Plastic Mass Production

Today Mark looks at how you can speed up the assembly of big army projects.  Thirty T-55 should act as a suitable tutorial…

So much plastic

Recently I was the lucky recipient of 50 Plastic Soldier Company T55s (reviewed by Lee here).  As I was already signed up for the UK ‘Team Yankee’ GT in August. I knew I would have my work cut out to get these assembled and painted in time.  While I used to breeze through projects, the arrival of my little girl has caused a lot of disruption to my painting queue!

Therefore I knew I had to box clever to get this done.  I had already decided that while I would paint these to a good standard, I am not going for perfection or a ‘best painted’ prize.  I instead set myself a goal of 7 days to assemble 30 of the tanks which is the likely number for my list.  Then after painting those, do a second batch of 20 to allow a full T55 force if required.

Lets get started

The first rule is; don’t hold off on starting.  The first evening after getting the models was rather random.  I was staying at my gaming friend Tim’s house during a tournament.  The Saturday evening was spent watching Bridesmaids and Bad Mom on Amazon Prime while assembling tanks and drinking gin.  An odd image I know, but hey, we got 13 tanks done.

Upon getting home, I thought harder about the assembling process and what would be faster:

  1. Assemble 1 tank at a time – not for me, it takes more time as you have to wait for parts to dry.
  2. Remove 3 parts from each sprue and assemble those parts for each tank before repeating – I tried this and it worked well, however it meant I was constantly going back to the sprue pile for the next set of pieces.
  3. Remove all parts from each sprue and then assemble all tanks at the same time.

I settled on option 3.  It meant I could clip everything from a sprue into a tub, discard it and then move onto the next sprue.  The trick is when assembling to start with the big pieces and finish with the small pieces.  This means by the time you get to looking for little bits like ammo bags and spotlights in your tub of parts they are easier to see.

I do have to stress that you should always do one tank to completion first.  This ensures that you haven’t made a mistake which will then be repeated on the other 29!

Onwards to Victory

For me, steadily progressing by having all remaining 29 tanks at the same stage meant I could easily see my progress.  Also with long periods of modelling time being scarce, I found that I could sit down and put on a single piece to all tanks in about 15 minutes and then go back to fatherly duties.  Thus not annoying my wife, but continually making progress.

As a result, within 7 days I had 30 assembled tanks all ready for spraying.

In a couple of weeks, I shall share some speed painting techniques which will have some great looking T55s on the table with minimal fuss and effort.  After that I shall share my cunning (somewhat dirty) list for the GT…