Geek-Craft: A Tool for Painting Miniatures - A Review of Mini Grips from Death Ray Designs
If you paint miniatures, or have considered painting them, you likely know a few things about the hobby: It can be a pain in the butt, it’s usually expensive, and the number of options, techniques, and products can be very overwhelming. I'm here to help! Know that, whether you’re painting your Blood Rage monsters or you’ve dived into miniatures games like Infinity and Warhammer, finding ways to make it easier and less expensive are paramount.
A common tool used for painting miniatures is a grip. It’s essentially a stand your mini is connected to that allows you to hold that miniature at any angle (even upside down) while painting. It keeps you from touching wet paint, dropping the blasted thing, and cramping your hands. Basically, grips are awesome and even the most amateur miniature painter will find the hobby more enjoyable and easier with one.
The issue with grips is that they tend to be expensive, but they don't have to be! Some of my favorite grips that work for pro painters and novices alike are cheap and super easy to use. They're called Mini Grips by Death Ray Designs.
Death Ray Designs creates laser cut accessories for a number of miniatures games and for the hobby in general. The Mini Grips and Mini Grips Stands are laser cut wood that come to you unassembled. This saves you money both on your purchase and on shipping while giving you something to do for ten minutes on a Wednesday evening. Perfect, am I right?
The Grips themselves are a cross-section of wood fit into a flat circular top like a wooden screw. On the top is attached an almost crescent-shaped piece that holds the miniature in place by friction alone. And once your mini is in there, you can turn it upside down, etc. without fear of it falling out. They take a minute to assemble and only need a drop or two of wood glue where the crescent piece connects. Easy!
The grips come in various sizes, too. There are options for little miniatures (25mm - 40mm) and big miniatures (50mm - 75mm). Have no fear, if you aren't sure what size your miniatures are, or if you're painting a game with lots of different sizes minis, Death Ray also has "Blank" grips where you can attach any size miniatures you want using a bit of tack. So whether you're painting Infinity line infantry (25mm) or a Great Old One in Cthulhu Wars (50mm+), there's a Mini Grip that can hold it.
"Why do I need more than one?" is something you might have asked yourself. I ask in return, "Does your game have more than one miniature in it?" Chances are that it does. Why paint each miniature one at the time when you can get all/most of them going at once? It allows you to find a consistent paint scheme and even try new things that you can then apply to your other miniatures. Best of all, while one model is drying, you can starting painting another one. This makes the process faster! If that sounds appealing to you, you'll want to pick up a Mini Grips Stand.
Death Ray Designs makes 7-slot and 5-slot stands that hold your grips when you're letting them dry. You can easily remove and place a grip into them and they are sturdy. Assembling one of these stands is similar to building a laser cut board game box insert. It takes a little bit of time and some optional dabs of wood glue, but it's otherwise easy. Again, something to do on a Wednesday evening (when you're not gaming). Oh, and you can get the grips and stands in bundles to keep the cost down!
A bundle including 8 Mini Grips (25mm) with a 7-slot stand is $28.00. This is the bundle I purchased. Having one more grip than slots is a pleasant option, as it allows me to start painting a miniature and then swap it out for a different one, meaning I always have the option of having one Mini Grip in hand and eight going at once instead of seven. For patch painting entire armies, this is great.
Mini grips start as cheap as $3 each with options to buy them in threes, tens, etc. The blank options are even cheaper, and all sizes/options can be bought with or without stands. It's quite flexible and affordable. Considering that Games Workshop's Painting Handle grip is $8 for just a single grip, Death Ray Designs pack a lot of punch for such a small price.
As you can tell, or perhaps if you're skipping all the way to the end, I really like my Death Ray Designs Mini Grips. They are an easy-to-use and affordable way to paint miniatures with fewer problems and more accuracy thanks to all the angles! That said, a tiny warning: The Mini Grips don't stand well on their own without the Mini Grip Stands. For a 25mm miniature, if you try to stand it on a flat surface without the grip, you'll find it will teeter-totter a bit. This could be fixed with some sanding if you're the fixer-type (I'm not), but I don't recommend standing them like that, especially with bigger miniatures. Instead, use the stand. I tend to leave my miniatures in the stand for days on end making small painting passes here and there -- it's perfect for that.
Disclaimer: I purchased these products and reviewed them of my own volition