A miniatures games blog about Warhammer 40k, 15mm American Civil War (ACW), D&D, Classic Battletech, painting, terrain and anything else that rolls or shoots...

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Stripping Space Marines Pt. 1 (they're just doing it for tuition money)

Hello again!  It's been a busy week in grown-up world but I was still able to set some time aside to continue work on getting my Ultramarines up-to-speed and ready for the 40k table.  As a long-time player of both Space Marines and Imperial Guard I've always been enamored with big guns.  I could never quite see the appeal of speedy, assaulting armies like the Orks and Eldar.  Instead, I prefer to sit back and blast away, using close combat as a last ditch alternative to incineration.  For a Space Marine player, large-scale destruction like this can be helped along with the tried-and-true Devastators.

One of the main things I've noticed in my absence from the game is the prevalence of really gorgeous looking plastics that Games Workshop is now putting out.  "Back in my day," a plastic kit usually consisted of about 20 miniatures in identical poses with pre-set arms/weapons that slotted on and provided about as much variety as a box of black crayons.  These days, you can arm your models with all manner of guns/swords/bombs and put them in any pose your twisted brain can think of.  All for the low low price of your left arm and leg.

Now,  if I was my 15-year-old self again, I would have plunked down $40 of my hard earned pet-sitting cash in a minute and walked out with a fancy new box of models.  Sadly, 28-year-old Rob has a mortgage, gambling debts, bar tabs and a recent plumbing disaster (see also: the day our kitchen ceiling rained down upon us) to pay for and that leaves little room for plastic men.  I did however, have an old squad of perfectly usable, yet shoddily painted Devastators sitting in the basement.


As I said before, my main reason for getting back into the hobby was to test my meddle in competitive play.  Judging by the way painting has advanced over the last ten years, I'm pretty sure putting these down on the table would get me negative painting points as well as laughed out of the store by my pre-pubescent opponent.  You may also be saying right now, "But Rob, where's the fifth marine?"  Well, he went missing in the fog of war some time ago and was replaced with a more respectable looking missile launcher-toting companion (read: doesn't need a new paint job) who you'll see later.

I'd done a little bit of research into the art of stripping paint off of miniatures and all signs pointed to something which I already had under the kitchen sink.  I give you, Simple Green!

It works on cat vomit AND miniatures!

You can find this at any Home Depot, Lowe's, Wal-Mart, etc. for $8 and it's well worth it.  Make sure you get the concentrated variety though...none of that pansy diluted garbage.  The next part is easy....fill up a cup and drop them in.  I was able to fit all four marines comfortably in a beer pong regulation sized Solo cup.

Send that crappy paint job off to die!

Some reviews I read said this stuff takes as little as 20 minutes to start working, but after 20 minutes I'd noticed no difference and by then it was time for me to head out and work on the aforementioned bar tab so I decided to leave them overnight.  Acting on a tip, I'd tried this once as a lad with a coffee mug, acetone and some plastic Space Marines.  When I awoke from the fume-induced stupor, I was greeted with five grey blobs that resembled rocks with legs.  The great stuff about Simple Green is that it's non-toxic AND nice on plastics so you won't be melting anything.

Just about 12 hours later I pulled them from the cup and was greeted with'll notice the paint is bubbling and lifting up nicely.

The agony!!!! Why???

Now the fun part, I used a firm bristle toothbrush (old of course) to scrub off the old paint.  Dipping the brush in Simple Green also seemed to help the process along.  It worked well but I think if I did this again I would get some smaller, wire bristle brushes that are used for stripping stain and paint off of larger household objects.  These can also be found on the cheap at your local mom & pop hardware mega-store.

After a few minutes of scrubbing, you can see that almost all of the paint has come off, leaving nothing but shiny, expensive metal!

A new lease on life (sans arm)

I used an X-Acto knife to get into the little nooks and crannies and remove the rest of the stuff that the brush couldn't get at.  Tedious? A bit, but still easier and more rewarding than forking my booze money over to The Man.  In the scrubbing process, his arm did pop off, but that was due to the glue being weakened by the Simple Green.  The plastic itself was unharmed and perfectly reusable. My plan however, was to do a replacement of all these little parts with extras from my Bits Box (or so I thought)...

The aftermath

Once I had finished with the scrubbing and calmed down my fiancĂ©e, I tossed the old limbs in the trash and set the minis out to dry before resuming work a couple of days later.  To my horror, I realized that I had over-estimated the contents of my Bits Box...I only had three usable left arms. THREE!!! DAMMIT!!!

So, with the help of my ever-loving lady (who I now owe big time), I dug through the garbage to find a little plastic left arm to re-use...I like to think the vomiting was worth it.


There you have Part II we'll get these chaps on the painting table and move one more step closer to putting this second chance army on the battlefield!

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