Pimp My Board Game

a pursuit of fruitless endeavors and endless refinements

Spraying Them Up And Stripping Them Down

My friends have really gotten into the Frostgrave spirit but I thought I should finish up some pending models before I forget.  Those models would be my small Test of Honour set.  I have had my Ninjas and Samurai ready and primed for a while now and recently thought that I should prime my Ninjas in a dark color to make painting them up go so much quicker.  I grabbed the models and got to work.

ugh. What the hell?!

So that isn’t what I was expecting. My nice little ninja ended up looking like a bad 3D print from five years ago. Luckily something didn’t quite look right when I went to put the model back so I stopped there and didn’t go through the other 6 models.

Yuck. A quick google search later and I found that I was likely victim of the common “primer fuzz.” Several theories abound but mainly weather or a bad can of spray can create this problem.  Most think that it is the paint molecules curing mid-air and caking the model in solid clumps as they de-atomize in the air. I’m sure that’s a legit term and full on scientificry to boot, despite what my spell check is telling me.

The weather seemed fine as I primed this Frostgrave model at the same time.  I shook both cans at the same time for my customary 2+ minutes and held both models away from the can approximately 8 inches (which is typical for me). Both cans are also relatively at the same end of life but I think the dark primer can just went bad.

I don’t do the whole “turn the can upside and spray til clean” recommendation that they ask so both are pretty gunked up, with the dark can noticeably more so.

A test spray on some cardboard showed a bit more scatter pattern with the dark and it definitely was “spitting” more but it didn’t seem terrible.  I eventually decided it was the can and chucked it.  The only other difference I could think of was that the ninja model had already been primed so maybe trying to prime it twice generated the primer fuzz result.

After running through my stripping options (as I couldn’t find a better way to clean up the model), I went with Simple Green.  There’s a lot to like in this cleaner as it is mostly hazard free and yet still effective.  I put the recommendation to the test and, even though it sucks to have to strip the model back down, I’d never actually tried it so I was excited to see how difficult it is.

I decided I wanted to try to save the base as much as I could so I wired the model up.

And then suspended it in a cheap mason jar with the wire poking through a small hole in the top.

The recommendation is to wait 24 hours and so this is at the the 24 hour mark.  As you can see, flakes of the paint have already come off the model with no effort.

Unfortunately, I didn’t have time to pull the model free and work on it so it sat there soaking for almost a full week.  Not a lot changed but leaving it in there that long definitely did a number of the base.

Pulling it out, I could already see a lot of the paint had been stripped.  It was pretty messy but I think that was mainly due to the basing that got destroyed in the process. Globs of sand and glue came off in lumps as I unhooked the model from the wire and did a quick shake of the model in the Simple Green one last time.

I then used an old toothbrush and scrubbed the model.  I deliberately was not gentle with the model and scrubbed vigorously under a running tap to get as much of the paint off as possible.

In the end, it totally worked.  It scrubbed off every obvious trace of the prime and got me back down to bare metal.  The process didn’t damage the base or the superglue used to put the model together or even the green stuff I used to build up the base.

There was still some primer on the plastic base but it eventually came off with my fingernail.  I’ll let the model dry and then start again, first building the sand base and finally priming it up again.

I’m glad the process didn’t ruin anything and turned out to be as easy as people claimed.  Simple Green is definitely the solution for me if this happens again.


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  1. Russ Spears

    Welcome to the “Simple Green Saves a Mini” club 🙂 I had a round where, thanks to old eyes and bad lighting, I didn’t see how bad the primer was until 6 minis were primed. Being lazy, I ended up getting an electric toothbrush at the dollar store to help with the stripping – and I honestly don’t know if the swirling head did any better than vigorous brushing.

    Simple Green is safe for good plastic (Walking Dead, for example) minis too – you don’t have to worry about the plastic getting eaten. I’ve left a mini submerged for a week and it came out fine (100% concentrated Simple Green, no water dilution). After 24 hrs it doesn’t seem to make much of a difference how long you leave a mini in as far as how well the paint comes off.

    I’ll readily admin, Christian’s stripped minis are infinitely cleaner than mine ended up!

    • Christian

      Thanks! Good to know that it works on Mantic’s plastic. I was happy to see that it didn’t affect the superglue on the metal figure though my vigorous brushing did weaken it and it had to be re-glued. The electric toothbrush idea is pretty cool. Might be good for using on delicate models.

      I agree that leaving it in for more than 24 hours didn’t seem to make a noticeable difference. It did eat right through the PVA base that held the sand in place and made for a pretty gross bit of black slop.

      Do you know of any models or companies you can’t use it on?

      • Russ Spears

        I can’t remember any by name, just that the “cheap” plastic doesn’t hold up well, which I think of as “thin” – there’s a line of Reaper that always felt flimsy, and I’m not sure I’d trust the new Knight Models stuff.

        I think Heroclix might fall in that category, but for the life of me I can’t remember for sure.

  2. E

    Simple Green works awesome. Only ever put metal in acetone.

    Though it IS a good way to get rid of a plastic base you didn’t want…

    • Christian

      Nice! I’ve heard acetone works well as does brake fluid but they are pretty obnoxious chemicals.

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