Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Stripping paint from plastic warhammer miniatures

Getting rid of a (bad) paint job on a Warhammer miniature is a universal wish. With metal miniatures it is easy. You toss them in a pot of aceton (or in the bad old days in paint thinner) let them soak for a day (or a week), grab a (hopefully old) toothbrush and start scrubbing. Dump model back in the aceton and repeat as needed. Stripping paint of metal is easy and I'm not going to waste more words on it. In this post I'm more interested in stripping paint of plastic models. As the wait for my order of a large tub (bathtub full) of Vallejo Sepia wash is slightly longer then expected I got a chance to try a new method of stripping paint of my plastic models.
(update with extra scrub at the end of the post)

Who will rid me of this turbulent paint job!
Following the aceton process with a plastic model like this top bit of a treelord ancient is a bad idea. Aceton dissolves plastic. You might as well save yourself a lot of trouble and just toss the model in the rubbish bin (or sent it to me (wheeee)). For plastic models you have a few alternatives. A lot of people swear by Dettol. If you go this route, take the brown Dettol otherwise you get a variant that does nothing to take paint off your plastic.

Dettol, the one on the left stinks and strips paint, the one on the right does nothing for paint (not sure about its smell). 
Dettol is a terrible option for anyone with a sense of smell. Your models will stink of it even after you've repainted them (although faintly). Your hands will stink. People will shun you. You will live alone in a bleak vale of tears (albeit with stripped models). Dettol also reacts with water becoming white and milky when mixed and it turns your paint into a foul goop. I do not like Dettol (even though it works). As an alternative here in The Netherlands we have a cleaning fluid called Blue Wonder. It is a hell of a lot cheaper then Dettol (Blue Wonder is available at Action), it strips paint (provided you soak your model for about a week) and it smells of lime. It can even take the worst stench of a Dettol stripped model.

Enter Biostrip 20

Having trouble with badly painted plastic miniatures? Biostrip will help.
Up until today I used Blue Wonder to strip my plastic Warhammer and Age of Sigmar miniatures. Now thanks to the miracle of Amazon occasionally shipping stuff to The Netherlands (only occasionally mind you) I finally got a chance to try Biostrip 20. This is supposed to be a wonderful paint stripper that will let your plastic live, take off paint and also save the environment in the process. As I have a keen sense of symbolism (and not at all by pure accident of random choice) I grabbed a Sylvaneth Treelord Ancient to test the paint stripper on. Inside the tub of Biostrip is a orange/yellow goop that has the sickly/sweet smells of a fermentation pit (still better then Dettol). Luckily it is not very strong. I slopped some goop on the Treelord and it ended up looking like this.

I'm sure father Nurgle is proud of me. Also I somehow imagine a mumbled treelord scream on seeing this picture.
Next step involved waiting a an hour and a half (and actually working for a living). The Treelord Ancient looked like this.

Yes it still looks goopy, but I did remember to focus the camera this time. Treelord: "yeaaarrgh!"
I took the goopy mess inside and used an old brush to softly scrub the goop of under a running tab. This is the end result.

An hour and a half later after some very soft scrubbing the model is stripped of quite a lot of paint.
In other words Biostrip 20 works like a charm if you want to strip paint of plastic. The detail is still crisp, even the base coat is gone and (thankfully) the smell of Biostrip seems to wash of completely. My results will probably improve if I find a toothbrush to scrub with instead of a soft brush. Having a slightly less fragile model (damn those tentacle-like-thingies) would help as well as it would help me scrub more vigorously.

Close-up of the picture above.


I had to check what would happen after a second cleaning and a more vigorous scrubbing with a toothbrush. So I covered the treeman in Biostrip again and let him rest for a morning (accompanied by Korghos 'bad paintjob' Khul). This ois the result after a second cleaning with a better brush.

That model is ready to be re-assembled and painted with a better paintjob.
Next up (in some far flung future) test this on resin (no clue as to what happens when I do that).


  1. Thanks for the tip! this just saved me a load of hassle on some old plastic Tyranid Termagants, I'd tried all the suggested household items: Dettol, isopropyl alcohol, oven cleaner, fairy power spray etc. Biostrip 20 took the paint right off, just left them for 45 mins and rubbed with a toothbrush, rinsed and done :)

    Did you ever get round to trying it on Resin? if so, how did it go?

    1. Good to hear :) I still have to try it on resin, I don't have a resin miniature that requires stripping on hand unfortunately.

  2. Blue wonder from the Action? Do they still sell that? Bought a bunch of old dwarf warriors today that need some cleaning! Fun read btw