It happens to all of us no matter how hard we try/plan sometimes things just go straight into the toilet. This was my luck recently. I had just recently spent 2 hours converting the spears on six of my Iron Fang Pikemen over to brass rod. I based them up pretty, took them outside and primed them. First coat went on fine, and they were looking good. The second one? Pure fuzz. Cracked, fuzzy, flaky, HORRIBLE primer. I had just totaled 2 hours worth of work. And to top it off, Sorscha and the Butcher were in the mix. Normally I give up in these situations and let some one else strip the models, but I had the day off, and I’d be damned if I was going to let my best casting of Sorscha go down the drain.
It was time to strip.
*Cue dirty music*
Searching my house I came up with some Pine Sol. I cut it 50/50 with some water and put it in one of those zip-lock tubs. I dunked my minis in and waited an hour. I plucked out a fig and attacked it with a toothbrush. Some stuff came off, but not enough to really make a dent. I was pissed and since I was working in the kitchen sink (no one tell my wife), I stopped to get a drink. Then a light went off (and not the fridge’s). Cold shrinks metal. What if I FROZE my figs? I mean what the heck right? They were pretty much ruined as it was. So I took the tub dunked the figures back in it, and stuffed it in the freezer. I waited an hour and took out the Butcher. I ran him under very hot water in an effort to further weaken the primer. Using some force with the toothbrush, the primer came off quick. Anywhere there was a cracked weak bond came off in 2 passes. After about 5 minutes of brushing it was most of the way clean.
Convinced that I found a new method for handling the issue, I tossed the figs back in the freezer for another hour. The rapid change from cold to hot managed to weaken the primer, but it wasn’t perfect. In the cases of slightly better coverage I could chip it, but not remove it totally. I needed some grit.
Enter GoJo. GoJo is one of those orange-oil pumice hand cleaners. It’s great for getting rid of oil and grease if you’ve been working on your car. It also takes off paint! I loaded up the toothbrush and got to work. The GoJo comes off quick with a rinsing, so sometimes you need to use quite a bit. This got them down to an almost useable level. Be warned, stripping is a messy, rotten time consuming business that I don’t really recommend, unless you have to do it.
I was using a toothbrush instead of a brass brush or something with some more bite. The toothbrush was also pretty soft and in the end it was ruined for anything else. The black primer had melted into the bristles itself, so despite any cleaning I tried, it was always leaking black. So don’t go sticking that brush back in your household cleaning supplies! So I’ve got 8 figures about 85% clean. Good, but not good enough. I want my warcasters to be perfect. The next step? The Dremel. You cannot be a mini gamer and not have a Dremel. This is by far the most important tool in my collection. So important in fact, that I have two.
So taking my trusty Dremel, I loaded up the plastic straight brush turned it on low and set to work. I always use low speeds on my Dremel; in fact I cannot recall the last time I went above three. You want constant speed but you also want control. High speeds take away your control quickly. Slow and steady. You’ll save time in the long run.
With the plastic brush, I began to remove most of much of the remaining primer. While this worked pretty well, I noticed that the plastic brush was sort of melting the primer in the wide-open spaces of the shoulder pads. This didn’t appear to be causing any problems, but it did look a bit odd. Deciding not to risk it I brought out the steel brush. Here’s a little advice, if you don’t want to ruin you models, be very careful with the steel brush. At high speeds or at long exposure, you are going to pit your models. Steel is obviously harder than pewter, and if you are pushing too hard or going too fast, you’ll lose details in seconds. This took off the last of the primer I could reach, and at this point, I was fairly confident that it would be hard to tell that these figs were ever stripped.
As you can see from the pictures, it worked pretty well. I know there are other methods out there, some may be better than this, but I chose to go with the least caustic/dangerous agents I could. Easy-Off and brake fluid may work, but it’s some scary flesh eating foam. Pine-sol, GoJo, and my freezer did the trick for me. Now here’s hoping I never have to do it again.