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Home Forums The Workshop Need help, really frustrating primer problem :-(

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    Hi everybody,

    as mentioned in the reception hall I’m in search for help.

    I started painting my miniatures (because of this great site, actually), did a few Descent 2nd Ed. figures, which already showed the same problem but I blamed in some beginner mistakes.

    But, even though I think I’m doing a few things right by now, the problem stays. It’s difficult to describe in (english) words, so I took a little video that hopefully shows what I mean:

    My primer doesn’t stick. It cracks and comes of with ease, and no, I don’t always bend the mini parts as I do in the video, that’s just to demonstrate the cracks that appeared out of nowhere.

    It’s really discouraging, since I really like this new hobby, the first bunch of Battlelore minis came out quite nice (at least for me, and my boys were very impressed):

    But I really don’t want to continue if every now and then the paint chips of after I’m done (this has happened before to my Descent minis and even the Rune Golem’s base). The minis will be moved around quite a lot, but on all minis this happened even after a few touches. 🙁

    Here’s what I’ve done:

    1. Wash in warm water with detergent, scrub with a toothbrush.
    2. Clean in cold and clean water.
    3. Let dry.
    4. Prime with Vallejo spray primer.
    5. Let dry.
    6. Paint.

    After I’m done they will be finished with varnish. My frist Descent minis only got one layer semigloss varnish, is more better? The rune golems are covered in about 4 or 5 coats of gloss and one final coat of semigloss varnish, yes, I was really angry…

    Did I do anything wrong? Can this be a problem of my priming process? I’d really love to get a clue, I really don’t like to continue that way 🙁

    Christian aka SirWillibald

    Universal Head

    This is very strange, and at first I would have said that the miniatures weren’t washed, but it seems you’ve done that. The only thing I can think of is the Vallejo primer.

    Has anyone else used Vellejo primer and had this problem?

    I use Games Workshop white. It is outrageously expensive but after swapping to the cheaper Army Painter primer briefly and finding it had a tendency to ‘powder’, I’m back to GW.

    You’ve done everything else right, and you should only need one coat of varnish, so I can only assume the primer is the culprit. I can understand your frustration my friend.


    I’ve used Vallejo Surface Primer through an air brush. It works great.

    You mentioned “4. Prime with Vallejo spray primer.” Is this an aerosol product? I’m only familiar with their non-aerosol surface primer.

    Your Rune Golems look fantastic though. 🙂


    Thanks for your nice words, guys!

    Yes, my primer is an aerosol product. Should I better use a brush-on primer? Wanted to give the Games Workshop primer a try and thought that UniversalHead was talking about the aerosol one? Am I mistaken?


    I’m not suggesting that ALL aerosols are bad, or even that the one you’re using is necessarily bad. It’s simply a possible explanation. Perhaps you got a bad batch, etc. For purposes of troubleshooting, it seems like a good place to begin your testing.

    I’ve used the GW primer as well, and had no issues with it. If you can get it, you should definitely give it a shot.

    If you run into the same problem with a different primer, then that’ll be very surprising and you should look into other potential environmental factors that could be affecting your minis/paints. For example, maybe the detergent you’re using has some sort of oil in it that’s sticking on the minis and causing the primer to not bond. I have no evidence that this is actually a thing that happens; just trying to think about possible sources of your problem, because it is a weird one.

    Universal Head

    Yes, I always use the aerosol. Problems from aerosol use (too humid a day, spraying from too close/too far away) usually result in a powdery effect, not this chipping business.

    Good advice from Wonderslug. There’s something wrong about the bonding of the paint to the plastic, and perhap it is the detergent, or a bad batch of primer.

    You need to do some experiments unfortunately.


    I have no idea what the cause of that could be and agree with the others; only some experiments can solve this. I used GW and Tamiya spray primer so far. Both work great.


    Alright, think I’ll go with that. Thanks for the help!

    One more thing came to my mind: When I primed those Daqan guys it was rather cold outside (~ +4ºC). The spray can had room temperature, though, but I think the drizzle will cool down in split seconds once leaving the bottle.

    I know by now that this isn’t such a good idea, but could this result in my problem? I can’t tell if it was that cold when priming my Descent minis, who had the same problem as mentioned before.

    Universal Head

    Spray primer does seem to be really sensitive to temperature. It’s always a good idea to spray one figure as a test and check it, before spraying a whole batch.

    4º is pretty damn cold and that could possibly be your problem!



    That’s a problem I don’t have here in Texas. 😉


    That really is pretty cold. I always paid attention to spray at about room temperature. When i sprayed at freezing temperatures, i did it inside. In the cellar i organized myself a place with door to the garden to keep a good air circulation where i also use my airbrush. You can also use a box (karton) to spray inside.
    But always make sure you got a good air circulation, you don’t want to breathe those fumes.

    Tell us more if you find anything!


    Hi guys,

    know it’s been a while (been busy with other things, going to show you in another thread), but I wanted to let you know that it seems to work now.

    I still don’t know exactly what happened, but I bought a can of GW skull white primer and primed the next bunch of minis with about 20°C outside.

    The coat looked better from the first glance and so far nothing chipped of. Finished my Battlelore Chaoslord and the Flesh Rippers (and the battered Citadel guards, too) since then.

    I hope this problem won’t arise any more, still I don’t know what to do in winter (don’t have a cellar for priming and using our living room won’t be accepted). Perhaps I have to prime all minis while it’s warm…

    Thanks again for all your tips and encouraging words!


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