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Subject: Painting old metal miniatures vs. plastics rss

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Paul

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I have painted my Descent figures, some Marvel Handful of Heroes, and some Heroclix repaints. Obviously, all have been plastic and the results were pretty good.

However, I have a bunch of old metal miniatures from the D&D line from the late 70's that I am thinking of painting and since I have no experience with the metals, I am hoping someone can chime in.

My questions...

1. A few of the figures have paint jobs that were started. Since I was young, the quality isn't very high and I may start over on them. Is there a good way to strip the paint that will leave the metal underneath unaffected?

2. I know that washing for modern plastic minis is important to get off the mold chemicals. Is it necessary to wash old metal minis that have been in storage for 30 years? Is the procedure the same as with plastics (ie. warm soapy water)?

3. Any special primers to use for metals?

4. In general, is there anything unique about the vintage metals that is important to know? Can I go to any of the sites that talk about painting modern metal minis and have the information apply to the vintage ones?

Thanks.
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Charles Bame
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1. Simple Green and a lot of scrubbing will get the old paint off.
2. I would wash them the same way.
3. I use a spray can of auto-type primer
4. The really old lead miniatures (as opposed to newer pewter)may be hazardous to your healthy.
5. I am by no means an expert. whistle
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Robert Wesley
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surprise With this ONE "neat trick", then you could do pretty much ANYTHING afterward! Strip it CLEAN and then dip any into a quart can of "PlastiCote"/"Varuthane" CLEAR matte or semi-glossy coating those several times and even 4 with LEAD ones. Get some long, small threaded screws, or pins, and stick this into their BASE prior to that, in order to put them aside and proceed with the next. While when you have something along 'plastercast', "soft plastic", etc. then, it formed a hardened SHELL around this and stiffened up also. With sufficient coats, now you can glue/affix BEST onto these with some slight drilling into any as well, where needed for additional holding portion. This procedure allowed many paints on being applied too, along with yet another 'mileu' of which 'moi' shall demonstrate!
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kSwingrÜber
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badgermaniac wrote:
1. A few of the figures have paint jobs that were started. Since I was young, the quality isn't very high and I may start over on them. Is there a good way to strip the paint that will leave the metal underneath unaffected?
I used to leave mine submerged in some random paint thinner for a couple days... always seemed to do the trick.

badgermaniac wrote:
2. I know that washing for modern plastic minis is important to get off the mold chemicals. Is it necessary to wash old metal minis that have been in storage for 30 years? Is the procedure the same as with plastics (ie. warm soapy water)?
A mild acid bath (I'm thinking vinegar) might work well... I know it's great for cleaning aluminum.

cobame wrote:
4. The really old lead miniatures (as opposed to newer pewter)may be hazardous to your healthy.

Yeah, so don't ingest them.

(but you gotta wonder if a simple "old-fashioned" problem like lead is anywhere near as bad as all the petro-chemical crap involved in making plastics)

(and as long as we're ranting... I love it how they've got exchange programs for mercury-thermomitors, but they're promoting florescent lights, duh... in the broad scheme of things, which is gonna release more mercury into the environment?).

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Troy Winfrey
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Don't lick your fingers either when handling them. (Seriously...or rub your eyes, touch your face or mouth, etc.) You might want to wear gloves if you handle them a lot. Lead ingestion is a pretty big deal even in small amounts.

As far as the other stuff--definitely wash. I recommend what I used to use back in the day...ordinary white vinegar. Submerge the figs for eight hours. This will usually loosen old paint, but you can also scrub the wet fig gently with a soft toothbrush. Dry, naturally, before adding primer coat.
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Ron D
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badgermaniac wrote:
I have painted my Descent figures, some Marvel Handful of Heroes, and some Heroclix repaints. Obviously, all have been plastic and the results were pretty good.

However, I have a bunch of old metal miniatures from the D&D line from the late 70's that I am thinking of painting and since I have no experience with the metals, I am hoping someone can chime in.

My questions...

1. A few of the figures have paint jobs that were started. Since I was young, the quality isn't very high and I may start over on them. Is there a good way to strip the paint that will leave the metal underneath unaffected?

2. I know that washing for modern plastic minis is important to get off the mold chemicals. Is it necessary to wash old metal minis that have been in storage for 30 years? Is the procedure the same as with plastics (ie. warm soapy water)?

3. Any special primers to use for metals?

4. In general, is there anything unique about the vintage metals that is important to know? Can I go to any of the sites that talk about painting modern metal minis and have the information apply to the vintage ones?

Thanks.


1. Old minis are pretty chemical resistant. I've used Simple Green concentrate, Pinesol, and acetone to strip them - all of those work fine if you just leave them to soak for a day or two and then scrub. Depending on what kind of paint was originally used and how thick it is, you may have to use a brush with brass bristles but usually firm plastic bristles are good enough (a brush with steel bristles can scratch soft lead miniatures). Of the three chemicals, Pinesol has been my stripper of choice lately, but it has to be Original Pinesol. The pine oil is what loosens the paint and the Lemon (or other scent) Pinesol products don't have pine oil. It's cheaper than Simple Green and more pleasent to work with than acetone. If all the paint doesn't come off after a good scrubbing (which can happen if the mini has unusually stubborn paint or very deep crevices) just toss it back in the stripping agent for another day or two and scrub again.

2. Odds are there isn't still mold release agent on the minis after that long, but a wash with soapy warm water never hurts. In all likelihood, whatever chemical you strip them with probably will take care of any oils, but go ahead and wash if you have the patience. Vinegar will certainly be unnecessary after the stripping process.

3. Whatever primer you were using for the plastics will work for metals too. Plastics, especially some board game plastics, are kind of picky about primers and can get sticky - that doesn't happen with metals. Just use what you've been using. I always use hobby brands but plenty of people use auto brands with good success.

4. The only thing particular about old minis is they are made with lead. Because the lead is softer than the various pewter/white-metal compounds most modern metal minis are made with, they are a lot easier to convert/cut/file etc. It's just easier to work with them. The flip side of this is that because of the softness of the lead, the details in the figures don't tend to be as "crisp" as you get with newer miniatures - the lead doesn't hold sharp, straight edges very well. Also, all the health stuff about lead - I've never stressed about it but some people worry.

There are not different painting techniques to use or anything. Of course, because some of those old D&D figures tended to be a little simplistic and light on detail (compared to a lot of modern miniatures) it might take more work to make them look great, but don't let that stop you.

Two other things:

First, you should check out the Miniature Painters Guild here:
http://www.boardgamegeek.com/guild/909
It's a good place for questions like this and seeing other people's work.

Second, Iron Wind Metals is the successor company to Ral Partha, who made all those old D&D minis. IWM still makes some of them (in modern white-metal) if you want to fill in some of the gaps in your collection.
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