What is Kitbashing for Miniatures, Warhammer 40k, and More

Kitbashing is more of an art than a science. For me personally it was trial and error, and starting with simple swaps. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

What is Kitbashing?  

Kitbashing involves taking parts from different miniatures—sometimes from entirely different games—and combining them to make something new.  You can also create fully customized parts with modeling clay and similar products.

It’s not as drastic as scratch-building, where you are likely creating most of the mini yourself, but it’s a more involved process than simply converting something by swapping a few heads around or giving your space marine a different pistol. Often, a key element of scratch building involves taking pieces from another kit or model (sometimes from a different game) to give your build a unique feel.  

Kitbashing Miniatures

In the world of miniatures, kitbashing is a great way to lend character to an existing model, unit, or army. It’s also a great way to design whole new character concepts. 

There are even games out there with huge player bases, great rules, and no official models. From classic discontinued Warhammer skirmish game Mordheim, to modern DIY-focused rulesets like Mork Borg’s Forbidden Psalm, there are plenty of games that almost demand kitbashing. 

Sometimes, kitbashing can be simple—like removing the heads and weapons from a basic squad of space marines, replacing them with some from a third-party manufacturer, and sculpting some new cloaks from Green Stuff to make space wolves—and other times it can be a maddeningly complicated process. 

Kitbashing weapon swap example
Kitbashing Basics: Swap Weapons

What’s really important, however, is that there are as many different ways to kitbash a mini as there are people out there kitbashing. It’s a much more personal and expressive process than just painting minis (and that’s a super cool, unique art form in of itself), so rather than finding the “right” way to kitbash, you should focus on finding the kitbashing method that’s right for you. 

You can kitbash digitally, much like VFX artists use premade assets in blender, if you have access to a 3D printer, you can easily download and print thousands of free STL files of everything from alien skulls to little squirrels in top hats and Totally-not-Warhammer-Mech-Suits. Websites like Cults, MyMiniFacotry, and Thingiverse are all great places to find assets for kitbashing your own minis. 

Then you have the traditional approach to kitbashing, which involves having access to a bunch of spare miniature parts and unbuilt kits that you can reconfigure into existing new designs. This can end up being really expensive if you don’t have access to a lot of minis—not to mention the fact it’s absolutely terrifying to buy a $50 box of plastic with the express intention of cutting it all up and potentially ruining it. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3YY1CAVpgPs&ab_channel=BillMakingStuff 

Credit: BillMakingStuff 

Top Tips For Kitbashing

Getting started with kitbashing can seem daunting. But don’t worry: after some research, it’ll seem daunting and expensive. You’ll either find yourself in need of an expensive 3D printer, a whole pile of expensive minis (kind of a redundant term), and that’s before you’ve even bought any tools or hobby supplies. 

So, here are some tips for getting started with kitbashing without breaking the bank or your new Screamer Killer Carnifex before it’s seen a single game. 

  1. Start small: you don’t have to kitbash a whole army your first time out. How about trying just the one model. Either come up with a concept you like and see how much extra stuff you’ll need to pull it off, or just look around at what you have and see if any of it would look cool jammed onto your model. 
  2. One thing at a time: this is a continuation of the “Start Small” idea. Don’t try re-posing a model, sculpting new clothes, and a bunch of other techniques all at once. Odds are you’ll get overwhelmed and nothing will end up looking good. Pick one thing and do it right. Then add another technique to your next build. 
  3. Try using stuff you already have lying around: The spirit of kitbashing is being creative with something outside the standard model. So use some clay, or an old piece of cork, maybe some mechanical or electronic parts you might have. 

That’s our super short crash course in what kitbashing is and how to dip your toes into these murky waters. Until next time, happy bashing!

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