Thursday, 4 February 2016

Pinning Plastic Cavalry

Someone recently asked for a tutorial on pinning figures. There are probably dozens of them out there on the interweb. Never mind, here is my way.

I started with a box of WSS cavalry from Wargames Factory.

In the box there are four sprues of multi-part riders, lots of parts but only enough legs for three riders. Lots of arms, lots of heads, lots of equipment. I'll detail them in a later post.

There are also three sprues of horse bits, four horses per sprue.

Also included are 12 bases.

The horse sprue comes with four left horse sides, four right horse sides, four heads, four tails and four saddle blankets. You will use all of these.

The riders sprue comes with three pairs of legs, thirteen torsos, sixteen heads and umpteen arms and weapons and fiddly bits. You will not use all of these so the unused bits will boost your bits box.

The eight half horses are unique and can be assembled in a variety of combinations.

As you will see some of them will stand freely and some of them won't hence the pinning requirement.

Using a mini drill bit in a pin vise carefully drill a hole up through the hoof and as far up the centre of the leg as you can manage although 5-10 mm will probably do. You will know if you are about to drill too far as the plastic will start to turn white-ish at the point of exit, stop when this happens.

Do this for each leg that comes into contact with the ground or near enough. Legs in the air will not get pinned.

Get some soft wire. I used the wire from a spiral bound notebook but a paperclip or copper electrical wire will do. As long as it is thin enough in comparison with the horse leg and the same size as your drill bit it will be fine.

Cut short pieces of wire and using liquid polystyrene cement glue them into each of the holes. Don't be afraid to fill the hole with cement before inserting the wire, any excess can be wiped away.

Your horses will now look like this.

Position each horse over a base and mark the positions of the wires. Drill these holes right through the base. Some of the holes will be at an angle depending on the particular leg.

Fill these holes with cement, apply more cement to the wires and the bottom of the hooves and place all the wires into their respective holes. Press and hold the horse to the base firmly for a couple of minutes until the cement is fairly firm. Add more cement if need be. The hooves will be partially hidden by your scenic bases so it doesn't have to be particularly tidy as long as it is firm.

Add more cement to the protruding wire underneath the base.

At this point I would leave the models overnight so that the cement is as fully cured as possible. The next step is a bit stressful and you don't want any glued joins to come undone.

Snip off as much of the protruding wire as possible and then file the remaining stump flush to the underside of the base. This is where the wire being soft comes in handy.

Any remaining weakness in the joins can receive another treatment of cement. I cover the underside of the base in magnetic tape so any untidiness there will be covered up.

The horses should now stand freely, if not you've mucked something up somewhere, fix it now.

It's a simple case here of adding the heads, tails and saddle blankets. I boo-boo'd here in that the horses tails were meant to be inserted before the horse halves were glued together. A quick trim with a modelling knife sorted that.

I cleaned up any remaining mould lines and filled any gaps with liquid cement. Clever folks would perhaps use modelling paste but I didn't.

I built up a trio of riders, simple swordsmen in a charging pose. There are lots of options on the sprue which I will detail later but it will be possible to model cuirassiers, standard heavy cavalry, dragoons even as well as officers and musicians.

I think they are coming out quite nicely, can't wait to get the rest of the unit built up. (Yes, I spotted the mould lines that I missed earlier)


  1. Great tutorial Jim, but it think it has convinced me to stick with metal figures moulded to their bases.

    1. That's fine, it's a solution you don't have to use if you have an alternative path.

      When I started these forces, infantry, cavalry and artillery, my plan was to see how far I could get without buying metals. Pretty far actually but I have bought metals as well.

  2. I've been tempted several times to start WSS because of these WF figures, thanks for tutorial!

  3. Moving on well and most interesting.
    Enjoy York on Sunday!

    1. Thanks Alan

      I like the York trip as I love driving, especially with the reward of a good show at the end of it.

  4. Sound tutorial, Jimmy. Don't go broke at's easily done!

    1. I have a firm shopping list and an adequate budget so should be OK.

  5. I have not your diligence and skill, for my WSS WF cavalry I just chose the half horses to stick together and used poly cement on the bits of the hoof which touch the base, then braced them till they set. I only had a couple need refixing during painting or far!

    1. You have demonstrated the need for pinning completely. My horses should never need refixing (at least that is the plan).

  6. Would it not be easier to cut the wire to length before gluing the horses to their bases? Then you wouldn't have to do any filing later on.

    1. It would perhaps be better if the wire was the correct length but in some cases it is not possible to accurately judge the length required for each of the legs as there is a certain amount of torque involved in the plastic body of the horse so you sometime have to reposition one leg to get the horse to stand straight.

      Once each leg is firm and the cement is secure it is not difficult to trim the wire and file it flat, a few seconds for each leg.

  7. Very cool! It certainly opens up some possibilities for re-basing older plastic cavalry models!

    1. The older soft plastic models will be a significantly greater challenge to fix. I've never found a satisfactory glue for them and the horse poses don't give much scope for drilling into a leg.