I strip my minis using Dettol. Its safe, easy to use and cheap- and it does an awesome job. The other bonus is the caps are handy for blue-tac'ing figures to when you need to handle them. I simply stuff my figures into old glass coffee jars, top them up with dettol and leave them for a day or two. You can actually leave them in for a few months with no problem, and its probably a good way to protect them whilst your getting around to painting them.
Do use cheap heavy duty rubber gloves when come to brush off the paint, as the sludge is very sticky andno matter how much you wash, that Dettol smell hangs about. Enamel paint is a bitch to get off, as it has a high density of color and tends to sludge up your scrubbing brush and leave other figures in the jar tinted- if you get the chance, do these figures in a seperate jar to save scrubbing all your figures like a madman.
After rinsing in warm, soapy water (lead does not rust), the figures are ready for picking over and polishing. I pick over using a thick sewing needle mounted into an old paintbrush handle with milliput. Mount your needles so most of it is in the handle, and go for thicker needles - thin, long needles run the risk of snapping and pinging up into your eyes.
Since you don't want to scratch the mini- grind down the tips of my needle a bit. Also, hold the picker loosely using as little pressure as possible hook out any remaining slivers of paint. Dont worry about the fine stuff, the next tip will save you all that pain.
Blue Tac Ball of Doom
Take a fresh ball of blu-tac (one that that you WONT be using on your rented appartment walls)and scrunge it into the model, twisting it around like a lemon on a juicer. You should find that all that crap gathered in the chainmail is now on the blutac, and your model is polished up on the upper surfaces. Nice trick, huh?
If you have a seriously old model, you may need to consider a dremmel with a soft brush. Read the warnings and be careful- these are not toys yeah?
I managed to save a seriously deteriorated Death Jester and Ninja recently by neautralising the lead rot using a baking soda solution then creaning away the damage with a dremmel. I used a mask and gloves for this, as I do not want lead poisoning. The theory is that acids cause leadrot, and baking soda is alkaline. Works in theory, but I will let you know in a few years if it worked. Stay tuned. :)
A highly dangerous manouvre is inducing lead rot by bathing the figure in acid (lemon juice or vinegar), then in baking soda. THIS IS EXTREMELY DANGEROUS. As I understand it, (I get my facts from TMP) what your doing is basically turning the surface of your model into Sugar of Lead- which is absorbed into the body easily and will give you lead poisoning very quickly indeed. Apparently it is deliciously sweet. DONT TASTE IT. The soda will neutralise the corrosion, and the result, I am told is a shiney as new mini. Risky, risky, risky. I would probably consider it to save a $300 ultra rare mini, but I would be throwing away all my gloves and containers if I did.
Smoothing the Surface
So once the figure is stripped down, qite often you will find the surface is a little pocked here and there. You can smooth this out using Milliput grey/green mixed with water. Often called milijuice. Brush it onto the smooth areas, taking care not to get it in any details. Once very close to dry, give the model a polish and later perhaps a bit of a fine sanding and you should have a silky smooth surface to paint on. I tend to do this on exposed skin, like barbarians and trolls, and very old models which tend to be quite roughly sculpted.
Prime and forget
If your lead pile is getting mountainous, prime your freshly cleaned figures before storing. Never store your figures in a wooden or cardboard box- they tend to be mildly acidic. Disposable chinese food containers are also good for storing unpainted minis.
Doh... not another Devourer
One last tip about stripping is to not leave your big jars of minis so long you forget what is in them and buy more. I got most doubles that way, and yep, this week discovered three more I had doubled up on. Tsk. Bad collector. No ebay this week for you.
Anyway, this is just a quick post whilst I am having a coffee break. More proper posts with pictures and everything once my new Bederken minis go off to the moulds. Please comment- it makes me feel all warm and fuzzy and more like posting up pictures :)