Thursday, 21 August 2014

Humbrol archaeology

This week I started work on a test figure for a squadron of Prussian Dragoons and remembered that I had recently rediscovered a pot of Humbrol MC12 Prussian Dragoon Blue from the long defunct Authentic Colour range. I still have quite a few old Humbrol paints kept in air-tight plastic containers and this one must be about the oldest in my possession.

Like a find on a Time Team special my pot of Prussian Dragoon Blue waiting for the lid to be gently prised off by the hand of Phil Harding – or me in this case.

To the best of my recollection I bought it in 1974 along with a pot of Polish Crimson and British Rifle Green from the model shop in Bury St Edmunds (now also defunct). I can’t remember exactly why I bought them as I never had any Prussian dragoons, Polish troops or British riflemen in my armies at the time. It was probably simply because when I started painting toy soldiers in the late 60’s the Humbrol range was very limited (there wasn’t even a flesh tone) and I must have been excited to finally lay my hands on some ‘proper’ Napoleonic colours.

Not really surprising that the paint had turned to goo after 40 years – I hope this hasn’t happened to my 1974 Chateauneuf-du-Pape!

Anyway, as you can see, 40 years has proved to be just a little too long for this particular pot and the paint has congealed into a very smelly green sludge. Sad, but not totally unexpected, so I’ll be using Foundry Tomb Blue 23A instead.


MSFoy said...

That is kind of sad, but interesting from a scientific point of view. Apart from viable shelf-life, I've always worried a bit about the long-term stability of the enamels once applied. Since time seems to have passed while I wasn't paying attention, I now have some very ancient Humbrol-coated figures - the occasional red has faded a bit if they were stored in the daylight, but the real horror is the clear varnish - I didn't use the stuff myself - when I was convinced of the value of varnishing I moved straight to Cryla water-based matt acrylic medium, and that has remained pure and clear; however, I have bought in many Humbrol varnished figures, and that stuff gradually changes into barley sugar as the years pass! How often have you seen an old figure, with good, sound paint covered in a layer of nasty brown varnish? Quite a lot?

Xaltotun of Python said...

Wasn't it Interior Stone used for flesh back then?

Stryker said...

Tony - I always used Humbrol gloss varnish back then so if my old figures are still knocking about somewhere they probably have a nice yellow hue by now!

Stryker said...

Xaltotun - my local model shop had limited colors so I had to use gloss mushroom!

johnpreece said...

I bought the very first sets of Humbrol Authentics released in sixes in about 1969.Only mail order then. I still have a couple, RFC Green anyone?

Survival has been variable, Goo, separated with a rock like layer under the oily medium and oddest of all the pigment faded or changed colour. Still, a percentage are useable.

I covered everything with Blackfriars matt yaught varnish. Nice and thick. I don't suppose it matters much if your yaught turns yucky green after 20 years.

lewisgunner said...

Someone is going to look at any Prussin Dragoon figures that you paint and say , 'No, they should be a sludgy green'.

I am amazed that you did not just find a pellet of solid colour in there!


Rafael Pardo said...

I used Humbrol enamels 30 years ago, and the figures look good and well, beyonfd some cases of 'yellow scarbbard' disease!
I use now acrylics because of their easier drying and application

the Archduke said...

the thing is that Prussia was in a parlous state after the 1806 defeats, and may not have been able to afford shiny new authentic humbrol colours for her new dragoon units.........