To be honest I wasn’t initially excited by the move to go to plastics miniatures instead of metals. I saw it as a pain and more work to eat my already busy schedule. But I love Blood & Plunder and the detail in the minis looked superior to the standard sculpts. So I bit the bullet and backed the Kickstarter. Now that I received mine and tore into the sprues and built somewhere around 60-80 minis I figured I’d collect some of what I’ve learned and turn it into an article to help some others. My opinion has changed greatly from my first impressions. Once I got into it and started making my own custom creations, I thoroughly enjoyed assembling the plastic miniatures.
The move from metals to plastics can be a little daunting, if you haven’t fooled with them, much. And they can feel like work, but stick with it. A few sprues in you’ll hit your stride and hopefully, the creative juices will start flowing… heck, it might even start to be fun. I was resistant at first but when I finally quit sticking to the instructions and colored outside the lines a bit more it was much for fun and satisfying and much less like work.
Here are some recommendations for tools and I’ll give some general tips and suggestions for assembling your new Raise the Black minis. And there are several pictures from myself and a couple of other members of the community for inspiration if you want to create your own unique minis.
Before you Begin
Figure out a plan for what you want to build. It’s good to get your workspace prepped and laid out. Some of the parts are a little hard to see so a well-lit space or headlamp will likely come in handy.
All of the new plastic miniatures for Blood & Plunder are printed on model kits with dozens of little bits to snip free. You can use a hobby knife to cut them free but that can bend or break some of the finer more fragile pieces. A nice set of flush cutting clippers is highly recommended, It will save you the time of having to trim as much of the connector bits off. You can get decent sets of clippers for $10 or less. If you really want to get the best of the best you can go for the overpriced, but oh-so-nice Games Workshop set for $30.
Hobby Tools Set
There are a number of options for other tools, but this is a great starter set of tools for gamers new to the hobby. It includes a set of clippers, a hobby knife, some files, and tweezers in a case for only $12. The quality won’t be the same as the ultra spiffy GW clippers above, but this price really can’t be beaten! These tools will be very useful for assembling plastic models.
Tamiya Plastic Cement
Tamiya Plastic Cement is like liquid gold. If you hate superglue and the fun of getting it everywhere, then keep using it. If you like having non-coated/melted skin afterward, this is the best product ever. The top screws off to reveal a small brush like nail polish. paint it on one side and slap the parts together. You can slide them around a bit, but in a few seconds they will bond tightly. It is DEFINITELY worth picking up some Tamiya Plastic Cement on Amazon or your local hobby shop (if they carry it).
A Cutting Mat or Cutting Board
You’ll be doing a LOT of cutting and trimming while removing the bits from the plastic sprues. You can use any standard cutting board from a kitchen if you’d like. Or I really love and recommend a “self-healing” cutting/sewing mat. If you’ve not seen these, they are great for hobbyists. They are made of some PVS material imbued with magical properties that make them resistant to cuts from hobby knives. You can slice and dice to your heart’s content and they resist the damage. They also have a grid and measurements built into them so if you build your own terrain or cut your own sails they are super handy. You can get a self-healing mat on Amazon for c. $10-12.
General Assembly Tips & Suggestions
- Do not… I repeat DO NOT cut all the bits of the sprues and just go at it. The parts are not 100% interchangeable across minis. Once you have them off you will lose the references to the part numbers for assembly and likely get frustrated.
- Dry-fit everything as you go BEFORE you put glue or cement on. It’s easy to think you know how parts align only to be wrong and then get frustrated.
- As you are assembling your minis, write notes on your instructions. Write the letters “A”, “B”, and “C”, etc near each of the parts in the sets that you are using when putting the specific model together. That will help you keep track of which bits you’ve already used in the past so you don’t make a bunch of duplicates.
- Glue the legs to the torso first. Then glue the miniature to the base so you have something else to grip while working with the rest of the model.
- Hats are NOT 100% interchangeable. Several minis have “knobs” on their heads you can remove to help them fit, but sometimes the contour of the heads don’t line up. But you can still swap things if you are careful.
- If you assembling models with two-handed muskets or other weapons it is often easiest to do a juggling act and glue both shoulders and the hand at the same time to make sure you can align everything properly.
- If using harpoons/boarding pikes you want to make sure your mini is placed on the base before putting the arms on and weapons in their hands.
- It will keep you from accidentally gluing arms in positions that are too low to fit the spear above the height of the base.
- It allows you to rest the bottom of the spear on the base for added stability.
Converting a Two-Handed Plastic Miniature to a One-Handed Model
Even though 100% of the Militia have both hands on their muskets out of the box they aren’t “stuck” there. With a few shoulder and arm cuts you can mix and match arms with the extra Sailor arms to create totally new models! Here are a few Militia Models with pictures from the Firelock Games box image compared to the modified outcome.
Cannon Crew from Militia & Sailors Models
Militia Boxed Set arms D4 and E1 both have open palms. So… if you take Militia body D6 or E3/E4 and swap the arms with the extras from the Sailors you can put a one-handed musket and melee weapon of choice and still build a militia unit. But then you can use the arms D4 and E1 to make Cannon Crew.
Here is an example of where I sculpted a small ball to put in the open palm. And boom you have a new Cannon Crew member. You can also pair them with the cannonballs from the Box of Plunder for extra “proof”.
Cannon Crew from a Box of Plunder
Using the Box of Plunder you can combine the bit with the Sailors and or Militia minis to make a new cannon crew with a little more variety and flexibility.
If you got the Kickstarter Box of Plunder and use the B1 or C1 Sailor body you can position an arm with the linstick in a way that looks like he is lighting a cannon.
I call this one my Tusken Raider Cannon Crew member. I cut the ramrod stick to make it work for a double overhand taunt.
Box of Plunder Casualty Marker … Resurrection
The Box of Plunder has several casualty markers included on the Sprue. These are meant to be things you can add to the battlefield for extra “flavor”. But they can also be interactive as “loot” or objective markers. Guy Rheuark put together some rules for adding them to your game: Tokens of the Dead – Casualty Marker Rules for Blood & Plunder.
There is also a creative use for them as actual functional models. On at least one of the models, if you trim the feet or hit them with a heat gun you can bend them flat so the model is capable of standing up. Then you can swap his raised hand with one from the extra Sailor bits. A Blunderbuss was selected in the model below since it pairs well with the bag of Grenadoes already on the model. This lets the mini work as a Sailor Weapon Upgrade or possibly an Enter Ploeg model.
In the image on the right below, the arms and head were removed and replaced. And the legs were cut at the calves and rotated to the front.
Drummers from the Box of Plunder
The Box of Plunder that comes with the Kickstarter Captain and Admiral level pledges has a 4 part drum that can be used to convert a model into a Musician or new Drummer Boy Character model.
Box of Plunder Custom Commander
This is an example of a customer Spanish Commander created by Tyler Carlson. Bits used on the left, with the final outcome on the right. You can view some of Tyler’s other minis on Instagram @cherry_picked_miniatures.
Bermuda Sloop Assembly Tips
The Bermuda / Baladra Sloop is the first fully plastic ship model produced by Firelock Games. It’s a gorgeous model with even more detail than Firelock’s already top-notch models. The sloop goes together quite nicely as a whole. The parts all fit snugly and tight with no cutting/trimming needed.
Blood & Plunder 18th Century Plastic Sloop Building Guide
We have a full-length YouTube video assembly guide. for the new Plastic Sloop.
Tips & Suggestions for Assembling the Sloop
That said, here is a quick text version of a few “gotchas” or confusing bits in the instructions on your first ship.
- Once you glue the rear deck on, you can no longer fit fully assembled cannons in the rear gun ports. There are a few options here:
- prime, paint and prep your cannons and glue them in place on the rear deck before closing it off.
- Leave two of your cannons off the wheels so you can fiddle them in place after the fact. You can glue a chunk of sprue to brace them at the right height if needed.
By default, this is meant to be an optional choice, not a BOTH. So you need to pick windows or a nameplate as they won’t both fit on the stern. Unless of course you do what Ryan Peterson has done and chop the nameplate like this:
This weird-looking thing is a “bilge pump”. It’s designed to pump water from the lower deck over the side of the ship. It’s completely optional and you can add it anywhere on your deck if you want it on your ship.
It should be evident, but make sure you do the steerage first (green circle). Putting the back deck (yellow) in place first makes it a bit of pain once the sides of the hull are together. Sliding it in sideways and then rotating it in position makes it doable.
On the first ship, I put the bottom hulls fully in place and moved on. When I came back to try to put the rear deck on I cracked part of the glue trying to get the deck in place.
What do you do with the extra bits?
As you assemble your minis you will end up getting extra bits from the unused pieces. This will give you more bits and weapons than you have models to use them on. So what can you do with the extra bits?
- Add some extra weapons to other metal minis you may already have to create some variety.
- Use them to make objective markers for things like weapon caches or loot piles.
- The weapons can be arranged on weapons racks for display.
- They can be turned into terrain bits of discarded weapons or blood bits from a gruesome battle
Storage Suggestions for the Extra Bits
Some folks dump all their bits in baggies. Some leave them on the sprue until they are ready to use them. I opted to buy a small craft storage box from Dollar Tree for $1.25. I sorted my extra bits with a slot for heads, hats, left arms, right arms, two-handed weapons, melee weapons with no hands, etc. It’s a quick and easy way to keep them separated to find the bits you need later. Whatever solution you go with, make sure it has a tight lid so that it doesn’t pop off and unleash the tears of shame. You also want to make sure the dividers go all the way to the lid so that if you flip it upside down the bits don’t mix.
Written by Jason Klotz
Additional Content Suggestions
- How to Make an Easy Long John Silver Blood & Plunder Mini
- Complete Guide to Raise the Black Plastic Miniature Sprues
- 18th Century Sloop Building Guide Video for Blood & Plunder
If you have yet to pick up some of the new plastic miniatures, here are a few quick links to get some from Firelock Games directly.