Friday, 24 June 2011

Paint on, paint off.

Yesterday I put the finishing touches to the Redoubt Brits, those that I'd undercoated back in 2004 and painted the jackets of seven of them. The painting was finished, the Army Painter Quickshade worked its magic, and the bases were flocked. In addition I finished flocking the new bases of my first unit of Germans, and started painting a second, of which more later. Plus I primed and started the unit of Ironclad Miniatures Guardsmen and primed a third German unit. It's still very early in the painting, but it did seem to be real progress.

Today, that seems to have come apart a little. The second unit of Germans seem to be nothing but trouble. Since my paints from 2004 were in a pretty poor state (I managed to resurrect a few, but some were beyond recovery) I've switched to some much cheaper but generally equally good craft Acrylics. For the gamer on a budget it's a no-brainer - £2.50 for a small pot of paint from a wargaming brand, or £1.80 for a tube of craft acrylics containing four times as much paint. Anyway up until now I'd had no problems with the craft acrylics over a white undercoat, but for some reason the Ultramarine Blue I was using for the German jackets just didn't want to cover well. I had to layer it on heavily, and even then it's very patchy and there seems to be an awful lot of white "missed" spots now it's dried. I soldiered on this morning painting the guns (black and brown) and the equipment belts (black) and got halfway through the unit's collars & epaulettes before having to give up. It just seemed like everything was going wrong with the paint job on this unit of Germans, and I was completely unable to put the paint where I wanted it to be. Weird, I guess some days you just aren't on form.

One thing new I did try was the Army Painter white primer on the Guardsmen and the third German unit mentioned above. If nothing else it's the most powerful spray can I've ever used. The first time I tried using it in the kitchen, with lots of newspaper scattered around. The spray extended well past the recommended 20cm spraying distance and threw up a relatively huge cloud of mist that hung in the air for a long time and threatened to float well outside the newspapered area. The second time I took it outside and sprayed into a box and again it threw up a massive vapour cloud that's given part of the patio area a nice white speckled effect.

Since I've got three more units of Germans awaiting primer, and it's looking like the craft blue acrylic is going to require a time-sucking second coat, I've decided to splash out on a tin of the Army Painter Blue colour primer, and see how that works.

Turning now to the vehicles, I had inherited four medium steam tanks that started life as Atlantis toys (though I watched the film the other day and don't remember seeing this tank in the film - maybe one of the Disney marketeers is a VSF gamer and just wanted some new toys) The previous owner had painted two of them in a WWI camoflage pattern which I wasn't sure I could duplicate, so I decided to try stripping the paint so I could start with four fresh identical models.

Now not long ago I discovered the wonderful paint-stripping properties of Dettol antiseptic. (US readers try Wintergreen) Left overnight it can strip paint from metal or plastic models without damaging the underlying model. More importantly it's significantly less funky than other paint stripping substances (which generally come with dire warning about toxicity, causticity and dire warning about what to do if heaven forbid you get some in your eye - on the other hand, some people gargle with Dettol as a cure for a sore throat). While I've had quite a bit of success using it to strip paint from my old 15mm SF figures, many of which were picked up in dribs and drabs from Bring & Buys and thus have varying paint jobs, it doesn't seem to be working so well on these two plastic tanks. It's weakening the paint all right, but it's turning into a gloopy gel the same colour and consistency as pond scum, which I'm finding quite difficult and time consuming to actually remove from the model. After two 24hr Dettol Baths, there's still plenty of paint clinging to nooks and crannies, and I'm starting to see a noticeable softening and roughening of the plastic, so it looks like I'm going to have to give in and paint over the fragments.

On the bright side, the softened and slightly distorted plastic now looks a lot more cast iron and steampunky than the crisp, injection moulded lines of the original vehicles. Which leads me to wonder if I shouldn't put the two unpainted tanks through a Dettol bath as well, in hope of achieving a similar effect.

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