Every mini i get i first and foremost bathe in warm soapy water to get the mold release agent off of it. This is especially true for the injection molded styrene and plastic stuff from GW and the Catalyst starter set.
After letting it dry i trim any flash, that's the stuff on a mini that foms at seams and pour/injection points. I use either am exacto knife, or my dremmel. (actually a black&decker RTX)
I always drill and pin parts, (with the same RTX drill) the glue I use in invariably Zap-a-Gap, bar none the finest glue ever. Really big metal stuff like reapers Gauth (a dragon) and other huge minatures get spot soldered, with the seam then further filed back and textured to mesh with the miniature.
Once that's done I fill any parts that need it with elmers wood putty. This includes ball sockets, the parts where the mini connects with the base, any holes in the mini, as well as any base terrain I feel like making.
Elmers comes in both a bucket which you apply like spackle, as well as a toothpaste-like squeezy tube. Both have their uses and are part of my standard kit. Anything puttied is filed back to as seamless of a fill as possible.
Then and ONLY then is it time to paint. Like the carpenters say, measure twice, cut once. Make DAMN sure that miniature is ready to paint before you prime it. It is harder to "fix" a mini after its already been primed.
I prime with testors flat spraypaint. Almost always flat black, but occasionally I use other colors. I like black, because you can drybrush other colors over it rather easily. Even light colors, which usually require a drybrush of white first, then the light color. This method is excellent for mecha, as you can bring out panel details and such rather well. Inks are difficult for novice painters, and in fact I think not that important if drybrushing is done properly.
As for the paints themselves, Applebarrel is excellent for flat and neon colors. Their line of metalics is damn fine. I use reaper stuff for colors that you just can't do with the cheaper stuff. Stuff like flecked tints and dual-tones. GW paints are ok, but overrated as far as it goes. The old hexagon shaped pots were cool looking, but they dripped and dried out and overall were poorly designed.
After painting, I use flock and sand on the bases. First i use elmers white glue watered down by about 20% so it is EXTREMELY watery. I squeeze it out of the tube, and use an old brush to spread it around. I then let it set for like 2 minutes, then throw whatever flock I use (usually railroad flocks and GW's green grassy stuff) as appropriate.
When the mini is completely finished as I like it, I seal it. I use either flat, semigloss, or glossy sealants depending on the "look" of the miniature I'm doing. Usually three or four times, the last two always of flat, as nothing ever needs 3 coats of gloss except a stealth bomber.
After all of this, I use magnetic business card paper to make the bottom of the miniature magnetic. The inside of my miniatures case is lined with sheet metal. This inexpensive modification is the best way to transport, because unlike foam transports, NOTHING TOUCHES THE PAINTED PART OF THE MINI. This is the key to preventing wear on the mini. Sealant protects against dice, not constant rubbing and abrasion.
If I decide I'm tired of the paintjob, or of it's a mini I've bought 2nd hand, I pinesol it. About a day in a bath of pinesol kills most paints, break cleaner gets anything else. NEVER USE BREAK CLEANER ON PLASTIC UNLESS YOU WANT THAT PLASTIC DESTROYED
Pinesol is safe on any plastic I've tried it on, except foamcore and some chalky resins. This is not a miniature problem, but one of terrains.
Anyone have anything else to add?
Big Nick, the Chainsaw Assassin
[i]Making Bad News Worse since 1980[/i]
[b]What... There's only ONE of you?[/b]