Tips and Tricks for Assembling Raise the Black Plastic Miniatures

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 Cement for plastic models

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 not having your fingers covered in glue/melted skin afterward, this is the best product ever.

The top screws off to reveal a small brush like nail polish. Paint the liquid on one side and slap the parts together and they bond quickly. You can slide them around a bit, but in just 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

self healing cutting mat

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

Blood & Plunder Plastic Sailor Model Sprue
  • 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 which is frustrating.
  • 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 flounder a bit.
  • 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 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.

Instructions and Tracking Sprue Contents

  • 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.
  • If you managed to lose your instructions, they are available as a free download in the Firelock Games DLC section.
  • You can get a full breakdown of what is on each sprue in our Complete Guide to Raise the Black Plastic Miniature Sprues.

What Weapons Should I Take on the 2-Player Maynard & Blackbeard Starter Kit?

Raise the Black - Blackbeard vs. Maynard 2-player starter box

Assembly tips and Weapon Style s for Blood & Plunder starter kit:

  • In that time period, there wasn’t a massive difference in uniforms for sailors (mid to late 18th-century formal uniforms begin to appear). Some people will do the larger floppy or tricorn hats for the British and the plainer hats for pirates. But it doesn’t really matter. For long-term play, you will likely mix and match sailors into other factions so don’t stress over it. Your ships provide the “teams” so you don’t have to sweat the style or paint scheme.
  • Pg 137 in the rulebook has a good scenario for “BLACKBEARD’S FINAL STAND” that works well for demos and learning to play. This scenario comes with force lists that identify the units for you.
  • The biggest issue is the weapons. It typically doesn’t matter in a friendly game what weapon a model is using, but in tournaments, it’s typically preferred the model looks close to the unit’s function. Models with pistols imply closer range/melee-focused units, muskets imply longer range fire, pikes have special abilities. I’ll cover that in depth below.

What Weapon Types Should I Take?

Ranged Weapons

  • Pistols – Pistols are far and away the most common weapon you will want to use. Especially, for the Pirates. The Roundsman and Pirates models both use “Brace of Pistols” meaning you should put 2 or more pistols on each model. I would use more of the pistols gripped like melee weapons than you may want. A model with a sword in one hand and the melee pistol pair well with each other. There are 13 pistols per sprue (9 in hand, including one clubbed, and 4 loose). There are 6 models on a sprue so that’s 2 apiece and 1 extra. I would do some with a single pistol and sword for units like Sea Dogs. I’ve also taken some pistols and added them to my other metal minis.
  • Muskets– These span all Units in the starter box. 1-2 musket Units are common in nearly every force. If this is your only purchase, I recommend AT LEAST 8 musket models. If you buy the Militia and/or Soldiers that will give you plenty of musket-wielding models for other units so you may only want to use 4 muskets from the Sailors.
  • Blunderbusses – they are the shorter muskets, the precursors to shotguns of the era. Use ALL 4 of the blunderbusses that come with the starter (unless you want to save them to upgrade other models from other kits). If you want more, you can proxy a blunderbuss by cutting down the barrel of a musket.
  • Grenades – There is a single option for grenades & bags of explosives. They can be used to represent models equipped with Stinkpots, Firepots & Grenadeos. These are common upgrades for a large number of Raise the Black Unit Types. Once you get beyond the starter box you will use the special weapons more frequently. DEFINITELY use this option.

Melee Weapons

  • Swords & Axes – These are both Standard Melee Weapons, with no rules difference between them. EVERY model needs at least one melee weapon in their hand, on their belt, or on their back.
  • Pikes – If the starter is the ONLY B&P set you own, I’d consider holding off on ANY pikes. Unless you want to just treat them as a standard melee weapon or play the Spanish, in all honesty, you may not use them for a while. I LOVE the look of them so I used ALL of them to make a full unit of Lanceros, but I have a few hundred models so I can spare a few that will sit in my case most of the time. Pikes aren’t a super common unit at sea and on land, players rarely field more than one unit of them (minor exception for the Natives and Spanish factions).
  • Melee Only – There are lots of units that allow you to take s -1 to the cost of the unit to lose your pistols or muskets for a Melee-only option. This is a go-to suggestion if you have ships with lots of cannons to get cheaper crews. So having a unit of 4 with just melee weapons is a solid choice and frees up pistols for your other models.

How Many of Each Type Should I Make?

  • The starter scenario has several units of 4 models. But for the average unit size, 6-8 models is the most common in games of 150pts or less. Larger games over 150pts will have 8-12+. So cluster the weapon types in sets of 6-8.

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 comparing the modified outcomes.

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.

Blood & Plunder Sailor model converted to a cannon crew using a ladle from a Box of Plunder by Jason Klotz

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

It also works for a “YOU SHALL NOT PASS!” option if your cat decides to interrupt the photo shoot.

Cat interrupting a photo shoot
4 Blood & Plunder Sailor models converted to a cannon crew with a Box of Plunder by Jason Klotz
Cannon Crew created from Sailors and the Kickstarter “Box of Plunder”

Box of Plunder Casualty Marker … Resurrection

The Box of Plunder has several casualty markers included on the Sprue. These are 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. I put a Blunderbuss in the hand of 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 cut and swapped with extra bits. The legs were cut at the calves to rotate them to the front.

Drummers from the Box of Plunder

The Box of Plunder that comes with the Kickstarter Captain and Admiral level pledges have a 4 part drum that can make 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 by Tyler Carlson. A picture of the Bits is 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:

Bermuda Sloop Stern with Windows AND nameplate by Ryan Peterson
Bermuda Sloop Stern with Windows AND nameplate by Ryan Peterson
Bermuda Sloop model bilge pump

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.

craft storage supply box for Blood & Plunder sorting mini bits

Written by Jason Klotz

Additional Content Suggestions

Product Recommendations

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.

3 thoughts on “Tips and Tricks for Assembling Raise the Black Plastic Miniatures

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