Jump to content

Painting Dog

The Care & Feeding of Lead Miniatures

Recommended Posts

I have recently come into some very old (late-1980's) Ral Partha lead miniatures that I'm very excited to work on.  The only problem:  I have never, ever painted lead figures before.  Would anyone be able to point me toward a resource with information about how to clean (soap and water?) and protect (against lead rot?) minis like these?

 

Thanks in advance for sharing the wisdom.  ::D:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I’m not sure where a good single resource would be.

 

I have a few old lead figures. They can be cleaned, as pewter minis are, with dishsoap and warm water and a toothbrush never to be used for any other purpose.

 

Do not clean them with vinegar. Acetic acid is what triggers lead rot.

 

Likewise, never store them in cardboard or wood, both of which can outgas acetic acid and start the process of lead rot.  Ziplock baggies are okay for storage.

 

Acrylic paint is naturally alkaline, so I reckon a light priming on a clean lead mini will act as a bit of a buffer and keep them secure from acids until I can paint them. This, however, is only my opinion, not rigorously tested or anything. 

 

I always wear nitrile exam gloves when handling minis for painting. It’s an even better idea if the minis are lead.

 

Once primed the figures can be painted as any pewter mini can be.

  • Like 9
  • Thanks 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Late '80s should be fine for lead rot, by that point most companies were using alloys that really aren't particularly susceptible to it. That said, @Pingo's recommendations are good.

 

Soap and water are fine for cleaning. Make sure the minis are completely dry before priming.

 

Use a real primer (and consider priming the bottom of the figure if you're worried about lead rot). Paint is not primer.

 

Lead minis bend more easily, which can sometimes be very nice, but repeated bending can cause fracturing. Try not to bend any more than you absolutely have to and consider how you're going to store and transport the figures once painted. I wouldn't recommend using something like pluck foam by itself, as it is quite abrasive and pressing the figures into the foam can cause bending of thin parts.

 

Metallic lead isn't particularly problematic from a toxicity standpoint. Ral Partha was required to test its employees very regularly for lead exposure and never had an abnormal result for the entire time they used lead even though there was molten lead all the time and the employees handled the figures constantly. That said, do your own research, understand the hazards you're undertaking, and take the precautions that you deem appropriate.

  • Like 8
  • Thanks 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks, guys. (Just curious -- @Pingo, do you know everything? :lol:). I love having access to such a font of information. 

 

I wasn't worried about toxicity issues, or anything like that. Wasn't planning to lick the figures, and as @Pingo said, using nitrile gloves is never a bad idea. I was mostly unsure about things like whether toothbrush + dish soap was still OK for cleaning, or whether I needed to do something special as far as priming prep and storage. I really appreciate your suggestion about priming the base and avoiding the foam, @Doug Sundseth -- those are two things I didn't even consider!

 

Thanks, guys!

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
8 hours ago, Painting Dog said:

Thanks, guys. (Just curious -- @Pingo, do you know everything? :lol:). I love having access to such a font of information. 

 

Hah! What Pingo has is an arts background, an arts degree, a modest arts career, and a certain nosy inquisitiveness. Oh, and teachers in the family.

 

And you are welcome.

 

@Doug Sundseth, I shall have to remember your advice about priming under the bases, because it is so obvious to me I have not mentioned it before.

  • Like 4

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I wonder once you have the lead figure clean and dry if you are worried about lead rot, wouldn't a coat of sealer work to keep it good?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
3 minutes ago, Harrek said:

I wonder once you have the lead figure clean and dry if you are worried about lead rot, wouldn't a coat of sealer work to keep it good?

 

If a thin coat of acrylic primer can provide some protection to a lead figure (no guarantees that it can, but theoretically it looks helpful), then probably so can a thin layer of sealer.

 

I personally prefer primer because it is easier to paint over. Sealer tends to be a little slick.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

What about paint removal?  Some of these are already painted -- I think with acrylics (they aren't glossy), but I'm really not sure. Is the usual Simple Green soak still appropriate?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
56 minutes ago, Pingo said:

 

If a thin coat of acrylic primer can provide some protection to a lead figure (no guarantees that it can, but theoretically it looks helpful), then probably so can a thin layer of sealer.

 

I personally prefer primer because it is easier to paint over. Sealer tends to be a little slick.

Bet the Badger primers would be nice and sturdy for this!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Don't smoke around where you are working on anything made of lead.  Sucking lead particles/vapours through the cherry of a lit cigarette is one of the best way to get lead poisoning (maybe even better than being a very young child chewing on the window sills in an old house); the heat oxidizes the lead and activates its toxicity.  Wash your hands carefully and go outside before you light up.  If you must light up.

 

Really not a big concern for a hobbyist working on a handful of lead-age minis, but its one of those things people get worked up about more than what might be reasonable.  So I say, better safe than sorry.  Even if chances are you're really only saving your own peace of mind.

 

FWIW, I seem to remember my friends and I having not much good luck stripping the Testors Enamel paints off lead minis with Pine Sol back in the day.  It seemed to cause corrosion of the minis.  Possibly we let them soak way too long, but there are definitely better paint strippers (and paints) available these days to chose from...

 

Good luck, looking forward to the pictures -  I love old school minis from back in the day!

 

Kang

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, Painting Dog said:

What about paint removal?  Some of these are already painted -- I think with acrylics (they aren't glossy), but I'm really not sure. Is the usual Simple Green soak still appropriate?

 

Simple Green works fine for lead-alloy minis. Though thick enamels can be hard to get off.

 

If it's really recalcitrant, you can try a cheap ultrasonic cleaner with Simple Green or go to one of the more ... aggressive cleaners noted here:

 

Note that many of the more aggressive cleaners are, IMO, significantly more hazardous than lead, though. I'm willing to handle lead minis for hours at a time, brake fluid or acetone, not so much.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have a complete AD&D Grenadier Gold Line all bought on ebay within the last seven years. I stripped them all with Simple Green or Pinesol. Pinesol was used for enamels and stubborn paint. All were primered on EVERY bare surface after stripping and cleaning. I still examine the ones that haven't been painted yet on a yearly basis. Pingo and Doug pretty much covered everything else you need to know.

  • Like 3
  • Thanks 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

  • Similar Content

    • By 72moonglum
      Hi all,
      a figure I just finished yesterday (or so I thought).  This is the Ral Partha Town Constable, and I was kind of intrigued by him, as he isn't a very heroic or noble looking figure, he looks  a little bit lost, so I contacted Iron Wind and asked them if he was supposed to represent somebody and lo and behold, he is actually based on Tim Conway, and the figure at the time that was sold in his blister, a cowardly paladin, was based off of Don Knots. Who would have known?
      So I took these pictures yesterday quickly at lunch and posted them out where I usually do on Instagram, and as I looked at them, I noticed I had forgotten to paint something. So today's quiz is what did I forget to paint? To make it easier you can see it on the picture from behind.  Hopefully I don't get now 147 other things that I forgot to paint, but we'll see.

       
      Anyhoos, enjoy and happy Independence day to all you gringos!
    • By Iridil
      Here is a Wyvern from Ral Partha - I love the sculpt -particularly the expression
       


    • By 72moonglum
      So here's another homage figure I just finished.  Ral Partha back in the day did a few figures based on popular figures of the time. The dwarf samurai I did recently was one, and here is another one, Elvis, King of the Bards.
       

      So hard to choose colors on him, so ended up kind of with a red, white and blue motif, kind of close to Fourth of July.  He has some really small circular eyes, but they turned out surprisingly well. When I was editing the photos and got a good look at them, they were actually pretty decently laced.  
      Anyhow, another great old Partha figure to enjoy!
       
       
    • By 72moonglum
      Hi guys,
      so here's a figure I just finished, an old Ral Partha Saturday Night Fever Samurai, who I'm going to go out on a limb and say he's based on John Belushi.  Pretty straight forward figure to paint, and I wanted to give him more of a five o'clock shadow (thanks Patrick for the advice) but I just gave it to him where it was actually kind of sculpted in.  I looked at a few reference pictures of John Belushi in his Samurai suit, but eventually went a slightly different route to give a bit more color to him. I tried to get a little bit of heat from his cigar too, don't know if you can notice a bit of red and yellow by the ash?
       

       
      Anyhows, I hope you guys all enjoy this little blast from the past!
    • By 72moonglum
      Good evening folks,
       
      So here is one I just finished up, a really old school Partha Piece, don't recall her original name, but she's some kind of sorceress or Dragon Lady. Sculpted by Tom Meier, this one didn't have a year on the bottom, but I think this was probably sculpted originally 1977-1979 or so.  I did the base as just one flat blue color, that as I look at it, I'm regretting. I might go back and do a little something with it. I didn't want to do a natural, grass and dirt base, because I didn't want to hide any of the dragon, who is not too large.
       

  • Who's Online   15 Members, 0 Anonymous, 0 Guests (See full list)

×