Too Much Paint
Sometimes, I wish I had just one brand of paint in the house. Is this possible? Not really. I am as close as I can be to this futile aim by focusing on Vallejos, but there are indispensable colours from <rummaging through the drawers> GW, Miniature Paints, Chromacolour, Lefranc, Tamiya, Coat d’Arms, Xtracolour, Golden, Derivan, Plaka, Andrea and even six pots of Foundry (gasp). Plus a box of oils, inks, Finity and Liquitex tube acrylics, some craft paints, metal effects, MiG Pigments, and Humbrol enamel for undercoat. Phew. But they are all essential. Each range offers at least a couple of key colours, such as Tin Bitz or Bleached Bone, Ral Partha Paladin Blue, or Tamiya’s Smoke for instance, which I find myself unable to work without. So I struggle with storage, access and sometimes even remembering that I have the less-used paints in a separate box.
So is there any point in experimenting further? Of course there is; are we not gamers? I hauled a small bag of samples back from the States, having finally got my hands on all the obscure craft paint brands I have been told about for so long on the ‘Net. Frankly, my experience with craft paints in the UK has always been very disappointing. I don’t like the gloopy consistency unthinned, yet thinned the pigmentation and coverage is pathetic. I know, Goldilocks rides again. Perhaps they just don’t suit my style. I use them neat for terrain, if I use them at all. The rot stopped with Steve Dean, who put me onto DecoArt paints. These are better, and can be found quite readily in London and East Anglia, and I have come to like their golds a lot.
So the first purchase was three more gold shades, but ironically the one I really wanted (Venetian) was out of stock. Given that this took place in the legendary Michaels, and I had travelled several thousand miles, this is hard to credit. American gamers are always going on about Michaels, and rightly so. It is a craft chain, which seems to feature in every town. Or perhaps mall. I haven’t been to the States for eight years, so was looking forward to finding one. What I imagined was a well stocked shop with roughly UK sized selections, except with different brands. How wrong I was. Michaels in Columbus was a warehouse. A massive hangar full of craft supplies, paints, brushes, tools, kits, clay, books, faux flowers, furniture to paint, the lot. Aisle after aisle of the stuff. Tesco’s in size, but for hobbies. It took me two hours just to browse around. I was spellbound, spent a little too much, and was forced to go to Steak ‘n’ Shake to recover (!). In a way I am really glad I don’t live nearby because I would be forever popping in and going slowly broke.
Next up is the much lauded Delta Ceramcoat. Awful name, sounds like a Country & Western singer, but impressive paints. Their Buttercream colour alone was enough to convert me to craft paints on the spot, and I can see why so many American gamers use nothing but this brand. They really are good, and at $2 for a 59ml per bottle (or often cheaper), represent a real bargain. The consistency is much like Vallejo, and there is plenty of pigment. They thin well and can even handle washes. Coverage isn’t bad either. For blocking in, or even full painting, I can definitely recommend these. I don’t know how they do it for the price, but I wish I had bought some more colours. Does anyone know of a UK supplier?
Next, Golden acrylics. These are available in the UK, at Atlantis Art in Whitechapel for starters, but as they are true artists’ acrylics, and priced by series, they are not cheap. But of course with the strong Pound, and being their home country, they start to look much more reasonable in the States. As do clothes, trainers, books, games, wine, food, cars, gas… well, okay, pretty much everything really. My inner consumerist loves it there. I picked up quite a few unusual colours that I have never seen before, and they are absolutely superb. Beautiful, intense pigment and top quality. I especially like the Pyrrole Red and Orange, Stainless Steel, and the exotic Quinacridone colours. Golden also sell a large range of mediums, some of which (like the Fine Garnet suspension or the Stucco) are ideal for basework. Yes, I got some of these as well. Thanks to Joe Videki for the heads up on this excellent product range.
Finally, back in the UK, I had the chance to pick up a couple of pots of the new Rackham paints. I wasn’t sure what to expect here, apart from a high price tag (!), but they have a few unusual colours – you can start to see a pattern here – and I wanted to get a closer feel for how they do those incredible paintjobs in Cry Havoc magazine. Plus, well, you gotta try new things. I am rather hesitant to say this, but please tread carefully. I can report that the paints are thickish – matt, smooth, good coverage – but something weird happens when you dilute. The very dark brown I have has visible pigment when thinned – by this I mean you can see the tiny grains floating like coffee. It also separates into a strange mix of colours on the palette. I am not sure why, or whether it is just this one colour, or a duff pot, but something may be up. More testing needed here I think.
Hopefully I will get a chance to try the new P3 range soon.
Street of a Thousand Ar… tisans
I sometimes lose track of Artizan’s efforts, but they are always there steadily producing consistent and tempting figures. I almost said in the Foundry style, but they aren’t anymore – the student has long since surpassed the teacher as some of the figures have thankfully morphed into taller, more elegant pieces and are therefore to be commended. The recent Wild West character figures are some of Mike Owen’s best work, and there are always those Moors and Carolingians. With eBob’s horses (see below) being used to good effect, things are very much getting there. And while not really my thing, because of The Oath, I know a lot of people raving about and buying the WWII range – even I like the Italians!
The latest Artizan releases are even more exciting. Firstly we have a round dozen in the brand new pulp range, Thrilling Tales. This gives us an excellent spread of 1930’s characters, from ‘archaeological adventurer’ Kentucky Davies, through evil Nazis, to Terry-Thomas style British officers. The best are the fez and suit wearing Egyptians, but where is the wooden speedboat? Super stuff. Thrilling, in fact. Finally, perhaps inspired by the recent Caribbean heatwave in England, and the latest Depp movie (which actually has its moments), Artizan and Crusader have combined to provide yet more 28mm pirates. Why is it when you say “Pirates” that Americans have to say, “Arrr!”, as word association? Anyway, I like ‘em. And even though I already have most of the Foundry range I am sure I can accommodate a few more below decks. Arrrr! Sorry.
Those Pesky Perry Twins
I made a silly mistake with Perry Miniatures. For some reason, after having bought lots of the wonderful Brunswickers and bravely deciding (once again) against starting in on the ECW, I sort of stopped buying them. Not because I didn’t want them, but because I felt I could just order intermittently and keep up. Three things happened. Real Life accelerated and four years disappeared, somewhere. Secondly a mortgage appeared, as if by magic. At the same time, the Perries upped their already remarkable output. I am left with a wishlist as long as my arm. Not good.
In short, and nothing against the figures, I can live without AWI (except the civilians), Carlist Wars, Sudan and most of the Crusaders. Napoleonic French are easy to dodge, because Project Waterloo is now only going to happen in 10mm or 6mm, if ever, but I must have the generals and that ADC pack to convert. And a few of the 40mm Peninsula characters will do me. But the Samurai, Dutch-Belgian officers and the Saracens are pretty much all firm wants, and I am tempted to just write a cheque for the entire 100YW range, right now. If it had been Baron’s Wars, with great helms and shields, I’d have re-mortgaged my house by now. But 100YW is a start. So even if, as will realistically happen, I make very careful purchases I am looking at a chunk of cash. Ouch. But those Japanese villagers, the ninjas, the woodland Indians, the samurai generals, the dismounting ADC, the crashing French Lancers, Trip and Ghigny… Wow. All must haves. Talented buggers aren’t they?
I don’t know who eBob is, nor why he works under a shroud of secrecy and modesty. Perhaps he was once a great sculptor, made his fortune, and is now returning to the market to keep his hand in. Or perhaps he is just wanted by the police! Joke. If you visit his site, or are lucky enough to spot his products on Chiltern Miniatures’ or Bolt Action’s stand, then you will see that he is doing great things for the hobby. Firstly, he is providing neat little armatures, or puppets as he calls them, of 28mm figures – crucially with faces already sculpted, unlike the existing Amazon equivalent. To these you can add your own clothes and equipment. He has also made an excellent Bactrian camel, a range of Mongols, the Great Escape range, and no less than six horse blanks.
Blanks? Well, these are plain horses in useful poses, with anatomy taken as far as possible from Eadweard Muybridge’s famous stills. I think they are excellent. The overriding bonus here is that you can take these puppets and horses, add saddles, furniture or indeed just a straw hat, and then cast and sell them. I make that sound overly simple, but for we non-sculptors, it is a step in the right direction. Logically, other sculptors who are not that hot on the equine form, are short of time or perhaps who just prefer these, are adapting eBob blanks and selling the results. You can get the six horses for £18, which has to be the bargain of the century, although I would also have liked to have been able to buy singles for £1 or so, and not have to cast them up. Either way, these will see service. eBob, whoever you are, this is a great gesture and thanks are due. I also look forward to your paintballers, heavy horse and rowing boat.