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"How well do 1/72 Plastic Infantry paint up?" Topic

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2,772 hits since 6 Mar 2019
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swammeyjoe06 Mar 2019 5:31 p.m. PST

In a fit of fancy a couple years back I bought 8 boxes of 1/72 WW2 Infantry, intending to do Europe '44-'45 at platoon level. Started on my US Airborne and some Germans but soon got distracted by real life (and having an infant) and forgot about the project.

I see all the wonderfully painted 28mm figs and wonder if I should just abandon the scale and go for the bigger toys.

So this is a bit of a "sell me on the scale", show me the top quality painted 1/72 plastics. I've seen some great 20mm metal, but I don't know if the figs I've got have that sort of potential.

I'd probably send them off to a pro painter, so assuming slightly above average painting skill, what sort of results can I hope for?

I've got tons and tons of 15mm Ancients, so I know small figs can look good, I just wonder about these plastic castings in particular.

Lee49406 Mar 2019 6:33 p.m. PST

What brand plastics? I've played 15mm, 1/72 and 28mm a lot. For economy, ie big battles I like 15mm. For smaller battles 28mm cant be beat. In my mind 1/72 is worst of both worlds. After years of playing my 15s still look ok. My 28s are still gorgeous. And my 1/72 scale stuff looks like crap. If I was starting over from scratch and money was no object I'd do all 28mm plastics. The Warlord 28mm plastics build up beautifully with each figure having a unique pose, custom equipment and with a detailed base becoming a mini diorama. Enjoy. Cheers!

swammeyjoe06 Mar 2019 6:44 p.m. PST

That's kind of what I was thinking/afraid of as well. I've got a mix of Caesar, Airfix (for Germans) and some IMEX. The Caesar Brits and US troops seem to have the most detail.

I have the discretionary funds that I could put together 28mm platoons but it'd take a little longer and I'd need to assemble the figs as well (my nightmare haha). But I know that I could probably personally paint then to a standard I'm content with (four colors, heavy wash, minor drybrush), whereas with smaller figures I often find I end up with blobs of paint in sort of the appropriate places.

I'm leaning 28mm but since I already have all the 1/72 stuff (and some even partially painted) I'm open to being convinced to keep at it. I definitely don't have the time to do it in both scales.

nnascati Supporting Member of TMP06 Mar 2019 6:50 p.m. PST

Swamy joe, save up the money for 20mm AB WWII figures. They are metal, one piece and gorgeous. Having built a lot of 28mm plastic for commission clients, I think they are a royal pain to build, and often end up with very awkward poses

nnascati Supporting Member of TMP06 Mar 2019 6:51 p.m. PST

Also, I've seen plenty of nicely painted 1/72nd scale plastic WWII figures

Personal logo 15mm and 28mm Fanatik Supporting Member of TMP06 Mar 2019 7:00 p.m. PST

I/72 Caesar minis paint up just fine:



Here are some IMEX and Revell US Airborne:



Send your figs to Fernando Enterprises in Sri Lanka. They can paint up your 1/72 minis like this at a good price.

AB figures are nice but at $1.50 USD per fig they can be more expensive than even 28mm. You can get hard plastic 1/72 PSC sets designed for gaming (minimal to no assembly required) for much cheaper.

Personal logo miniMo Supporting Member of TMP06 Mar 2019 7:10 p.m. PST

I've found that 1/72 when primed with Krylon spray paints hold up very very well. I wouldn't trust any other primer on bendy plastic.

Rich Bliss06 Mar 2019 7:36 p.m. PST

I do a lot of plastic 1/72 figures and I have no issues. I've been collecting them for over 20 years now, so it's too late to move to another scale for me.

Zephyr106 Mar 2019 8:47 p.m. PST

1/72 also has the benefit that just about any vehicles you want/need are also available in that scale.

Maha Bandula06 Mar 2019 8:47 p.m. PST

Your standards may differ, but these are what I consider well painted examples of plastic:

But agree with nnascati if money is not an issue, AB Figures all the way. I mean, Steve Zaloga uses them.

Green Tiger07 Mar 2019 2:00 a.m. PST

Plastics paint up fine and quickly… If you just want to paint to high standard and maybe skirmish get some 1/35 figures – loads of lovely stuff on the market.

UshCha07 Mar 2019 2:04 a.m. PST

Modern paints like TAMIA are fine on Revell Plastic. In the end it comes off but it does on Metal which lose it faster than revell platic. My figures are used so they take hammer, they are not for the display case. Plus platic does not damage like metal so their overall life as a wargames figure is well in excess of metal. Before then the trick was to coat with neat PVA, it drys clear and prevents flaking.

mysteron Supporting Member of TMP07 Mar 2019 4:30 a.m. PST

Piers is an advocate of A & B figs and paints them up to a superb standard. May be worth searching for some of the older threads with examples of his painting

Phrodon07 Mar 2019 6:29 a.m. PST

I have painted a lot of plastic figures over the years. I do find the paint comes off as things bend or get handled. I also find that plastic figures, um, well, look "plasticy" on the gaming table. But everyone's taste is different.

deephorse07 Mar 2019 7:14 a.m. PST

Modern paints like TAMIA are fine on Revell Plastic. In the end it comes off but it does on Metal which lose it faster than revell platic. My figures are used so they take hammer, they are not for the display case. Plus platic does not damage like metal so their overall life as a wargames figure is well in excess of metal.

I wouldn't agree with any of that. I have gamed with 20mm metal figures for over fourty years and none are damaged and none have paint flaking off. I dont know how you treat your toys but I look after mine. Too much time and money invested to handle them roughly.

Sgt Slag07 Mar 2019 7:36 a.m. PST

I've painted plenty of Caesar plastic mini's. They are incredibly affordable, decent quality, sculpting, and molding. There are many varied ways to prime them. I've had a Caesar Goblin army of 108+ figures in use for over five years now: no flaking issues. They're one of my favorite armies to play with.

I also play with, and even painted, regular Plastic Army Men figures… Now those will flake off their paint! I tried sealing them with urethane stain, but it, too, will flake off. Granted, I never primed them: I only painted the bits that differed from the plastic's color -- incredibly fast painting technique; I followed that by The Dip. The urethane-stain typically lasted 5+ years, but they are now 11 years old, since painting, and around 1/2 are flaking on weapons, and other extremities…

I've not had any issues yet, with Caesar, and Red Box's Dark Alliance plastic figures. They seem to be made of a different type of plastic, than Army Men figures. Being much smaller, they suffer far less flexing, as well. The amount and quality of detail in the Red Box Alliance figures is rather impressive -- close, to,if not equal to, 25mm metal miniatures, IMO.

Honestly, I believe the quality of their painting, is solely dependent upon the painter's skills, not the materials they use. Some professionals use strictly craft paints, and their work is revered. Whatever you choose, I wish you good gaming. Cheers!

Pauls Bods07 Mar 2019 7:48 a.m. PST

As has been said, depends on the painter, not necessarily the paints

Marc at work07 Mar 2019 8:20 a.m. PST

Paul for the +1

I like 1/72 plastics. I like AB 20mm but find the price point "interesting". For me, 28mm figures have proportions that are a bit "off", and exaggerated, but it comes down to personal preference.

1/72 does, as stated above, open up a wonderful world of tanks and planes as well.

Marc at work07 Mar 2019 8:22 a.m. PST

I rate these Very highly


Personal logo 15mm and 28mm Fanatik Supporting Member of TMP07 Mar 2019 8:39 a.m. PST

I like AB 20mm but find the price point "interesting".

$1 USD per figure would be more appropriate and bring it more in line with their 18mm Napoleonics (0.70 per fig).

donlowry07 Mar 2019 9:01 a.m. PST

You need to wash the plastic figures first, then prime them. That should take care of the flaking-paint problem.

Pauls Bods07 Mar 2019 9:51 a.m. PST

@Don. Not even that. Ive never washed a fig yet and have never had Problems with flaking.

Jacques07 Mar 2019 10:36 a.m. PST

Swammeyjoe I would suggest that you have a look at some of the following blogs for inspiration, Paul's Bods, Will's Wargaming, and 20th Century Wargaming.There are others as well of course but these are prime examples of what can be achieved with 1/72 to 1/76 plastics. As for myself 99% of my figs are plastics with just some metals for stuff like heavy weapons etc.

Oberlindes Sol LIC Supporting Member of TMP07 Mar 2019 10:49 a.m. PST

I bought 8 boxes of 1/72 WW2 Infantry, intending to do Europe '44-'45 at platoon level

I'm not sure 8 boxes will be enough. Allied forces on D-Day were about 175,000 men, so about 4,000 platoons … how many men come in a box?

Fish08 Mar 2019 1:51 a.m. PST

Just nicely!

companycmd08 Mar 2019 10:05 a.m. PST

plastics: wash in warm water with lysol wipe per box in plastic container or glass would be better

dry overnight

prime with krylon plastic primer

paint with acrylic flesh entirely. for reasons unknown, the acrylic flesh color takes to the plastic better than any other color.

clear coat if you want before painting any more details.

then when done mount to clear bases from litko or other manf. clear bases are the cats payamas.

companycmd08 Mar 2019 10:07 a.m. PST

airfix figures are useless btw. the plastic formulae they are using is pretty much aweful by galatic standards. Unless of course you dont paint airfix figures and just dry brush them with a dark color. and besides, all airfix are 1/87 or 1/76 NOT 1/72.

FugazzaWithCheese10 Mar 2019 2:39 p.m. PST

Sounds like the stuff I used to hear about 1/72 before taking up wargaming: that the figures' arms would bend and break, that the paint would flake, that my brushes would all get STDs if I dared paint in this scale. Well, it's been like ten years and none of that has happened so far. Besides, with so many miniatures being made by *scale* model manufacturers, 1/72 seems to be one of the few choices if you don't want your soldiers to have the anatomical proportions of two-year-olds.

Doc Martens from Canada10 Mar 2019 9:44 p.m. PST

+10 for the "anatomical proportions of two-year-olds" Fugazza!

1/72 figures paint very nicely. Easier than 28mm. Give it a try, I think you will be pleasantly surprised.

Lion in the Stars11 Mar 2019 12:49 a.m. PST

+1 for the recommendation of Krylon Fusion for your primer/basecoat. That makes plastic models far more robust than you'd expect.

I use a red-brown for my base coat most of the time.

Marc33594 Supporting Member of TMP11 Mar 2019 4:41 a.m. PST

The problem is we are talking about plastic figures as if all one type. You have hard plastic figures, like Battlefront and PSC and soft figures like Airfix. And there are even some semi-hard plastic figures. Most of the problems described here are for the soft figures. Also the composition of the plastic matters. Not all hard plastic figures, for example, take paint as easily as others.

John Leahy11 Mar 2019 5:26 p.m. PST

I have Airfix figures that were painted 40+ years ago and haven't shed any paint. Same with other 1/72 figs. It can happen. That's why I started using Plasti-dip clear rubber spray about 15 years ago. Your figs are almost indestructible. Ace Hardware carries it. Great stuff!

Thomas Thomas14 Mar 2019 12:44 p.m. PST

Second recommendation for Krylon Fusion (comes in camo colors by the way). Works at least as well as metal primers do on metal figures. Plastic bends and can shed paint but this is less of a hassle than metal breaking off.

20mm is an excellent "scale". Plastic figures have (generally) more realistic proportions esp. weapons. Large enough for personality figures but AFVs foot print is much more reasonable than 28mm (either 1/56 or 1/48). You can go all out (AB) or "cheap" – many plastic companies and have a great looking collection. (If you don't paint there are plenty of pre-paints available esp vehicles).

Thomas J. Thomas
Fame & Glory Games
Command Command – 20mm Miniature WWII Wargame Rules

Lion in the Stars14 Mar 2019 1:08 p.m. PST

Those Krylon Fusion paints don't care what the underlying plastic is, they bond to EVERYTHING. Even metal, though not quite as tight as dedicated metal primers.

Had I not started historical gaming with Flames of War, I almost certainly would have gone 20mm.

$1 per figure would be more appropriate and bring it more in line with [AB] 18mm Napoleonics (0.70 per fig).

Except 20mm minis are a lot more than 30% bigger than 18mm Napoleonics. Assuming 18mm as 1/87 scale, the 1/72 scale minis are 20% bigger in each direction, which means they take 77% more metal to cast. To say nothing of the time to sculpt (bigger details take more time), and research required.

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