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"wash or wood glue prep for 1/72 plastic figures?" Topic

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774 hits since 28 Jul 2017
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Maxshadow28 Jul 2017 10:40 p.m. PST

I've just come back to 1/72 figures after many years away, my blog ,
and I'm very much enjoying them.
One question though. Once we were told you need wash them as prep to get the oil off before painting. But recently I read some where that you can paint them with wood glue first as prep with out losing detail.
Is this correct? Can I do this instead of washing?
I've been losing paint off corners of hats etc even though I have been sealing the figures.

per ardua Inactive Member29 Jul 2017 1:54 a.m. PST

Hi max, I still always wash my figures in washing up liquid, it takes about only minutes.i use watered down pva glue with a drop or so of black or brown ink to illuminate the detail for painting. No fixed ratio, but it does shrink tight when dry.
You can always use a spray can plastic primer from most auto shops.

Hope that helps, welcome back to painting, I restarted about a year ago and really enjoy it and the shared knowledge of painting tips from across the globe that are now available that were not then.


Maxshadow29 Jul 2017 3:20 a.m. PST

Thanks PA!

robert piepenbrink Supporting Member of TMP29 Jul 2017 4:15 a.m. PST

Wash. Once you've washed, you might want to try a plastic adherent primer--possibly in the coat color?
But what are you using for a sealant? I went to using PVA for a sealant coat on the plastics some years back, and have had no further trouble.

Vintage Wargaming29 Jul 2017 5:02 a.m. PST

The best finish for soft plastic figures is clear Plastidip spray. It lays down a flexible rubberised coating. It's not cheap but you won't have any paint loss, even if you bend muskets/spears/bayonets on purpose.

davbenbak Supporting Member of TMP29 Jul 2017 8:25 a.m. PST

It's not everyone's cup of tea but I've taken to priming mine in spray gesso. It sticks to the plastic as well as Krylon but real benefit is how it soaks up acrylic paints. I still wash my figures with Dawn dish washing liquid, warm water and a tooth brush. As an experiment, I soaked them in vinegar over night which did help the paint stick but seemed to make them more brittle.

attilathepun4729 Jul 2017 9:34 a.m. PST

I have also heard that clear polyurethane varnish can be used as a base coat to help paint adhere better. One advantage of that would be that you could simply dip the figures instead of having to brush on PVA glue.

dantheman Supporting Member of TMP29 Jul 2017 3:55 p.m. PST

I prime with paint-on artist gesso.After painting I then seal with polyurethane floor polish. Works for me.

Personal logo Cacique Caribe Supporting Member of TMP29 Jul 2017 10:41 p.m. PST


I would love to see close ups of what the figures look like when you are finally done painting them with your specific methods.

Got any photo links that you could share with us here?


Martin Rapier29 Jul 2017 11:57 p.m. PST

Wash them in hot soapy water first, then I undercoat in undiluted PVA.

You will lose a tiny bit of detail, but it is better than flaking paint.

Marc at work30 Jul 2017 12:07 p.m. PST

TMP link

These are some I did – no particular prep, just a plastic primer, and varnish on top

Enjoy the plastics – I get very little flaking. My figures are based so they survive games night just fine.

And some WW2 I did for my son are varnished using Liquitex acrylic matte medium – a posh thin pva. They have survived being bundled into a shoe box for kid storage


Marc at work30 Jul 2017 12:10 p.m. PST

TMP link

And near the bottom of this thread are some Airfix French infantry – these used the new Vallejo acrylic polyurethane primer (which sounds like a contradiction but that's what they call it). Very flexible and has stuck really well to the old Airfix shiny plastic. These were then treated to the Army Painter dip and a coat of matte varnish

All the best


Personal logo Cacique Caribe Supporting Member of TMP30 Jul 2017 12:33 p.m. PST

Marc: "no particular prep, just a plastic primer, and varnish on top"

This is amazing! I would have thought it was never used for gaming.



Rod MacArthur31 Jul 2017 12:15 p.m. PST

I don't bother to prep them at all, just paint with Humbrol enamels. You can see them on my website here:

Some are more than 50 years old, with hardly any chipping, flaking or damage, however I have so many that any one unit does not see a lot of wargaming.


Marc at work31 Jul 2017 2:34 p.m. PST

Definitely wargame pieces

I think modern plastics are great wargame pieces – and stand close scrutiny, at a great price point

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