Sunday, 3 August 2014

Expensive lesson learnt - Ion Age Adders

I recently purchased a brace of Adder Support Sleds from Ion Age. I picked them up as part of the early supporter package, so they were a bargain at £3 each. I got 3 of the railgun armed ones, 3 of the gatling ones, a mortar and a missile launcher. The package arrived in good time and the models were really well protected. I also got the free early bird figure, a nice female adventurer.

I planned to paint them in a Berlin Brigade inspired urban camouflage of rust red, grey and white, like this:

picture sourced from the web - but I believe it's from Bovington Tank Museum
When the British army arrived in segregated Berlin in the 1960's with their green painted tanks, they realised they stuck out like a sore thumb on the streets of the city. All of the tanks got this distinctive urban pattern, in exactly the same style and design on each tank, so the East German secret police couldn't count how many tanks there were by comparing different camouflage patterns. It works quite well in a city environment:

So, my plan was to use a trusty can of Halfords Red undercoat for the red parts (also makes a quite good Rotbraun for WW2 tanks), then use my Anarchy Models HD stencil sheets to mask off the pattern, then over-spray with grey, repeat the masking and then spray with white. I could do all three from rattle cans - I could do all three with Halfords undercoat in fact as these are the three colours they come in.

Neat idea. However, I did lots of things wrong.

I didn't wash the models before assembly and then I didn't wash them before spraying them. Washing in warm water and washing up liquid removes any build up of grease and oil from handling during construction, and it also removes any of the mould release agent that is used to stop the model from sticking to the mould it is cast in. You can also use a good soaking in white vinegar to do the same thing.

I then sprayed in the middle of a hot day in direct sunlight. The paint dries very quickly from spray cans. In warm weather it can dry in the air before it hits a model, which can lead to poor adhesion and a rough, grainy surface. Spraying in strong, direct sunlight means the model itself can heat up, further speeding the drying time and lessening the adhesion. I also sprayed too much, too quickly. A single, thick coat is also less likely to adhere. Multiple thin coats are better than one thick one.

I left the models to dry for a while and then started to apply the stencils. I was just finishing my third model when I needed to reposition a stencil. The Anarchy Models stencils are made from a thin, vinyl film and have a good "stickiness" so they'll bend round corners and stay stuck down, instead of lifting off. As I peeled this one away to reposition it, it pulled a huge flake of the red paint away with it. A quick test showed the same problem on all the models - the usually brilliant Halfords paint hadn't adhered at all well. It needed to be removed and re-sprayed.

The Adders are made of a fine, grey resin with a few white metal accessories. My usual method of removing paint from resin and metal models is to dunk it in nail varnish remover for 24 hours then scrub with a toothbrush. I've had great results from this on any number of resin models so far, but mostly the "white chocolate" type resin, as AGG calls it. I separated the parts, arranged them in a suitable container and poured over the nail varnish remover, tightly sealed the lid to keep the stinky fumes down and went to watch The Lego Movie ("Everything is awesome!").

This morning I returned to the models to begin the scrubbing. However, the resin had reacted badly to the nail varnish remover and the tanks had softened and split in many places. The thinnest parts of the resin are the worst affected, with the thin walls of the turret wells in the main body especially bad - not a single one remains intact.Many of the details like the tool boxes and headlight clusters have softened and a few have broken off. The vehicle bodies themselves are also bulgy and distorted, as though they have expanded slightly. The glacis plate has split on another and a third has a big chunk of resin that has sloughed off from the underneath, where it looks like there was an air bubble just below the surface. The turrets seem OK, apart from one of the missiles on the launcher turret hace split off and one of the rail gun turrets has bulged and split underneath where I had drilled out a hole for a pin to keep the nose-heavy rail guns from pitching the turret forward.

The nail varnish remover also seems not to have removed the paint that well - in fact it seems like the paint has actually seeped into the resin. This would make sense if the resin became softened and porous as it reacted to and absorbed some of the nail varnish remover.

The vehicles are currently drying out in the sun to see if they can be salvaged, but I'm not hopeful. If the resin remain soft they won't accept any paint and will just have to be binned. If it does harden back up and the red paint isn't still a gooey mess I may be able to salvage a couple, but the remainder may only be good as burnt out wrecks.

So, a lesson learnt. I'm not sure why, but the softer, grey resin reacts badly with nail varnish remover. Possibly it may be that it has a higher plastic content similar to the new "restic" miniatures ranges such as the Reaper Bones and Sedition Wars figures.

The Adders are lovely models, and if I can't salvage them I probably will replace them in due course. The most annoying thing for me is that all of this could have been avoided had I just remembered all the things I should have, and usually would have, done.


David Barnes said...

Ouch! My first thoughts are - talc to soak up the mess and/or ghesso.

Hope it goes well, would be a shame to waste - you can make a beat up militia or merc company, using stowage to cover up the worst.

Good luck.

Anonymous said...

Reaper "Bones" series miniatures aren't "restic", a horrible word for some weird plastic/resin hybrid, they are made out of a high vinyl content plastic and are not in any way shape or form resin.

e-p said...

I did the same thing with a Combat Wombat tank. Very frustrating. I feel your pain, brother.

Simon Quinton said...

Ouch I would try Dettol in hindsight. I hope you can salvage these and perhaps resculpt some of the damahed areas.