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  1. #1

    Working With Flexible Plastic (Battlefront’s new casting material)

    Many of Battlefront’s, Flames of War and Team Yankee, new infantry and gun crew figures are have been produced using a new casting technique and material they have been developing. Over the years, BF has produced infantry figures in various materials, each of which has it’s own strengths and weaknesses.


    The new figures are made of a flexible ABS plastic, and combine most of the good points of the other materials.
    Like with hard plastic, the casting process involves injecting the plastic into a rigid mould. The moulds themselves are not machined in the same way, but cast - it’s faster and cheaper. Unlike the hard plastic, the material itself is slightly flexible after it cures, so small undercuts are possible - not as much as with metal or resin in a soft mould, but more than with hard plastic.

    The tough new plastic is almost unbreakable – you could drop a rulebook on them and they will bounce straight back.

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    "If everyone is thinking alike, then somebody isn't thinking." - George S. Patton.

  2. #2

    Preparation

    Like all figures, there will sometimes be a small raised line where the two halves of the mould fit together. To make the models look their best before painting, you will want to clean these off. The easiest way is to carefully trim off any visible mould lines using a sharp hobby knife.

    For advanced modellers who like doing conversions, head swaps etc, you can slice, drill or otherwise cut up the flexible plastic just as you would with hard plastic.

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    The flexible plastic can sometimes be bent in the packaging — gun barrels and other thin parts are prone to this. If any of your models have bent parts, you can dip them in hot water for a few seconds to straighten them out. The parts have a ‘memory’, and will usually instantly spring back to straight as soon as they contact the water. If not, just heat the part gently in the water, then straighten it out with your fingers for a few seconds while it cools.

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    "If everyone is thinking alike, then somebody isn't thinking." - George S. Patton.

  3. #3

    Gluing

    The recommended method by Battlefront is using superglue (aka cyanoacrylate) to flexible plastic figures.

    I was glad to read that because as a plastic kit modeler, my knee jerk reaction would have been to go with my ModelMaster glue, which like plastic cement, works by chemically softening the hard polystyrene plastic. Turns out this would not work with this soft plastic (the new figures are an ABS plastic, does not react chemically with the plastic cement).

    Superglue gives a strong bond with the flexible plastic, whether you are gluing the figures to their base, doing minor conversions, or attaching parts to other materials (e.g., glue crew figures into vehicles, whether they are hard plastic, resin or metal).

    On hard plastic models, parts glued with CA (superglue) is known to have the chance to shear off if hit. I am assuming this is not such an issue with soft plastic?
    "If everyone is thinking alike, then somebody isn't thinking." - George S. Patton.

  4. #4

    Painting

    When it comes to painting, there is no real difference from older figures (such as pewter). Unlike older bendy polyethylene plastic figures which some gamers remember, which was awful to work with—the paint would crack and flake off the slick surface—the ABS plastic holds paint very well, and is very resistant to scratching and chipping.

    BF still recommend using a primer—whatever acrylic primer and paint you normally use - whether that’s Colours of War or any other brand - you should have no problems. I use Vallejo great or black.

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    After priming, I generally start with a basecoat, then move on to layering subsequent colors/coats, highlights, dry brushing, washes, and finally a protective topcoat of diluted Future acrylic wax. Then, basing!

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    I suspect the change to this flexible plastic is more a matter of cost savings for Battlefront, than it is in bringing us a new product development for grater quality. Still, that’s not to say these aren’t quality — they seem to be. For folks that hate change, it may be a bit of a miff, but all things change with time!

    "If everyone is thinking alike, then somebody isn't thinking." - George S. Patton.

  5. #5
    So far, so good with these, they've held their paint, and remain intact.

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by Frizzenspark View Post
    So far, so good with these, they've held their paint, and remain intact.
    Did you wash them first, and if so, dish detergent?

    I’m always curious to see miniature modelers’ experience with this, and the results. I have to be honest in that I am mostly lazy in this regard and almost never wash the miniatures first, before basecoating. I’ve had no issues (knock on wood...or pewter, as it were) with flaking or chipping, but perhaps that’s a case of not a lot of wear and tear on my minis.

    For those scratching their heads at this, I mention all this because it is believed that oils from the manufacturing process, as well as maybe manufacturing process dust and such, is present on the miniatures (whether white metal, plastic, resin, or whatever), which causes the paint to not adhere properly.
    "If everyone is thinking alike, then somebody isn't thinking." - George S. Patton.

  7. #7
    I do, since I handle them as I trim them, Usually, the tree connects to the miniatures at the base, so you can paint them from the frame.

  8. #8
    Super Moderator
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    I have not had much to do with the new BF plastics, usually going with the Plastic Soldier Company stuff, and as I definitely have enough infantry the only men I have used have been crew for my 250`s with mortar but they seem to take paint well. I don`t know if they are the same soft plastic though.
    Always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor never the tormented.

    Elie Wiesel.

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  9. #9
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    Interesting change to plastic - should lower the price a bit too ?

    I have always worked with the soft figures -Airfix - Italeri etc. I usually forget to wash them down with detergent and have some that have been
    handled after painting for over twenty years. The paint tends to stay on except where the plastic can bend. Silver and gold paint seem to be the
    worst culprits. I have been trying dome matt acrylic tube paint which so far works very well and is cheap. $3 for a tube - 75ml or 2.5 US fl oz.
    Much more than you get in a tin. They also now have gold and silver. The parent company is chroma ( used to get some called chromacryl).

    A matt white base is best for these rather than black.

    As for glueing the soft fellows are always a pain. On glue that works fairly well is contact. That stinky yellow stuff. This is because it sticks ok
    but doesn't fully set so it can flex a bit. Best thing is not to glue bits of these together at all if possible.

    Contact as well as PVA is also good for sticking figures to bases as it can be peeled off if you change your mind. I would tend to go with PVA
    for this one as it is easier to work with.

    ABS (lego plastic) can also be "glued" by using a little bit of acetone. This does melt the plastic and welds when you join but you need to be
    careful and you need decent ventilation.

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