Over the years, my process for stripping metal and plastic miniatures has gone from being just a process to almost a ritual with several "unbreakable" rules that I abide by. Sure, the solvents I have used over the ages has changed, but always for the better in my quest for 100% paint removal. However, much like perfection, 100% paint removal is more of a direction and less of a destination.
My current process for stripping metal (and metal only) is:
- Fill a medium sized jar with Pine Sol (or a generic equivalent). Make sure the mouth and lid of the jar aren't so big you can't get a good grip on it for removing the lid a few days later.
- Drop the offending models into the jar and let them sit for 48-72 hours. If the model in question has been sealed in anyway, it may require that you remove and scrub it after 48 hours and then place it back in the jar for additional time.
- After 48-72 hours, remove the minis from the jar with a large pair of tweezers or tongs. (You do not really want to be putting your hands into Pine Sol as it will take the top layer of skin off after prolonged exposure. Plus, you will end up smelling like Pine Sol for days.) I use the lid of the jar as a sort of "holding area" for the models I plan to clean that evening.
- With a stiff bristle toothbrush (you can use a cheapo one) vigorously scrub the miniature, front to back and top to bottom. Rinse ever so often as the "foam" and removed paint will accumulate. Repeat this process several times, occasionally dipping the toothbrush into the Pine Sol. If you have a model that isn't as clean as you want, drop it back in, wait a few more days and repeat the process.
- Thoroughly rinse your models. You do not want ANY Pine Sol residue left on the model. I have gone to the extra step of having a second jar filled with clean water and a drop of dish soap for the "cleaned" models to soak in for an additional 24 hours. When you see the oily film at the top of the water a day later, you will understand why.
- Remove the model from the soaking jar and wrap in a clean chamois. DO NOT USE PAPER TOWELS. Lint and small pieces of paper will catch on the mini details and you will have quite a time getting them all off (and you never do and you'll see them when you primer). The mini should be dry in about 5-6 hours, but inspect the model to see if there is any pockets of water in the details. If you find some, just wrap it back up and wait a little more.
- After about 5 days of scrubbing, soaking, and drying. Your miniature should be almost good as new. Take this chance to go back over your models and take care of any flash or mold lines you may have missed the first time (or third of fourth time). You once again, have a blank slate so take advantage of it.
And there you have it. With this process, I have been able to rescue some of the most heinously primered or painted models out there. I have used it to stripped gobbed on GW Smelly Primer off of "classic" Talisman models from the late 80's (I'll be showing the Talisman Rogue soon enough) and the mini looks brand spanking new now.
That is all for tonight. Happy Painting!