A couple nights ago, I finally sat down to paint some 6mm T64s and hopefully make a little progress on those African buildings that I've been working on forever.
As I smeared the third coat of Vallejo on one of the buildings, and realized that once again, it was going to take four coats again to get relatively solid coverage, I began reflecting on the changes in hobby paints over the years.
For me these 6mm African buildings have become work. I am really hating painting them. Done right, each building requires several colors, often bright or light, and should frequently involve relatively complex patterns for 6mm work. I've dumbed them down quite a bit, as the painting process has been burdensome, sometimes making me want to stab myself in the eyes with a brick.
They are disproportionately time consuming to paint, as each requires 8-12 colors, and the low opacity of many of the modern paints results in 3-4 applications of each color to get the coverage that I want. I have to take far greater care in handling with the acrylics, than my old enamels, and might get 2 single coat colors applied to a building during a session, thus it takes 20-30 sessions to paint one of these little guys. In a busy month, I might get 15-17 sessions, in a lean month maybe 3.
Part of the problem is the texture of most of the walls of the buildings, which is pretty smooth. The surface doesn't take the paint as well. Another issue, is that the primer that I had been using for quite some time was changed, new and improved supposedly. The new version almost seems to repel the paint. As a result, during the painting of these, I've experimented with four new primers (white, light grey, and dark grey), none of which seem to take the paint as well as my old, discontinued primer.
I experimented with spraying clear-coat over the primer, to see if that produced a better (maybe more coarse) surface for the paint. That didn't seem to matter much, either. Also, I've experimented with different brushes and whatnot. None of it mattered much.
Anyway, while thinking about this, it occurred to me that thirty years ago, I didn't have this problem. My old 1/72 scale M&M airplanes; one coat coverage. Two at the most. My 6mm buildings in Bristolboard or styrene; mostly one coat coverage. And I didn't have to be so careful in handling the old ModelMatser, Pactra, and Polly-S paints (despite it being acrylic).
So I conducted an experiment. I have some old bottles of Polly-S, and I happen to have several old unopened bottles of ModelMaster. I used to stock up on colors that I used, particularly when I worked at the hobby shop. Some years back, I boxed up a bunch of these extras, and fortunately, rediscovered them recently, after finding that Rustoleum had discontinued much of the Testor's ModelMaster line.
So over the last few days, I took my old bottle of Polly-S Light Yellow, and a previously unopened bottle of ModelMaster Medium Green (dating to probably 1985-87 judging from the labeling) and compared them to a similar Vallejo light yellow, and a relatively recent bottle of ModelMaster Medium Green. Guess what. One coat coverage with the old paint. Two coat coverage with the new ModelMaster, and four coats of Vallejo did not yield as solid a coverage as one coat of Polly-S.
My sampling is small, but never the less, I draw my conclussion: New hobby paints suck when compared to the old ones.
I want my old ModelMaster, from before the time, when they thinned them to make them more airbrush friendly. I want my old Pactra Military colors, they had some excellent colors that I have not found a good match for in the newer lines. And most of all, I want my old Polly-S acrylics, they were the best.
Unfortunately, I don't have old bottles of the paints that I need for the African buildings, so I will go on dreading painting for as long as it takes to paint them. My Imagi-nation campaign has been stalled for about 10 months already, another 10 months won't matter, I guess.
And despite the range of colors available from Vallejo, and GW, I cannot find a replacement for my Polly-S Mud, nor the Polly-Scale Dirt that I ran out of two nights ago. I want my 10 new T64s to be shaded and weathered in the same way as the 21 old models that I painted years ago. Why is that asking for too much?
Yes I can mix paints to match, but there will be variation, and it takes extra time. I'm not painting one new figure, nor 5, nor 10, I'm painting thousands. And I'm old! Time matters.
And how come in this age of digital wizardry, the paint manufacturers can't match their own paint from one batch to another. I have Vallejo where the new bottle simply isn't the same color as the old bottle (besides the Russian Green), and this has always been an issue with ModelMaster.
I don't know if GW has this problem, since I don't buy enough paint from them, as their paint usually seems to dry up in the bottle between the first and second use.
And another thing, I hate dropper bottles. When you have 300 of them on your table, and you are rummaging for that closest, but not-quite-a-color-match-for-the-old-color-that-you-ran-out-of-and can't-replace, they fall over. Like Dominos! They are too tall and light weight, they clog too easily, and they cause me to waste paint, paticularly when they clog momentarily, and then then half of the bottle goes bllaaahhhhttttt on the pallet. Baahhhh!
(The little voice in my head was starting to sound like Wilem Defoe doing the Green Goblin)
Okay, so there you have it. I liked the old paints. I liked screw-cap glass bottles, even the plastic ones that Pactra used worked fine. I liked one-coat coverage. I used to like painting miniatures.
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