10 Pieces of Miniatures Hobby Advice We All Probably Need

By Jack Stover | April 29th, 2022 | Categories: Age of Sigmar, News / Rumors, Warhammer 40k

10-Pieces-of-Miniatures-Hobby-Advice-We-All-Probably-NeedJstove is back with 10 pieces of miniatures hobby advice that will benefit newbies and veterans alike as they build models and play games!

Greetings Spikey Bits, it’s the Jstove, and I’m talking about hobby advice. Advice specifically for noobs but it should be a refresher for anyone who loves rolling dice with little plastic army men.

Editor’s note: this is an oldie but a goodie updated to the present.

The Starter Box Always Wins

First things first, you should play the army you think looks the coolest. That’s the golden rule. Don’t worry so much about whether or not it’s “good” or “top tier” or “competitive”. Worry about whether or not you like the aesthetic.

Because the truth is, if you don’t know how to play the game, you’re still going to get your butt kicked if someone hands you a top-tier army to play with. Even worse, a top-tier army is only top-tier until the next FAQ, codex, or errata. Never select an army based on what’s winning right now, because what’s winning right now will change in three months or less. Except for Grey Knights. They will always lose because Good is Dumb, obviously.

Eldritch Omens Box Set


If you are fortunate enough to like one of the factions with a good starter box, then you buy the starter box (maybe not Eldritch, even though it has GW value). Then, you buy a second starter box and a third starter box. The cheapest models in the game are always in the starter box. Even if you keep or can’t get rid of the other faction in the starter box, it’s still an incredible value.

Furthermore, the models in the starter box are in no way different in performance on the table than their identical models outside the starter box. In tabletop hobby games, there is no “baby’s first noob gear”. It’s not a videogame where you start out with a broken gun and a t-shirt. A starter box marine is identical in effectiveness to a normal marine.

Tools are Like Food, Cooking is Cheaper Than Eating Out

Citadel Essentials Tools BundleYou should absolutely never buy name-brand hobby supplies from a games store. You should buy your tools from Harbor Freight. Don’t have a Harbor Freight store near you? Go online. Not in America? Google discount tools and hardware. I’m sure there’s an equivalent. Whatever the source, you buy toys from the toy store and tools from the tool store.

Why? Because whatever you want is always cheaper in the store that specializes in that product. If you go to a drive-through restaurant and order the super deluxe burger combo with large fries and a coke, you’ll pay $12 for the convenience of not cooking your own meal and having it handed to you through the window of your car.

But if you actually go to a grocery store, that same $12 will buy you enough ground beef, buns, and condiments to make super deluxe burgers on your grill for a whole week. They’ll probably be better than the one at the drive-thru. This lesson applies to almost everything in life. Going to the source is nearly always cheaper than going for the convenience buy.

It works on everything from cheeseburgers to generic prescription drugs and it definitely applies to tools. Don’t buy a hobby knife or a bottle of glue because it has a brand logo on it and it was there. Go to a real hardware store and buy a real hobby knife without the brand name markup.

There is no Inferior Spray Paint, but There are Inferior Spray Painters

Adding on to the point above, you can buy a can of black primer for anywhere from $15 a can at GW to 97 cents a can at Home Depot. You can even go somewhere in between and pay somewhere around $5 to $8 a can. What’s the difference? Is the expensive paint higher quality?

Possibly, but not in any way you will notice. 99% of spray paint disasters when priming models occur through user error, not because the paint itself is inferior.


  • If the paint dries strange or runs, that’s either temperature, humidity, or you spray too much or too close to the model.
  • If the paint has ‘fur’ when it dries, that’s a result of you not shaking it and mixing the particles correctly.

Every spraypaint disaster is preventable. Instead of spending more money on more expensive paint, just read the label. Learn to use this tool correctly.

Free Yourself From the GW Paint Naming Convention, Because it Will Change

citadel paint

Goblin Green…
Blood Red…
Snakebite Leather…

In 1999, these names all meant something. Now, they’re only good for one thing- Reminding old hobbyists how old they are.

It seems like every year, GW changes contracts with its paint licensors and comes up with goofy new names for their colors, which means you’ll either need a conversion chart to figure out the new ones or a new collection of paint.

Do not fall into this trap. There is no such thing as Wazdakka Red or Evil Sunz Scarlet. Those are both just different shades of red. Never delude yourself into following the goofball GW names for paint colors Just focus on the actual colors.

Buy Paint From Alternative Sources

vallejoVallejo paints are awesome

GW paint is expensive and it dries out. Use a paint system from another company like Vallejo for instance, because they bottle their paint in bottles that do not leak or have easily compromised seals on the containers.

Furthermore, Vallejo won’t change the names of its paint color every year. Vallejo is a paint company, all they make is paint. They aren’t going to flip their entire catalog on an annual basis as GW will.

DO Buy Cheapo Craft Paint From the Art Supply Store

Don’t buy all the colors. Quality of paint can make a difference and a superior hobby paint brand is worth the investment. Except for colors like black and brown.

Craft smart cheap paintWhen it comes to painting bases, don’t waste money on expensive paint for what is fundamentally dirt. If you paint the rims of your bases black or the textured surfaces of the base brown, you don’t need nice, high-quality paint for that. You just need dirt color and black rims. Buy a cheap big bottle of craft store acrylic paint that will last you the rest of your life and paint bases with that.

Click Here To Get All 4 Assassins & Free Shipping Worldwide!

Don’t use all your good paint on painting dirt and rubble!

DO Buy a Hard Copy of the Rules

Codex AeldariThis one is a little controversial, but… Always buy a hard copy of the rules. The books look nice, they look good on the shelf, and they’re fun to read and see the pretty pictures in them. More importantly, they are forever. At least until they get eaten by termites or your house burns down.

Having the rules you need conveniently on your laptop or iPad is great but those devices can die (and they don’t even do that anymore, so…). Most importantly, you want a hard copy of the rules because the game WILL CHANGE.

New codices and editions will release, and when the game changes, it might not always change in a way you like. When that happens, you’ll want to have that hard copy on the shelf to come back to when you decide you’re not going to drink the Kool-aid.

If You Buy Plastic Glue Gork & Mork Will Actually Step on Your House

Monument Hobbies GluePlastic glue and super glue are not the same and you should never buy plastic glue. It is for children’s toys and model kits for nine-year-olds. Plastic glue works by melting the two surfaces of plastic together and fusing them, resulting in a permanent bond that will irreparably damage the model if you screw it up, and if you’re new to the hobby, chances are you’re gonna screw up gluing something. When buying models secondhand, most buyers expect inferior paintwork that they will not keep.

They will dump the models in solvent, strip the paint, and repaint them to their standard. One of the major hard No’s of buying secondhand models is ‘no plastic glue’ because the bonds are so permanent. Super glue bonds can be weakened and destroyed without damaging a model. It’s the preferred method of model assembly.

Nobody wants your secondhand plastic glue screw-ups. Once you’re good enough at the hobby to see them for the failures they are, you won’t want them either.

You Had One Job

Sometimes when you open up a kit, it will come with several upgrade parts like additional weapons or wargear you don’t recognize. Sometimes, these parts are actually booby traps and have no purpose at all, like the old Tyranid plastic sprues that have upgrades on them that had a purpose when they were designed. Said purpose didn’t carry over into a new codex and became an urban legend. Their secrets are only known to veteran hive minds.

Troops transportsNever glue together a model with a part you don’t know the purpose of. Never arm your unit with 1 of everything that came in the box just because you have it. You may end up with a unit that is, at best, tactically disadvantaged. At worst, armed illegally and completely non-functional. You could accidentally render your toys worthless and unplayable. Furthermore, diversity in hobby games seldom works.

There are very few units in any game, be it GW or otherwise, that are effective all-comers. (Especially the usual suspects that are designed to be well-rounded all-comers.) Most units work best when they are dedicated and equipped for one specific role at the exclusion of all else.

More is always better, and when you want more, more of the same is typically the right answer.

Never Sell or Trade Away Transports

Sisters RhinoRhinos, Raiders, Drop Pods, Trukks, Falcons, Arks, etc… Are all solid gold. No matter how long an old army sits on the shelf and you think of liquidating it, never sell off transports. There is no such thing as a ‘spare transport.’ You will always need another one. If it’s a model that can carry other models inside of it, it is the absolute last thing you should ever get rid of. Even if you’re planning on selling off the whole army, sell the transports last.

They’ll either get a second life in a new army (if they’re Imperial, Chaos, or Eldar soup) or they’ll be sitting on the shelf when you change your mind and come back to the game. Treat transports like your baby pictures: Put them in a shoebox on a shelf and forget about them. Pull them out of the closet when you need them for some obscure reason and be happy that you did.

Hand your old Rogue Trader tiny Rhinos down to your children when you die, that’s their inheritance. Don’t actually give them anything else in the will though.

If they get a fleet of Rhinos in the will, they’re lucky enough. That’s better than getting the house.

Check out all the JStove originals!

What’s your favorite piece of miniatures hobby advice?

Let us know in the comments of our Facebook Hobby Group, or our new Discord server, and make sure you enter the latest monthly giveaway for FREE today! 

Get ad-free access to our hobby videos, a monthly drop of miniatures, and support some of the best creators out there for as little as $6 a month on Patreon!


About the Author: Jack Stover

Go to Top