Chad Coffman
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So you've just opened your brand new board game - let's say War of the Ring (first edition) or Age of Empires III: The Age of Discovery, and much to your disappointment, the plastic miniatures are bent or warped or won't stand up straight if at all... I know the feeling... It's happened to me recently - with games such as... oh let's say War of the Ring (first edition) or Age of Empires III: The Age of Discovery.

It's very disappointing. So what to do? What caused this? Is it easy to fix?

Well yes it is. Warping and bending in miniatures happens when the plastic is removed from its mold too soon. The cold air hits the hot plastic which causes tension and makes the molecules contract (...I think - I was an art major so bear with me). The result is that the plastic curls up on itself.


Examples:


How's a monk supposed to convert anyone when his scepter looks like it took a vowel of celibacy?!


So - how to fix it:


All you will need is a stove, a small saucer, water, and possibly leather gloves (if you have sensitive hands).

Step 1) Fill the saucer with water up to about a half an inch from the top of the saucer. You want enough to where you don't have to hold your hand too far down into the pan but not too much as to where the water will want to overflow.

Step 2) Bring the water to a rolling simmer (almost boiling). It doesn't have to be extremely hot, but the higher the temperature, the less time you'll have to submerge the plastic.



Step 3) Dip the figure into the water up to the point of what you want to adjust (IE: If a weapon is bent, submerge the plastic up to the figure's hand or the nearest spot on the weapon that connects to the thicker plastic).

It is important to remember that everything you put in the water has the potential to become malleable. Plastic up to 2mm is especially susceptible, but you usually don't have to worry about thicker bits.

Step 4) Hold the miniature in the water for about 3-5 seconds. You may notice that the bent piece naturally uncurls and returns to its desired form. That's because the plastic, like a spring, has a molded memory. You've just released the tension that was formed when it was prematurely removed from the mold.

***If you drop the miniature into the boiling water, IMMEDIATELY dump the water into your sink and stand your miniature upright (it will be hot so wait a moment). If you don't, your figure and your saucer will not be happy campers.



Step 4) Quickly remove the piece from the water (Careful, it may be hot). Firmly hold the miniature by a strong central location (usually its base) while also grabbing the edge of the bent piece. Pull it in a direction to form a straight line with the desired shape. You don't have to put a lot of pressure into pulling it; just enough to make it taunt. Sometimes you may need to over-compensate a little as it might want to curl up once again.

You'll have about 3-5 seconds to mold the plastic however you want. After that, it will retain its new molded shape. You can repeat this process if you're not happy with the results.


Here's some more examples of bending that happens with figures and how to fix them:




A bent base is fixed much in the same way as fixing a weapon or thin object. Submerge the base of the miniature into the water just beyond the warped section of its legs or midsection. Hold it in the water an extra few seconds as the plastic here is a bit thicker.




Put the base firmly down on a solid surface and push downwards. At the same time pull up from a strong point in the figure's torso. Hold this position 5-7 seconds until the piece is solid. Again you may have to repeat this until you get the desired shape.




Sometimes, when removed much too soon, the plastic can smudge down against an object, causing major warping or disfigurement.



Fixing a misaligned form works much in the same way as everything else. This images shows how to fix it - use a butter knife to flatten the piece back into shape while pulling upwards on the figure.



The result - not perfect but not too shabby.



Bring on the heathens! Our colony has researched viagra!




I hope this tutorial has helped everyone and feel free to leave any more input, comments, or advice. Happy gaming!
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Matt R
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Good job and nice little article and welcome to BGG!
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Diane Close
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Nice article, but this should probably be moved to the DIY forum.
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Chad Coffman
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Yea - I was torn between which of the two to put it in... Will note for future posts. Coming up next - painting miniatures!
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I have tested two alternate but inferior (read more risky) methods to heat the plastic.

1) By using hot air from a hair dryer or similar. It is very difficult to control where the heat goes and it is possible to soften up to large areas. A quick and sometimes useful method though depending on what one want to achieve.

2) The ultra fast method is to use the heat from a candle or another small source of fire. Extreme care must be taken as it is easy to literally put the figure on fire.
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J
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Moved to DIY
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Mike Mestemaker
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I used this same technique for AoE and BattleLore and it works great. The one modification I would suggest is that you don't need the water to be simmering while you do this. By using hot, but not simmering water, you'll reduce the risk of burning a finger and it lets you work at a more comfortable workstation instead of working over the stove. This is what I did:

1 Bring water to a boil and fill a wide mouth mug with the hot water.

2 Fill another mug with ice water.

3 Drop the minis into the hot water (about 5 at a time) and fish them out with a fork one at a time after they've soaked for a couple seconds.

4 Straighten the mini as needed

5 Gently lower it into the cold water while holding it in the position you want. The cold water will lock it into position.

If the hot water starts to become too cold to be effective, just dump the water and refill with fresh, hot water.
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Ben Delp
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I may do this with some of my son's toys. I've gotten him a couple of older action figures from ebay, and sometimes the weapons are a little bent (I'm guessing from long-time storage in a hot attic).
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Chad Coffman
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I was a glassblower in college so I guess its a bit of nostalgia when I singe my fingers heh.
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Erhan Cubukcuoglu
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Quote:
so you've just opened your brand new board game....


From the other side ı protest here all game publishers and manufacturers who send us games with defective pieces. I think all pieces must be checked before putting to the box. And for new games, ı think game company must supply freely the new ones of defective parts.
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Matthew Kloth
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eacubukcu wrote:
Quote:
so you've just opened your brand new board game....


From the other side ı protest here all game publishers and manufacturers who send us games with defective pieces. I think all pieces must be checked before putting to the box. And for new games, ı think game company must supply freely the new ones of defective parts.


I just learned what a turkish "ı" is, neat.
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Jason Martin
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Actually, I have been doing this for a long time with just running tap water. Most people's sinks get hot enough to do this without having to boil the water, plus you have more control over the duration of submersion, and safety, of the entire process.
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Bruce Moffatt
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Depending on the type of plastic you are working with, boiling water MAY cause some shrinkage.

Hot kitchen or laundry tap water is normally enough to get the desired result. Most bathroom water outlets have a thermostat to reduce the risk of scalding so don't try this in the bath!
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Steve Duff
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They told me it was cold water that caused the shrinkage. devil
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Straightening with your fingers is good for when a figure was miscast etc. For bent swords/staves/other pointy bits, just immerse them in simmering water and they will thermomagically regain their original shape.
 
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Bwian, just
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jober72 wrote:
I have tested two alternate but inferior (read more risky) methods to heat the plastic.

1) By using hot air from a hair dryer or similar. It is very difficult to control where the heat goes and it is possible to soften up to large areas. A quick and sometimes useful method though depending on what one want to achieve.

This method is preferred for some applications, though. If the mini might be damaged (e.g. it has water-soluble paint), then obviously dipping in hot water is not the best plan.

The pieces in the example look like they were cast from different colors of plastic, so this wouldn't have come up there. But pre-painted minis should probably be tested if possible, or just use the hair dryer method if not.
 
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Jon Harris
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Pierzasty wrote:
Straightening with your fingers is good for when a figure was miscast etc. For bent swords/staves/other pointy bits, just immerse them in simmering water and they will thermomagically regain their original shape.


I should use the word Thermomagically on one of my O-Chem tests.
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Tom Laisure
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I've used the hot water method to straighten plastic minis with good success in the past, but recently I got the pre-painted minis for The Adventurers and had a different experience. Almost all had warped parts, so I dipped and straightened and cooled in ice water until they all looked perfect, but then within an hour they all gradually curved back to their original warped state. I'm guessing it must have something to do with the painting because I fixed all the original unpainted Adventurers minis quite some time ago and they've stayed just fine. Has anyone else experienced this problem with pre-painted minis? Any ideas?

 
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Daniel James
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I have found that just holding the warped mini over the steam from a kettle works almost instantly. Obviously the trip to casualty afterwards from the searing pain in my fingers may not have been worth it...cry
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Marty Kane
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This is such a useful article, I just wanted to add a word of thanks for the technique.

I have a small plastic tub shaped like a sauce pan that I use. I boil up a few cups of water in my kettle and fill the plastic tub. I have all the bent minis lined up on the counter next to it, and then I just toss them in , starting with those most in need of help. It's really wonderful to watch those crooked swords and drooping flag poles straighten up!
 
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Captain Murdercasket wrote:
I have found that just holding the warped mini over the steam from a kettle works almost instantly. Obviously the trip to casualty afterwards from the searing pain in my fingers may not have been worth it...cry


Ehm...Maybe using this?

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OneManCrafts wrote:
Captain Murdercasket wrote:
I have found that just holding the warped mini over the steam from a kettle works almost instantly. Obviously the trip to casualty afterwards from the searing pain in my fingers may not have been worth it...cry


Ehm...Maybe using this?

whwre's the fun in that? Besides, I want bragging rights for my scars "and this is the one that I got straightening out a Missionary!"
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LOL...heh, anyway, be careful...
 
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I’m in sore need of this after opening a big box I of reaper KS miniatures. Would anyone be able to reupload the pictures?
 
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