There are a number of reasons why you may decide to strip the paint off some miniatures. Perhaps you just got yourself a “Pro-painted” army from E-bay and can’t bare to look at the pigment clogged faces. Perhaps you found some miniatures you painted when you where less skilled and want to have another crack at them. Perhaps you just screwed up. Whatever the reason, at some point in your hobby, chances are you will want to get the minis back to bare plastic. There are a number of ways to go about doing this, however for the purpose of this post we will be discussing a product called “Biostrip 20”.
My usual go to paint stripper is Dettol (The brown stuff). This is a UK brand disinfectant cleaning product which can usually be found in most supermarkets for about £3-4 (for the 750ml bottle). However as we live in Covid times, I’ve found Dettol increasingly hard to source at retail price. For example, I’ve just checked E-bay and the cheapest I can find the 750ml bottle at the time of writing this is £8. At least they had the decency to put free postage on the item I suppose…
Out of sheer principle, I refuse to buy from these bloody scalpers. And so, banging my fists against my desk, it’s time to consider alternatives.
One alternative I have used in the past is methylated spirits. This was quite fast acting and did a fairly good job shifting the paint off raised surfaces but didn’t always do a good job removing paint from areas with a fair bit of depth/ hard to reach bits of the mini. Now you could argue, “simply leave the miniature in the spirits for longer”. While this would make sense, I’m reluctant to do so as I found in some cases the thinner plastic details seemed to start warping the longer they where exposed in the solution and I’d expect a long soak would cause serious damage. There is also the downside of needing to work in a well ventilated environment, the mess of use and strong smell which, though I found to be not as bad as Dettol, was certainly a thing.
Discussing my Dettol supply predicament with a few of my games club friends, one of them suggested a product called “Biostrip 20”. I looked it up and it seemed to be getting rave reviews. It’s more expensive than my usual go to methods, selling for approximately £15 on element games, but for that you get a tub which should last quite a while if used correctly. After considering the price hikes of the alternatives I decided to give Biostrip a try.
Upon opening the tub I noticed a few things. First of all, although the product does have a scent to it, it is no where near as strong as Dettol or methylated spirits. Moreover Biostrip is water based/ non toxic so seems safe to use indoors. I did just this and found the experience to be safe enough. No interesting hallucinations or anything to report sadly.
Biostrip 20 has a consistency similar to PVA glue, being liquid but quite thick and viscous, the intent for the product to be painted on the surface which needs to be stripped. I found it easy enough to apply, settling on dunking each miniature in the solution and then placing them in a separate container for the Biostrip to work. (I wasn’t going to paint it on each individual miniature, that would have took an age.) This worked very well allowing me to strip my entire freeguild force in quick succession. Though dunking the miniatures may not be the most efficient method of application, at the end of the process I still have half a tub of Biostrip 20 for future use.
An interesting observation I made after application was that Biostrip seemed to begin working almost immediately and I could see the acrylic paint coming away in places not too long after applying. I allowed the models to sit overnight however and the next day took them to the kitchen sink to remove the loosened paint.
In each case, the paint simply fell away with not too much scrubbing. What’s more, unlike dettol I was able to fill up a bowl of water and scrub the minis below the surface. This limited the mess and stopped stray bits of paint being flicked off the mini when brushing. Overall I was quite impressed with the speed/ ease of use and was able to strip the majority of my collection in under an hour.
So is this my new go to paint stripping solution? For now I’d say so. However I did have an issue with Biostrip and one of my miniatures. I still had one of those finecast freeguild general miniatures with the pistol. Notice that was written in past tense…
After soaking overnight I found my freeguild general had become soft and was warping. What’s more, the resin was simply tearing away in some places. I’m not sure exactly what went wrong here. I may have just left the material exposed to the Biostrip for too long or possibly the solution is incompatible with Games Workshop finecast resin. Either way it’s safe to say that in my experience, Biostrip 20 did not get on well with Finecast. As for metal miniatures I am unable to comment as I didn’t test these myself. I imagine they would hold up well though, considering how the plastics performed.
So I am one free guild general down but now have one army ready to be base coated. For plastic minis I will definitely be using Biostrip 20 as my first choice due to ease of use and though fairly expensive, this seems to be a “you get what you pay for” situation. I am a bit gutted about my old freeguild general but hopefully my experience will save you from repeating my mistake.
With that said it looks like I need to recruit a new general. Thanks for reading.