We’ve made it through Thanksgiving week (in the US) and this, more than anything is the signal that we’ve officially started the holiday season. Since many of us will be thinking about what to get the hobbyist in our life (or maybe you need some ideas for your own Xmas wish list), I thought it would be a good time to run down a few items that would make excellent Christmas gifts for your favorite hobbyist. This post focuses on tools and hobbying accessories instead of actual games and miniatures. The first section is a selection of smaller items that would be perfect as stocking stuffers. The second section are physically larger gifts that you’ll probably end up putting under the tree. There are items at a variety of price points from under $20 to around the $100 range. In some cases I’ve also mentioned an item or two that pairs nicely with the main item in terms of utility.
Winsor Newton Series 7 Brushes & The Masters Brush Cleaner
The Winsor Newton Series 7 Kolinsky Sable paint brushes are an excellent brush for miniatures painters looking to level up
The Winsor Newton Series 7 paint brushes are kind of the holy grail of paint brushes for miniatures painters. These brushes make a great gift for the miniatures painter that’s been painting for awhile and is ready to up their game with better tools. These also are great because, due to the fact that they cost quite a bit more than your standard hobby shop paint brush, a lot of hobbyists are hesitant to get these for themselves because it’s a bit of an investment and can also feel a little intimidating. The good news is that because these brushes are so high quality, you don’t need a ton of them. I recommend the #0 and the #2 Winsor Newton Series 7 paint brushes if you’re looking at getting a couple of these. Those two sizes cover a lot of range in terms of utility and usefulness.
If you’re getting nice brushes like the Winsor Newton Series 7, invest in some brush cleaner as well. The Masters Brush Cleaner is an excellent product for the care and preserving of fine brushes
If you’re looking to add a little something to this then I’d also recommend adding a tub of The Masters Brush Cleaner to them. Proper cleaning and care will make these paint brushes last a long time, even longer than synthetics.
The Privateer Press P3 Wet Palette, usually under $20 and perfect if you don’t want to build one yourself.
A wet palette is another really useful addition to the miniatures painters toolbox. It helps preserve paint by keeping the paint you’re working from drying out and helps you get to the proper consistency of paint for applying it to miniatures. It’s also really handy for blending and other effects. Privateer Press makes a handy wet palette that’s just right for miniatures painters. Consider adding in an extra pad of wet palette paper for the busy painter.
Porcelain Paint Palettes & Bowls
The Darice Oblong Porcelain Paint Palette is a solid addition to your paint station
Every good miniatures painter knows that you shouldn’t paint directly from the paint pot for several reasons including paints drying out, the potential for accidental paint spills, and getting too much paint on your brush or up in the metal ferrule that holds the bristles in place. For these reasons it’s nice to have a couple of palettes around your painting desk. You can get some super cheap plastic or tin palettes and these are perfectly serviceable. However if you’d like to have something a little nicer and that feels more solid, a ceramic palette or nesting ceramic bowls are a nice upgrade. I personally use this Darice 10 Well Oblong Porcelain Paint Palette and these large porcelain stacking bowls. These things are solid and have some heft to them so they don’t slide around and can’t be accidentally knocked over which keeps the messes down. They are prefect for when I need a larger amount of paint out for a bigger project and they’re also great for oil washes and custom paint mixes. Since they’re porcelain, they don’t stain and are very easy to clean even when you have let paint dry on them.
PaintWater/Not Paint Water Coffee Mugs
Get a set of these handy Paint Water/Not Paint Water coffee mugs to keep yourself from accidentally imbibing your paint water
Most painters keep a mug of water on their paint station for thinning paints and cleaning their brushes when changing colors or types of paint. Some of us drink coffee or adult beverages out of another mug while we’re working. A coffe mug that’s got “Not Paint Water” printed on the side is a fun gift for a painter and it’ll keep them from getting a mouthful of dirty water when they’re “in the zone” and focused on their painting. You can find these on Amazon sometimes but why not check out Etsy, there are several sellers there who make mugs with custom messages on them and it’s always cool to support small businesses doing hand made items.
Iwata Airbrush Cleaning Station
The Iwata Airbrush Cleaning Station is a really useful airbrushing accessory and includes a built in airbrush stand
The Iwata Airbrush Cleaning Station is a handy little thing to have that allows you to empty paint and cleaning fluid from your airbrush into a sealed container. It cuts down on messes and potential spills and actually holds quite a bit of liquid safely until you’re ready to empty it. The Iwata Airbrush Cleaning Station also doubles as an airbrush stand due to the way the handle is engineered.
Elmers X-Acto Knife Set in Zippered Case
This Elmers X-Acto Knife Set has a great variety of blades and handles and comes in a handy and portable zippered case
One thing a miniatures hobbyist always needs is a supply of sharp knives for trimming and cleaning model kits as well as doing customization and kitbashing. This handy Elmers X-Acto Knife set has a variety of handles and blades suitable for different jobs and everything comes in a nice zippered nylon case for storage or for throwing in your bag for emergency repairs on game day.
The Dremel 7700 moto tool is cordless, rechargeable and has plenty of power for typical miniature hobby tasks
The Dremel is a really handy motorized mini tool that can be used for all sorts of jobs like cutting, drilling, polishing and sanding. A rechargeable cordless Dremel is even handier as it’s more compact and can be taken with you in a portable tool kit. Even though it’s powered by a rechargeable battery it’s got enough power for most of the typical miniatures hobbyist and scenery jobs. There are a couple of choices here, the Dremel 7300 Mini Mite which is a smaller desktop version or the more powerful Dremel 7700 moto tool that has a bigger motor and battery. Both are excellent choices for miniature and model building. Throw in a Dremel accessory kit to go along with it and you’ve got a winning combination.
Donegan OptiVISOR and Light
The Donegan OptiiVISOR with replaceable lenses that can be quickly changed for different levels of magnification
The Donegan OptiVISORis a headset with magnifying lenses that’s completely hands free and can be worn over prescription glasses if needed. The lenses can be changed out to increase or decrease the amount of magnification as needed. These are great for working on those models with tiny accessories or for getting the detail right when painting miniatures. These especially useful for those older hobbyists who need a little help seeing the tiniest details on their projects.
The Donegan compatible OptiVISOR LED Light Attachment
Consider adding the OptiVISOR LED light kit which uses LEDs to flood the area you’re working on with bright light.
The Iwata HP-C Plus Airbrush is a solid, high quality dependable workhorse that will take you a long way
Lots of miniatures hobbyists are making the jump to airbrushing these days. There are tons of choices and options for airbrushes, too many to list here but if you’re interested in learning the basics I have an article on the basics of airbrushes that you can check out here. Two excellent airbrush choices for the beginner are the Iwata HP-C Plus and the Badger Sotar 2020. Both of these are reasonably priced relative to the overall costs of getting into airbrushing and there’s a ton of information and video online about these models for the new airbrush user. Consider adding an airbrush compressor to go with this gift, more information about that below.
The Master Airbrush Single Piston Airbrush Compressor with Tank as sold on Amazon. All of this for only $89 shipped!
A great item to go along with a new airbrush is a small airbrush compressor. These can be very expensive but you really do not need to spend hundreds of dollars on a fancy compressor. The Master Airbrush TC20-T airbrush compressor is a great little compressor and comes in under $100 delivered from Amazon. These usually include a braided hose which means you have what you need to get started airbrushing. The hose that’s included with these is standardized for Iwata fittings so if you don’t have an Iwata airbrush pick up one of these airbrush adapter kits which covers about 99 percent of airbrushes commonly used.
Airbrush Spray Booth
This portable airbrush spray booth will keep your airbrushing environment clean
The last major piece of the airbrushing puzzle is optional but nice to have if your hobbyist is spraying indoors. This Master Airbrush portable airbrush spray booth has a fan that draws in the overspray and air and filters it keeping any stray paint from getting out of hand and helps with odor control. The kit includes parts to exhaust the filtered air out a nearby window or vent. Strictly optional but this will probably keep everyone else in the house happy and it’s also under $100 delivered if you buy it on Amazon.
Army Painter Mega Hobby Set & Mega Paint Set 2
The Army Painter Mega Hobby Set is great for someone who’s just getting started in the miniatures hobby
This gift idea is really for those that are brand new to the hobby and just getting started. The Army Painter Mega Hobby Set is your one stop shop for the beginning miniatures hobbyist. It’s conveniently packaged all together and has a great assortment of hobby tools like knives, clippers, files and tweezers. It also includes glues, a basic selection of Army Painter brand paints and paint brushes, a can of spray primer and is rounded out with a nice assortment of basing materials to finish off your miniatures like a pro. It even includes a 24 page booklet with lots of information to help you get started and dive right in to the miniatures hobby.
The Army Painter Mega Paint Set 2 is a great addition to the Mega Hobby Set and gives you an additional 42 paints, washes and more/army-painter-mega-paint-set-2
If you’re looking to expand this set, consider the Army Painter Mega Paint Set II which contains an additional 42 paints and includes washes and shades and some additional brushes.
Weathering Pigments from Vallejo & Secret Weapon Miniatures
Weathering Pigment sets from Vallejo and Secret Weapon Miniatures will allow you to add that extra bit of realism to your miniatures and models
This gift idea is for those hobbyists that are looking to add that extra level of realism to their miniatures. Weathering pigments are fine colored powders that are usually used to add color to paint medium. In this format they are literally just the pigment powder, usually in a small jar or tub and are applied with a brush or sponge to add different effects to a model in order to make it look worn and dirty or greasy or even rusty. These can be purchased individually but are also sold in sets of compatible shades around a theme like “Desert Sand and Mud” or “Rust and Oil” etc. I use weathering pigments from both Vallejo and Secret Weapon Miniatures. I like them both but recently have been leaning more towards the Secret Weapon Miniatures brand as I like their color selection and variety better. They also sell pre-selected sets of pigments and for a really nice gift Secret Weapon Miniatures have a set called “The Works” which includes all twenty three of the shades they offer in one complete package at a discount price of about 15% off the regular price if purchased separately. (It’s also a great time to buy Secret Weapon Miniatures products as many of their products are currently on sale at up to 25% off normal prices for their annual Black Friday sale which lasts until December 4th).
The Wrap Up (See What I Did There?)
The perfect holiday gift for a miniatures hobbyist?
It’s a wrap! These are just a few ideas that I think many miniatures hobbyists would be pretty happy to receive in their stocking or find under the tree on Christmas morning. Whether you’re filling the role of Santa this year or need to give some not so subtle hints to someone about possible gift ideas for yourself this list should help make someone a little extra happy when it comes time to unwrap presents. If you were making a list along this theme what else would you suggest? Please add your ideas in the comment section below!