There’s nothing quite as much fun as opening a Breyer Mini Whinnie Surprise blind bag and seeing what pops out!
Well, okay, I fib– most of the fun is finding out which unsuspecting body I get to paint. Mwahahaha! 😉
But preparing a Mini for paint isn’t the same as prepping a Stablemate (or larger scale). These guys have a few weird quirks of their own. Since I wasn’t finding much info online when I searched I figured I should get off my duff and put a page together…
Soft Plastic, Warm Plastic, Little Horse du Jour..
The first and most challenging thing about the Mini Whinnies (other than their size) is the plastic they are made out of. It’s stiff, but flexible which leads to painful mishaps when your prepping tool slips.
My three main tools are: X-acto knife, Carbide Scraper, and 400 grit sandpaper.
Sidenote: You’ll notice I painted the seams and bits that need removing white with a little bit of gesso. I use to use markers, but I’ve found this is a much easier method of marking! 🙂
The plastic is soft enough that a sharp X-acto blade can easily carve it (sometimes too easily, watch for slips!). I try and make sure to use a brand new blade for this work, since it’s a lot like cutting cold butter. I don’t scrape the seams with this blade, I only carve off thin slivers of plastic. Seam scraping will just leave you with ragged edges and growing frustration.
My favorite prepping tool for the larger scales is my Carbide Scraper from Rio Rondo. I’ve had this tool for years and it’s a dream with the harder plastics… but it’s not as useful on the micros because the blade skips a bit if you try and remove too much. I primarily use it to remove the tiny seams and use the X-acto for carving off larger items like the logo or flashing.
The Mini Whinnie plastic reacts well to the higher grit sandpapers, but you have to be very careful when using anything below 400. I’ve used 320 when I needed slightly more power, but using 220 (or below) tends to create gouges in the plastic that aren’t easy to repair.
I use the sandpapers as more of a buffing agent to help smooth out marks caused by the other tools, rather than to really remove material.
But what about Dremels and Epoxy?
Well, it depends. If you can slow down the spin enough that the plastic doesn’t melt, it’s a viable option. I’ve used the smallest of the Dremel round engraving bits to successfully carve ears and hooves, but I used it sparingly and gave the plastic plenty of time to cool down between uses.
I’d suggest practicing on a test body to get the hang of dremeling and to have a small dish of water where you can toss it if it starts smoking. I’m not sure what kind of plastic these guys are made of, but breathing fumes is never a good idea!
I have not yet used Epoxy on these little guys (although it’s only my to-do list) but there are several artists who have and they have done amazing work! Check out the Smokin Gunz and KS Smokin’ Hawt Colt customs resculpted by Rebecca (Becky) Turner on this gallery page.
Adding Gesso or Spray Primer
A lot of folks like to use a spray primer on micro scale models because it’s a thinner coat and less likely to hide details. But spraying anything comes with it’s own respiratory risks and I do a lot of my work inside, so… No.
Thankfully I’ve had good luck using thin coats of Liquitex Gesso (do not use Basics Gesso!). Getting the mixture just right takes a little bit of patience. Too thin and it will pool on the model like water, too thick and it can easily obliterate fine details under the goop.
You can also scrub down the bodies with a toothbrush and little Ajax or a paste of dish soap and baking soda to clean them before painting. This will strip off any oils and give the surface a little tooth, but I normally don’t bother. These guys seem to prep just fine without it, although I wouldn’t recommend skipping this step on a resin!
And that’s how I prep a Breyer Mini Whinnie, hope it’s been a useful read! 😀 (And if you have any questions, please ask below and I’ll do my best to answer them.)