For those who don't know such things, the miniature figures we all know and love are made by pouring molten metal into moulds; letting it cool; open it up and "Voila!" To help facilitate the figures' freedom from the mould a release agent is used. This is usually a very fine powder such as talc although some processes use silicon sprays. Whatever the agent is it needs to be cleaned off the figures because if it stops the figures sticking to something it will also stop something sticking to the figures; that "something" being paint!
Cleaning metal figures only needs a smattering of household items but I cannot emphasize enough the importance of having a separate stash of these items just for this job; it will save your marriage and lessen the risk of embarrassing personal injury. The essential things you will need are:
Some kind of medium to large bowl
A couple of toothbrushes
I also add a splash of Dettol (which goes by the moniker Pine-Sol in some parts of the world) as this seems to give the process an edge and really gets into the nooks and crannies. It is also a good idea to wear gloves (household rubber gloves or surgical latex rather than woolen) as after a scrubbing a few figures your fingers will suffer.
Fill the bowl to about a third of its capacity, add some washing-up liquid, bung in the figures and start scrubbing with your toothbrush. Do NOT under any circumstances use your significant other's super duper electric toothbrush with gum masseur and palate scraper. They don't like it...
|Mrs Zulu Dalek suggesting I do NOT use her toothbrush to clean figures...|
Any old toothbrush will do but the harder the better.
So... Give the boys a jolly good scrub all over not forgetting to wash behind their ears and under their little loincloths. Don't be afraid to use quite a lot of pressure as it is very unlikely that the toothbrush will do any damage whatsoever. You want these figures to shine. You will notice the difference quite quickly between the great unwashed and the sparkly washed. Pile all you clean figures on one side until they are all done. Then empty your washing bowl, rinse it out and fill with cold water. Put the figures in this to rinse off any of the cleaning solution. You might need to do this a couple of times but it is important.
When you are happy that they are nice and clean and rinsed properly lay them out to to dry. I just put my Ila army on a cloth in a warm place to let them dry naturally but you can use a hairdryer if you are in a hurry.
|A nice and shiny Ila Army (with a few guests)|
The more observant among you will have noticed a tea-strainer in my photograph. Quite an important bit of kit if your figures have separate shields, knobkerries, spears or handbags; it helps when rinsing them off so you don't lose things down the plug'ole.