Thursday, April 28, 2016

Stripping models.

As an old-school Eldar player looking to get back into some retro gaming I've quickly come to discover that Games Workshop must hate Eldar players.

A lovely line of plastic vehicles and Wraithguard goes a long way toward fixing the lack of products in the past, but the crux of many an Eldar army, the aspect warriors, have been left to wallow in over-priced resin boxed sets.  My personal quest against resin in wargaming notwithstanding the material is mediocre at best - particularly when applied to the slight Eldar models.

Add to this that the Eldar aspect warriors are frequently GW webstore-only products and the chance of landing aspect warriors for less than $40+ per five is slim.

As such my interest remains in the older sculpts, namely metals (yeah, I'm becoming a bit of a grognard already).  I've decide that most of my vehicles will be modern plastics (the overall aesthetic of the Eldar has changed very little) and where possible infantry models will be metal. ebay!  As you've seen from the past several posts, I've been gathering up a fine collection of metal 2nd edition (and occasionally older/newer) metal figures.  Most of these come in poor condition - painted by 12 year olds or other hamfisted individuals.

Saving these has been relatively easy, if a bit time consuming.

If I'm being honest, I've never stripped models before.  Never had much need - I only sell stuff I don't plan on using, and have never really bothered buying up old metal figures for much of anything else.

Step 1: Debasing.

I'm moving from slottabases to flat renedra plastic bases (vastly prefer the thin, simple nature of non-slottas).  I don't have a picture but it's quit easy.  Using hobby clippers the easiest method is to simply invert the figure, clip at the gaps along the side and the whole thing falls in half...carefully pry it off or clip it off (sometimes the slotta itself is stuck quite well and you can bend the ankles of slight models like the Eldar).

Edit: Took a picture.  Clip the two outside joining walls and a slotta base easily breaks off 90% of these figures.

Step 2: Stripping liquid

There are apparently many ways to strip a model (plastic or metal) of paint...I've selected "Super Clean" grease remover, available at the local auto store for $9 a gallon.  I understand Wal-Mart has a competitive product called "Purple Power", whilst folks in the UK use a product called Detol.  A quick YouTube search will reveal the various types.

Metal miniatures and a plastic Rhino hull soaking in two plastic tubs filled with Super Clean.  Ignore the "Purple Power Vehicle Cleaner Concentrate" in the back, that was the wrong product I picked up by accident!
Step 3: Wait then Scrub
Generally I've found that letting miniatures sit overnight will loosen/remove the majority of paint.  Toss on some gloves, use a toothbrush and you can remove 95% of the paint/primer.  Results differ depending on what kind of paints were used originally.  For stuff that's a bit more stubborn - a couple of days soak will work better.
A handful of figures after one day of soaking and a brushing.  Note that some have bits of paint left and the figure on the far right has a lot of white primer remaining.  These have been brushed but the stuff simply wouldn't budge.  Next step!
Step 4: Ultrasonic Bath
I discovered quickly that miniatures from various places with various paint strip in very different methods.  Some strip fully clean within an hour of being placed in the liquid, others remain stubborn for days despite brushing etc.
As such I followed some advice I'd seen on YouTube and picked up a $30 Ultrasonic cleaner off of  This turned out to be a reasonable size (anything but vehicles I'd imagine) and cheap to boot.  Sadly this model only zaps stuff for three minutes at a time.  More expensive machines can have a timer set.  You can use water or special cleaners...I put my Super Clean straight into the machine instead...allowing the models to soak in it while being hit by 42,000 pulses.

I tried this on a couple of my stubborn models.  With the three minute limit not getting the job done, I set this by my painting table within arms reach...and swatted the button every time it shut off - allowing the batch of items to take an ultrasonic bath about 45 mins. to an hour.  Note that with the repeated use the Ultrasonic bath in this machine also heats up...quite hot.  Probably not suitable for resins.
The results were excellent.

This Avatar figure had a bunch of stubborn painted spots after dipping and scrubbing, and one arm wouldn't come loose of the super glue.  A few cycles in the ultrasonic cleaner and it came out perfect.  Note the cleaning material will remove that ultra shiny appearance of the pewter, but the figure is unharmed and all the paint/glue broke down.
In closing, I'm now comfortable stripping models and "saving" them from the abuse of yesteryear.  I've had good luck with many models so far and the whole process, whilst a little time consuming, is reasonably cheap and easy.
  • Super Clean $9-10 a bottle.
  • Toothbrush $0.50
  • Ultrasonic Cleaner (if needed): $30


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