Help support TMP

"Am I overdoing it?" Topic

27 Posts

All members in good standing are free to post here. Opinions expressed here are solely those of the posters, and have not been cleared with nor are they endorsed by The Miniatures Page.

For more information, see the TMP FAQ.

Back to the Victorian Colonial Board Message Board

Back to the 19th Century Discussion Message Board

Back to the Plastic Figures Message Board

Back to the Early 20th Century Painting Guides Message Board

Back to the 19th Century Painting Guides Message Board

Back to the Painting Message Board

Areas of Interest

19th Century
World War One

Featured Hobby News Article

Featured Link

Featured Ruleset

Savage Wars of Peace

Rating: gold star gold star gold star gold star gold star gold star gold star 

Featured Showcase Article

Crucible's Boogey Men

Whatever happened to the Boogey Men?

Featured Profile Article

First Look: Battlefront's Rural Fields and Fences

Personal logo Editor in Chief Bill The Editor of TMP Fezian gets his hands on some fields and fences.

Current Poll

2,979 hits since 2 Sep 2020
©1994-2023 Bill Armintrout
Comments or corrections?

Blackhorse MP03 Sep 2020 4:06 p.m. PST

As we all know, one of the biggest drawbacks to using the soft plastic Airfix-type figures is that the paint chips and flakes off pretty easily. I've started a jaunt into the Beau Geste FFL era and as its a secondary area of interest for me I didn't want to spend a lot of money on it. Hence the Airfix-type plastics.

Anyway, my method of preventing chipping and flaking of the paint consists of 6 steps:

1. Wash with dish detergent
2. Spray on a coat of Plasti-Dip(which I learned about here)
3. Paint
4. Minwax Polyshades Tudor Satin(ie "The Dip")
5. 2nd coat of Plasti-Dip
6. Matte varnish

My intention is to seal the paint between multiple layers of Plasti-Dip to prevent the paint coming off even if it should chip or flake due to bending and stuff.

I haven't gamed with the figures yet, but they seem very solid and much less "bendy" around the usual areas like ankles, spears and gun barrels. I'm optimistic.

So what do you think? An effective method or overkill? I look forward to your input and any advice you care to pass on. Thanks in advance.

nnascati Supporting Member of TMP03 Sep 2020 4:11 p.m. PST

Just using acrylic paint and a good seal should be enough.

Legionarius03 Sep 2020 4:34 p.m. PST

I wash with soapy water. Then spray a base color with a paint that adheres to plastic. Then paint normally with acrylics. Finally I use Mod Podge (a water based white glue that dries clear). I have tons of figures; no problems. I/72 plastics are very good and getting better. You can see some outstanding examples in this forum (Paul's Bods, Mateus, etc). One day I shall post my figures! Best wishes.

Col Durnford Supporting Member of TMP03 Sep 2020 4:42 p.m. PST

All metal for me.

My old Airfix ACW collection went all brittle after 40 years.

I don't expect I will have that problem again, since I'll go brittle before any of the figures will.

Brian Smaller03 Sep 2020 5:00 p.m. PST

I used to use the paint the figure in PVA glue technique. Then prime and paint. Could drop the figures on the floor and they wouldn't chip.

robert piepenbrink Supporting Member of TMP03 Sep 2020 5:22 p.m. PST

If using your system keeps you from worry, stick with it. I'm usually content with
1. Hot soapy water soak and wash.
2. Primer coat mixed with PVA.
3. Paint with acrylic paint.
4. Finish with slightly dilute PVA.

John Leahy Supporting Member of TMP03 Sep 2020 5:27 p.m. PST

Plasti dip is the way to really protect the figs! 2 coats should really get it done!

Personal logo Bashytubits Supporting Member of TMP03 Sep 2020 5:55 p.m. PST

If you use a polyeurathane coat you can bend the figures in a pretzel knot and the paint wont come off.

Martin Rapier03 Sep 2020 10:27 p.m. PST

I sure what the OP suggests is fine.

I was wash my bendy plastics in soapy water then undercoat with PVA. Paint as normal. That seems to work fine, the PVA stiffens them up and helps the paint stick.

My old Airfix figures done with enamels are now 50 years old and are as good as the day I painted them, so whether we really need to do all this stuff, I don't know.

Green Tiger04 Sep 2020 1:37 a.m. PST

Never heard of Plast-Dip but I use a spray on primer called Plasti-Kote on soft plastic figures, then just paint them. If you base them and store them properly there are no issues generally – odd bit of flaking on bayonets and horses ankles sometimes but less than metal figures I find.

Jeffers04 Sep 2020 1:48 a.m. PST

I've mentioned this before, but for bendy plastics so long as you wash the figures and paint with acrylics you don't need anything else. The acrylics will form a mini gimp suit around the figure which will not crack.

I only varnish metal figures now, but they get a good coat of metal primer too which is probably more effective!

dapeters04 Sep 2020 7:43 a.m. PST

If it works for you stick with it. But I too do not know what Plasti-dip is, if you ant to experiment drop the second application (step 5)

Blackhorse MP04 Sep 2020 9:52 a.m. PST

Plasti-Dip is a rubber spray coating that some people use on exterior car parts or even on tool handles to give them a better grip. It comes in various colors or clear. Obviously I use the clear. Sorry, I'd post a link here to it if I knew how.

I see a number of you use essentially the same concept using PVA glue or Mod Podge. I will say that I'm happy for those of you who achieve good success without as many steps as I'm using. My experience wasn't as positive. Although the last time I painted plastics was back in the 80's(in my teens), and I'm pretty sure all I did was paint them and varnish them they chipped and flaked easily. Looking back, my shoddy teenage workmanship probably had something to do with it.grin

I just bought some Army Painter Strong Tone and Dark Tone Quickshade washes which I am going to experiment with in the hope they can replace "The Dip" step of the process. I like the shading effect of "The Dip" but am not a fan of the messiness involved and the fact that it takes 24 hours to dry sufficiently. Also with 2 coats of Plast-Dip I think I can forgo the protective layer of "The Dip".

Nick Stern Supporting Member of TMP04 Sep 2020 10:16 a.m. PST

A friend of mine, who works for BMW, suggested using plastic adhesion promoter, which is what BMW uses on their bumpers. I tried it under a coat of primer. It's very thin so adding it doesn't obscure the detail on a 1/72 figure. So far it's too soon to tell if it helps protect the bendy bits. I find the best way to protect my 1/72 and 1/32 plastic figures is to base them on multi-figure bases to cut down on handling but this isn't possible with singly based skirmish figures.

Bismarck04 Sep 2020 10:19 a.m. PST

What about gesso as a primer? So far no one has mentioned it.
From earlier posts, that is very effective to prevent chipping ,even if one is using acrylics and does not wash,dip or use a sealer. I have some Pegasus Vietnam figures and would be thankful for advice. Have never used wash or sealer. Please help. Thanks in advance. Last plastic I painted waa back in the 70s with enamels.

Thanks to those who posted the great tips previously and an early thanks for help thrown my way.


Pauls Bods05 Sep 2020 8:52 a.m. PST

It may be an effective method but IMHO, itīs overkill :-)

Ed Mohrmann Supporting Member of TMP06 Sep 2020 5:05 a.m. PST

Sam, I've used Gesso in the past. I painted some
Airfix over 50 years ago using Gesso as a prime coat
It did tend to obscure some detail. Don't know what
could be used as a thinner.

I also washed the figures with warm soapy water to get
rid of the mold parting agent – don't know if plastic
manufacturers still use the parting agent today.

I did a couple of figures in Gesso as a test to see
how long they'd need to dry, then painted with Humbrol
and used two seal coats (well-thinned) when dry. In
all, I did about 50 figures (one box Robin Hood, one box
Sheriff of Nottingham).

A lot of work but the figures are chip and flake-free
still today.

Personal logo Der Alte Fritz Sponsoring Member of TMP06 Sep 2020 9:55 a.m. PST

I wash the figures in rubbing alcohol first, then prime with regular hobby priner or Krylon primer. Then I paint the figures with acrylic paint and finally, give the figure a double coating of gloss coat spray. Works for me.

BTW, I paint 1/32 scale (54mm) Armies In Plastic figures, which don't have the bendy issues.

Thresher0108 Sep 2020 4:05 a.m. PST

Reading the title of your posting, without clicking here first, my reaction was "if you have to ask, then yes, you probably are".

However, in this case, I fully understand the issue, so don't think you are.

Sounds like a reasonable process to me to ensure no paint flaking and disappointment.

Of course, perhaps the other processes outlined will work just as well.

Whichever one you choose, it is better to be safe than sorry in this case, especially a few weeks, months, or years down the road.

Blackhorse MP09 Sep 2020 4:26 a.m. PST

Thresher, yes I am looking years down the road. Hopefully I check out before the paint job does.

As I mentioned above I tried the simple paint and varnish method in the past and didn't get good results, so I'm willing to put in a little extra work this time to avoid problems long term.

Blackhorse MP12 Sep 2021 1:28 p.m. PST


Well, my method of sandwiching my painted soft plastic figures between two coats of Plasti-Dip topped off with Polyshades "The Dip" was working nicely. The figures held up very well. A bit labor intensive though. Fast forward to this summer…I decided to base spray some figures(with the Plasti-Dip). Well, it being summer and all and me doing the spraying in my somewhat WARM garage, that base coat turned out to be a disaster. Frost city. Rather than toss them out, which was my first impulse, I just set them aside and went on with other things. Including coming back here to refresh myself on some of the other methods being used by the TMP rank and file.

I saw that someone mentioned Mod Podge and I saw somewhere else that someone used Mod Podge, mixed with the base color, allowing you to basically skip a step. So having a jar of Mod Podge handy, I tried a mix of Mod Podge and base color paint on the recently frosted troops(waste not, want not). The results were great; it stuck tightly to the figures and didn't obscure any of the detail. And as a bonus it made the frosted figures a bit less bumpy. After completion of the paint job I also tried an alternative to "The Dip"; I used some newly purchased Sepia wash and to protect it used the beloved Pledge/Future/Kleer, which essentially gives the same effect as "The Dip" but with a drying time of around an hour as opposed to 24 hours. The final step is a coat of Winsor and Newton Professional Matte varnish for a dead flat finish.

The end results look pretty encouraging. The Mod Podge and P/F/K stiffen the figures up nicely and the paint is still sandwiched between two protective layers so flaking shouldn't be an issue(fingers crossed). Also it's less labor intensive and much quicker. A win-win in my book. I like it when I actually learn something from my mistakes. grin

PaulRPetri16 Sep 2021 4:50 p.m. PST

Blackhorse MP is this the Plasti-Dip you are refering to?

I have switched to Future wax many years ago as my go to "Dip". You have me thinking about how I prime my plastic figures. I did some Zulus a few months back and they were in a good brown plastic which I used black ink in the Future and covered the whole figures in this as the primer. I then painted the remaining bits of the figure and then sealed them with clear Future wax. I always Dull Coat my figures heavly once based to kill the shine of the Future wax.Maybe I should start priming my figures with the Future wax??.. HMMM

Blackhorse MP17 Sep 2021 9:07 a.m. PST

Paul…Yep that's it. And it had done great service until that one hot day…

Not sure about using Future as a primer. Seems like it would make the figure too smooth and not give the paint a "toothy" enough surface to grip to for a good result. Definitely good as a sealant coat prior to the Dullcote though. Hadn't thought about combining the wash and Future together. That might help to speed the process up even more. Might just give it a try.

If you continue to use the Future as a primer let us know how it goes. Thanks for your input.

CHRISTHEMODELMAKER Supporting Member of TMP17 Sep 2021 12:00 p.m. PST

I like your method Blackhorse.

I have tried the washing, pva, primers, spray paint for plastic, acrylics, etc. but after a few years they are brittle and flaking.

Now I use plastidip spray and nothing flakes or cracks.

Blackhorse MP17 Sep 2021 12:19 p.m. PST

Chris…glad I could help someone else out for a change. Normally it's me coming here and getting helpful tips from others.thumbs up

My original Plasti-Dip method does produce very solid results and I haven't had any problems with flaking or chipping on any figures so prepared(at least for the last year), but the incident with the frosting kind of soured me on it a bit.

The new method I mentioned in my update seems to offer a very similar robust effect with less time and effort, and that's never a bad thing. So I think I'll stick with it until it proves itself insufficient.

So good luck with the Plasti-Dip, just be careful when using it on those hot days.grin

PaulRPetri18 Sep 2021 7:48 a.m. PST

Actually I did paint over the primed Future without problems check it here.

But I will give Pasti-Dip a try. Always looking to improve my methods.

Blackhorse MP18 Sep 2021 10:14 a.m. PST

Must say I'm surprised the Future made a good primer, but seeing is believing. I'm always learning something new here. Your Zulus make a nice looking mass too. Good luck with the Plasti-Dip.

Sorry - only verified members can post on the forums.