how do you strip paint from old minis?

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    • how do you strip paint from old minis?

      hey there.
      after some ten years of living abroad & lonely,
      i finally got a shipment with all my (and my friends') childhood miniatures.
      so many great memories...
      and such an awful paintjob.






      it's nice that i have all i need for a QuickStarter army for the Warriors of the Dark Gods, but these minis need to be unglued, paint-stripped, glued, primed and painted before i can put them on the battlefield again. so my question is: how do i do that? i've had a look at a number of tutorials and discussions (also on this forum, listed in the spoiler below). i understand that different materials require different solutions. but since these models were not mine, i'd like your help in identifying them first. i guess models are all GW, and i think they're a mix of plastic and metal. i can provide closeups pics if that's necessary.

      1 Sorcerer: stamped as "Marauder", black-primed metal, not glued to plastic base
      10 Warriors: black-primed and painted plastic, glued to plastic bases; a few models have glued metal components (arm with banner, arm with musician's horn,...)
      5 Barbarian Horsemen: black-primed metal warriors stuck with an ungodly amount of glue to horribly primed plastic horses (probably with a cheapish spraycan)
      1 Chariot: black-primed and painted metal, and horses have metal heads glued to plastic bodies

      for example, regarding the Warriors' champion, i guess i will first have to separate the metal arm from the plastic body, then soak the arm and the body in two different products. is that correct? if so, what's the best way to separate the two pieces? and how can i do this for horses, where ungluing the head seems quite a challenge? also, useful to keep in mind: i am ok with using a toothbrush (not so many minis after all), i would avoid buying an ultrasonic device, and i live in Germany (in case you want to suggest some specific brands).

      thanks for your advice and your time! : D
      cheers,
      f





      click the logo and reach the KickStarter page!
    • Remove all metal parts from the models. Use a not-so-sharp modelling knife or some very flat screwdriver to get between the metal and the plastic and use some pressure to lift it.

      The metal parts can be cleaned easily from paint and glue with pure acetone.

      For the plastic parts, I think it's best to scrub the miniatures with nail polish remover which is acetone free (here is a tutorial in German).

      The post was edited 4 times, last by teclis2000 ().

    • I strip all the secondhand minis I get in brown Dettol, plastic or metal. Stick em in a vat of it for a day or 2, pull em out, scrub off paint with an old paintbrush but dont add water as it will make a sticky mess, you can use some washing up liquid to assist with cleaning off, only use water once youve scrubbed as much off as you can. It doesnt usually remove all trace of paint but plenty good enough for respraying and usually breaks superglue bonds too. Happy cleaning!!
      Take a look at my painted army so far. Feel free to share a pic of yours!

      Pics of my ever expanding warriors army

      WastelandWarrior Painting League 2018

      WastelandWarrior Painting League 2019
    • WastelandWarrior wrote:

      I strip all the secondhand minis I get in brown Dettol, plastic or metal. Stick em in a vat of it for a day or 2, pull em out, scrub off paint with an old paintbrush but dont add water as it will make a sticky mess, you can use some washing up liquid to assist with cleaning off, only use water once youve scrubbed as much off as you can. It doesnt usually remove all trace of paint but plenty good enough for respraying and usually breaks superglue bonds too. Happy cleaning!!
      I to use Dettol (though getting it outside the UK can be a pain).

      I have a 3 step approach.

      1) Leave mini in dettol for a day or 2 and the remove paint and gunk.

      2) Transfer mini's to a secondary tub filled with ethanol - it won't gunk up the mini as water would will help remove residual paint - after a day or 2 scrub again.

      3) If I'm stripping metal mini they get a final soak in acetone to get rid of any leftover glue (mostly I'll try to avoid this step as acetone is something you'd rather avoid in your daily life. Dettol has a distinctive smell and ethanol will help you find all the tiny cuts on your hands but neither will kill you.

    • Sodder wrote:

      WastelandWarrior wrote:

      I strip all the secondhand minis I get in brown Dettol, plastic or metal. Stick em in a vat of it for a day or 2, pull em out, scrub off paint with an old paintbrush but dont add water as it will make a sticky mess, you can use some washing up liquid to assist with cleaning off, only use water once youve scrubbed as much off as you can. It doesnt usually remove all trace of paint but plenty good enough for respraying and usually breaks superglue bonds too. Happy cleaning!!
      I to use Dettol (though getting it outside the UK can be a pain).
      I have a 3 step approach.

      1) Leave mini in dettol for a day or 2 and the remove paint and gunk.

      2) Transfer mini's to a secondary tub filled with ethanol - it won't gunk up the mini as water would will help remove residual paint - after a day or 2 scrub again.

      3) If I'm stripping metal mini they get a final soak in acetone to get rid of any leftover glue (mostly I'll try to avoid this step as acetone is something you'd rather avoid in your daily life. Dettol has a distinctive smell and ethanol will help you find all the tiny cuts on your hands but neither will kill you.
      I'm too lazy for 3 steps! plus my painting is only mediocre so a little residue isnt such an issue! your method likely yields much more complete paint removal
      Take a look at my painted army so far. Feel free to share a pic of yours!

      Pics of my ever expanding warriors army

      WastelandWarrior Painting League 2018

      WastelandWarrior Painting League 2019
    • @piteglio

      Hey there,

      i am using "glanzer nettoyant ménager décapant liquide" and it is available in France (have a look here).

      It removes perfectly acrylic painting and it is almost "safe" to have skin contact (well i'm a chemist so i cannot say it is safe).

      Avoid eye contact and i won't inhale it personnaly :)

      It is compatible with plastic and metals (zinc - aluminium alloy like zamak used by GW in the 80's and 90's).

      My process :
      choose a vessel big enough to contain the mini.
      put in it the mini
      fill with glanzer until the mini is completely flood in it
      leave for 2 days
      2 days later, remove the mini from the glanzer bath
      use a toothbrush to skin the painting
      99%+ of the paining shall be removed

      If needed repeat process for an additional day.

      Never tried glanzer on a mini with sealer however for sealer i would recommend first a hot caustic soda bath to strip the sealer (60 to 70 °C) and a smooth stirring. This kind of hot bath is quite delicate to maintain at home.
      Après, si vous êtes plus à l'aise avec les notions concrètes...

      The post was edited 1 time, last by Tibo ().

    • I’ve tried lots of methods,and settled on this 2 step process;

      2-3 days in brake fluid
      Take them out, immediately scrub with an electric toothbrush
      Wash off
      2-3 days in simple green.
      Take them out, immediately scrub with an electric toothbrush
      Wash off

      Parts will often come part/unglued throughout.

      Need to be careful in finecast-had 1 hydra go all soft and rubbery.
    • Alcohol 70% or more is mentioned a lot. Sold as Isopropanol it is hard to get in the Netherlands (online only it seems). In Germany apothecaries should have it.

      I have used Dettol for a a long while as the first step. It works very well, but it is also very messy. The paint gunk can be horrible to remove, smell is nice but very strong and will stay long. Use gloves or get sticky hands with goo. I use a soapy water you clean in to prevent most of the mess. Do not use a container you like, the goo will stick to the bottom and stain it.
      As a second step I use aceton free nail polish remover on metal only, cleans the deep recesses and removes the glue by making it soft. The most fun part is buying aceton free nail polish remover in a store. The looks you get when buying a few of the small bottles is priceless.


      I do not really like my method, the smell, the work, the mess and needing gloves makes it not good enough. I also have not done much cleaning recently, but should I start again, then it will be Isopropanol and a sonic cleaner for sure. Smell if at all should be gone fast and the liquid is made to solve the paint rather than goo it up like a soap.
      Always use a spare base or bits to test any method for plastic first, almost anything melts, roughens the surface or makes it bendy with heat.


      The miniatures seem to be a mix of 4th and 5th edition WHFB. The mage is 4th, the riders look more like 4th chaos knights with the other horses. I think the plastic warriors are 4th as well and the chariot should be 5th.
    • Little Joe wrote:

      Alcohol 70% or more is mentioned a lot. Sold as Isopropanol it is hard to get in the Netherlands (online only it seems). In Germany apothecaries should have it.

      I have used Dettol for a a long while as the first step. It works very well, but it is also very messy. The paint gunk can be horrible to remove, smell is nice but very strong and will stay long. Use gloves or get sticky hands with goo. I use a soapy water you clean in to prevent most of the mess. Do not use a container you like, the goo will stick to the bottom and stain it.
      As a second step I use aceton free nail polish remover on metal only, cleans the deep recesses and removes the glue by making it soft. The most fun part is buying aceton free nail polish remover in a store. The looks you get when buying a few of the small bottles is priceless.


      I do not really like my method, the smell, the work, the mess and needing gloves makes it not good enough. I also have not done much cleaning recently, but should I start again, then it will be Isopropanol and a sonic cleaner for sure. Smell if at all should be gone fast and the liquid is made to solve the paint rather than goo it up like a soap.
      Always use a spare base or bits to test any method for plastic first, almost anything melts, roughens the surface or makes it bendy with heat.


      The miniatures seem to be a mix of 4th and 5th edition WHFB. The mage is 4th, the riders look more like 4th chaos knights with the other horses. I think the plastic warriors are 4th as well and the chariot should be 5th.
      That is so odd. I can grab rubbing alcohol at any store I go to for the most part. I wonder what the reason is that it's hard to find in your country?
    • I have no idea, the Netherlands are like a black hole for a lot of stuff I woud want to buy (regularly). I have only seen cleaning alcohol in the Netherlands and that stuff contains methanol, hence you can only get it in a pharmacy in small bottles on name. Used to clean razors and so on. Some people would be dumb enough to try and drink that ethanol.
      The stuff for cleaning we want is Isopropanol, a bit different chemically. That I have only found online but from doubtful sources.

      With enough effort I should be able to get some, it sure is not easy and will require buying in bulk. I would go through the effort because in getting older I value my time and nose more. :D
    • WastelandWarrior wrote:

      I strip all the secondhand minis I get in brown Dettol, plastic or metal. Stick em in a vat of it for a day or 2, pull em out, scrub off paint with an old paintbrush but dont add water as it will make a sticky mess, you can use some washing up liquid to assist with cleaning off, only use water once youve scrubbed as much off as you can. It doesnt usually remove all trace of paint but plenty good enough for respraying and usually breaks superglue bonds too. Happy cleaning!!
      Yep Dettol is great because it doesnt damage plastic, the longer you leave it the more effective it is as it lifts the paint off.
    • Also its easy to get the paint off, the trick is to keep the model immersed in the dettol as you scrub it off. remove all excess paint before you get any water near it. What I do is once the paint has sloughed off immediately put washing up liquid on the toothbrush, scrub the model then rinse with hot water and throw it in a tub of boiling water.