Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Star Trek Heroclix... worth a quick touchup?

Recently I gave another player the advice that a quick wash/shade of the Star Trek heroclix figs improves their look and the level of visible detail and I realized that I had never actually done so with my own Trek clix figs that I picked up last year.  While I had done the same thing with some other clix figs like AVP and Marvel/DC ones, those examples were a few years ago and I figured I should update the blog with an example of the quick and dirty technique on the newer Star Trek figs.   My goal was to show what can be done quickly, easily, and relatively inexpensively by a player without any real experience with painting miniatures.  

I tried to choose a half dozen figs showcasing a variety of factions and colors.  The original prepainted figs are duplicates of the same sculpt/paint job as I didn't think of taking the before pics of the exact same figs; any minor deviations on the base paint scheme (like roving eyebrows on the red shirt!) are just paint errors from the clix factory.  And, yes, the red shirt that I touched up is indeed missing a hand as he came like that from the ebay auction.  I had a second one of the fig so figured it wasn't worth raising a stink with the seller with one defective fig out of 20+ in the lot.  Besides, it's a bit appropriate given he's a red shirt and nurse Chapel is nearby anyways to treat his wound.  :)   Here is the starting "before" pic:

The first step that I did was a quick wash of the main uniform color.  I used a dark flesh wash on the Klingon/Romulan and a light wash on the Andorian.  The Federation figs instead got (from L to R) a red wash, soft flesh, and blue wash on the uniforms.  Skin and hands then got the approrpriate wash as well (blue for the Andorian, soft flesh for the rest).  I didn't wait for the first wash to dry before applying the second as I was purposely trying to show what a quick, relatively no fuss novice technique could do.  About the only care that I took was to avoid excessive pooling in areas like eye sockets and splotches on big flat areas.   No fig got more than 30 seconds each in total of actual painting time/attention with both washes combined.

While I was happy with the added detail in folds of the uniforms as well as on the faces, the above obviously isn't a home run either.  Despite my (admittedly minor) efforts to prevent excessive pooling, there are still areas where the wash dried a bit too prominently for my tastes so I figured I'd try and see what adding a second quick dry brush step could do for the figs.  For this next pic, I basically just dry brushed whatever the closest color I had to the base color (red for red, light blue for blue, brass for brass/copper, etc)  even if it wasn't the exact same tone to pick out the raised areas a bit more.  I wasn't careful regarding how I applied this paint so areas like the starfleet delta uniform details are somewhat obliterated.  If you want to keep those details, I'd say use a traditional careful technique in that one same area instead of drybrushing.

For darker colored figs like the klingons, I don't think the technique has much utility as the only place that I see a difference on him is on the grey uniform top (similarly the helmet/face on the romulan).  I do think though that it does improve the lighter colored figures in the line for minimal effort.  It's obviously *NOT* the same thing as repainting them with care and detail nor is it perfect as some things are lost (uniform badges and the whites of the eyes) but overall I think it is a moderate improvement for minimal effort.  Including the washes drying, the set of figs above was completely done in about an hour (most of that time taken up with waiting for the washes to dry!) with no individual figure taking more than 2-3 minutes total for both steps combined in actual painting effort.

Here is an animated comparison of the three steps in succession on the two figs that I think it had the greatest impact on.  As always, feel free to let me know what you think and whether or not the quick wash and/or dry brush is worth the effort (or if it is even an improvement in the first place!).


  1. They look good to me. Nice job.

    1. Thanks. It was just a very quick effort to see if the advice I was giving was still valid. With that minimal work, I could do all 30ish trek clix minis in a single evening including drying time. I only wish proper painting was that quick!

  2. Tremendous improvement in the humans, and more than nothing for the other figures. Seems like it is certainly worth the time!

    I have several hundred WotC Star Wars figures that I ought to do the same thing with, but as you know... time is lacking.

    1. Thanks! As a former long time gm of both D&D and Star Wars during the Wotc years, I too have a large amount of prepaints for both. I've only ever touched up maybe a dozen total though and they were mainly stand ins for pc's or important campaign npcs.