Removing Parts from the Sprue :
One of the most essential skills needed for any modeller and one that must be mastered early on is the art of removing the kit parts from the plastic sprues that they come attached to. If done correctly during the initial assembly, a lot of time can be saved when preparing a model for painting.
In this tutorial, I'll demonstrate a couple of easy ways to remove the parts from the sprue.
What you will need :
- The sprue that you wish to remove the part from (in this case, a sprue from a Master Grade Zaku II Ver 2.0 kit).
- Cutting implements - a pair of plastic cutters (not wire cutters or finger nail cutters) and a hobby knife are a must.
- Sanding pads and sticks (preferrably 2 or 3 different grades from fine to very fine)
Step 1 :
Select the part you need to remove by following the instructions provided with the kit. To remove this piece as shown, it needs to be cut away from the sprue at the points where the arrows point to.
Step 2 :
There are two ways I recommend to cut parts away from the sprue. The first way is to cut just above the part (1 or 2mm is best). The reason you must cut away from the piece is that you will have more control of how the piece looks if you do it this way. Cut to close to the piece and you run the risk of squishing the plastic as you cut and ultimately, damage the part by making holes where the sprue meets the part.
Step 3 :
The other way is to cut the piece away about halfway between it and the outer sprue as shown in the picture below. It is basically the same method as in Step 2 but it allows even more control on how the piece is removed as there is even less chance of damaging the piece at this point in the assembly process.
Step 4 :
Once the part is removed from the sprue, you can begin removing the excess plastic. To do this, you will need to use your cutters and cut as flush against the part as possible. When cutting it is best to quickly snip the plastic off rather than slowly apply pressure. Applying slow pressure can increase the likelihood of causing damage to the part as the plastic can tear away and make a hole that will need to be filled with putty later on.
Here is another view of the cut. The best thing about Bandai Gundam kits, is that the plastic is angled inward toward the model's piece. This allows for a much neater cut as the cutters are guided into place by the angle of the plastic.
Step 5 :
Once the excess sprue has been removed, it's now time to remove the last little 'nubs' left. Here is the piece after trimming the excess plastic :
Taking your hobby knife, shave off the last little piece of plastic until it is flush with the kit piece. Take your time and be careful - one slip can lead to a hole in either the piece or your finger! (trust me I know!!). To test whether it is completely removed, lightly run your fingernail across the area and feel for any raised plastic. If there is, shave a little more off until it is completely gone.
In the next picture, you will notice that the excess 'nub' of plastic is gone but it is still visible. Do not worry as this is just a problem caused by the plastic during the manufacturing process. As long as you can't feel the plastic 'nub' with your fingernail, it is gone and will be covered over during the painting process, making it invisible.
Step 6 :
For an alternative way of removing the 'nubs', shave most of the plastic off and then lightly sand it back until it is flush against the kit piece. This is especially handy for curved surfaces where shaving with a knife sometimes leads to gouges and holes due to the curved surface.
And here is what it should look like after sanding. As with before, you can still see where the sprue plastic joined the piece but once paint is applied, it will disappear.
So there you have it, a few easy ways of removing parts from a sprue. It is a skill that requires a bit of practice getting right (I still make mistakes doing this so don't worry if you do!), but once you learn it well enough, it will make the initial assembly of your kits so mch easier.
And here is the video version of this tutorial :