Stripping & Storing 150 Tyranids: Hobby YOLO

Jstove has another great hobby tip for anyone looking to easily strip old models, magnetize them, and find affordable ways to transport 150 of them.
Jstove here and it’s hobby blog time.

I just got off a great vacation in Florida where I was nearly blown away by Hurricane Irma, and while sitting in the hotel room with my lady friend, I was all over eBay on my laptop scooping up the makings of a secondhand hive fleet to get back to one of my all-time favorite armies to play in the game, Tyranids.

There are some things money can’t buy. For everything else, there’s Big Lots.

The Killer Bees are on a swarm and Hive Fleet Wu Tang will soon menace the galaxy with the help of Old One-Eyed Methodthrope and the Ghost Face Swarmlord. Ya best protec ya neck.

But before we get into the monumental task of painting 150+ killer bees, we’ve got to plan what to do with them first.

Works Every Time

The problem with secondhand models is that they need to be stripped. I eBayed all of my big bugs and specialists secondhand and finished off my gant swarms by scalping old Battleforce boxes. About ten pounds of 15-year-old pewter and a sizable swarm of old blue plastic space hulk Genestealers needed to take a bath in the digestion pool before I could paint them.

In order to solvent this problem, (awful pun), I turned to the COLT 45 of all magical mini stripping juices – LA’S TOTALLY AWESOME. Look it up online, it’s cheaper than malt liquor and strips pewter, plastic, and resin without damaging it. You can find it in the 99 Cent Store if there’s one near you or you can grab it by the gallon off of Amazon. LA’S TOTALLY AWESOME works every time. I’ve used every stripper on the market, DOT3 brake fluid, acetone, and engine degreaser. TOTALLY AWESOME is the cheapest, does no damage to your skin or your models, and gets the best results.

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The $300 bug jar. Swimming in the soup: 2 Lictors, 3 Zoanthropes, 2 Hive Tyrants, 2 Carnifexes.

Carrying the Swarm

The big question that was going to have to be inevitably answered was: How is the swarm going to get to the table? Owning a giant swarm of bugs is fun. Trucking them to the game store every Saturday is not. If I invested in miniature cases, I’d have to spend just as much on bags and foam as I did on the army itself… And for what, to haul around a few dozen 4 point gants? Not happening.

Fortunately, there’s a solution: Cardboard and cookie sheets.

Small armies of losers and wusses like Space Marines, who think they’re so fancy with their every model having 2 wounds and power armor, can all fit inside cute, little, expensive army cases and sit all comfy in their foam and have their tea parties. Real men and/or bugs, Orks, or demonic zombies, find a cheaper, more efficient, more space saving ride.

That ride is cheap metal toolboxes, cardboard, and cookie sheets. The trick is to magnetize your bases. When your bases are all magnetized, life gets so much easier.

Tyranids Hormagaunts

First, let’s talk about the toolbox. A quick trip to Amazon can find you a whole load of toolboxes from $15 to $30, take your pick. If you want to get even cheaper, you can go to a surplus store and pick up some old 50-caliber ammo cans.

Why are toolboxes and ammo cans such great transports? Because when your models have magnetic bases, every flat surface of the box is a surface that can hold models. They can be vertical or even upside down in the lid. Magnetized models in metal toolboxes can defy the laws of physics and cram more models into less space than should be possible. They can never break your toys because those magnets aren’t going anywhere.

Now let’s talk about cookie sheets. Cookie sheets in a box are the ultimate low budget army transport. You take the Calth/Prospero/40k starter boxes you already have and throw a $2 cookie sheet in them. They fit perfectly. Then, you just throw your magnetic models in there and you’re good to go. Most of you cheap bastards were already lugging around your toys in your old box lids anyway, so why not spend less than $20 on magnets and cookie sheets, and upgrade to the next level?

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A $2 cookie sheet in a Calth box lid. There are some things money can’t buy. For everything else, there’s Big Lots.

Basing the Swarm

The most important detail of a model is its face. The second most important detail is it’s base. The whole hobby is about bases and faces. If your bases and faces look great, your army looks great, whether you’ve got an airbrush and an art degree or you’re a 12 year old chopping snap fit marines off the sprue for the first time. Them’s the facts of life.

But basing an entire horde army like Orks, Nids, and Guard is its own challenge. You could spend as much time working on the bases on the models… And if you have to magnetize the bases, AND YOU DO, that’s more work.

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Personally, I think the textured base paint is for chumps. It looks like crap and I can’t stand it. Textured paint is the coward’s way out. You’re not gonna see any models with textured paint bases win the Golden Demon or even show up in the White Dwarf for that matter. That’s freshman stuff. Even worse, you still have to actually paint the base with it, which is a lot of work. The real answer is to mold custom bases. This process involves a hefty buy-in, but once you get it up and running, you have cheap, infinite, easy scenic bases on demand for the rest of your life. The molds will eventually crap out but not before you pull dozens and dozens of beautiful custom bases out of them for every model you ever own.

To make these bases, you need silicone mold rubber and resin. It’s casting and casting can be expensive and unrewarding if you do it wrong. However, casting bases, which do not have complicated details or undercuts, can be done with minimum effort and maximum returns. Furthermore, you can dump a magnet into the mold with the resin to get a great, customized, magnetic scenic base with a magnet baked in that will never break the glue bond and fall out.

This whole strategy, which can easily run you $60 in materials on the front end, all becomes worth it with the time you save on mass producing bases for the horde of models that will follow. It only sounds like a lot of work and money when you’re sourcing the material. Compare it to the cost of custom bases bought directly from GW or your favorite hobby supply base caster. You’ll quickly realize that buying and hand basing every model in your giant Conscript blob or legions of Orks is a more serious investment in time, effort, and possibly even cash.

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