Hands on With the New Citadel Tools

Every so often Games Workshop releases a new batch of hobby tools. If you’ve ever hung around a Warhammer store you’ve probably seen these on the shelf. The new revamped line-up includes updates to the Super Fine Detail Sprue Cutters, a Mouldline Remover, a Knife, and a Drill.

GW was kind enough to send over a set of all four for review, so I’ve given them all a whirl. I’ll get into each in detail in a second but right off the bat there are no weird gotchas. They all do what they say on the box and they do them to various degrees of good. The clippers clip, the remover removes, the knife slices, and the drill puts small holes in things.

Super Fine Detail Sprue Cutters

Left: New Citadel Cutters. Right: Xuron Sutters. Credit: Raf Cordero

A good pair of sprue cutters are the most important tool in your hobby box. Everything else comes second to getting your bits cleanly and neatly off the sprue. While there are many cutters on the market they can perform differently based on the shape of the nose, the blade offset, and blade angle.

In the announcement post GW stated that these new clippers feature a “clever stopper system also makes sure that the blades don’t get dulled, so they’ll stay sharp. My immediate thought was that the blades are offset. Offset clipper blades do not meet blade to blade; one is positioned slightly higher than the other so they intersect. A smooth cut is made when the bottom blade slices cleanly past where the top blade began its path.

This is true however the offset is very slight. By eye it seems to be ~1/3 to 1/4 of the offset of my Xuron clippers.

Top: New Citadel Cutters Bottom: Xuron Cutters

The end result of this, as you can see below, is that the Citadel clippers leave a bit more of the attachment piece on the model. This isn’t bad per se, it just means more cleanup with a knife or mouldline remover.

Top: Cut with Xuron Cutters Bottom: Cut with Citadel Cutters

Apart from that, they’re as expected. The nose is narrow and can get into fine details, the blades are super sharp and cutting is cleaner and easier than my used Xurons. The handles are also a comfort upgrade from the previous model, though they do feel lighter.

Mouldline Remover

Left: New Citadel Mouldline Remover Right: Old Citadel Mouldline Remover

The current citadel Mouldline Remover is low-key one of the best items Games Workshop makes. Yes, I know, you can use a hobby knife. However, the dedicated mouldline remover is easier, less likely to err and screw up your model, and is much safer. This is one of those tools you scoff at until you use and then wonder how you ever got on without it.

I’m happy to report that in all ways except one, the new mouldline remover is an upgrade. The handle is more ergonomic and less prone to slip. The “blade” of the tool is also narrower, thinner, and has a more swooping curve. This makes it better for use on arms, muscles, pauldrons, etc and makes it easier to dig into crevices to get the last little nibs and nubs. Given the issues with the sprue cutter above, I found myself using it more often than normal on removing leftover sprue and it worked just fine.

The new notch for cleaning bases sure does exist, though I’m not sure how useful it will actually be. The flat side of the blade does just fine at cleaning bases so I don’t know who was crying out for this feature but it’s there so you can use it if you want.

The only downside is the weight. The current mouldline remover’s blade is a hefty hunk of metal that extends the full width of the handle which is itself made of metal. This gives the tool a solid heft and security that feels nice to handle. The new one, being lighter, just feels cheaper? That may not matter to anyone but it was enough to notice. This is ultimately not a big deal and I’m still giving this specialized tool a firm recommendation.


Left: 2010 era Drill Center: New Drill Right: Generic Amazon Drill

Also known as a “pin vice” the Citadel Drill has a lot of uses. If you’ve never used one of these, they’re a hand drill designed for very small bits. Most of them have an end cap that pivots freely so you can brace the drill against your palm and turn the drill with your fingers.

It is the best tool for drilling barrels and barrel ports if you’re into that sort of thing and the current model comes with two different sized bits. They can also be used for pinning, and the two sizes mean you can use things like paper clips or brass rod depending on your project.

The new drill has a flared body which gives you better grip and, theoretically, better leverage. It also holds the chuck tightener down in the handle so there is no change you unscrew it while operating it.

This is again an easy recommendation. You can get these pretty cheap online, but the cheap ones tend to have shoddy or stiff movement, and despite trying many over the years I still default to my 10+ year old Citadel drill. The one catch with the new design is that the collar that holds the bit is not large. I have a (relatively) large bit for countersinking magnets and it’s simply not going to fit in the new drill. I got away with stretching out the old collar because it was double-sided, there’s no chance of that here. Still, I rarely magnetize these days so this is a minor consideration.


Left: Generic Xacto Knife Right: New Citadel Knife

I’ve not used the existing Citadel Knife, but having seen the existing one I would be hard pressed to understand the price. Ergonomically it is no different than a basic cheap Xacto knife and it uses the same blades.

The new one, however, has some new features. The handle is much more ergonomic and weighty enough to feel comfortable. It also has a guard that extends over the top of the blade giving you a safe spot to put your finger tip if you’re making precision cuts. It features a safety cap for the knife and the extra blades, which is great. Again, the chuck tightener is held in the handle not near the working edge. I’ve often had my Xacto knife loosen while using and I expect that’s far less likely here.

I would consider this a strict upgrade over my basic hobby knife and I’m happy to have it in the tool box.

Parting Thoughts

I’ve long felt that while GW tools are more expensive than most of what you can find out there, they also are solid tools that work well. You’re paying a Citdel tax, but you aren’t getting junk. Accordingly, I’ve used Citadel tools at every stage of my hobby journey and been happy with how they perform.

Similarly, the new tools have all been smartly designed. In sharp contrast to the current (now old) set it seems as if ergonomics and safety have moved towards the front of the priority list, which is fantastic. We’ve all had marathon assembly sessions that leave our wrists and fingers aching.

It’s a shame then, that my clippers leave so much excess sprue. They work fine and if I was a new hobbyist getting a box set I wouldn’t know the difference. But I do know that in this case there is much better out there. With the exception of the clippers, I wouldn’t hesitate to pick any of these up the next time I’m in the store. Especially the mouldline remover. Seriously if you don’t have one get one.