Hobby Hacks: Guide to 40k Dumpster Diving

By |2017-09-08T07:30:33+00:00September 8th, 2017|Categories: Hobby Hacks, How To Tutorial, jstove|

sprue dumpster trash warhammer 40k

Jstove is back this week with some tips for building a Warhammer 40k army on the cheap with pewter models and how to restore them to tabletop standard.

Jstove here, and today instead of talking about how dumb the loyalists are or how great Chaos is, I want to talk about dumpster diving and cleaning up discarded models from yesteryear that slipped through the cracks. We’re going to talk about spotting retro pewter, where to find it, and how to clean it up. But first, let’s talk about why you would want these old metal models in the first place.

Pewter Restore


Old metal models might be a pain in the ass to work with, but they’re fundamentally indestructible. Plastic and resin models tend to have a hard limit when it comes to standing up to abuse. There is only so much stripping, repainting, and reclamation they can endure before they are done forever. Pewter models can take a stripper bath as many times as they want, and can be stripped by any solvent you have available, because they won’t melt.


In addition to the old Rogue Trader and 2nd Edition days where almost everything was metal, there was a brief period in late 3rd and 4th Editions when GW was still migrating all their production to plastic and finecast. Many really interesting and largely unknown models snuck in as the last generation as metal. A lot of these models look really cool and give your collection a lot of character.


When you’re scrolling through Ebay looking for a deal, a lot of times what you’ll find is that if you know the old pewter classics exist, but most hobbyists don’t, you can pick up a sweet deal on a unique model that nobody knew was there. These models are often buried under layers of junky paint or are falling apart. Since they’re metal, they just need a trip to the stripper tub and a rub down with an old tooth brush and they’re good to go again.

Let’s take a look at some old school goodies…

Chaos Lord

Here’s a great example of what I’m talking about: an old Chaos Lord in terminator armor that flew under the radar for a long time. Yes, this is an official model that was actually made and he came with a pile of unique weapon options that included a sword, a big scary claw, (the kind Orks and Chaos love with long spooky finger nails that could count as a lightning claw or a power fist) and a weird, demon-faced gun arm that could have been an obliterator gun arm or a sonic weapon.

Furthermore, this guy had standard terminator mounting points, so he can actually take any plastic terminator arms on his body that have come out in the last 15 years. He’s a great, rare, little Terminator Lord that’s easy to convert if you can find him.

Hive Tyrant

This one is a retro model I personally consider to be one of the Holy Grails of GW’s “Last Pewter Standing” period. You can even tell it’s a 3rd Edition studio model because it has that horrible goblin green base with a static grass flocking that was on every studio army in 3E. This “Alien Queen” style Hive Tyrant came about in the first major shakeup of the Tyranid art direction, when GW moved from the goofy 2E purple Genestealer look to a more streamlined, organic, “Ripping off Starcraft Zerg” look. I recently sharked out of 2 of these guys on Ebay and got both of them for under 20 bucks each. Then scored a pair of 3rd Edition metal Carnifexes for 30 bucks.

Where To Look

Ebay is of course a ripe hunting ground for abandoned metal that nobody knew existed, but in order to find what you want you have to diligently comb through the listings on a regular basis. That’s not a big deal if you just make a habit of it every few days. There’s another great website I like to use that isn’t an auction site and still has gems from time to time. It’s Chaos Orc’s Superstore.


Chaos Orc runs a discount liquidation online store that sells off models at a price that you can find pretty typically anywhere on the internet. More importantly, he lucks into retro models like old 2nd and 3rd pewter still on the blister, pre-Forgeworld armorcast resin, and out-of-print Battleforce boxes that may or may not have more ideal units in them than the bundles available from GW today. It’s a great site to check up on and you don’t have to shark auctions.

Taking Your New Toys For A Swim

About every 2 weeks, someone on one of the hobby Facebook pages asks about paint stripping, and then we have the same conversation we’ve had a million times before. Since this article is about bargain hunting old metal models that need to take a stripper bath, it’s appropriate that we muscle in the ‘Alpha and Omega’ of all strippers into this article. A lot of people recommend Purple Power, Citrus Strip, Simple Green, and orange something something orange. I don’t remember them all but they’re all solvents you can buy at hardware stores that look like bottles of Gatorade. All of these products work and work well. You can’t go wrong with any of them. However, there is a ‘God Amongst Men’ when it comes to strippers.


Totally Awesome Paint Stripper

Here’s a link to the manufacturer’s website. You can’t buy it directly from them but it does have a store locator tab so you can find a place to buy it. For those of you who are too lazy to go out and buy it, here’s an Amazon link for the same 64oz bottle, pictured above. There’s just one thing I want you to know about that amazon link: It’s 10 bucks a bottle. That’s robbery!

LA’s Totally Awesome is the CHEAPEST STRIPPER ON THE MARKET. You can find it at any Dollar General or 99 cents store for a buck. It’s cheaper than tap water. Do not use that Amazon link unless you absolutely have to or you are totally lazy. It’s a literal 1000% markup on a product you could buy in the store for the price of some drive-thru tacos.

Why is LA Totally Awesome the best stripper? Because it’s categorically the best in every conceivable way. I know this because I’ve stripped models with all the Skittle brands, the acetone, the DOT 3 brake fluid, and all the other stuff you can find in your garage that will melt your skin and give you cancer.

IT’S THE CHEAPEST: 99 cents for a soda bottle at discount stores. 2 or 3 bucks a bottle for the 64 oz tub that is effectively a lifetime supply.

IT DOESN’T ATTACK YOUR SKIN: It will dry out your skin if you immerse your hands in it but it is not flesh eating like other solvents. I regularly work with this material with my bare hands, and I have not turned into a Typhus zombie cultist….. yet.

WORKS JUST AS WELL OR BETTER THAN OTHER STRIPPERS: There is no difference in performance when compared to your other favorite Gatorade Skittle stripper.

ECO WARRIORS WON’T HUNT YOU DOWN AND MURDER YOU: You can pour it out on dirt or down drains and it won’t stain your concrete or cause the growth of mutant ninja turtles.

IT DOES NOT MELT PLASTIC OR RESIN: Yes, it is the Holy Grail. You can even throw Forgeworld and plastic in it.

Barclay Nurgle Wrapper

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