Step-by-step Guide: Stripping Warhammer Miniatures

Whether you’re looking back at models you painted a decade ago, recently acquired some second hand models, or simply changed your mind on a paint scheme, there are plenty of reasons you might want to start over.

The good news is that you can actually strip your model of paint completely and start again.

In this guide we’ll take you through the steps as I strip a model of my own. This is an old Plastic Ork Warboss, who was painted somewhere around 10-15 years ago. While the colours might all be in the correct places, I know I can paint this better today.

Step-by-step Guide: Stripping Warhammer Miniatures

First, gather the models you want to strip. The number of models you can strip at once is mostly determined by how many models you can add to your thinner, but small batches of models are usually best. For this tutorial I’m just stripping the one model.

Step-by-step Guide: Stripping Warhammer Miniatures

Alongside your models you’ll also want to get hold of some paint stripper. There are numerous different paint strippers you may see suggested, including:

  • Biostrip 20
  • Isopropyl Alcohol
  • SimpleGreen
  • Dettol
  • Nail polish remover
  • Brake Fluid
  • Methylated Spirits

Each method will work slightly differently. We’ve been using Biostrip 20, which is more of a goo-like consistency than some of the alternatives. It’s water based, as well as being non-toxic, non-flammable and non-caustic, with no hazardous or noxious fumes. Generally it’s a pretty safe stripper to work with.

Step-by-step Guide: Stripping Warhammer Miniatures

When using Biostrip 20, you can add the models directly into the pot. Other strippers may come in a bottle, so you’ll need to find a container to use for this step.

Step-by-step Guide: Stripping Warhammer Miniatures

It’s important to make sure that the models are fully submerged, as the stripper can only remove the paint it touches. If you’re using a stripper with a lid like this, you can add the lid back on at this stage to keep smells contained, and stop pets and dust from getting near the paint stripper.

Step-by-step Guide: Stripping Warhammer Miniatures

The duration to leave your models for will vary depending on the type of paint stripper you’re using, as well as what material your models are made of. For Biostrip 20, the perfect time seems to be around 6 hours.

Due to the harsh nature of paint stippers, it’s best to wear gloves whenever removing or handling a model which has been in paint stripper.

Step-by-step Guide: Stripping Warhammer Miniatures

Next, you’ll want a workstation with access to warm water.

Do not do this over an open drain such as in a sink. There’s a good chance that the paint stripper will weaken the glue on a model, so small parts are likely to come off while cleaning. There’s no point stripping a model in the first place if you lose it’s head down the drain!

I tend to find the cleaning process easiest if you start by rinsing the model under warm water. This will help get rid of any excess paint stripper (especially helpful with Biostrip 20, which is incredibly thick).

Step-by-step Guide: Stripping Warhammer Miniatures

Then grab an unused toothbrush or other cleaning brush and start gently scrubbing the model. The paint should immediately start to peel away, as you can see here.

If you’re finding that the paint isn’t coming off easily, then you may need to leave it in the paint stripper for a little longer before trying again.

Step-by-step Guide: Stripping Warhammer Miniatures

Then it’s just a case of continuing to rinse and brush until the paint is completely gone from the model. I tend to find that a toothbrush can remove 95% of the paint on a model. For harder to reach areas, you can normally use a toothpick to come in afterwards and scrape the remaining paint out.

Step-by-step Guide: Stripping Warhammer Miniatures

Once the model has dried, most paint should now be removed. Give the model a final clean-up, and you’re ready to repair and repaint.

If you give it a go, let me know! Leave a comment here or tag me on Instagram at @ajb_minis.

Did you enjoy this article? You could always tip the author with a coffee (or something stronger). If you want to pick up some Biostrip 20 or any of the paints used in this guide then check out Element Games. They have great deals on a wide range of minis, paints and basing materials. Finally, make sure you’re following us on Instagram to stay up to date and get involved in our community!

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