Painting Soft Plastic (Polythene) Figures


 Love them or loath them, 20mm 1/72 Polythene figures have made a big comeback.

   They have their advantages; cheapness, availability and intricate detail (on the latest releases especially). They are also better proportioned than many metal ranges, though this down to personal taste.

   The main disadvantages are the difficulty in getting glue and paint to stick properly, but hopefully this article will address these shortcomings.

   Going into every detail would take up a number of volumes, not to mention being difficult for those of us with short attention spans. More tips can be found on the figure sites listed at the end.


Step 1

Remove figures from sprue and remove any flash or mould lines using a very sharp knife blunt blades dont work! Also dont attempt to file or sand as the Polythene disagrees with this.

For any conversions, use pins and wire only use superglue to support as it wont work on its own.


Step 2

After cleaning up and any conversions, wash the figures in warm soapy water to get rid of the release agent (greasy substance).


Step 3

Glue the figures onto pieces of card (or however you paint them normally) and then paint each figure completely with neat PVA glue this gives a surface for the paint to stick to. After a couple of minutes go back and remove any unsightly blobs.


Step 4

Undercoat the figure as normal. The plastic primers from Halfords work really well for this.

The detail on many of these figures can be very intricate if using a white undercoat a wash of black or dark brown afterwards helps when painting.


Step 5

Paint as normal, using Acrylic paints.

Note: A little Liquitex Matt Medium added to paint helps it stick.


Step 6

Hand Varnish figures in Matt Liquitex Matt Varnish works well for this.


Step 7

Base as normal then once finished give the models a final coat of spray varnish (GWs Purity Seal)





Stuff Needed


  • Sharp Knife blades
  • Pins (for conversions)
  • UHU Glue (for sticking to card/bases)
  • PVA
  • Liquitex Fluids; Gloss Medium & Varnish and Matt Medium helps paint stick and cover obtain from:
  • Purity Seal


Websites of use; (lots of tips here)




Huge thanks to Doug & Brad Powell.



  Site Map