Knowing how to “recycle” miniatures is a nice skill to have, both to renew your favorite models in your collection and to enable you to find bargains on eBay or Bartertown.
Since this article should be a general description of this process I needed to make the task a little harder for me (and I like to see my progression from earlier work). So I decided to rummage through the bits box of a local game store and forced myself to work with what I found. This is a funny way to shop because it is like digging for gold and if you find something you like it is always a bargain. The bit box is supposed to contain bits – not models.
Travis the store clerk was happier with me removing some spare metal from the bins than he was of me taking this picture of him giving the models a price. For $15 I picked up some bits I needed for other projects as well as the models for this article: a Repenter (Privateer Press), a Devourer (Rackham) and a Dwarf (Rackham).
One arm had fallen off the Repenter but I was lucky enough to find it after some searching.
I was not as lucky when it came to the Devourer – but I picked up a torso/head piece and weapon belonging to another Devourer sculpt – I had a plan for how to fix this.
The only problem with the dwarf was that it was in two pieces but since they were laying right next to each other I really didn’t have to search for them.
Releasing the Paint
I always use Simple Green (http://www.simplegreen.com/) to clean my models but for this article I decided to also try a different liquid called TKO (http://www.tkoorange.com/) that comes highly recommended.
Using these liquids won’t just magically remove the paint from the models it just releases the paint from the model so it is easy to clean off. Both are used undiluted – so handle with care and make sure you read and follow the safety instructions before you start.
Using TKO to release the Paint
WARNING: TKO will melt plastic so please just use it to clean metal models and remove all bases before dropping models in!
I removed the base from the dwarf’s pot and placed the two parts in an old glass jar – since the TKO melts plastics I wasn’t taking any chances using Tupperware. After this, I poured in the TKO until it completely covered the two pieces then I put the lid on the jar.
TKO smells like pure orange but even if you love orange I recommend using a jar with a lid because the smell is very powerful. I let the dwarf sit in this jar for 24 hours before going on to the next step.
Regarding using Simple Green to release the Paint
WARNING: Simple Green should be used in a well ventilated area since the smell is VERY strong.
I placed the parts for the remaining two models (bases and all) into a Tupperware style container and poured Simple Green until all the parts were covered. Again I put the lid on the container and left it for 24 hours.
Removing the Paint
When the models have been in the cleaning liquid for 24 hours it is time to remove the paint. The cleaning liquid releases the paint but it is still attached like a soft skin to the model. I use a fork or spoon to pick the pieces out of the liquid and I clean them one by one. The cleaning liquid will have released glues as well so I always try and separate parts as much as possible once out of the liquid – this makes the removal of the paint much easier. A good tip is to remove the base as well since it will almost certainly just come off without any hassle and will have to be re-attached to the model.
I always start off by placing the miniature under running water and I use an old toothbrush to remove the paint. At this stage I place a bowl under the model to catch any pieces falling off as the glue releases. Please avoid fishing for pieces in the drain! If the models are metal the pieces will fall to the bottom of the bowl and stay there in case you miss them.
Gently scrub the model until the paint has been removed. Since we all have to think green nowadays I turn the water off after the first couple of minutes and use the water in the bowl instead. Leave each piece on tissue paper to dry off – this makes it easy for you to keep track of missing pieces as well.
After the models have dried off, check each piece. The models do not need to be perfect without a hint of paint left (in the hard to reach places), but you need to remove paint that might destroy the details of the model. For this I use a model knife with which I carefully scrape the paint away.
Note: If you are having problems removing enough paint after the first 24 hours just drop them in again for a little longer before trying again. If this happens I normally remove the bases from the models even when using Simple Green – I have been told even Simple Green can have an effect on plastic if left too long.
As you can see in the pictures two of the models broke during the cleaning process – the dwarf was now missing the tip of a shoe and the Repenter’s right arm broke at the joint. The bowl I placed under the models while cleaning them caught the smaller parts, but I decided to discard the tip of the dwarfs shoe since I intend to fix it in another way.
I begin by filing down any mold lines that the previous owners had left on the models. Then I started repairing and assembling the models.
When assembling the dwarf there wasn’t a surface between the Dwarf and pot that allowed me to get a strong bond using glue, and pinning wouldn’t work since the pot is hollow, so instead I chose to use a strip of Green Stuff to attach the two pieces. I find this works better than glue when two pieces do not fit together perfectly. Finally I used a little bit of the green stuff and sculpted a new tip for the broken shoe.
Since I was missing a lower arm for the Devourer I had picked up the torso/head piece of the second sculpt. I cut the lower arm of it using a jeweler’s saw – making sure I cut it right next to a plate to help hide the conversion.
The lower arm piece was then pinned to the Devourer and the hand pinned to the new lower arm (marked with yellow in the lower part of the image). I used ProCreate Epoxy Sculpting Putty to hide the seam between the two arms (marked with blue).
The former owner had not pinned the arms of the Repenter to the body – which is why one of the arms had fallen off in the bits box. I wanted to pin them to strengthen the bond and make painting of the Repenter easier by leaving the arms off until the painting is done.
Since the arm had broken off at the joint I decided to pin it in place drilling straight through it so that the pin would hold it in place as well as help with attaching the arm to the body. I also drilled a hole in the other arm and in the Repenter for the pins.
After having glued the brass rod in place (final length is marked with yellow above) I pushed the two arms down in a cork to prepare for painting.
Note: As you can see in the picture the arm on the left looks a lot darker than the one on the right. This happens some times and, having searched for an answer on various forums, it seems like it is due to some sort of oxidation to the surface of the metal. It doesn’t happen all the time but it has never had an effect on the final result for me.
The only thing left is attaching the models to their bases, basecoat them and start with the second part of the fun – the painting.
When comparing the two liquids used in this article I have to say that both worked great. TKO released the paint faster and smelled better, but Simple Green is kinder to plastics and can be purchased in most stores. I spent about 1.5 hour working on the models excluding the time spent in the liquid baths and I feel it was well worth it!