Saturday 11 November 2023

3D Printed figure holders


I like many of you I assume have tried a variety of ways of mounting figures to paint for either war gaming, display or in my case for use in dioramas. I have over the years tried the "traditional" wine cork to hold my figures with limited success, plastic drinks tops, alligator clips attached to sticks and also some more expensive options. Each one has their merits and each one has eventually become more of a hassle than a help as I continued to use them. For the larger 120mm or 1/16 size figures I use a manufactured figure holder which is absolutely superb (yes I'll get around to writing a review on that soon), but for 1/35 figures I needed a lot of holders that would be cheap to buy, plentiful in supply (I paint more than one figure at a time) and easy to replace should I subject them to too much abuse over the years. My answer came not from a manufacturer but from a creator on Thingiverse.

The Holder

The figure holder is simplicity itself. Its a 3D printed handle that is available in two sizes (for larger and smaller hands/grips) a "top-hat" section to place the figure onto and then a simple case of buying as many cheap 608RS bearings as required. I opted to buy a pack of six bearings for £3 from Ali-express. The designer did a fantastic job in ensuring that when the holder is placed on the printer bed it requires no supports whatsoever and can just be printed in cheap and readily available PLA. For those of you reading this that don't own a 3D printer but know someone who does; each holder printed works out to roughly 50p worth of PLA to print so they are extremely cheap when coupled with the bearing. The designer had ensured that the "cap" portion of the holder was roughly the same diameter as the frequently used figure bases for wargaming I believe that can either be bought or again 3D printed for pennies (of course I opted for the 3D printed discs). 

Once assembled the holder can be rotated with one finger thereby ensuring the holder remains comfortable in the hand (thanks to its ergonomic shape) while the figure can be rotated to each area that you wish to paint. In addition; thanks again to its design you can quite safely place the holder onto a flat surface where it remains quite stable while you pick up another figure and begin painting that one. In terms of attachment of the figure to the holder I  attach the figure to one of the 3D printed bases with a little superglue and then attach the base to the holder with a little blue-tack. This method has stood the test of time with over 5 years of use and no accident. 





Once you have finished painting the figure and are ready to place it onto your diorama or base of choice, the figure can be easily released from the printed stand with a thin blade and some light upward pressure. Superglue doesn't like shear loads so breaks away easily with no damage to the figure. I am still re-using the original plastic bases that I printed a few years ago. I would also add that even though the holders have been designed to be a friction fit for the bearings, I did glue the inner race of the bearing to the holder base and then the outer race of the bearing to the upper portion of the holder. This does create a more permanent fixing and probably doesn't need to be glued but the engineer in me wanted a "positive" lock for whole holder. 

I honestly cannot recommend this little figure holder enough. Its cheap to make, Is beautifully designed and robust enough to take a battering in the model tool draw when not in use. So far I have six of them but I've just placed an order for some more bearings from Ali-express to print off an additional six more as I have began painting more figures in one sitting. I also think that we are now at the point where if you don't own a printer yourself you probably know someone who does and is willing to print some off for you for a beer! 

I've included the links to both of these items that I have talked about below. At the time of writing this review they are both completely free to download from Thingiverse thanks to their generous designers. 

Rotary Handle

I hope that you have found this quick review interesting and useful and if you do decide to give them a go I would love to know what you think of them in the comments. 

More reviews soon!

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