Gundam Model Tutorial – Removing Paints in 5 minutes

June 24th, 2013 | 16 Comments | Tags: ,

Hi again! We are back to this tutorial section. Hopefully you enjoyed the “How to do realistic battle damage” tutorial I shared last time. Today is about how to remove paints with break fluid for Gundam models, especially when you made mistake with the paint job.

This technique has been tested for my Bandai kits for a few times and it worked. There is no guarantee for your kits. It is hazardous so try this at your own risk, keep it safe and away from children!

Gundam Model Tutorial - Removing Paints with Break Fluid

The magic ingredient – Break Fluid!

Removing paints with Break Fluid for Gundam models

Gundam Model Tutorial - Removing Paints with Break Fluid

Let’s prepare our tools and stuffs.

  • Empty container – Preferably container with wide bottom, I uses hair gel container.
  • STP Break Fluid – The magic potion. It is cheap and below BND / SGD10.
  • Soap Water – Water with soup (shower soap / normal soap will do)
  • Unwanted Cloth – I uses this thing to wipe paint, thinner and dirty chemical stuffs.
  • The target – My poor GM Quel, see what happened to him here.

Gundam Model Tutorial - Removing Paints with Break Fluid

Today’s demo is the GM Quel that is primed with Mr Surfacer 1200 and Tamiya Acrylic Paint.

Gundam Model Tutorial - Removing Paints with Break Fluid

I’ll use the head part as comparison.

Gundam Model Tutorial - Removing Paints with Break Fluid

Pour the break fluid into the empty container, for my case I only filled it up to 25%. Break Fluid is like lubricant and it has slight smell, but much lesser than thinner & paints. But don’t purposely take deep breath with it =..=.

Gundam Model Tutorial - Removing Paints with Break Fluid

Open parts and dump them into the container filled with break fluid. You can fill it up as long as the fluid can cover the parts. Shake the container and you can see the paint slowly melt away from the surface.

The fluid turns pink because the red paints melted.

After 3-5 minutes of shaking, take out the parts (you can use chop stick if you know how) and check the paints. Sometimes there might be left over paint at the detail parts or holes. Use toothbrush to slightly brush it off.

Once there is no more paint left, wash away the break fluid with soap water. Lastly, dry the parts with cloth.

Gundam Model Tutorial - Removing Paints with Break Fluid

Once it is done, the parts will be really clean. In this demo, the Tamiya Acrylic paint is stripped and only left the Mr Surfacer attached on the part.

Why I recommend this method

There are pros and cons of this break fluid paint removal technique. I have tested this technique with a few kits and different paint type:

  1. HGUC 1/144 Jesta – Tamiya Primer / Industrial Primer, Anchor (Industrial Spray Paint), Tamiya Spray Can (Lacquer)
  2. HGUC 1/144 Geara Zulu – RJ London (Industrial Lacquer Spray Paint)
  3. HGUC 1/144 GM Quel – Mr Surfacer, Tamiya Acrylic, Gunze Hobby Color.
  1. It is fast. Why leave it overnight when I can just get it done in 3-5 minutes?
  2. It seems safe for Gunpla. I dipped all the parts (including the PC parts) in this demo and everything looks ok. For my Geara Zulu, I tried leaving the parts overnight in the fluid and it doesn’t damage the plastic.
  3. Apparently it doesn’t remove Mr. Surfacer. You can spray new paint on it after cleaning.
  4. You can do it multiple times. The poor GM Quel went into the break fluid TWICE.
  5. It is cheap. The STP Break Fluid I used cost less than 10 BND / SGD (Around 8 USD).
  6. Easy to get. Unlike paints, you can easily get break fluid from car spare part shops or supermarket.
  1. The part’s surface will turn into matte (no more shinny parts).
  2. You need something else to remove Mr. Surfacer.
  3. Require soap water to wash it away.
  4. It is hazardous. Don’t soak your hand with the fluid for long. And keep away from any kids.

Any feedback?

Please share with me if you tried this technique, or you have some better method! I’m looking for ways to remove the Mr Surfacer.

  • Kyle

    Hi, Did you purchase the STP Break/Brake Fluid in SG?
    Could you tell me where you got it from.? Supermarkets(NTUC/Fairprice) I doubt they have them rite?

    Most likely car spare part shops?

    • Ellem

      Hi Kyle. I bought it in Brunei though. If in Singapore you’ll need to try hardware shop like Home Fix or car spare parts seller / workshop.

  • Woraug

    You mention it makes the part surfaces matte. Would the effect be any different on an unpainted part? Does it alter the color of the plastic?

    • Ellem

      I’m not sure about unpainted part. As the one I bought was fully painted (top coated with industrial spray can), I just dip the whole thing into the liquid.

      As I see there is no changes in the colour other than matte surface. To be honest I am not sure if that’s the side effect of the industrial paint or the break fluid.

  • Aldwin G

    Hi, I just wanted to know if this will work on Mr. Hobby gunze on Mr. surfacer. I need to remove the white lacquer paint on a strike freedom head. I was wondering if can remove this

    • Ellem

      Hi Aldwin, to be honest I haven’t test it with Mr Color.

      However, it managed to remove those lacquer based spray paint (automotive industrial paint) but not Mr Surfacer.

  • Isuzu Ciao

    This really saved me alot of time. Thanks for the tip!

  • Harold Bramton

    I would like to suggest the use of SuperClean Degreaser instead. It’s less toxic (it’s actually biodegradable), easily reused (pour through a coffee filter in a jug, and easier to dispose of when finished.

    • Ellem

      That’s new to me. Maybe it is common in US but I haven’t seen this in our local supermarket (South East Asia)

  • kokul

    if i have already painted a part, but i make a mistake in doing the panel lines over the said painted part, how will I remove the panel line mistake?

    • Ellem

      Hi Kokul, may I know what tools did u use for panel lining?

      Gundam Marker > try to paint some acrylic thinner over the lines with a nylon paint brush, wait for few seconds then gently wipe it with cloth / cotton bud.

      Enamel wash > same as the one above but use lighter fuel / zippo fuel instead of acrylic thinner.

      • kokul

        oh man, I just realized my grammar looks so bad hahaha…
        Anyways, I actually haven’t done anything yet…I’m still thinking of how to paint my Gundam. Thing is, I tried the gundam marker (metallic green) on a white runner, but when i used alcohol, it came off easily. I’m just scared that the same thing might happen if i make a mistake with panel lining after I have left paint to dry on the main body. I’m thinking of doing a titanium finish, but I have no money yet, and no materials :((( – sucks to be me…

        • Ellem

          sorry for late reply. Hmm… I never actually try titanium kit before so I’m not sure if thinner or alcohol will damage the titanium coat.

          I never build a SD unicorn before so sorry I cant help u much on that, as I remember it should be transparent green on the chest. having the LED inside the body shouldn’t be a problem.

          In case you need to cut the body, i recommend Tamiya modelling saw or precision saw, which is tedious anyway.

      • kokul

        oh, and if i may just ask…would you know of a way to disassemble the chest part of the green SD Unicorn Gundam? I want to paint mine, and put led lights inside.
        *note – The titanium finish is for another kit, and not the SD kit

  • Aldwin Alfredo

    Does any kind/brand of brake fluid work? And how many times it can be used? Thanks.

    • Ellem

      Hi Aldwin. As I know different brands of brake fluid contains different chemical. Best to try it out with runners or unwanted parts to see if it is safe for your kit.