Thursday, June 20, 2024

Curious observations about the history of Hobby Paint for Miniatures


 A curious thing about paints...

In the 1970s there was Humbrol (UK), Testor's (US) and Pactra (US).  All enamel originally, although both Testor's and Pactra (and now Humbrol) would later come out with Acrylic lines.

Then in the early 1980s there was Heritage (US), Polly-S (US), and later Armory (US) and Ral Partha (US).

In the background, and used by many hobby painters, there were Craft paints such as DecoArt (US) and all the brands owned by Plaid (Folk Art, Apple Barrel, etc.) (US).

In the 90s, along came Citadel Paints (UK).  A spin off line called Coat d'Arms (UK).  Then the successor company to Heritage, Reaper had paints (US).  Privateer Press had the P3 line (UK).  All three, by the way, designed by Mike McVey.

  • Starting in 1965, and still strong today, is Vallejo (First in US then moved to Spain).  
  • Also in Spain there is Green Stuff World, AK Interactive, and Ammo by Mig.
  • Army Painter (including Warpaints, Fanatic, etc.) is designed and made in Denmark.  
  • Lifecolor is made in Italy.
  • Iron Wind is still making the Ral Partha paints in a very limited fashion (you can get packaged sets from either Iron Wind or from BV Traders, who come to ODMS conventions).  Made in US.
  • WizKids has a premium line of D&D paints - they are repackaged Vallejo.
  • Wizards of the Coast has a premium line of D&D paints - they are repackaged Army Painter.
  • MicroMark has their line of brush and airbrush paints - made in the US, but designed for them by Vallejo.  They also have a line called MicroLux - which includes the model railroad colors of the now-gone PolyScale (the acrylic models paints by Floquil/Polly-S).  The colors of MicroLux match the old PollyScale/Floquil train paints, but they are water soluble acrylics.  I use their brush on primer (avail in black, white, grey), works very well, and about half the price of Vallejo brush on primer.
  • Monument Hobbies has their new line of Pro-Acryl paints.  They are from the US.
  • Scale75 is another USA company, and they have a number of different acrylic lines - different lines for miniatures, crafts, and scale models.  Very nice, and made in the USA.

There are a number of small companies - 1``````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````````                                                            

I don't know any of these that are made in USA, but most seem to be Acrylic.

The curious thing is this - back in the 1970s, most paints used for figures were oil based enamels, and made in either the USA or UK.  Vallejo was just starting out.

Today, other than a small handful, most hobby and scale model paints are made in other places than the USA (Spain is emminent, with Vallejo, AK Interactive, Green Stuff World, and Ammo by Mig).  I did not mention all the myriad scale model colors coming out of Japan for the scale model industry - Tamiya is the oldest, and arguably the best, but there are many, many good brands (Mr Color, by Mr Hobby, is an example).

The small handful of US manufacturers includes: MicroMark, Monument Hobbies, Reaper, and Scale75 (and whatever Iron Wind is still doing with the Partha Paints).

So the places where paint is made has exploded, but also the switch has been made to almost all companies being focused on water soluble (or lacquer soluble, in the case of Tamiya) Acrylic paints.  

There are many airbrush-centric or airbrush-only paint lines, and most of those are solvent based in one form or another.  But the main brush lines (and many airbrush lines) of paint are all acrylic.  There are specialist lines of oil paints, inks and washes that are not acrylic based (one of my favorites is Abteilung 502), but those are usually adjunct lines of paints.

Very different from how things started out in the 1970s.  I'm sure I'm missing some brands or products here, please add to this conversation, also - which of these are your favorites?

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