Dated: August 26, 2003.
The following is a selection of tips sent in by various hobbyists. We thank all those who have sent tips in. See disclaimer at bottom of page.
Preparation/Removal of flash
Preparation/Removal of flash:
1) One of the problems with this plastic is that it can't be sanded. A good way to get rid of mold lines, to smooth,and even resculpt parts of figures, is as follows. It requires a ZIPPO type cigarette lighter and an opened paper clip. WARM the paper clip in the lighter's flame. Practice on scrap until you find out how warm it should be. (It should not be very hot at all). Then gently stroke the area you want to smooth with the warm paper clip. The flash and rough edges from cutting simply flow back into smooth material, cool at once, and are ready to take paint. - Lee Russell, USA
2) You can remove flash by running figure quickly through flame. - Anatoly Rostov, Moldavia
3) I tried the tip about the folded out paper clip to remove flash. I found it easier to use a piece of wire or a pin pushed into a wine bottle cork. The cork acts as an insulated holder & is less fiddly to use. - Graham Evans, UK
4) I found the paper clip (without the cork) a better guide to how hot the wire actually was getting. BTW,
I do not recommend opening the paper clip into a single piece of wire, just as follows:
where the un-opened part provides a convenient handle. - Lee Russell, USA
5) I have used the hot paper clip method and it works quite well, may I suggest it can also be used for smoothing damaged areas. When you remove a musket or other item from a figures hand you often get an awkward shiny flat area, you can use the hot paperclip, at the correct temperature, to smooth that area back into shape. You can also use the melting of the plastic where a hot metal item is touched to create the effect of torn or worn clothing, you could even simulate sabre wounds by drawing a hot X-acto knife across the area the soldier recieved his wound, just a thought. - Matt Keagle, United States.
6) I use a sharp cutter like "Exacto" is a "dry" method and that can arrive in all the corners of the figure those are very difficult to remove. This method allows also to add some changes in the sculpture of the piece, for example to transform a cavalry boots in trousers... - Francesco Messori, Italy.
1) Everyone knows that major additions to figures need to be strengthened. Sections of small pins are often recommended. Another technique involves using short sections of small staples. You can use a pair of needle-nose pliers to remove a suitable length of staple, and then force it into the figure. Then the section to be joined, say a swapped head, or a pack, can be forced onto the staple section. As the staple is flat, rather than round, there is less tendency for the new part to "move". You can also use this technique to attach balsa parts, say, a backpack, to a figure.
Small pins make good weapon's barrels, if the figures are holding them. But if they are just "part of the scenery" (machineguns, for example), then toothpicks, the smaller flat ones, make a good starting point. They can be sanded and rounded, and additions of paper and cardboard easily added, with Elmer's Glue, to build them up to the right shape. - Lee Russell, USA
2) A number of your contributors have talked about fixing parts of different figures together when converting figures. An easy way of fixing an upper body from one figure onto the lower part of another is to drill the two parts where they are to join using a tool called a pin vice. This tool has a rounded screw end with jaws to hold a narrow drill tip. When the round grip is screwed tight the drill cannot move. Drill each of the plastic pieces to a shallow depth. Insert a piece of wire. I find that brass wire is easy to cut. Put a dab of glue such as Loctite (but take care not to glue yourself!) onto one end of the wire and push the other piece on top. You may need to experiment with drilling and cutting pieces of wire to the correct length. This will create a very firm join. Painting with PVA wood glue will make it even stronger. With practice you can also swap arms and even weapons around. I fix riders onto horses this way and there is no way they can fall off even if knocked. I have a lot of difficulty fixing spears to the hands of hoplites and phalangites and made the groove in the figures' hands deeper using a pin vice. The spear then sticks more firmly
No weapons are supplied with the packets of Greek Hoplites and Macedonian phalangites. There are shallow grooves in the hands of the figures so that spears can be glued in place. I have found that if the grooves are made deeper using a pin vice drill or cutting with a knife, the spears have a deeper slot to fit into and seem to stick more firmly. With care it is sometimes possible to drill the hand itself so that the spear goes all the way through, again creating a firm join between hand and weapon. When these figures were modelled and designed I don't think sufficient thought was given as to how weapons would be attached and I welcome the recent proposal to create ring hands to hold spears etc. - Bryan Sitch, UK
3) I have discovered that the following product is even better for creating Hoplite spears and Sarissas needed for your weaponless 1/72 Greeks and Macedonians:
Manufacturer: Evergreen Scale Models
Item No.: 221
Loc. Code: SA
Contents: 10 Pieces
Cost: About $2.00 for 10 rods (.20 each) that are about 14" in length
Available at all model railroad and airplane shops/distributors.
Suggestion: Cut spear to size. Use an Exacto-Knife to taper the back end. Use flat surface of pliers to flatten the tip of the spear. Use Exacto-Knife to taper the tip. Insert back end of spear into figure's hand. Glue, if necessary.
Being plastic, the flattened tip of the spear will be wider than the width of the spear, resulting in a very realistic, functional and paintable spear. - Dan Martinez, USA
4) Plumes: When I want to create a plume, I will drive a pin or staple in to the appropriate place on the figure's hat in the same manner as attaching a head or other body part. For thinner plumes, I will poke the emplaced pin in to the spout of standard model glue. While the glue is wet, I breathe on it to allow a little of the surface to congeal. Some shaping of the plume is then possible with a toothpick. The figure is then placed in a fashion to allow the plume to harden with a minimum of drip.
For larger plumes, such as Prussian guard grenadiers, drive a pin in the appropriate place. Next, cut a length of thread, and tie to the base of the pin. Use a little model glue to wet the thread, and wind thread around the pin. You may have to add additional glue from time to time, as well as to finish the thread. The thread can either be cut if too much, or additional thread added to the first length as needed. If the thread tends to move doing winding, leave a little thread hanging from the first knot on the pin. This hanging thread can then be used as an anchor while you wind. The extra thread can be cut off, or bent in to the plume near the end of the winding. Let dry and paint.
Permanent "Welds": In the situation where it is necessary to permanently attach parts such as horses to bases in old Airfix or Esci kits, I prefer to use a small soldering iron. The trick is to use a light touch, and always work from the largest plastic part to the smallest.
In the case of mounting horses, work from the base to the horse's hoof. This prevents unsightly melting and destroying the hoof, and can also give a rough, grass-like texture to the base.
For the more daring, eagles can be permanently mounted to staves in the same way. Secure the figure in a vise or heavy pliers with the staff as upright as possible. Use needle-nose pliers to grasp the eagle (and avoid burnt fingers) and move the eagle in line with the staff tip. Begin melting the eagle base, and as soon as it begins to liquefy, move it on to the staff tip with the solder gun. The staff tip will melt incredibly fast, so touch the eagle to the staff and then withdraw the solder gun tip. You should have a permanently attached eagle. - Carl Bathgate, Canada
5) Converting Plastic Figures: The Welding Technique
Every 1/72 plastic figure collector who engages in even the most minor of conversion work has discovered how difficult it is to glue polyethlene. Having attempted minor coversions since a child in the 1960s when there were only Airfix and Giant figures, up to now, I have tried nearly everything with largely unsatisfactory results. While many glues will hold a figure together that is never intended to be handled, figures intended to be used in wargaiming or temporary displays will suffer casualties as heads, arms, packs etc. pop off at the slightest touch. As a gluing altenative, the commonly used method today is "pinning", though this is largely limited to large changes such as a head, torso or backpack. I have use this method for many years myself, though it is extremely time-consumeing and the range of conversion are still very limited. I finally discovered the true solution a few years ago when repairing a cracked polyethylene pool for my pet crocodile. If it would have been a bucket, I would have just thrown it away, but because this was a very large item, I was determined to repair it.
Most glues wouldn't stick so it dawned on me to weld the cracked sides back together with a soldering iron. The process worked and then it dawned on me that the same thing could be done with plastic figures if I could reduce the heat to a tiny pinpoint. I took the smallest possible soldering iron I could find, and then further ground the head to a pin point. Holding the figure in a clamp, one this holds the head, arm, musket, etc to the figure at the attachment point, and fuse the pieces together, taking care not to apply too much heat that will melt and distort the appendage or accutrement.
Though it takes practice, it is possible to weld any body part, weapons and equipment, so well that these conversions are nearly as rugged as the original figures. With skill it is also much quicker than "pinning". I usually do "three heads a minute" with the television on. I put this process to its severest test two years ago, while building a 20,000 figure Roman Army of three complete legions and auxilliaries from Hat and Esci figures for a major museum exhibit in Germany. Virtually ever figure had some conversion work, and some were very sophisticated, such as a full cohort of Eastern auxilliary archers which each had at least seven different conversion steps. I could not have completed this diorama, in the time, or the required authenticity level, without the use of the welding conversion method. Dan Peterson, Germany.
6) Conversions- I use a sharp Xacto and superglue. Fragile poses are best "hidden" in the middle of a group of figures, or just mounted on a sturdy base. Plasticene makes for great cover all capes- just carve and sculpt in some flowing lines- they can reallly add movement to figures. I found that small items are very tough to super glue. I put an Airfix Boar standard (from the Ancient Britons) onto a HaT Gaul cavalry spear- it looks nice but always breaks off. I have a Dremel Mototool, and even I don't pin figures any more. If superglue can't do it, it ain't worth doin'!
Plumes: I use plasticene to make plumes or helmet cheniles. Then I lightly coat them with white glue, roll them in fine sand and blow off the excess. After hardening, I paint the plume black. Then I heavily drybrush it white- allow it to dry- then dry brush the final colours. The black makes for real shadow and depth, while the white makes for brighter colours in the plume.
Flash? A sharp Xacto-and mistakes with the blade becomes fodder for conversion or casualty markers. - Douglas Shand, USA.
7) Converting Bavarian foot artillery, as depicted in the HäT set, to horse artillery is a straight forward process. Firstly, the short swords of the gunners must be extended into cavalry sabres. This is easily achieved by gluing in place a sausage of plasticene, which is then shaped and carved into the scabbard of the sabre resting on the gunners' legs. Look at any suitable HäT figure to get an idea of how this should look. Once the glue is dried, the plasticene can be hardened by painting it with acrylic fluid medium or acrylic varnish. The second alteration is to re-model the gunners' gaiters as boots. Start by trimming off the buttons, then fill out the shape of the boots using acrylic gel medium straight from the tube. The modelling tool for both extending the sabre and moulding the boots is an old Exacto no. 11 blade, with the sharp edge sanded off. To complete the conversion, follow the painting directions set out on the box. - David King, USA.
8) Further to the recent additions about welding when converting figures mentioned on the hints and tips page and the idea of creating one's own tool by grinding down a soldering iron bit, there is an easier way. Historex Agents in the UK, make just such a tool. It is called a pyrogravure. I got mine over twenty years ago and it's still going strong. - David King, USA. (You can find a list of Historex agents on the Web. Webmaster).
1) In Germany we can buy a glue called "K-S Vielzweck-Kleber". It is a set of second-glue for industrial use (Zyanacryl) and "Polyolefin-Primer". This diabolical mixture glues everything, especially soft-Plastics. The address which is given on the little bottles is as follows:
K+S Industriebedarf GmbH
Tel. international: 0049/6262/3899.
Artikel-Number: 66610 for the polyolefin-primer, 20010 for the glue.
- Roland Kupski, Germany
2) Here in Germany we have no longer a problem to glue the conventional PE figures. We have the "K+S Klebeset". It is a primer system which supplies fantastic results. Very little parts glue very strong and resistant. - Björn Rose, Germany
3) I use since the 70's Bostik contact glue, or Pattex contact by Henkel, is the same glue used for laminate furniture. The system is to prepare the two sides to add scratching those with the cutter, and placing a thin layer of glue in both sides, and adding with some pressure after 60 seconds. The fixing effect is still good after almost 20 years!!! This glue is perfect also for glue different material together like metal, paper, fabric. - Francesco Messori, Italy
4) In the UK, USA & Australia Loctite markets a Polyolefin Primer 770. This allows their (and presumably other's) adhesives to work on soft plastics. - Dave Allen, UK
5) I have found that it is often easier to use a putty such as Kneadatite rather than glue. This is especially true when dealing with the more rigid plastics which resist having support wire forced into them. For instance I have been swaping torsos between figures by sandwiching a small dab of putty between the two pieces of plastic. - Andy Brozyna, US
6) I use Citadel Superglue for all figures. They do come apart but the effort to separate glued pieces is considerable. This would be a cheaper alternative than a glue gun. Also I use paper glue when I want to temporarily glue pieces, such as waiting to paint them. This is not sturdy but the glue can be completely peeled or cleaned out before painting starts. - Mario Tambay, Canada
7) You can find worldwide very expensive LOCTITE glue (loctite 406, 20g), and its primer (loctite 770, 10g) for soft plastics (polyethylene) -about 300,00 FF (43 $) -.
But in the north of France, I've had to find THE good reseller (this range of glue is not available in standard shops :-((( like leroy-merlin, castorama, auchan, carrefour...), I've found one through internet www.copiden.com (if one of French modellers need to buy this type of glue, and don't know where to buy that, you can give to him this address - fine because you can pay by check, or he can phone to Loctite France 03 44 21 66 00). - Christian Olejniczak, France
8) I have used H.B. Fuller Plastic Bond (a primer based system) with success on soft plastic parts. Regrettably no longer available in Australia, it is made in USA for HB Fuller, part no 15104 (2g adhesive, 3.25ml primer). - Stuart Lee, Australia.
9) I have just discovered a way to glue polythene figures with a rather strong bond, enough to withstand the use and abuse during a wargame or even playing with your kids, like in my case. The way is to use a melting glue of the kind used with gluing pistols (Ed: These are also known as glue guns in the US) sold in any store, and really cheap. I have just tried it and you get a bond very hard against traction and not so strong if you try a lever effect onto it. Just get a small drop of melted glue from the pistol into the piece you want to glue and proceed rapidly with the other part, the problem is you don't have too many time to go around, just a few seconds. If it does not go properly on the first try you can retry it for the bond is strong but not permanent. You must be very careful as the glue is hot, you might hurt yourself or damage the piece if too hot. A collateral effect are the hair thin lines of glue you get everywhere but you can get rid of them easilly. Also you can have excess glue arround the joint, it is not easy to get only the amount you want, but you can trim it when cold with a sharp knife, and with practice I think the process can be mastered. I have not tried it yet but I think a pyrogravure could also be used latter to melt the excess glue so you can remove it easily. The fact that the glue is hot, the temperature level will be key for a good bonding, helps the hardness of the union. I hope this tips will be useful. - Alberto Zumarraga, Spain.
10) I've been using Lee Russell's paper clip tip since I've read about it. I don't use it to remove flash (I personally feel better with a medical scalpel) but to change arms, legs or weapons positions. Also with this tip I've definitely solved the problem of gluing parts of a soldier on an other: the hot paper clip is placed in a sandwich position between for example a separate head and the neck, for about one second then swiftly removed to let the two oppposite parts be gently pressed on one another. Thus superficially melted plastic is "eternally" glued by itself when cold (after 1 second). The resulting flash is then suppressed. It's very effective to glue arms on shields.Caution : I've lost a few figures before being trained with it. Now I've nearly forgotten the word "glue"... Merci ā Mr. Russell. - Marc Belloni from France
1) Toothpicks, either round or flat, also make a great way to paint small areas of a figure. Rank insignia, for example. Elmer's Glue makes a very good undercoating for this type of plastic too. - Lee Russell, USA
2) Undercoating: I am using Citadel White Undercoat spray and achieving good results (always remember to wash your plastic miniatures with for instance hot water with washing up liquid and rinse thoroughly afterwards - then let dry) . If accidents happen, and some paint chips of, I use Humbrol matt white enamel to cover the bare spots. In my opinion, some of the best paints to work with are manufactured by Citadel (Games Workshop). They may not be available in excactly the colour you want, but they are very smooth and also easy to mix. - Niels Christian Kragh, Denmark.
3) Lazy painter, but want some shading on your figures as well as a varnish coat to protect them? Simply add on part black enamel to twenty parts varnish and mix well. Slop all over your flatly painted figures. As the varnish dries, gravity draws the black pigment into the crevices and folds of the figure creating shade. - AKI, England
4) There are two techniques that are very useful when painting little 1/72 men, and others too. The first is drybrushing. This technique should only be used on textured parts, otherwise it has no effect. Dip the brush in your paint, then wipe the paint off on a rag or paper towel. Wipe the brush back and forth until about 90% of the paint is out of the brush.Lightly scrub the brush across the surface. The paint should be faintly visible after a few swipes. If you see any brushstrokes, you have too much paint in the brush.
When in doubt, remember that less is better when drybrushing. Its easier to build up from light drybrushing, but if there is too much paint in the brush and you accidentally get paint into the recesses, there is no way to fix it other than to repaint the area and start from scratch. This technique is very useful for armour, fur coats and hair.
The second technique is shading. If you just paint the color on, it hasn´t a really realistic effect. If you have i.e. a blue coat, you take the same color, and then add some black (or any other color that makes the color darker), and you add some water. Then you just paint the whole area over with that wash. You can repeat that as much as you want, each time adding some black and some water. Remember that the more water, the thinner the water, so less coverage. For trousers in the Napoleonic era is one of the best wash (I think) a bone coloured or grey wash on a white undercoat. This works really well for me, and that´s how I paint the trousers of my Napoleonic guys.
The third tip is, if you want a realistic appereance, a black undercoat. This undercoat makes the colours darker and what's the best, is that you can leave a tiny spot of black paint on the places where jacket touches pants, belts jackets, faces collars, on any place where one kind of paint touches another kind of paint (I don´t really know how to say this in English, but I hope you get the point). Again, I used this for all my models, and it worked out really well.
My last tip concerns painting horses. I like this one really well, cause it costs me almost no time to finish a horse that way! First, you start with a white undercoat. Then you give the whole beast a wash with a color some tones lighter than you want to achieve. Then you give the horse another wash, now a little bit darker than the previous, but also a little thinner. And finally, you give the horse a very thin wash of the color you wanted the horse to be. Now you find out that the horse is a few tones lighter than you wanted to achieve, but that doesn´t matter, you can always make the washes darker. You can repeat the proces of washes as many times as you wish, just make sure the previous coat is dry, otherwise it´s going to be a mess. When you're ready with that stage, you do the hair. You give the tail and the manes a thick wash of black and ready you are. The final stage is to paint all the belts, eyes and the saddle black. If there's a fur on the saddle, you can drybrush the fur with brown. You can then paint the saddlecloth any colour you want. Then, paint a little white spot on the eyes of the horse. You can also paint the leather brown or whatever. That's it for today, this is a part of my 3 year painting experience, more articles to come (hurray!!!) - Jim Glerum (14yrs old), The Netherlands
5) To paint a large number of figures in a short time I glue (PVA) about 20 like figures to a chop stick and spray an undercoat on. When dry, I load up a brush with paint and paint the identical sections all at once, ie all the left front arms, then right, boots etc, working from the middle of the figure out. The chops stick allows me to hold the figures with a high degree of precision, and is reasonably comfortable. When finished the figures pop off with a gentle push. I find this method allows me to paint my figures about 3 times faster. - Rhys Powell, Australia
6) When painting fine lines (belts, straps, etc.) how do you get the fine line and stay steady enough to keep it straight? First you need a special brush (you probably need to special order it since many hobby shops carry brushes only good for large areas). Floquil 5/0 precision liner (#688350) is an example. Cutting off (with a razor) some of the bristles at the base can give you an even finer line. For steady hands, hold the figure in one hand and the paint brush in the other. Then put the heels of your hands together, rest them on a table or something and paint by moving only the fingers holding the brush. Although your hands may shake a little, keeping them together and moving only the fingers lets you get perfectly straight lines. - Ted Schulz, USA
7) Here is the way I paint my 1/72 figures.
a. Cut them off the sprue and trim the flash.
b. Give them a wash in very hot, soapy water and follow that with a quick bath in Plastic Prep before allowing them to air dry on paper towels.
c. Mount them on a wooden paint stirring stick. I mount 6-8 infantry or 4 horses per stick. I lay calvary on a paper towel inside a shoe box top. I used Elmer's glue at first to mount the figures to the stir sticks but they'd often pop off, so now I use a rubber cement.
d. I prime the figures with a flat spray paint such as Krylon but also have used whatever was on sale at K-Mart. White for infantry and black for horses.
e. My paints are acrylics and I've had good luck with Howard Hues and Ral Partha. Lately, I've tried whatever was on sale at the local craft store
f. Coat the figures with Liquitex Matte Sealer. One or two coats for most parts but three coats for lances, swords, bayonets, and plumes. After doing this I can take a lance and literally tie it in a knot without the paint chipping off.
g. Even with the matte sealer the figures look too shiny for me so I give them one coat of Testor's Flat spray finish.
h. Pop the figures off the stir sticks and mount on their base, again with the rubber cement. I mount mine on 1/8 inch masonite board.
i. Terrain the bases and give them one more coat of flat spray.
Many thanks to all the painting tips I've gotten over the years from MWAN magazine. - Pete Silvers, USA
8) Krylon Spray Gesso is great for undercoating figures. Give it a coat of white or black acrylic before you paint the figure and the paint will stick well. Future floor wax will provide a fine protective gloss finish when the figures are complete.
If grainy or splotchy washes and stains are a problem try thinning the paint with plain white vinegar. The vinegar provides low surface tension and the washes and stains go on easily and dry smoothly.
Vallejo acrylics are the best paints I have used. They are also sold as Andrea in the USA. They have a wide range of color, dry quickly, thin beautifully with distilled water or vinegar, and have excellent coverage. Their squeeze bottles allow for a neat and clean painting area and they don't dry out. Just make sure you keep them well stirred before each use.
Black priming is an effective technique with this paint as it provides subtle shading that does not dull the final finish. - Jack Monroe
9) Figure Painting Tips As the figures are made in a soft polythene type plastic, I recommend that the following tips be used in preparing and painting them.
Preparing the model surface - wash the figures in a weak detergent solution and allow to dry completely. It is easier to do this if the figures are not separated from the sprue until afterwards. It also makes them easier to dry.
Trimming figures - use an extremely sharp blade. If a blunt blade is used, it produces a "furring" type effect as it scuffs the plastic. It also tends to leap off the figure and into your finger more if the blade is blunt!!!
Gluing - I use Evo-Stik. It is not the best perhaps, but some of my old figures have lasted twenty years. The glue bonds are strengthened by the next steps in working on the figures.
Priming - Before painting or priming but after basing, coat the figures with a PVA type glue. I use "Unibond". It is sold in small tins rather like household paint. I decant a quantity of it into a smaller tin, and use that, keeping the main tin sealed for most of the time. It is important that the unibond is not allowed to dry on the tin, as it can become lumpy. Unibond goes on white, and dries to a clear semi-gloss finish. It can yellow with age if left in the tin to get old. Use an old soft brush to apply it. I use a size 2 or 3. Wash the brush thoroughly with water afterwards, as it can set the brush hard. Sometimes during a long model making session, I soften the brush in clean water every half an hour or so. It is important to allow the unibond to dry thoroughly. I leave the figures overnight to allow plenty of time. Then prime the figure with your favourite primer. I have used matt white enamel paint in the past, and it is effective and cheap. After allowing the primer to dry, then paint as you would normally.
Finally - after the figure is painted, allow the paint to dry completely hard. This can take much longer than just allowing the paint to become dry to the touch. I recommend waiting at least 24 hours. I then apply another coat of unibond. It again goes on white, but dries clear and shrinks onto the figure, giving it a semi-gloss transparent skin. Once this has dried hard, I paint the bases.
General Points This technique gives the figures good strength and protection from the paint being rubbed off. It is more suitable for wargame figures, where constant handling sometimes rubs off the paint. The semi-gloss appearance makes this technique less suitable for display figures. If the unibond has been stored for more than about two or three years, it sometimes produces an undesirable yellow sheen on the figure when applied. At each stage it is vital that the coats are allowed to dry. Paint and primer will not adhere to a figure with damp unibond on it. Also, applying unibond over soft paintwork will lift and smear the paint across the figure, ruining all your hard work. I have used this technique with enamels and acrylics successfully. It does not work with watercolour paints. I have not tried it with oils. The double coats of unibond protect and stiffen the soft plastic figures. I find that paint is less likely to flake off musket barrels and swords if so treated. The figures can also last a long time - some of mine have lasted about twenty years with no ill effects. Happy painting and gaming. - Martin Stannard, UK
10) After years of dealing with cracking and chipping paint on my polystyrene plastic figures, not to mention the increasingly poor quality of the paints being offered the hobbyist, I believe I have come up with a solution to the problem of painting my plastic figures.
Recently I experiemented with using artist's acrylics on my figures. I had tried using the new acrylic paints produced for hobbyists but didn't like the results any more than with the new enamels. However, with artist's acrylics, one can adjust the thickness of your paint and it stays and coats well!
The one problem you'll have though, is with the paint peeling off the plastic. I have solved this by using an acrylic matte (there are gloss finishes if you prefer) spray finish on my figures when I'm done. It's not as flat as I desire, but does cut down on the shine a bit. What you do get, though, is a paint job that covers well and is durable and flexible. The acrylic spray seals the paint and protects it, preventing peeling and chipping. At the same time the acrylic base is flexible and will not crack. I have been amazed at how much better my figures look when I'm finished now. - Wayne Wood, USA.
11) I have seen many people paint figures in different ways, I would like to present the way that has worked best for me. I paint the figures as if they were being dressed. that is, skin first, then trousers, then jackets, then gear, etc. I find that if you paint the pieces of uniform and equipment the way they are constructed it is much easier. You don't have to worry about precision all the time because if you, for instance, painted the buff straps to a cartridge box onto the box itself, you can simply paint the black of the box over the white of the strap, because the strap goes under the box in real life. You may not uderstand what I am saying, it is diffucult to put into words, but give it a shot sometime. - Matt Keagle, United States.
12) I wash my figures in dish soap, dry on a towel, let sit, then prime with an acrylic paint - Folkart are my favorite. They are cheap and adhere well to the figures. I base coat an off white- "linen" or "corn" being by favorite choice. Once dry I paint the figures in bunches on the sprue. One color applied to all the figs then the next. Once done, I trim off the sprues and affix horses to bases and figures to horses with white glue. I touch up any marrs and missed areas at this point. I then use green plasticene on the base and use a knife point to sculpt a grassy look on the plasticene. Then I use the "miracle dip" method of painting on oak furniture stain/varnish. I use Minwax brand. It deepens the colors, settles darkly into folds, and provides a tough glossy coat to figures. Fast and easy. I used to undercoat black, but it takes too long. You have to be careful to leave the dark lines around all the raised areas. It makes for nicer figures in my opinion, but I'll be long dead or blind before I ever finish an army!
Cost? Minwax is expensive but a real time saver. Folkart acrylics are 1 - 1.50 Canadian in the dollar stores and superglue is just 99 cents. Very affordable. - Douglas Shand, USA
13) One of the problems we all face with polythene figures, and I think the most frustrating one, is finding out that after a careful work of painting, all your effort vanishes when the paint peels off (Ed: All the newer HaT figures are made with a different plastic towards which paint does adhere without priming, and does not peel). Polythene is a plastic where nearly nothing sticks well so the solution is to give it and undercoat where the paint could adhere well. But why should the undercoat adhere to the plastic?. In fact it does not. What we try to do, with diluted PVA glue for instance, is giving a "skin" to the plastic, and then paint onto the skin. The thicker the skin the stronger against use, but that means in the case of PVA losing details, and to get a good finishing, several time consuming coats. The tip I give is to use a spray glue or varnish to get that same effect. I have used several kinds of products, but the one you use must have two characteristics, being flexible, basical, and being sticky. You can give several coats to get a thicker skin. The stickier of them all, from my trials, is UHU contact glue in spray. It has two problems, the finish is rather coarse (grainy) and you can get some blobs of glue from time to time onto your pieces. Here you have to try the different glues available in your region, I think 3M has several. The coarse finish might not prove a huge problem compared with the advantages given, but that is a personal choice. Other materials vary from plastic coating sprays, with a finish similar to a plastificated paper, but here the adherence is not so good, or different types of varnish, and here you will have to try brands to find one with flexible caracteristics. Acrylic varnish tends to be stiff when dry so it is not suitable. Keep in mind that the idea is giving a skin to the piece, and it is that skin itself that will keep arround the figure, and you need it not to crack. Once I got a varnish from a Spanish manufacturer called MIR, based on a natural compound, some kind of resin, that gave the best result for it was sticky, flexible and thin, but unfortunatelly I don`t remember the brand name and I have not seen it any more elsewhere, but I do imagine something similar must exist, you just have to find it. Other materials used where overcoat varnish for paintings, with very good results. The last tip is to give, once the figure has been painted, a coat, or several, of varnish, matt or not, to protect the paint with another outer skin. This one also has to be flexible. I do personally make all the process with the figures still on the tree, it is very easy to handle them this way, and when finished I retouch the unpainted union spots, but that also is your choice. I hope this tips will be useful. - Alberto Zumarraga, Spain.
14) Ok! listen up! This is the ultimate way to paint plastic figures and never, never and I do mean never, have to worry about paint flaking off!! Forget about washing the figures! Cut them off the sprues, coat each figure with "Aleene's tack it & tack it again", let them set overnight, spray them with your favorite primer, then paint them up, and then, put on a light coat of acrylic floor wax, any brand. Thats it! You can get Aleene's Tack It in any craft store, it comes in a 2 oz. bottle and costs about $3. When coating the figure, go easy with the stuff, because a little can go a long way! Don't let it puddle up on faces, under arms, etc. This stuff will dry clear over night. Let me rephrase that, it really doesn't dry. It will stay very sticky always. Don't let another figure touch it! After you prime it, all's OK, the primer seals it. As for the floor wax, this is an option, if you dont mind glossy figures it's great as an added protection vs greasy fingers. The wax isn't needed, and you will retain the flat look. I have zillions of plastic troops that we wargame with all the time, and no paint has ever come off. You can bend a spear, sword, standard and watch the paint crack but as soon as the item goes back to its shape the cracks disappear! I have 54mms that are almost 5 years old and handled constantly, and have yet to flake! I love plastics, I'll never buy metal again, hooray!!! Thank you - Joe Gretsky, USA
15) After being away from 1/72nd plastic figures for close to 20 years (I got discouraged by the fact that they would not hold paint), I'm back after reading and using many of the tips I've seen here. Thanks, everyone, for your contributions. Payback time!
To temporarily mount figures for painting, I use a plastic bottle cap for each figure with a pinch of "poster putty" to hold the figure in place. The caps are free with each bottle of soda you buy and you can pick up poster putty for a buck or two at most stationery stores. The putty never dries out, and seems to be impervious to paint. Before I start a new figure, I peel off the putty, knead it a little, then put it back on the cap. Hint: The putty can really grab the figure, so when you take it off when it's finished, pry it up from under the base.
The other tip I'd like to share concerns painting spoked wheels (19th century or prior wagons and such). I stuck a "cocktail" toothpick (these are LARGE toothpicks that can be found in craft stores) in each wheel as a means to hold it. I then used an old soft margarine tub to pour my paint into: first my primer, then my finish paint. I then dipped each wheeel in the paint and let them drip a little. Then I spun the toothpick between my thumb and fingers, using it like a centrifuge to get off the excess paint. (Keep the wheel below the lip of the tub or you'll spraypaint your shirt.) A few brushstrokes to remove "puddles" finishes it up. I then stuck the toothpick into a piece of strofoam to let them dry. I was then able to bend the bowl to pour the paint back into the bottles.
To paint the rims of the wheels, I put some black paint on a "sponge brush" and simply used the toothpicks to roll the wheel over the paint. Use a light touch, here...better to roll several times then once with a heavy touch and have the rim paint slop over. - Bob Kane, USA
16) I had terrible flaking problems with painting soft plastic. I got painting tips from the internet
from a Italian fellow .. who's e-mail is no longer active.
Here is a solution that 100% good. Wash, as normal, then spray the figures with "UHU spray glue" UHU is the name of a company. The important part is that the spray glue does NOT react with plastic and that is does NOT dry! It stays sticky. Then just put your normal base coating on, I use spay paint, then paint as normal, with acrylic or enamel. The spray glue stays sticky and is sealed by the base coating. You can take your finger and flick a spear, etc. And there is no flaking at all. The sticky glue sticks to the figure and to the base.. and avoids flaking!!! A blessing.
Love Michael Carmichael and an unknown Italian Internet friend
1) To make "smoke" for battle scenes I use cotton balls. The more you pull them apart, the more realistic the "smoke becomes. I've used a few strands to make campfire smoke and a larger clump to make cannon smoke. It works pretty well but the display needs to be in an area with little air movement as the fine cotton will blow in the wrong direction. Steve Smith, USA
2) To bore out the barrels of plastic cannon take your x-acto knife and place the point in the centre of the barrel end. Twist the knife in one hand while holding the barrel straight with the other hand and carefully "drill" out an opening. Try this with a spare barrel first. You will see that this process is quick and easy and gives a nice effect. James Tymchyshyn
Copyright 2001. All rights reserved, individual authors. Disclaimer: Please read all instructions on any of the products listed above. If any of these tips appear dangerous do not attempt it! There is a risk of fire, burns, poisoning, and/or bodily injury when following any or all of these tips. Use your common sense or consult with your local fire department or poison control center to assess these risks. If you choose to continue then you do so at your own risk, neither we nor any of the above contributors are responsible for any damage to products, belongings or bodily harm. If you are under 18 please ask an adult to perform tips.