Monday, July 27, 2020

Vallejo (and Other Paint) Observations (and Frustrations)

A hobby rant follows:

So I guess this all stems back to 1983, when I started using ModelMaster enamel paints on micro-armor.  Somewhere around 1994 I noticed that my Soviet tanks, all painted Medium Green, were nearly as many shades of green as I had Russian tanks.   The colors were everywhere, some colder, some warmer, some darker, some lighter, again, all painted the "same" color, ModelMaster Medium Green.  I was quite surprised at ModelMasters quality control, or lack there of.

Not too long after that, Vallejo paints made their way onto my paint bench, and I switched over to 894 Russian Green.  It was reasonably close to some of my earliest MM medium green tanks, and I just went with it, without much concern for the overall accuracy of the color.  What I wanted was consistency, with the expectation that I could match the color from the same manufacturer 5, 10, or 20 years down the road.

Now this was naive of me, as I had already seen the disappearance of the Polly-S, Humbrol, and Pactra's Military lines of paints, but I was still young enough (and hopeful enough), that I expected some stability in the product lines.

I never used many of the old Humbrol's, and only a selection of the Pactra Military's, more of a loss was the transition of Polly-S to Polly Scale.  At least there, colors were still available in some cases (I just used up the last of my Polly-S Light Yellow about two weeks ago).  There was more frustration over the Polly-S change, but the ModelMaster inconsistency really caught me by surprise, so I went heavy into Vallejo after giving it the initial try, and reading a lot of good stuff about it.  

Flash twenty some odd years later, and I find myself in a similar situation with Vallejo.  It started a couple of years (or so) back, when I discovered that my 894 Russian Green, had become 894 Cam. Olive Green with a slight change in color.  More recently, I've noticed a bunch of changes if names and/or colors, which I'm guessing has been all over the model forum for some time, but I don't frequent any of those, so I'm whining about it here.

Earlier this year, I had trouble finding a new bottle of Vallejo 887 Brown Violet, after some time, my local shop finally got in some new bottles of 887 US Olive Drab.  The color seemed to match pretty well when dry, just the name was particularly different.

More recently, I changed over to newer bottles of 890 Reflective Green and  892 Yellow Olive, neither of which changed names, but the colors are noticeably different.  One bottle of Reflective Green is much yellower than the other, and the same is true of the Yellow Olive.  The last of the recent bunch is 889 Olive Drab, which is now 889 Olive Brown and is much darker and less green.

I remember years ago on TMP, when during a discussion about how many paints we had (many were in the 100s of bottles), member Scurvy Bartella made a comment that he had relatively few paints, and basically that we all needed to learn to mix colors.  At that time, I often added figures 5, 10, 15 years after painting the original figs for an army, sometimes many hundreds of figs (multiple times even), and preferred being able to save time and match from a bottle, whenever possible.  It is faster and more convenient.  To me, this didn't seem like an outrageous request or expectation. 

ModelMaster's pseudo demise with the sale to Rustoleum (who I have been in touch with, and who doesn't seem to know what it is doing), has been frustrating as I depended on the enamels for specific applications, where acrylics were less favorable, or not well suited.  This has also increased my dependence on Vallejo, which now seems to be in the same boat as the other hobby paints before them.

I know that there are other brands out there, but my needs are such that the internet isn't fast enough, particularly with respect to work projects, where something comes to me in the morning, and has to leave that afternoon.  It is equally frustrating with respect to hobby projects, as I usually find that I have hobby time, at the moment that I find myself with hobby time.

Not sure what I'm going to do at the moment.  The local shop invested in a Vallejo rack, but has had trouble getting new stock  almost since the day they bought the rack.  I hate to drop the line from use, and turn my back on the local guy, but not being able to depend on consistency and availability is a problem for me, both personally and professionally.

I'm considering switching to a line that I have to order over the net in hopes of relieving the consistency problem, but that will increase the availability problem.    I find it funny in the age of technology and instantaneous gratification that I have a much harder time finding paint, glues, brushes, plastics and virtually all sorts of hobby supplies, than at any time since the late 1970s.

Anyway, here are a few pics of the bottles, showing the differences. 

887 Uesd to be Brown Violet

Differences in Yellow Olive
 and Reflective Green

The Change to Olive Brown and
difference in 894, formerly
Russian Green

Rant over.

And on a side note, I did mange to paint 119 stands of 6mm US Cold War infantry this weekend.  Cold War progress continues.


  1. Agree. Vallejo used to be consistent in their paints but the 2 years or so they seem to have gotten bad about consistency.

  2. I hoard my Polly-S paints as long as I can and while I have used Vallejo paint, it just isn't as good. You might find some of the paint you are looking for at:

    I haven't tried them, but I hope to order a few bottles soon.

    1. Thanks for the link, I'll have to check into it.

  3. That is pretty frustrating, but also indicative of where the hobby is, with people buying paint for just one project, and not for an ongoing decades spanning army.

    With GW paints, they have had five lines of color in my tenure painting them, which makes it pretty hard to keep things consistent if you use the same colors over that time period!

    As a personal note, as someone who is mildly color deficient, I sort of rely on official name and the paint work of others to figure out what things "should" be. For me calling something "brown violet" is pretty meaningless and all the bottles above look the same ;)

    1. I pretty much ignore names on paints, as I have at least 7 different bottles of US olive/Olive Drab that are different colors. I tend to rely on recommendations, color match my own research photos, or buy uniform bits and match them.

      If a Brown Violet matches, I just want it to be the same color from one batch to the next, and would prefer them not changing the name, as it makes me paranoid. The bit where they change the color on purpose, but keep the same item number rather upsets me. Sucks when trying to match colors while doing repair work on a $50,000 model at work.