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"The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing" ~ Edmund Burke

Sunday, 6 February 2011

Cleaning and Repainting Old Models

For the most part I like to buy new (or at least never had paint on it) models. The reason for this is that mold lines, sprue marks and poor construction will ruin a model no matter how nice the paint job is. If these faults occur due to your own inattentiveness it's much easier to overlook them. When using parts of a model that is now out of production or you are given pre constructed models as a gift it's a lot harder to look at the model and let these things slide as they are not your own failings, they are someone elses. This post will include a short guide of how to clean up your older models or someone elses.

Needless to say it's never time to despair if you make a mistake as very few models (if any at all) are completely beyond recovery. Metal models are much easier to clean so we'll start with those. Even the nastiest, caked on with a shovel paints will come off with a little bit of work and the right tools. Start by giving the model a good hot bath and use a soft nail brush to remove any loose paint or grime, if you are careful enough the model parts such as arms may be removable without breaking them in the process. After this dry off all the models and put them to one side as it's time to go visit the Pound Shop (or 99 Cents store or even 5.247 Billion Zimbabwean Dollar store if you don't happen to live in England).

 This stuff although expensive will happily eat away any paint glue and gloss but thankfully not your model. If watered down sufficiently you can use this on plastic, unlike some of the other products me and my dad use. Although any pine disinfectant will work it's wise to check if the chemical uses acetone as that will cause your model to tarnish meaning you'll need to attack it with a wire brush before you primer it again.

Just get yourself an old butter or ice cream tub, place some kitchen towels on the bottom of it and then carefully arrange your models on top of the paper ready to have a 3:1 water and cleaner solution poured over them. If possible it's a good idea to have them dangling in suspension on pieces of string tied to a stick so you don't have to shake the tub every few hours or flip some pieces over.

 If you're a bit strapped for cash a cheaper alternative is dettol disinfectant, using the same method as above just dilute the liquid until it's a very pale brown. It'll take longer to work but it is just as effective. A quick word of warning though, this stuff reacts in an unusual way with super glue which can affect plastic models if left long enough.

 The nastiest one of them all which YOU SHOULD NEVER USE ON PLASTIC is a genuine paint stripper called Nitromors. Aside from making your skin sting horrifically which only gets worse if you wash it off their isn't a single brand of paint that would stand up against this evil concoction. Anything that has harmful to the natural environment on the bottle has to be good. Unlike the other chemicals this has to be applied neat and carefully dabbed on with a preferably old but clean paintbrush, by the same token use a ceramic or better yet metal container as a plastic one would just melt. Wear a face mask and gloves at all times when using this stuff and frankly only use it as a last resort as 9 times out of 10 Simple Green works.


With that out of the way I'd like to show you guy's some photo's of an army (or the infantry portion of anyway) that was given to me around Christmas time as a gift. Although the paint job was extremely good (one of the best I'd seen) some minor repair jobs were needed such as arm reattachment and mold line removal as well as painting faces and decorating bases.

 The Original owner of these models used a blue and white scheme on all of his armies (his Tau army looked incredible) unfortunately white is a difficult colour to repair as over time it had stained from handling (which is tragically unavoidable). In order to preserve the style as best I could I painted the white shoulder pad in blue also so at least part of the scheme was retained.
 Although most of the flesh was painted on this model the only paint available to add depth to flesh tones when they were originally painted was rather unimaginatively called Flesh Wash. Although it was a fantastic paint I don't know of many people who ever used it for it's original purpose, instead using it to stain cloth or leather parts of the model. Some slight touching up with tallarn flesh and ogryn flesh wash helped tidy up the faces and make them seem more alive.
 Aside from a few unpainted boots and bayonets the models were mostly complete. Trying to reattach arms and bodies back on to bases was the major issue though as super glue really messes up a nice paint job if you aren't careful. Thankfully that only happened once and I had some spare bases to amend my mistake anyway.

Some models were so pristine and undamaged the only thing I could do was base them which in my opinion is when a model is truly finished, I went with the 'Cities of death' Scheme from the games workshop website as I've always preferred Imperial Guardsmen to be urban warriors much like The Tau Empire. Being soft and squishy means that cover is vital and so fighting enemies on open ground is practically suicide.

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