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4 hours ago, Pezler the Polychromatic said:

@buglips*the*goblin is probably best to ask about lead figures, as well as many other veterans here. He has an impressive collection of lead, and some of it isn't even in his body.


Yeah, but you can watch me on the hangout with a cigarette dangling from my mouth as I file lead barehanded and use the fold of my clothes to catch the shavings... so I'm not exactly up to spec on safety compliance.

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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

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

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 we

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7 hours ago, buglips*the*goblin said:


Yeah, but you can watch me on the hangout with a cigarette dangling from my mouth as I file lead barehanded and use the fold of my clothes to catch the shavings... so I'm not exactly up to spec on safety compliance.

In this particular case, you're an example of what NOT to do. ::P:

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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!

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19 minutes ago, Pingo said:

Aï the Wolfriders! I had that set back in the day, :wub: painted ‘em just like the comics , long since gone. :mellow: 


I still have the comics -- and the color volumes -- packed away in my attic.  :)  Planning to have a lot of fun matching up colors, etc.  :)

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The patina is not lead rot, lead rot progresses pretty rapidly and tends to be much whiter.  You can probably get it clean with Brasso (rinse the mini well and allow a week to air off if you do this or residue will harm the primer).  It's some weird kind of oxidation-like effect, possibly from handling.  This sometimes appears on only part of a mini (my Feathered Serpent had some) so there may also be temperature anomalies while casting, alloy variances, or contamination from mold release.  Or simply just age.


Basically there are a lot of pretty harmless things it could be, and lead rot is unlikely because it would have done more damage by now.  Lead rot tends to begin at a foothold and progress, not tarnish all over the surface and work in.

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It was easier to find my stuff than I expected, so here you go!  As you can see in this first picture, he's got some scary-looking powdery residue hapening.  This would be disconcerting, except I already know it's not lead rot because he's been this way almost ten years - more than enough time to bloom and damage him.  Maybe not consume him, but definitely cause serious pitting.  Since there's none of that, whatever it is I know it's only a surface contaminant.  Once decontaminated, he ought to be fine. 





So I poured out a little Brasso into a soda pop cap and used a cotton swap to gently scrub his chest area and around his heads and necks.  Presto! - the patina is gone.  Note I didn't scrub him to a shine, it's not necessary.  I only have to get that weird residue gone.  Too much scrubbing will just cause wear, since lead tends to be soft (you can rub the face off a lead human with your thumb rather easily).




And here he is after I rinsed him off and patted him dry with a tissue.  You can see he's still quite dark and grey, but the patina is pretty much gone (I may have missed a spot here and there).  After sufficient time to make sure the Brasso is inert, he's decontaminated and ready for priming.



Also, on a semi-related note for lead-free metal and simple green:  a similar patina effect can be observed if a lead-free pewter mini is left sit too long in Simple Green.  It can turn a mini very dark, almost black, and also leave similar powdery-looking patina.  If that should ever happen, this Brasso trick will also work on that case.  However, it is possible to prime over this kind of non-lead patina and paint just fine.  I do that if it's not a mini I can be bothered to polish, and the primer covers the patina. 


Also also, there is a condition on some lead-free older Ral Partha figures that is mistaken for lead rot often.  It tends to look yellowish to almost rusty in colour.  This is merely tarnish, and having seen quite a lot of it my impression from the patterns I've seen suggest it is caused by skin oils from touching (one case was actually a rusty-looking fingerprint on a dragon wing).  This is also easily cleaned off with Brasso and, like the simple green lead-free patina it can evern be primed and painted over if you don't want to decontaminate.  (Decontamination is, however, usually recommended for any figure you really care about). 

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23 minutes ago, Painting Dog said:

Thanks, @buglips*the*goblin -- that's all really encouraging.  :)  I shall get some Brasso and see how it goes.


The date on the bottoms of all of these is 1983.  Is that from the lead-free era?  Or are we still talking all lead?


Thanks again!


There was a safety ruling in New York in the early 90s that banned lead in toys and miniatures got wrapped up in it.  Ral Partha led the challenge against it and was successful in gaining an exception for gaming miniature figures.  However, they believed this was only the tip of the iceberg and, knowing they could not afford to have that fight in every jurisdiction, decided to switch to a lead-free alternative pewter they called "Ralidium" beginning in March of 1993.  They also briefly used a terrible plastic resin.


Miniatures after 1993 were largely lead-free pewter, but there are some exceptions beyond this date.  Before this date minis are almost universally lead (note that copyright date may not always indicate date of manufacture).  Reaper figures have generally been of the lead-free variety (Reaper as we know it began in 1995 with the first release of Dark Heaven, though the company existed before then making pewter aircraft and older figure lines they had acquired) - with the exception of the now-gone P-65 lead figures introduced in the 2000s.


So those parthas you have are probably lead, but some may not be because early figures were in the catalog a long time (some still are).  Where you might have figures that fall into the range where you are not sure, lead-free figures are noticeably lighter in heft and are often lighter in colour as well; lead figures will be heavier and tend to be more of a darker grey colour.  In addition, lead figures will reposition much more easily than lead-free pewter, and lead-free pewter will make cracking noises or screeching sounds (tin cry) when bent.


Should you not wish to bend your figures to find out, and if for whatever reason the colour and weight differences are not clear (like on man-sized figures or smaller) then you can gently pinch a part of the figure like an arm or leg in some metal pliers and then tap it with another metal object.  Lead-free figures will tend to make a high-pitched ringing sound (tink) and lead figures will tend to make a dull thuddy sound (tonk).  You may also notice this sound difference while filing, particularly on large pieces like dragon wings (filing my Takhisis sounded like a badly out of tune violin).  Lead free tends shrieky, lead tends dull. 

Edited by buglips*the*goblin
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 I'm somewhat convinced that the grey residue you find on some stripped minis is the result of soaking them too long without removing the paint... I have a feeling it's what's left of the paint after it's been mostly "eaten" by whatever solvent is being used for stripping, and eventually resettles on the mini when left in too long. I put a lot of minis in buckets of Simple Green and another product to soften them up several months ago, and then didn't get back to them for a long, long time, until after the stuff had evaporated. Everything was covered with that light grey funky stuff.


 I'll have to see if I can find Brasso around here somewhere... Nothing else seems to have been very successful at taking off the grey patina.


Edited by Mad Jack
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Oh, man- old minis have the most creative anatomy.




By the way, I've been painting a long time as well, and honestly, lead isn't as scary as the State of California would have you believe.  Lead does not absorb through your skin.  In order to get lead poisoning, you either need to eat it, breath it or get shot, and someone not remove the bullet.


Even then, it takes quite a large dose to really give you lead poisoning (in the cases of bullets, it takes years of leaving a bullet in your body before you get poisoned by it).  If you're going to do a lot of sanding or filing on lead pewter, I'd recommend wearing a mask, but even then you aren't likely to expose yourself to enough lead for it to matter.

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Thanks again, @buglips*the*goblin.  I'm 99.9% positive these are lead.  There were already some bent parts, which bent back very easily, with no crackle.  And they're pretty heavy for their size.


Also, just so I'm sure I totally understand:  You think it would be OK to prime these minis without trying to get all the darker smudge off them, as long as the details are good?

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