Toy Soldier Spa Treatments?


Plastic toy soldier figures (from Airfix to pound store figures) made in soft slightly flexible polythene frequently arrive still covered in traces of a chemical mould releasing agent that stops the plastic sticking to the mould. It also unfortunately stops paint sticking easily to plastic.

Before painting up in toy soldier glossy style, a little preparation and washing is required of these useful pound store figures. (Figures / photograph: Man of TIN)

So before you start undercoating with paint (usually black, white or the base / core colour) picking out even simple details in flesh, silver or black, a quick wash is required.

Airfix RAF Personnel 1973 Blue Box back panel – I still love these simple line drawings of the figures inside, as much as the front cover ‘Box Art’ (from the Collection of Man of TIN) 

Looing back ( I never noticed or did this as a child) even vintage Airfix from its earliest blue box  days advised that “to ensure a clean painting surface, it is advisable to wash with detergent before painting.”

Exciting and lively box art (and handy uniform painting guide) on the Airfix Blue Box 1973 HO OO scale RAF Personnel front box cover art (from the collection of Man of TIN) 

So a washing of the spears and rifles, of warriors and their  weapons is required.

  1. First a quick squirt of washing up liquid into a washing up bowl of warm water to degrease your figures, followed by a gentle soapy scrub of handfuls of figures with a soft washing up brush.

2. I usually use a kitchen drying rack to pile up and drain figures. Check that no escapees can go down the plug hole.

3. Pop the still  slightly soapy figures into fresh cold water, then use a kitchen sieve or strainer to scoop the figures  out.

4. Again a drying rack will help then pop them onto a tea towel  spread them around and leave them to dry slowly for several hours.

Second plunge to get the soap suds off! 

A bit of a surreal swimming lesson or amphibious landing to look at.

Oddly some colours of the same figures (like the mini red ones here) float whilst the same figures in green or silver don’t.


This amounts to pampering and spa treatment of tiny plastic soldiers!

Drying off on a tea towel before packing away or painting. 

Raking through and spreading out the figures has a lovely almost shellfish sound, indeed the whole process feels like a bizarre cooking lesson.

You now have shiny, smart and clean figures ready for painting, ready to attack and defend and express your imagination and character.

The range of  Poundland smaller figures can be seen on this previous blogpost:

There are plenty of other plastic and pound store warriors, gaming ideas and budget gaming ideas featured throughout this  blog. Enjoy!

Feel free to share ideas and leave comments via the comments page.

Posted by Mr. MIN, Man of TIN, June 2016.

1 thought on “Toy Soldier Spa Treatments?”

  1. Another technique is soaking in vinegar before rinsing.

    I also undercoat figures with clear car plastic spray undercoat followed by a good spray undercoat of white, black or brown from games Workshop – expensive sprays but good quality acrylic which acrylic paints go over well. The figures when painted with all detail are given a coat of PVA glue, being careful that it has a few drops of dishwashing detergent and spread the PVA evenly and thinly with an old brush; if you don’t spread it thinly it will pool in hollows and look like someone spat on the figures! Otherwise, done right it gives a tough clear coating. After that I spray figures with mat Craft fixative. And, lastly I use further coats of mat and gloss varnish put on with a brush to simulate cloth, and metal or I just leave the craft spray finish which is semi mat or semi gloss.

    You can see the finished products at my blog, Quantrill’s Toy Soldiers.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s