Aliexpress is a great place where you can find hobby tools, like brushes, pliers, pin vices, basing material and minis or even complete plastic kits. These are the same tools that you can buy from US or UK companies like Games Workshop, Tamiya or Army Painter but without their logos and even for as low as 1/10th price of the same, but branded products – and that’s not counting that there is almost always free shipping from China. There is really a big range of tools to choose and you will find something suitable for you whether you are painting Warhammer 40K minis, building World War 2 dioramas or assembling Gundams. Model kit tools and brushes are manufactured in China and thus should be as inexpensive as Aliexpress sellers are selling them. Quality is always very good and I’ve never had chance to buy anything disappointing. Below you’ll find my choice of various tools and kits, most of which I’ve bought and I’m using regularly.
Tools for wargaming and modeling from China
3 Kolinsky Sable-hair Brushes for 1,15 USD – Yes, that is like $ 0,4 for a brush, comparing to GW Citadel Brushes which can cost more than $30 (not cool GW, really). Kolinsky’s Weasel is a cute rodent living in Eastern Asia – mostly in Russia and China, have been used as Chinese calligraphy brushes since ancient times and brushes made from its fur are one of the best brushes used for painting model kits and minis.
I wasn’t convinced that I would receive Kolinsky brush and I thought I will receive cheap synthetic brush. Instead, I have received solid natural brushes with long ferrule. These brushes are equivalent to maybe Detail Citadel brushes (000 or 00) and are unbranded. They served me very nice, and after several months of painting bristles started curling up and deforming, but no more than for example Army Painter brushes for me. Definitely recommend this one, because it’s most cheap and high quality option that you can get.
Pin Vise – 5,73 USD – This is the tool used for drilling holes in the gun barrels or bullet holes in models and minis. It comes in box with 20 different drills, smallest one being micro-drill for very precise work (0,3 mm) and largest – 1,6mm. Very precise stuff, and the same sets are sold by at least $30 in US, so it’s great bargain.
Pliers for cutting parts from sprues – 2,59 USD – Always necessary for working with plastic and resing. Mine came in original package “Made in Japan”. I believe it is commissioned by Japanese which sold it under their brand, but at least they sould repackage it in Japan! Anyway, it’s just an example of Chinese products quality.
Neodymium (or “rare earth”) magnets – few dollar USD per 50-100 pieces – Magnets are used for advanced modeling, mostly in wargaming for easy swapping various parts, like weapon variants on a mini. There are many tutorials on Youtube and in blog on how to “magnetize” miniatures – there are even tutorials for specific kits, so search for it, if you want to know for example how to magnetize WH 40K Leman Russ (my current hobby project). Magnet are sold in many sizes and shapes and before buying, check what magnets will you need most. Seller China Magnets Factory has lots of them, and Aliexpress is definitely great source of these very strong magnets to use in wargames.
Modelling trees (starting at 1 USD per 10 trees) – There are a lot of trees, which are traditionally used in railroad dioramas and you can make easy jungle or forest terrain out of it. Check size before buying, to ensure that it would fit to your modeling scale. It’s very easy to built forest terrain through modeling trees – glue some to cardboard or plasticard and add basing material for quick and nice looking “rough terrain”.
Dried moss – no more than $5 for a lot. Sometimes called “Reindeer moss”. This moss doesn’t get brown and is used for making bushes, trees or branches. It has a lot of uses and 1 lot will be enough for many models. Can be easily cut, applied and glued by PVA glue.
Various aquarium decorations – usable for scenic dioramas – some are made from resin and some are plastic. There are many decorations to choose, according to your ideas or setting. I’ve listed below some decorations that I’ve bought:
- Ruins – 16,39 USD.
- Interesting jungle tree – 2,60 USD – for central piece of jungle terrain.
- „Dragon” Skull – For building your own fantasy or demon world terrain
- Set of long grass bushes 1,98 USD. This aquarium mat is large (25x25cm) and you can cut a lot of indivdual bushes from it, adding to bases or making bushes.
- Old bridge – 4,99 USD – Scale is perfect for 28 mm Warhammer minis.
As you can see, you can buy lots of various tools and products usable for scale modeling and wargaming and for just few bucks you can have complete set of materials to work with, regardless of your setting. Remember, that you will typically need to wait 2-3 weeks for your order to arrive, but with free shipping it’s a real bargain anyway.