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I foolishly over-sprayed some of my Warhammer models. They are now have a thick coat that obscures some details and has cracked in places. enter image description here

Can I remove this coat at all? Do I use chemicals? Do I just sand them down?

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To late to help with these models, but hobby primer such as that produced by GW and other modeling companies is designed to be less obscuring of details. Car Primer and other primers you'll find art the hardware store are designed to fill small gaps and cover up "tiny imperfections"... these can work but really are not a good idea. –  aslum Sep 2 '12 at 3:39
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There are some other things you can do to prevent this from happening again. Wash your models before priming. Sometimes the paint can react to anti-mold coatings that companies spray their sprues with. Before using the spray shake well and then turn the can upside down. Hold down the nozzle until only air comes out. This will remove thickened paint from the nozzle. Then spray using short 1-2 second burst from 1-2 feet from the model while moving the can left to right at a steady pace. I recommend Privateer's P3 primer. It's thin and forgiving with good coverage. –  CaulynDarr Sep 6 '12 at 12:20

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up vote 8 down vote accepted

Yes, acrylic paint can be safely removed, and quite simply too. The basic process is to dunk your models in a solution of household cleaner, watered down if you like, and leave them in the bath for a few hours. The paint turns into a kind of slimy goo, which you can then scrub off with a toothbrush and toothpicks.

In the US, Simple Green All-Purpose Cleaner is the standard recommendation. In the UK, diluted Dettol (a common disinfectant), has been shown to be effective.

Somebody actually did a comparison of different cleaners for this very purpose. He actually found that oven cleaner worked best of all (easy removal after an hour), but also reported positive results with Simply Green (although interestingly, not 409, which serves a similar purpose).

Degreaser or brake fluid are other possibilities, but these are nastier and harder to assess, since they come in many variants. For safety, I'd stick to surface cleaner, or oven cleaner if you have a test model you are willing to potentially sacrifice (if you've ever cleaned an oven, you'll be well aware that oven cleaner is viscous stuff!).

Methylated spirits and so on are best avoided, as these can erode your models over time.

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Two questions, I being a cheapskate used car body spray paint (from someone who assured me it would work), is this going to come off as easily? Also will joints that have been glued with plastic glue, will Dettol take that off? –  Pureferret Sep 1 '12 at 22:29
    
Ouch. 1) Not sure if anything less than paint stripper is going to work on car paint (the stuff is designed to be much more durable/weatherproof than acrylic). No harm trying the dettol and seeing though. If it's not fully dry yet you may see better results. 2) Are your models fully plastic, and did you use polystyrene cement? If so, they should be fine (the bond is permanent). Superglue may loosen over time, but this is minor anyway, since it's easy to re-glue. –  ire_and_curses Sep 1 '12 at 23:43
    
I'll check the can tomorrow. I used GW plastic glue. I'll try the dettol tomorrow too. And no, the paint is 2+ years old (this was the reason I stopped painting for 'a while') –  Pureferret Sep 1 '12 at 23:46
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Be careful stripping plastics. Some cleaners will soften the plastic and even melt it. –  CaulynDarr Sep 2 '12 at 1:53
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@Pureferret Don't leave them in the solution too long. Leave them in for 10-20 minutes at a time. Also try it out on a test model first. –  CaulynDarr Sep 2 '12 at 15:06

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