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"My dipped figures have become sticky!" Topic

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3,048 hits since 29 Jul 2013
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123Mac Inactive Member29 Jul 2013 1:49 p.m. PST

Note, that's "have become," not "are." I had a few batches where they came out too sticky right away, and I think I know why, but most peculiar are the minis I painted months ago that were perfectly fine but which now feel tacky and, despite being sprayed with matte, shiny. I use Minwax Polyshades Classic Black Satin for the dip and Treehouse Studio matte spray.

Any idea why this happened? Any idea how to fix it (beside "repaint your miniatures" or "don't use the dip")?

PygmaelionAgain Inactive Member29 Jul 2013 1:59 p.m. PST

I'd wait for smarter TMPers than me, but it sounds like the outer layer of your dip dried, but it was still wet under that layer when you matte sealed. If it's still liquid, it could ruin your matte topcoat easily.

Unless somehow your Matte Sealant contains a solvent for the polyurethane, or you've got an open can of solvent right next to your paint shelf, I can't imagine what the heck would cause that.

Someone on the page turns their oven on way way low and bakes their dipped figures, but I'm not sure what that might do to them in their described condition. It could cure that dip coat but good, then you could rematte.

redmist112229 Jul 2013 2:32 p.m. PST

A silly question – did you ensure that you mixed/shaken up the Minwax good before applying? That can lead to drying issues.


123Mac Inactive Member29 Jul 2013 2:45 p.m. PST

@PA: That sounds plausible. I let my dip dry for a full day before spraying, but it's possible it sometimes wasn't enough (there may have been some relatively humid days where I tried dipping).

I'm desperate enough to try the baking trick. Any notion what temp to use, and whether it is advisable to try with plastic figures?

@redmist: I give it a good stir every time. One mistake I was definitely making was lazily not sealing the can after use, which I believe led to evaporation and a too-thick dip. I've since added some thinner, but I think that explains why some of my minis weren't drying properly. The ones that seem to have dried, but are now not, are the mystery.

Garand29 Jul 2013 2:53 p.m. PST

Silly question, but are the figures Reaper Bones?


I have left the building Inactive Member29 Jul 2013 2:54 p.m. PST

I've never tried baking a figure but I have dried out tomatoes in an oven, ok it's not the same but this is as close as I can get

the trick is to have the oven on as low a heat as possible (if it's gas you just want the pilot light on) and leave the door open and then slowly dry out the tomatoes/figures

another idea is to leave the figures somewhere warm and dry, like an airing cupboard.

basically you need to dry out the moisture slowly so as to stop the varnish cracking, don't try and rush it

Personal logo Sgt Slag Supporting Member of TMP29 Jul 2013 3:02 p.m. PST

I have baked several hundred figures: plastic (Army Men, and others, including Mage Knight, and other wargame miniatures brands), resin, metal (including Model Metal, from Prince August), and Bones figures, without harm. I bake them at 175 F (lowest oven temperature), prop the door open to allow the fumes to escape; run my exhaust hood fan, and open a nearby window, to further vent the fumes. No harm to figures, no harm to the oven, or the house -- high level of ventilation is required, though. Bake them on an old cookie sheet, for 30 minutes, then remove, and let cool. At this low temperature, nothing will happen to them (Army Men figures have never melted, or even deformed, and they are made of HDPE plastic, which melts at 275 F).

This will cure the Polyshades, if that is the issue. If it is some strange chemical reaction, all bets are off. Best of luck. Cheers!

DyeHard29 Jul 2013 3:28 p.m. PST

There should not be any "strange chemistry".

I am a chemist, and can tell you that the polymerization of urethane is a one way reaction. No solvent will redissolve it.

I to have baked many figures. Some ovens swing wildly in temperature. Preheat with some cast iron frying pans in to will even that out and make sure it is below the boil temp of water before and figures see the inside. Keep figures away from the heating elements.

I did not catch if this was the water soluble or the mineral spirits type MinWax, but both cure from the outside in. A good solid skin forms while the inside stays nice a fluid. This is part of the trick that makes them work. The water type seems to take even longer. But 24 hours is often not enough, even 48 hours is a risk. Bake at low temp for as long as you can stand. The 30 min will not be enough for spray finished figures. I would go at least 4 hours as you now have to drive the solvent out through the matte spray finish. I am not familiar with Treehouse Studio, I stick (no pun intended) with Testers. But I do not think it is at all to blame. Bake them, let them cool well, all the way through, and see if they are still sticky. If not, dust them lightly with your matte finish. If still sticky, well, then, best of luck to you. Perhaps a Pine-Sol bath to try and start all over again.

Jovian1 Inactive Member29 Jul 2013 3:35 p.m. PST

If the figures are tacky, one of the sure-fire ways to cure them is to leave them in a box away from each other which has air holes cut into it and leave it in a sunny window sill for several days to allow the sun to heat up the box (and the contents inside) while restricting the exposure to UV rays. This method presents fewer risks than the oven-cure methods which could melt any low-temp alloys or warp plastic and resin figures (especially resin figures which will warp at temperatures well below boiling point). The key here is to not touch the figures and let them cure over several days in a heated environment. I've also used a heat-vent in the winter to cure.

To avoid this problem in the future, I always allow at least 48 hours or longer for any Minwax product to cure and prefer to leave them to cure in a warm location for three or four days before applying any spray sealant.

ancientsgamer Supporting Member of TMP29 Jul 2013 8:51 p.m. PST

A crock pot is a great way to bake figures as well. Get a bunch of large and cheap ones and put them on their lowest setting. Heard on some old thread that figure painters that used oil paints did this all the time. Or you could live in Texas and just leave them out from about 11:00 A to 8:00 P! lol

Personal logo The Tin Dictator Supporting Member of TMP30 Jul 2013 7:44 a.m. PST

I have found that if the figures are a bit tacky I can fix that by "painting" the figures with another real thin coat of polyeurothane. Use a matte clear rather than the colored shades and let dry. I never "bake" figures.

Personal logo Sgt Slag Supporting Member of TMP30 Jul 2013 8:13 a.m. PST

I checked the temperatures on most crockpots: usually from 160-210 F, perfect for curing Minwax Polyshades urethane-stain! Now I will be on a mission to locate a used crockpot at garage sales. I also think I can make a filter 'hood' to capture the fumes: found plans for using a 5-gallon bucket, with activated charcoal filters, to allow spray painting indoors, years ago, been waiting to build it. The paint-fume-sucker-thing may get built this year.

Baking/curing figures within a crockpot seems to be a perfect solution, much more efficient than using an oven, more convenient, and portable. Only concern I have is localized heating within the pot, which could melt figures. Easy enough to work around: use something to elevate the figures from the surface within the cooker, maybe a brick, to avoid localized heat damage. Thanks for sharing, DyeHard and ancientsgamer: didn't know about such things (no knowledge of chemistry, never thought of a crockpot), you've filled in some 'blanks', and given some very useful information. Cheers!

123Mac Inactive Member30 Jul 2013 2:28 p.m. PST

Thanks for all the tips, guys! Baking appeals to my impatient side, but as our ventilation isn't very robust and I don't have a baking sheet I want to spare, I'll try Jovian's trick. Putting the minis in a box with air holes sounds a bit like the miniature-painter equivalent of a snipe hunt, but I can see it working! I'll report back.

VCarter Supporting Member of TMP31 Jul 2013 6:13 a.m. PST

I have one impediment that would prevent me from the oven option… My wife

A used crock pot would be a variable option.


Personal logo Sgt Slag Supporting Member of TMP31 Jul 2013 6:27 a.m. PST

I chatted with my wife about it last night: new crockpots start at around $10 USD, and go up from there. Time to run to the local DIY stores to see what I can find. >;-)

I have a painting/crafting room, in the lower level. By adding the crockpot, I will be able to do almost everything in that room (a painting booth, with ventilation, is still in the planning stage, for the garage), so no more carrying a tray full of wet figures up the stairs, to the kitchen.

Great thread! Will make painting sooo much easier… Cheers!

Coelacanth1938 Inactive Member09 Aug 2013 9:05 p.m. PST

How about using a food dryer to dry out minis?

123Mac Inactive Member23 Aug 2013 1:18 p.m. PST

An update: Jovian's trick, incubating the figures in a shoebox with holes and set in a sunny spot, hasn't worked, either because it's been unseasonably cool, or because there was already so much sealant on them.

I also tried baking today, 4-5 hours at 175 degrees. The good news is that none of them melted; the bad news is that they still seem just as sticky as before. I'm going to try baking them all day on Monday, and if that doesn't work, despair! followed by a trip to Target for some Simple Green.

123Mac Inactive Member26 Aug 2013 6:42 p.m. PST

I tried baking for 12 hours today, and despair! I baked at 175 degrees with no luck. Does anyone imagine I'd have better luck with a higher temperature?

Also I noticed something interesting. I've got an odd hodgepodge of figures and figure parts from Caesar Miniatures, Reaper, Italeri, Hat, and Twilight Creations. The Italeri and Hat parts aren't sticky, while everything else is. Caesar has a somewhat softer plastic, and the Reaper and Twilight plastic is very bendy. Any insights?

Personal logo Sgt Slag Supporting Member of TMP26 Aug 2013 8:47 p.m. PST

I doubt higher temperatures will help, but they may very well melt the figures…

How about donning nitrile gloves, and using a rag to daub the figures with Paint Thinner, to try to remove the sticky mess? This is less drastic than full-blown stripping, and it might just save the underlying paint. If this does not work, there is always a bath in Stripper… Best of luck! Cheers!

123Mac Inactive Member27 Aug 2013 11:15 a.m. PST

A ray of hope: I tried DyeHard's suggestion of matte spraying a couple of the baked figures, and they are now much less sticky. They're still a bit tacky, but it's a big improvement. Maybe once it dries more fully, my problem will be solved. I'll try it on the rest today.

123Mac Inactive Member28 Aug 2013 1:35 p.m. PST

So it took about eight coats and a full can of matte spray over the 70-80 problem figures, but the stickiness has been significantly reduced or eliminated! Here's hoping the solution is permanent.

Thanks to everyone for your suggestions and insights!

Personal logo Sgt Slag Supporting Member of TMP29 Aug 2013 10:18 a.m. PST

A hassle, but nothing compared to stripping, and repainting… Best of luck. Cheers!

Mal Sabreur Inactive Member30 Aug 2013 11:43 a.m. PST

123Mac, Don't bake them in an oven. get a lidded box about the size of a shoe box and cot a hole on the side big enough to take the nozzle of the wife's hair dryer. Place the figures in the box, insert nozzle and run on hot if the figures are metal, warm if not. This method will even dry oils or alkyds.

Grandviewroad Inactive Member30 Aug 2013 3:38 p.m. PST

I've never had that happen with any of my dipping. There's variety in the drying time depending on the environement, but that's about it.

Double-check the directions on the can and follow them is my suggestion.

123Mac Inactive Member30 Aug 2013 4:30 p.m. PST

I'm more and more convinced that part of the issue is with the mini manufacturer. The Caesar Miniatures plastic seems susceptible, while others are not. I have no idea why, but it's remarkable. I just did a round of figures with headswaps on Caesar bods, and the bods are now sticky (after several days to dry, by the way) while the heads are not.

Burying them with matte spray has helped but not solved the problem. I may try a matte varnish: any suggestions? I may also try that hairdryer trick, Mal. Thanks!

Personal logo Sgt Slag Supporting Member of TMP30 Aug 2013 7:30 p.m. PST

The hair dryer will flush out the vapors, which an oven/crockpot, will not. Nice idea! This should dramatically speed up the process, if you have the patience to use this approach, as I suspect it will be more 'hands-on' holding the blower. Still, a very nice idea. Thanks for handing out another tool to throw into the box. Cheers!

Mal Sabreur Inactive Member31 Aug 2013 2:01 a.m. PST

<qif you have the patience to use this approach, as I suspect it will be more 'hands-on' holding the blowerq>
You don't need to hold the dryer, just lay it on it's side with the nozzle through the hole.
I don't like spray undercoats so I use this for drying brushed undercoats-about 5 minutes, oil paints take about 10 minutes and alkyds(synthetic oils) about 10-15 minutes. I've found it really speeds up painting time as I'm not waiting for coats to dry.

123Mac Inactive Member31 Aug 2013 10:31 a.m. PST

Commenters on my blog are noting that they've had trouble in the past with solvents (like the mineral spirits found in the Minwax Polyshades I use as a dip) reacting weirdly with the Caesar Minis plastic, and that I should use Future floor polish or something similar to seal it next time. I've heard you can use Future mixed with paint as a dip, so I may just abandon the Minwax and try that for next time. In the meantime, I'm wondering if I can use Future to seal the reactive figures after the fact.

Personal logo Sgt Slag Supporting Member of TMP31 Aug 2013 8:00 p.m. PST

Mal Sabreur: brilliant! Thanks for sharing that important detail.

123Mac: Future + Acrylic Paint = Magic Wash. I did try a painting technique on plastic figures, years ago, where the figures were painted with a tacky glue, first (it would only come off of the plastic with vegetable oil!), then paint was applied to the glue, which removed the tackiness. Since Future is essentially acrylic paint, minus the pigment, it might work. Good luck. Cheers!

Mal Sabreur Inactive Member02 Sep 2013 4:09 a.m. PST

If you need to strip the figures, instead of using paint stripper, try brake fluid. Leave the figures in overnight and the paint should more or less slide off. Give them a good wash in soapy water afterwards. This doesn't melt the figures like some strippers will.
The brake fluid can be re-used so store it in a screw top jar.

123Mac Inactive Member06 Oct 2013 5:32 a.m. PST

Late update: I brushed a coat of Future on all the affected minis, and it seems like a more promising solution that the can of matte I emptied on them. One coat has come close to removing all stickiness. I want to apply another, but I haven't had time.

Chargeit Inactive Member20 Apr 2015 7:33 a.m. PST

I know this is a older post but, I was wondering if you had properly prepped your miniatures before painting?

I've noticed that a lot of people have issues with the bones miniatures. A common issue I see is that they didn't clean their miniatures before painting them.

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