Miniature Painting Handles
A Review – By IG – 6/26/23
As with any hobby where tools are involved somebody somewhere is trying to improve upon them and miniature painting is no different. Most of us at one time or another have used corks, empty paint bottles, film containers, or the like to fasten our miniatures to as to avoid damaging the paint job on which we are working. In the space where these DIY solutions have served, there are now a number of commercially available options. The evolution of these tools has left many wondering if they really work well, what are all the options, which ones should I invest. In the following review I’ll take a look at four currently available options and hopefully remove some of the guess work and answer some questions for those considering a miniature painting handle. In the end, this will be a practical review in the sense of how they do the work.
No manufacturer supports or sponsors anything I do, or have sent me samples. These are four out of the half dozen or so that I’ve purchased which I believe deserve our time.
Games Workshop – Citadel
The Citadel Colour Painting handle has gone through a makeover recently as they now offer the MKII model. I have pictured the MKI as thats the one I actually prefer. They come with a spring loaded clasp integrated into the handle. There is also an XL model that comes equipped with a much larger clasp. These were designed with the bases for GW miniatures in mind, but do work for any number of bases out there. As there are already a large number of in-depth reviews, I’ll leave you to them, but in the end there really isn’t much to say. Its a very simple design, both the MKI and MKII fit nicely in your hand although I personally prefer the MKI’s bulk. They hope its a 2 size fits all solution due to the range of the spring loaded clasp.
As they were made with GW in mind, there a few drawbacks for those who use non GW type bases. When it comes to MDF bases I have had the clasp leave marks on the edges, so definitely paint and touch up your base after demounting. Softer MDF or thin plywood can end up with slight indentations although rare. If you use a base and then mount a magnetic or flex steel bottom onto that base, the clasp can actually cause these to separate. The biggest drawback, in my opinion, comes when you are working on multiple models using a batch painting method. Either you need to have enough of these handles to cover every model in your unit or you’ll be handling the miniatures a lot anyways as you swap them.
If you do paint non GW based figures and find yourself with a bunch of these already, I have a couple tips for customizing them to fit your needs. One option is to use the Citadel handle to hold your prior DIY solutions if you can get them to fit without damage. You can also use a number of tops made for other painting handles by placing them within the vise. For magnetic bases you could always get ahold of large round metal discs or washers and place them in the vise. These are a little ad hoc and will probably prove to be less stable, but in a pinch use what you can.
Jucoci offers a 2-in-1 Painting Handle. The construction results in a firm, but soft to the touch handle with a formed grip. These are very comfortable in hand. The feature that really allows for the use of a formed ergonomic grip is their 360° rotating top.
Each handle comes with 5 swappable caps with 5 adhesive backed metal discs to apply to the underside of each cap. This makes changing out the miniature incredibly easy and quick. Once the cap is on the handle the cap can be easily rotated with either the thumb holding the handle or by using your brush hand.
Each handle also comes with a metal bar as an “anti-shake” feature. The idea is that you can rest your brush hand on the bracket and use it as a place to steady your hand.
Another feature with this handle is that it comes with a magnetic bottom. This feature gives handles like this an advantage in the “anti-tip” department.
The out of the box solution for attaching miniatures to the cap is the use of a putty. They include a decent amount of putty with each handle and it only takes a small amount to work. There is however, an easier way. Almost every based miniature I paint uses a magnetic element, whether its an entirely magnetic bottom, steel base or inlaid Neodymium magnets. After receiving these I ordered a number of precut adhesive metal rounds like those that came with the handles for inside the caps. I simply placed these on the top of each cap and now my magnetic bases just stick to the caps without a need for putty. Likewise, if you use steel bases, you can get flex magnet rounds to attach in the exact same way. One could also simply attach steel bases to the top, on the magnet, that is normally used for attaching a cap although this option takes away the ease of rotating the cap.
A few final notes about Jucoci handles is that they come in 3 colors; red, blue and yellow. Each one comes in a nice sturdy cardboard box which is nice if you like to repurpose/reuse packing material. They are great for sending out painted miniatures. Jucoci also offer a version built out of black walnut wood and it has a couple more options than this model and are definitely worth taking a look.
Have you ever happened upon something by chance that you didn’t know existed only to find it a game-changer? These handles from TrollCross3D fall into that category for me. The design is incredibly simple yet very effective and customizable.
The handle comes with a basic GW style top (image: bottom middle) and an anti-shake bar(image: top left). The tops screw on the handle making them both secure and quick to replace. Designed with a removable top, Trollcross3D offers the user many options. First, if you paint miniatures with a GW style base, you can buy extra tops, in that style, to easily swap out a miniature when doing batch painting. For the rest of us, the available options offer a variety of tools. There are a number of tops; steel for magnetic bases, flat top for use with putty, and a top with a cork for mounting pinned models. I’m sure that they would gladly accept input to design even more solutions to fit your needs. I’ve found them very responsive to questions and feedback.
The handle itself comes in two styles, a longer necked version or an XL version like the one pictured and they also offer a “short” version, which…really short. The XL version is shorter and more stout. I prefer this as it feels better sitting in the hand and easier to manipulate. The handle is easily turned in your hand and the ridges make for easy gripping with your fingertips no matter the rotation. Also, these come with a 13mm (1/2 inch) hole in the bottom running up through the middle. I think this was a great idea as I’ve been able to add in a magnet of my own that helps with storage and as an anti-tip mechanism as I have adhesive metal rounds on my desk to place them.
Both the handle and top options are extremely affordable. Combine that with the obvious effort put into their design and support I have to say these are well worth your time to consider.
Redgrass Games’ painting handle features an ergonomic style like that of Jucoci but without defined finger which may better accommodates hand sizes that fall on either end of the extreme. These are designed with removable caps that simply slide on and off the handle’s mounting. It features an internal axle that allows for a similar 360° cap spin as the Jucoci does, just with a different mechanism. The caps are simply designed with the use of putty in mind. RGG offers extra putty and caps for sale separately. The handle also features magnetic bottoms and adhesive metal discs to prevent tipping when not in your hand.
The lack of cap options can be made up for with a little customizing such as a metal washer glued onto the caps to accommodate magnetic bases. There are also other creators out there like Juan Hidalgo of JH Miniatures who has this STL for sale.