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Removing paint from old figures


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I have been actively seeking to complete my collection of the Ravenloft line of figures. (Yes, I know, from that other figure company now out of business!) Anyway, I've been picking them up second-hand on Ebay. I just yesterday received a set of three vampyres that had been rather garishly painted.

My question: How do I go about removing the paint, and what will I need to do to get them ready to paint again? I know that this is probably somewhere on the net already, but I was more interested in what you all have to say, and what experiences you have all had.

The figures appear to have both acrylic and enamel paint, and there does not appear to be a primer layer. Where to procede from here?

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Of all things: Soak the minis in Pine-Sol. It's a chemical cleaner. Most paints will shed off under that stuff. If the minis are plastic, then forget it, the paint and the plastic will melt into a sludge at the bottom of the container. The only problem with removing paint from a mini is that the nooks and crannies where Primer and Ink are, you might not be able to get in there. I suggest using a pin or some other hard, small item to get in there. You have to be meticulious, but it's easier than trying to find an *un*painted Ravenloft model.

 

--my considerable 3.14 cents.

 

--lstormhammer

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I always cut my Pine-sol 50/50 with water and let it soak for 6-8 hours.

 

Then I take a toothbrush to it ocassionally rinsing with warm running water.  Don't use a toothbrush that you're actively using as that would be disgusting... instead use the toothbrush of a sibling or spouse...

 

Just be careful when brushing fragile pieces like swords or spears.

 

The toothbrush will get most of the paint out of nooks, except for the tiny little places, then you'll have to take a pin or similar device as Lstormhammer recommended.  I use the tip of my exacto knife, or a dental tool which I got from my dentists office (I asked them and they had some they were going to have to throw away and let me have one, it's also nice for sculpting green stuff)

 

Again, to repeat Lstormhammers warning, DO NOT ATTEMPT THIS WITH PLASTIC MINIS OR MINIS WITH PLASTIC BASES THAT YOU WANT TO KEEP.  They'll melt right away.

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I use rubbing alcohol. I've found it to work just as well as Pine-sol without the delicious odor. It even gets into the crevices. You may have to go over the mini with a toothbrush and X-acto though. And rubbing alcohol won't destroy plastics. It will sometimes take of super glue though.
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I use a handy lil' product called Simple Green.  Has a decent scent, isn't toxic, and usually does the trick after an overnight bath in the "Jar o' Doom" (where bad paint-jobs go to die).  Soaked long enough, and most of the paint just falls away under warm running water.  A toothbrush takes care of the rest.

 

-Kel

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We're trying brake fluid. †Never done it before but two figs are in it now, and it appears to be working. †More later when we clean them up.

Thanks to all! I couldn't find any Pine-Sol around the house, but since I just put new brakes on my cars last weekend, I had plenty of brake fluid left over. I soaked them for about a half hour, then spent an hour scrubbing them with a new toothbrush. It seemed like a lot of work, and I cursed the original painter often. Then I came back to check this forum and wished I had let them soak for a lot longer!

Oh, well, they look real clean! I rinsed them a bunch of times, then washed them with some dish detergent, and rinsed quite a bit more. They are dry now & look ready to get the primer they never received the first time around.

Again, thanks all for your advice!

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wished I had let them soak for a lot longer!

ours have been sitting there since tuesday(4days), and its more of an "I don't want to touch it, you touch it" "let's get Mikey,...." but we have no Mikey, so I'll likely get to them later tonight, before the cat finds them.

 

*sigh* mom's work is never done..

 

thanks for the heads up that I'll need to wash them a bit.  I think I'l try the simple green next time.

 

cbs

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Something I do is keep my 'Circus of the Damned'. All the bad paintjobs I do. It's a garish, ugly thing. But it reminds me, in one of my more vicious "i'm a hack, noone loves my work, blah-blah0-blah suffering artist" moods (had one reciently, need to get back to painting this weekend). But nothing will make you feel better than looking at your past mistakes, and learning from them.

 

--course, you can always keep the very first mini you painted. It's like looking at your High School yearbook picture.

 

--lstormhammer

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I am familiar with the pine-sol and break fluid methods so what is the Simple green?

 

Also for the pin-sol method, it doesnt destroy all plastics. One guy who plays MK tried this with one of his MK figures (if you aremt familiar with Mage Knight the figures are a soft plastic). The figure was a little soft after he was done but it hardened back to its prior hardness after a while.

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ours have been sitting there since tuesday(4days), and its more of an "I don't want to touch it, you touch it"

Yeah, it was kind of unpleasant. I would strongly recommend safety glasses or goggles of some kind. I had to brush rather vigorously to get the paint off since I didn't soak them very long, and the brake fluid kept spattering in my eyes. It also made a fair mess of my work table; I was glad I had put down newspaper. I started out holding the mini in a pair of pliers to avoid getting brake fluid on my hands, but gave that up quickly as I couldn't scrub well enough. So yeah, a pair of rubber gloves would have been nice to have as well. I'll know now next time!

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Okay, I've cleaned up the two test minis.

 

The first only had a wide stripe of paint on plain mini, no primer.  This cleaned up with a soapy toothbrush in less than 3 minutes.  There was no detail that was covered, only one fold of the skirt, that needed a bit of poking with a toothpick, then a needle to brush off.  Not so bad.

 

The second mini was primered only.  It was wearing chain mail.  That took about 20 minutes of brushing, poking and cursing, before it was clean again.  (That mini was my mistake, I didn't know that Stormus had just primered it to paint, I thought it was one of the mistake minis.  oops)

 

I planned ahead after reading Catman's posts and had soapy water, toothbrush, toothpick and needle ready.  I drained the mini and rinsed it before startin, so I omitted gloves, and used a washtub for easier cleanup.

 

I also decided to test the simple green, and have three more minis in various stages of paint in that.  It's enviornmentally friendly and thus more appealing to me.  I do use Dawn dish soap for the washing, not sure it mattered, sure didn't hurt.

 

cbs

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Removing paint from a miniature

 

My experience  in cleaning normal metal and plastic minis:

 

WARNING

Most compounds that can take off paint are toxic in some way or another. If you are using these chems do take care with their use and disposal.

 

Pine sol: soak a day or so and it removes paint from metal minis and softens plastic minis and bases. Not too toxic and some may equate the scent to cleanliness.

 

Brake fluid: One of my favorites cause It wonít eat the plastic minis.  if you soak the mini in the brake fluid for a few days you can toothbrush away the paint. It does have an odor and can be difficult to clean off completely

 

Simple Green. Strips acrylic paint and fresh primer wonít eat Games workshop plastic or Fortress figureís resin[i think].

 

Acetone [Nail polish removerís main ingredient]: Great for metal minis, eats superglue, eats plastics, eats skin, stinks like hell. You can use the nail polish remover to soak your minis but pure acetone is much faster/ stronger. You can get pure acetone at most Beauty Supply Stores along with chemical suppliers. [it might even eat plastic pipes, thoroughly dilute before pouring down the drain unless you want to risk costly home repairs]

 

BTW

 

1. If the mini has some very small crevasses you may need a toothpick to get in the small openings

 

2. Avoid mixing these chemicals together. I got no Idea what may happen if you do mix them.

 

3. If at all possible put minis into a glass jar and let them soak OUTSIDE your home. Few things eat glass and the possible fumes are best kept outside your dwelling. { I had to use a Gallon pickle jar to clean the tire glue[ a THICK black cyanocrylate based glue in the superglue/crazyglue/zap-a-gap family of glue] off of the WotC Black dragon I bought from a friend who had NO modeling experience and tried to put it together.}

 

4. Wash minis thoroughly after cleaning them of paint.

 

5. If the Mini has a lot of glue / epoxy putty work taking the paint of will likely dissolve the putty and glue off.

 

I have heard about these BUT [I have not verified if they work

 

Rubbing Alcohol: works on metal, safe on plastic.

 

Oven cleaner: some say it wonít eat plastic others say it will. Strong odor. Donít leave on too long.....

 

 

 

Taking factory paint  off a mage knight most of the users here will not care about this but someone here might be wondering how to do this.

 

I found a reliable way to take the paintjobs wizkids slaps on their minis. Acetone, nail polish removers main ingredient will remove the latex paint wizkids uses on their latex minis. Beauty supply stores sell acetone in quarts [$ 4us ] and gallons[$10 us][i buy in gallons]

 

Best way to do it [this causes the least damage to the fig]is take a close-able glass jar with a lid, fill jar with acetone 1/3 full.  [the more minis you plan to clean the more acetone you will need]

 

Drop in a few mage Knights WITHOUT THEIR BASES! Acetone will swiftly destroy bases! Also I DO NOT know what acetone does to the solonavi green plastic!

 

Close jar tightly and swirl the mage knight in the [quickly darkening] acetone. Give the minis a good spin cycle. [spin them around quickly]You will start to see the paint falling off the mage knight  revealing the figure beneath.

 

Now take the figs out of the acetone, you will see they will have soften and expanded THIS IS ONLY TEMPORARY! If the figure is clean enough for you wash it off and let it dry for a  week. Not clean yet ? scrub with old toothbrush and then throw it back into the now blackened acetone. Repeat the process.

 

You could also let the figure soak in the acetone for several hours but  you may soften the fig too far and cause expansion damage. The spin cycle works very well for me.

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Wow, simple green.  After only an hour, it was flaking off of two of the minis.  So I brushed all three off and only one was still painted in the crevases.  One was lightly primered, one heavy(very heavy) primered and one fully painted.  Only the fully painted is still soaking, its mostly clean, but I wanted to see what would happen.

 

Simple green it is here.  They were all old ralparth minis, likely lead, don't have any painted plastics to try.  Did use a disposable plastic bathroom drinking cup(dixie cup), thought about glass, but nothing empty.

 

cbs

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Not to nag, but I feel it's important to reiterate the point about safe disposal of all these chemicals. They are indeed rather toxic, and not only can cause health problems, but also cause environmental bruhahas if one goes overboard.

 

In so saying, so I don't become "the nagging newbie", I will supply my meager knowledge of this by telling you what I was told by a supposed expert :)

 

paint thinner (mineral based): If the quantity is small, it is safe to dispose of via the drain. if it is a lot (ie: most of the aforementioned "death tanks"), the chemical should be placed in a glass container and marked, then given to the trash collector or recycling center for safe disposal

 

Acetone: In small cuantities, the best thing is to let evaporate. In large quantities, there are many recycle centers and institutions that will take that waste and recover it (eg: )." target="_blank">chemrec" target="_blank">chemrec" target="_blank">chemrec" target="_blank">chemrec" target="_blank">http://www.chemrec.com">chemrec).

 

Brake Fluid: Yes, feed this to experts as well. Only this time, it is not reccommended to flush even small ammounts of it (it is VERY toxic, and can cause failure of the nervous systems and kidney, if ingested).

 

Yes, you are all welcome to yell at me :)

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