So these are the old miniatures in question.
I was a big Elfquest fan back in the day. :) I didn't even know these miniatures existed until I saw someone with a box at ReaperCon, at which point I knew I had to track some down. I got two separate sets off eBay. One came with the miniatures already painted:
(These have already benefited from a long soak in Simple Green.)
The other set came all unpainted:
The Simple Green did a great job of loosening up the old paint, and a good scrub with a stiff-bristled brush did most of the rest. I still have some work to do with toothpicks / files to get some of the more stubborn bits off, but I'm generally pleased with how well they cleaned up. All of the minis which were already painted cleaned up to be pretty bright and shiny; they actually look way too dark in the photo above. Probably from the light in which I shot them. My concerns are more with the unpainted ones.
This is a selection of cleaned-up painted minis with some of the never-painted ones:
The never-painted set (represented here by Cutter and Dewshine) are all this kind of dusty dark grey. Where you can see a little bit of shine on Dewshine's base is where I buffed it up a little with a diamond file. I soaked the never-painted minis in the same Simple Green as the painted ones, to see if the grey was primer, or if just in general that would help clean them up. For whatever reason, this allowed me to get the wolves from the never-painted set to a pretty nice place:
But all the elf figures in the set remained resolutely grey, even after much scrubbing:
I'm thinking this is a patina of lead rot. There's no flaking or bubbling, and nothing appears to be crumbling anywhere on the minis. However, I feel like I should get this all cleaned off before priming everybody for protection.
I've read various conflicting advice on the Internet about how to go about cleaning up this kind of relatively-light patina. I trust the folks here more than random pages on the Internet, so I'm appealing to folks like @buglips*the*goblin (and anyone else with experience with lead minis). Is this lead rot? Is there something I can do to remove it besides attacking the figures with a file (not something I'm willing to do)?
All advice / suggestions very welcome. Thanks!