So, this is the first what I’m hoping will be a long series of helpful, easy to follow articles about some basic tenets of the model hobby side of miniature gaming. This particular article will focus on how to strip the paint from a miniature. The process is essentially the same for metal and plastic miniatures, and any differences will be noted.
So, to start off you’ll need several supplies:
I prefer Castrol Super Clean (CSC), others use Simple Green, and still others use Brake Fluid or Oven Cleaner. I highly suggest not using Brake Fluid or Oven Cleaner. Brake Fluid is toxic and caustic, so you have to use gloves and you aren’t supposed to put it down a drain. Oven cleaner is hard to find as a liquid, most of them come as an aerosol spray, thus it’s difficult to use. The oven cleaners I’ve tried also eat plastic, so that’s not cool. CSC and Simple Green are safe to use on plastic, can be put down the drain and are cleaners that were designed to be used with minimal protection (ie, gloves recommended but not required). They also smell great. Simple Green has a lively citrusy smell, and CSC smells like grape Jello.
I use cheap Solo cups. Any size will do. Get plenty, I often stack two cups inside each other just in case one has a hole and leaks.
Strainers are super cheap – a few dollars at a drug store or a grocery store. This will be a life saver, since it will keep small bits and pieces from going down the drain.
I’ve not found a difference in effectiveness between the $5 ‘firm bristle’ ones and the freebies you get from the dentist. Just get them as cheap as possible and throw them away when they aren’t performing well.
Picks are great because they let you scrape out any paint in notches, crevasses or hard to reach places. Dental style ones work great but can break if you push too hard, so I prefer the more automotive oriented ones. I won’t show how to use these, it’s fairly straight forward. Hold them like a pencil and let them work for you – don’t press hard at all. Also, do your best not to poke yourself. It hurts.
- napkins or paper towel
Since my Solo cups are a bit small, I typically break the models down into their parts, or as close to them as possible. This is almost always required for large models. If you aren’t sure how a model goes together, see if you can find pictures of someone doing a conversion, etc. Pull and twist carefully!
Here’s before and after:
1) Unfold, but don’t open the trash bag. This is going to be a waterproof tablecloth for whatever table to do this on. Feel free to skip this step, but do so at your own risk.
4) Take your models and divide them amongst your cups. Obviously use as many cups as you like. I prefer to only have the cups half full – cramming models into them can actually cause paint stripper to not get to parts, and they have to soak again. Thus, fewer is better. Plus, having them only halfway full means you can stir the parts so they get a good soak, and not have to worry about spilling.
6) Wait. You can wait anywhere from 1 hour to 2 months. (I forgot about some models in my parent’s basement for about 2 months. They retained 100% of their detail) I’ve found 2-3 hours is about all you need to wait, though for simplicity’s sake, I usually leave stuff overnight.
|Yay for my miniature tripod, which let me take this shot!|
Here are a few tips for when you’re working with the toothbrush:
- Hold the brush at different angles to keep your hand from getting tired.
- Let the bristles do the work, you don’t have to press very hard at all.
- Draw the brush parallel to the crevasses and grooves – that will dislodge paint.
- Don’t spend too much time on a tenacious bit – you can get it later with the picks
- Rinse the part under the water often to clear off paint chips and suds.
11) Place the cleaned part onto the paper towel.
13) Let the parts dry. You can’t super glue them while they’re wet, so watch a movie, clean the house, walk the dog, etc. I typically let models dry over night, or toss them in a paper towel if I need them dry sooner.
14) Use your picks and hobby knife to get rid of any remaining paint or super glue if you want. Just be careful – those tools are sharp and hurt like hell for a week if you really get yourself.