Painting miniatures and how it helped me survive boredom

I decided to look for a hobby and hopped into one of my all-time favorite science fiction universes’ tabletop board games, Warhammer 40,000


When I was in 7th grade, I didn’t do much besides schoolwork and sit in my room doing nothing productive, being too busy commiting to band. After I dropped the class my freshman year in hopes of improving my grades, I realized that there was now a massive gap of time for me to fill with productivity and free time. So I decided to look for a hobby and hopped into one of my all-time favorite science fiction universes’ tabletop board games, Warhammer 40,000; a universe where everything is terrible, war is constant, and humanity is teetering on collapse. It’s the epitome of grimdark sci-fi.

The universe of Warhammer 40k has been around for decades; Rogue Trader, the first edition of the game, was released in 1987. The universe started off light-hearted with genetically engineered super soldiers, Space Marines, who wear gear with stuff like “The one BIG ONE” and “Kill” painted on their rainbow armor . Now it’s the same super soldiers in a much more realistic set of armor, but without the silly stuff, replaced by a much more serious tone. Of course, no good sci-fi universe would be truly science fiction without a plethora of aliens. The Aliens, or Xenos, as the human inhabitants of the galaxy call them, come in a colorful array of bloodlust and destruction. From ancient space Elves that just want to live in their domes to Demons that rip and tear their way into the physical world, to sink the galaxy into a never-ending nightmare.

Finding a place to start in the hobby was much more difficult than I thought it would be, with so many armies to choose from. I had to find a force I liked the look of and weren’t too hard to paint. Another massive problem was money because buying a legion of tiny men clad in armor is expensive. Models are priced based on the quality of the sculpt and how many are in the box. A simple team of soldiers can be around $50 for 10 of them, while a captain alone can be $25. The bigger models get even more expensive— a giant demon can be $160, and the most expensive model they offer is the 22-inch Warlord Titan at $2,000, equaling about $90 per inch of resin and weighing somewhere around 20 pounds, it without a doubt deserves the title of titan. However, I clearly didn’t have the time, skill, and, most importantly, money to build such a behemoth, so I bought an army of big bad traitors to mankind. They’re called the C̪̭̤̹̩̝̠̿̉̓̐ͥͬ̌h̭̙̭̣͈̟̰̔͋̔͂ͣ̀a͎̯͈̥̻͈̞o̿͒͑͗̆̆̇͞s̟̠̪͇̈́ͧ̃ͧ̀ͅ Space Marines, Space Marines who went rouge, turning to the ruinous powers of C̪̭̤̹̩̝̠̿̉̓̐ͥͬ̌h̭̙̭̣͈̟̰̔͋̔͂ͣ̀a͎̯͈̥̻͈̞o̿͒͑͗̆̆̇͞s̟̠̪͇̈́ͧ̃ͧ̀ͅ, the demon faction. My C̪̭̤̹̩̝̠̿̉̓̐ͥͬ̌h̭̙̭̣͈̟̰̔͋̔͂ͣ̀a͎̯͈̥̻͈̞o̿͒͑͗̆̆̇͞s̟̠̪͇̈́ͧ̃ͧ̀ͅ Space Marines were worshippers of the god of beginnings, ends, disease and the constant cycle of life. Naturally, they’re big, armored, genetically engineered soldiers covered head to toe in mutations and demonly disease.

To buy all the models, paints, brushes and other necessities cost me well over $250. After spending so much money, I had to actually get the miniatures “tabletop ready,” which is an easier way of saying having them completely finished. I had to cut out the pieces, glue them together and let them dry, and add many, many layers of different paints. After days of little progress, I finished the first 7/52 models, which was a nice start. When I needed help and didn’t know where to look, the regulars and manager of the hobby store helped me learn different techniques and ways to be better at all aspects of the hobby.

The game is nerdy, extremely so, but it gives me something to do with my freetime that helps me stay motivated. Without my ability to paint tiny little men clad in armor from the 41st millennium, I’d still be sitting in my room doing nothing besides homework and rotting away at my computer. Now with friends also invested in the hobby, I can hang out with people who have the same interests as me and enjoy it just as I do.