When Paint Formulas Change (accompanied by loud wailing.)

I have friends who are meticulous about tracking the paint colors they use on different units or different projects. Paint blotches and paint names are carefully placed in steno pads or spiral notebooks, or perhaps on index cards in storage boxes that can be carefully organized and easily sorted as needed. Of course I have a better system. Information is stored in my superior memory that can be readily accessed for at least a week, maybe even a month where it is consigned to the same place with the names of all the members of Gary Puckett and the Union Gap. I know it’s in there somewhere. Helloooooooo!!

Okay, so I don’t keep careful track of these things and sometimes I forget and that can be embarrassing as I rummage about for the right color. But there is something worse than this, and that’s when the colors themselves change. Yes, it’s true, sometimes manufacturers change the formula for their paint and the result is a color that isn’t what it what was five years ago or two years ago or, well, last week. Often I only hear about it and never quite experience it myself, but recently it happened to me. Here’s my story.

I’ve written a lot about my Philippine/Spanish-American War project. Most of my figures, for the Philippines, are Miniaturas 1898 figures, but if I was to broaden into the Caribbean I’d need some Old Glory figures. Further, I’d also purchased some more of Miniaturas figures including some Spanish infantry and a couple of guns. All would require the infamous rayadillo pinstripe paint job, and that meant I’d be using a lot of the Vallejo 70-943 color 061 Grey Blue paint.

I’d painted some figures for my friend John Gee in the rayadillo and followed the formula of block painting the main color, the blue grey, progressively lightening painting before carefully painting in the representative pin stripes, which is the blue grey lightened for a third time. It’ demanding. I really have to do all of it in one sitting. Yes, I’ve tried a wet palette, but it just hasn’t worked for me.

One of the batches of troop types I bought from Old Glory are the Spanish in sun helmets, which were worn in Puerto Rico. I got started on these early in the month. After I put down a base coat I noticed something incredibly disconcerting: it was the wrong shade. The paint was darker, grayer, and less blue than the earlier work I’d done on my Philippine figures. And I had no idea what I was going to do about it.

Not only that but I’d blocked out 24 figures or two units worth of figures. So I’d either have to come up with an entirely new color, or repaint everything I’d done.

First, I shouted at the air, beat my fists and considered rending my hair as all classical heroes do. But that really hurt too much, aggravated my wife and the dogs and I began to come up with better solutions.

The first thing I did was to search about for a substitute. My preference is something highly pigmented like Vallejo, Army Painter or Citadel. It didn’t take long to strike out. The second choice was to search out the zillions craft paint offerings. I actually bought a shade and brought it home only to discover it is way more green than blue (thanks to the super lighting at Michael’s.) I’m always on a schedule.

This left me in the position of trying to cobble together a workable color. I began with a base of the Grey Blue. In order to get a little more blue in the paint, I added a few drops of Vallejo Sky Blue, which is very blue and very bright, and then began to add Cold White to the paint. I had to give it a good stir before painting/repainting.

Block painted the jackets and trousers. Then lightened with white and dry brushed. The Old Glory figures don’t have as many creases, rolls and crevices as the 1898 Mini figures do, I had to work a bit more at the dry brush. The first lightening was followed by a second. Then it was on to pin striping. It’s a far different gig with the OG figs, because with the more regular surface, there aren’t as many places to hide and stop painting the stripes. It was a much longer and more tedious gig, especially since I was working on 24 figures at once instead of 12. But they’re finished.

Just a quick review of the Old Glory figures. They are really nice. They’re proportioned well and I really like the sun helmets. They lack a little bit of detail, but overall pretty good stuff. If I have a complaint it is that the cartridge boxes seem a bit small, but that’s about it.

I have 36 more figures to paint of these bad boys, so I’m going to have to do my best to match the paint color as closely as possible. I’ve had to order more of good ol’ 70-943 number 61, so hopefully it will arrive soon.

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