem their work to be great and worth the price, go bananas. But for it truly to be pro-painted, it is ordered personally by you to fit your army.
Many of us commission painters will tell you exactly this; imagine yourself getting a tattoo from a studio. You walk in, look at the portfolio, discuss with the artist about the design you want to get. The artist tells you what he/she is comfortable with, gives suggestions, you haggle price, you come to a conclusion and you go under the needle. You look at your new ink, pay the artist and presto, you have yourself a professionally made tattoo. Same thing with painted minis. You are paying for a custom made job you don’t have the capacity or will to do yourself, but it is done at your discretion.
So next time you see an add labeled “pro-painted” with grainy pictures and no reference to an artist or portfolio, keep on browsing.
If you want to know more bout what it is truly like to paint professionally, read this great article from WMG by Caleb Dillon.
Reinforcements are here! Now what?
Now that you have gotten that sweet deal online and this box of goodies arrives at your dor, it is time to get to work on these bad boys. Many times you will get deals with a lot of the stuff still in sprues or just glued together with no paint on, but many minis will have a caked layer of paint on them.
If the mini is white metal the cleaning process is a no-brainer. Get yourself a jar with a lid, fill it with acetone, dunk the model in, give it a good shake, let it ret for 20 minutes, shake again, take out the model and clean the rest of the paint off with an old toothbrush or the likes.
When it comes to plastic models it becomes a little bit trickier since acetone will actually melt your minis.
There are two ways of going about this; Fairy Green or brakefluid.
Fairy Green is the least hazardous and most environmentally friendly of the two. If you don’t know what Fairy Green is or it isn’t sold in your country, it is concentrated cleaning soap, a thick, green cleaning fluid you can find in any shelf with cleaning products at the supermarket. Dunk the models in it for 48 hours or so and then clean with a brush WITHOUT adding water. If you don’t get everything off in one go keep them in the fluid a little bit longer. Once the paint is off, rinse under water and you have clean and pleasantly smelling minis ready for your awesome paintjob.
The second alternative, brakefluid works the same way but a little bit better since it is a more aggressive chemical. Always use protective gloves and do this in a well ventilated area. This applies to any work with chemicals but especially this, since it is cancerogenous. After rinsing the paint off give the minis a wash with regular soap.
Both with the Fairy Green and with the brakefluid it is imperative to use a jar or container with a lid that seals it.
And there you go fanatics. Don’t be discouraged by the used mini market, since if done properly, you will never notice that they have ever been used before.
Check out this short instruction video on how it might look.