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Guide to DBA

Adhering Miniatures to their Bases

There are as many different ways to adhere your miniatures to their bases as there are glues and adhesives on the market. There is no single right or wrong way to do it, but you will find from experience that certain adhesives work better depending on the basing material you are using, whether your figures are metal or plastic, and what your goal is with respect to adhering the figures (i.e., a permanent basing arrangment or flexibility to rebase).

For example, with plastic figures on a wood base or card stock, simple, cheap PVA (i.e., Elmers, white glue. wood-workers glue) may be all you need. The bond is not the strongest you'll ever see, but if the figure falls off, just dab on some more glue and reattach it.

For metal figures on metal bases, you may want a more serious glue. Most gamers seem to use Superglue, Zap-a-Gap or any brand-name glue whose active ingredient is cyanoacrylate. These dry quickly and create a strong bond between a wide variety of surfaces and materials (including your fingers if you're not careful). But be careful not to get it on your skin, clothing or especially in your eyes or mouth. Metal figures superglued to a metal base can usually be removed by applying pressure between the figure's base and the element base with an exacto knife or other hard implement. Figures superglued to wood or plastic may be all but impossible to remove. This is important to remember if you think you'll ever want to rebase your figures.

A third popular option is epoxy-type glues. These come in all sorts, including straight from the tube and two-part epoxies that must be pre-mixed. Epoxy glues are messy, smelly, take longer to set, and are occasionally difficult to work with. But they generally very strong bonds.

Many military modellers are used to using contact cement to put together their plastic models. Contact cement can also be used to adhere miniatures to bases, but it has the same downsides (i.e., smell and mess) as epoxies. It creates a flexible, and hence durable, bond.

One important thing to remember, no matter what type of adhesive you use, is that glues are generally bad for your health. Keep it out of your eyes, your mouth and off of your skin if at all possible. And make sure your work area is well ventilated so that you don't enhale the fumes. If you accidently ingest an adhesive, consult the adhesive package or bottle for first aid instructions.

Gamer's Feedback

John Desmond: I use Glue-All, again, for mounting figures when their exact placement on the stand isn't important, or when I need them to dry fast. When I want all the troopers in a phalanx lined up in order, I stick them to the stand with Wingel, which Windsor & Newton sells as a medium for oil paints. I started using it when I was working with soft plastic figures - it's one of the few reliable adhesives for them. Wingel will stay liquid for an hour or so - enough time to slide the figures into exact alignment - and hold them down firmly after 4-5 hours drying time.

One minor advantage of using Elmers Glue-All to mount figures is that, should you ever face the horrors of rebasing, putting the stands ankle-deep into warm soapy water for a few hours usually softens the GlueAll enough so that the figures can be removed easily and the glue residue removed with hobby knife or fingernail. Rinse off the figures, and they're ready for rebasing when dry.

Stan Olson: Crazy glue is not strong when the figures are knocked or twisted, it snaps, because the metal figure and the metal base dont "give"/flex under stress. The glue then shatters due to the shearing effect.

Contact cement can work, but is smelly and messy. It will flex rather than snap, later.

High quality white-carpenters glues (e.g., Weldbond) are used in furniture making and R/C model making. They cost more but perform better than Elmer's paper-craft glue.

5 minute Epoxy is used for metal to metal bonding.

One fellow reccomended GOOP but added that it must be left to harden to its full strength.

This last point is important even for crazy glues, and acrylic paints. Always be careful and patient with glues.

James Sean Britt: I have very good luck with Tacky Glue. It is very cheap and you can adjust the figure on the base before it sets up. It dries very clear and if you give it time to set will dry pretty solid. It is also very easy to remove the figure if you need to rebase.

Martin Rapier (U.K.): I find a good dollop of Evostick (the smelly stuff they won't sell to under-16s) works fine, as long as you let it dry before you try picking the figures up.

Bob Beattie: I have recently been using hot glue from glue gun. The main reason is that it hardens up immediately and I can begin flocking. Secondly, for figures with small bases or ones that do not balance well, the hot glue provides good support and will, again, harden quickly. It is strong but will come off with prying fron exacto blade. I base on formica material and hot glue works well; also on card and metal.

Brian Kearney: In the past I have used contact adhesives (UHU, evostick types) as well as PVA (woodworking glue), but now I use Hot Melt adhesive almost exclusively for attaching figures to bases. It is quick, strong, and flexible (I once used it to fix a figure that had snapped at the knees-like a clear plaster cast that was not as obvious as might be thought-he can now "bend" at the Knees!). It is also removable although not cleanly from card, causing some tearing, but does tend to peel off metal figure bases. I have not had any figures come off without deliberate help so far. I cannot vouch for how well it will hold up for metal to metal. In fact I use it as a semi-permanent bond to attach my figures to flat head nails for painting.

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Last Updated: Jan. 25, 2000

Comments, suggested additions, and/or critiques welcome. Direct them to Chris Brantley at