Saturday, 1 September 2012

Retro Painting and Modelling or 'Archaeopainting'?



Black and white advert from 1988 showing the range of paints (and their associated sets)
available at the time.
Introduction

I used to be an archaeologist. An illustrator to be precise. I used to draw finds, particularly lithics (that's stone tools for the rest of you) and ceramics. Trouble is, archaeology is a fascinating but ultimately impovishering mistress so I gave it up and took up teaching instead. I'm still fully trained and knowledgeable about the subject and I find that these influences find their way into my collecting and painting. It seems that there are a fair few other oldhammering archaeologists out there too! Strangely, both Nigel Stillman and Rick Priestley were both archaeologists too - funny how digging and miniatures seem to have a longstanding relationship.

Recently, there was a thread opened on the Blood Forum (started up by the enigmatic Masp) about the subject of retro painting, or 'archeaopainting' to use his terminology. I must confess to being a retro painter but what do I exactly mean by this? Well in truth, I consider this to be the use of materials available to the painter and modeller contemporary with our favoured period 1985-1992. Primarily this involves using the original paints (designed in part with Mike McVey) produced for Citadel from the mid 80s onwards.

I thought that a quick post detailing this range of paints would be useful for any other gamers (like Masp) who are interested in doing the same.

Advert taken from White Dwarf from 1989 showing the (then) new Space Marine paint set.
The Early Sets


You can see by the general state of the box that the Colour Set has seen some SERIOUS action over the last 25 years!
The Citadel Colour Paint Set was the first to be released around 1985. Its premise was to cover the most used colours for fantasy gamers, only rather than sticking with bland names such as 'red', things were GWed up to a more Warhammer-centric terminology. Subsequently, paints such as Bronzed Flesh, Enchanted Blue, Sunburst Yellow, Mithril Silver, Shining Gold, Blood Red, Woodland Green and, of course, Skull White and Chaos Black.

Some colours remained until the range was 'updated' with ridiculous names earlier on this year while others, such as Woodland Green and Shining Gold, disappeared in later years but by and large these 'core' colours remained the bedrock of the Citadel Paint range for over twenty years.

I really like the arty paintings on the front of the box, shame that they were dropped.

According to the advertising, the Creature Paint Set was designed to broaden the near limitless shading and highlighting effects possible with the Citadel Colour set. It contained such stalwarts as; Rotting Flesh, Goblin Green (slottabases best friend), Chainmail, Worm Purple and later discontinued colours such as; Elf Grey, Hobgoblin Orange, Orc Brown, Spearstaff Brown and Swamp Brown.

For me, as a retro painter, this is my most used set of colours after the Citadel Colour. As it says on the tin, these shades are really useful when highlighting or shading models. The shades in this set are natural, earthy tones for the most part and mix nicely with the more vibrant colours from the previous set. The box I bought on eBay last year was practically mint. A lovely find.

Fantastic painting on the cover of the Monster set. 
The third of the initial paint sets was The Monster Paint Set. This set was the complete opposite of the Creature Paint Set as the colours were much more varied and brilliant. The blurb on the back uses the adjective 'scintillating' to describe the colours and indeed the word choice was most apt. This set was always my favourite in the 1980s as it contained Titillating Pink, Electric Blue and Bilious Green, my favourite retro colours. Imperial Purple, Moody Blue, Bestial Brown, Brazen Bronze, Red Gore and Ghoul Grey completed the set.

One of the big attractions to these sets were the lovely painted miniatures on the back and the Monster set was particularly memorable. I remember staring avidly at them on the way home in the front seat of my dad's car absolutely positive that the miniatures that I'd paint later that day would be just as good as the ones on the back of the box. Of course they never were... And I still have that dream today...

Into Inks



A different style of packaging was the order of the day for the Expert Set. The dropper bottles
were later replaced with the standard pot, only with a black lid.
I never used inks back in the day. I used washes made from watered down paint. To be honest, my method of painting was pretty basic. I'd paint on the base colours as well as I could and then I'd wash over with a black wash in an attempt to add shading. It would often look fantastic when wet, but when it had dried I was left with a dirty, muddy looking miniature.

In fact, the first time I actually used inks was after I bought the Mega Paint Set in 2004. My prime shade was the chestnut wash, mostly for flesh and I was often unhappy with the gloss finish that the inks left on my models. When I went retro for my Realm of Chaos campaign with Dan, I dug out the old inks and used them in place of the new washes. It wasn't until last Autumn that I actually got my hands of a set of inks that I discovered just how good this range of inks were. The colours are FANTASTIC! Nothing else compares to them. If you are going to buy anything old school wise for painting, I'd recommend these inks every time.

The Later Sets

In the later 80s and early 90s the range was expanded once again, largely due to the influence of Rogue Trader on gaming. Sci Fi was the new fantasy and Space Marines were fast becoming a very popular range for GW. To capitalize on this, Citadel released several sets which included more exotic colours for the growing number of gamers who fielded alien forces.

I have many happy memories of painting up Space Marine using these colours - loved that game!
The first of these new sets was the Space Marine Paint Set. I can remember this one coming out vividly and I can remember pouring over the painting guide that came with it for many, many hours. This set was more of a concept set; the idea being that each shade required to paint the four most popular chapters were provided (being, Blood Angles, Salamanders, Ultramarines and Space Wolves). It was around this time Space Marine was released and I can recall many happy hours using these colours to paint up the hundreds of tiny marines, rhinos and land raiders that the set came with.

The painting guide was also very, very useful for the novice gamer. Thankfully, its available in a pdf format and if you follow this link you can have a flick through the guide too.

Space-Marines-Painting-Guide-1st-Ed


I never had this set back in the day... Its a recent addition to my painting collection. Contains the very useful Snakebite Leather and the essential Bleached Bone.
Then came the Ork and Eldar Paint Set. As with the Space Marine set, the objective here was to provide new shades to paint up your alien forces. Bad Moon Yellow, Go Fasta Red, Ork Flesh, Snakebite Leather, Fire Dragon Crimson, Striking Scorpion Green, Hawk Turquoise, Bleached Bone and Tin Bitz making up the set.

This set did away with the 'free' paint holder and mixing station that the plastic insert was often called and replaced it with sturdy polystyrene.


Only six paints? I have no idea what they were called, anyone know?
Finally came the Metallic Paint Set, which is the only set I do not own. I've seen it sell on eBay for £30 in mint condition in the last 12 months but I doubt that I'll ever add this one to my collection as I prefer to add colour to a metallic paint (such as Shining Gold) rather than have a specific paint. But I am a completist, so if I saw one at the right price.... You never know....

Subsequently, I cannot comment about these paints so I shall leave that to others. Did you own this set? Can you tell us what the paints were called and if they were any good? The metallic range was eventually retired in the mid nineties so I'd imagine that they didn't sell that well...

So Why Use Old Paints?


Half of my paints set out in the old school way, inside the lid of a painting box. Keeps things nice and tidy ....

I have been asked this question many times over the last year or so. Why use paints and colours that are over twenty years old (in most cases, this is literal) when there is so much modern product out there?


Well I have come up with three reasons why I use them. In the future, I may come up with more, but at the moment my motivations are like this...

1) The pots are much larger so you get much more paint. I am sure you too have noticed how with each relaunch you get less and less paint from modern Citadel. With these babies you can be sure that your pot of paint will last much longer than a modern equivalent.

2) They don't dry up like modern Citadel Paint. I have a Blood Red upstairs that was kept in a cupboard with the lid firmly shut that is dry and gunky. I must have bought it a couple of years ago in the Colchester Store. I have a Blood Red from 1985 that is still perfect. I use it most days... Nuff said!

3) Nostalgia. They were the paints I used as a boy and they feel comfortable to me. I know them. I have found myself struggling with other ranges even though I have used many a company's product. Strange I know! Also, the boxes are neat and easy to store. The art on the front cover has a big old school pull too. Then, there's that smell...

So How Do I Get My Hands On Some Of These Retro Paints?

Ebay is going to be your friend here. I sourced all my sets by searching for Warhammer Paints and keeping and eye out most days for sets and job lots. It didn't take me long to get my hands on most of the paints and these sets still come up (largely due to the fact that twenty years later you open the pots and the paint is still very usable) and some are practically mint. Don't pay more than £10 for a box set of nine paints though, I never did.

If you can't be bothered with all that searching you can buy all the shades (and many new ones) from Black Hat Miniatures under the Coat D'Arms range. At £2 a pot these are excellent value and contain plenty of paint. Be aware though, their washes are NOT the same as the classic 80s ink set. I buy my replacements from here now as most websites and stores hold the range. And even the pots are the same!

http://www.blackhat.co.uk/coat_darms/paintcolours.php


My preferred range of paints. Coat d'Arms maintain nearly all the classic 80s colours, though, of course, many of the names are different.

The range of colours and the name changes may be bewildering to some. Luckily, there are plenty of conversion charts available for the collector and painter. The best one I've found is on the DakkaDakka forums. Follow the link below to help you match the modern colours to the older, classic shades. They are not all included on the list, but the majority is there.

Paint_Range_Compatibility_Chart

Hopefully, this post has brought back plenty of memories to though halcyon days in the late '80s, Kylie and Jason blast from the radio as you paint your Heroquest Goblins in your bedroom. The summer sun shines in through the window as you splodge on plenty of Goblin Green trying, rather unsuccessfully, to avoid dribbling blobs of paint on your Bermuda shorts and white socks...

Orlygg.

33 comments:

  1. Great post and cheers for the links, although I do quite like Vallejo.

    I had the same problem with that chestnut wash - Matte Medium and Vallejo inks are my friend now!

    As for citadel paints - I can see me trying to track some down if I can spot a bargain. I have many a happy memory of daubing the colours from the Creature paint set on my Heroquest minis - In particular, being very pleased with the effect of washing my zombies with rotting flesh and then trying to paint worm purple blood veins on their fore-arms. Of course being an impatient whippersnapper it was still wet but the resulting effect was just right!

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  2. Great post, and those links will be extremely useful to me.

    Though I no longer paint physical miniatures with physical paints, my late 80s/early 90s Citadel nostalgia influences my 3D modeling & texturing projects a great deal, and I've actually created Photoshop swatches matching these old colours in name and RGB values.

    I hope you won't mind me posting a link (I've made the swatches file available as a free download): Citadel Colour Photoshop

    Now I can update them with some missing ones thanks to your links!

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  3. Thanks for the nostalgic and informative post - very interesting to hear that the 1980s paints last longer than their modern equivalents, even when both are (supposedly) sealed.

    I was fortunate enough to have the metallic paint set back in the day and it was pretty good. There was even an accompanying 'Eavy Metal article documenting how you could use each colour. The metallic blue was a lovely colour (used on the barding of Knights Panther models) as was the green (excellent for elven magic swords). I didn't use the copper much, but I imagine it would look nice on the armour of dwarven minis. I also didn't use the purple much, other than on the scythe of an amethyst wizard...

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  4. I recently picked up the Expert paint set on ebay. The inks are great to work with. To be honest I gave up on Citadel paints years ago, far too sludgy for my liking. I use mainly Game Colour these days, the Expert paint set inks are about the same consistency and add a really nice richness. Plus the box has that musty garage smell which I love!

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  5. I still use old paint from these boxes, though the old Citadel paint was hit or miss, in the box could be bad pots. Tin Bitz was super hard to find a good pot of... I still miss Ghoul Grey. I've bought many grey, greens, and blues since but I really liked that color. I haven't gotten any Coat D'Arms though I probably will. I have too much paint and not enough time and energy for painting. Good work on the old school blog.

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  6. Excellent piece, this post will no doubt become very well attended, this was a great read and extremely rich in valuable information. I recently found some of my old Citadel paints, and they are actually still a bit 'alive,' with some considerable thickening around the caps: http://gholascale.blogspot.com/2012/08/ancient-paint.html

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  7. Back in the day (the early 80s), I used Tamiya model paints, as this was all I had, but I was always so envious of all the lovely colours that citadel had. I really wanted to buy some of these paints, but couldn't really justify it, as I did have my Tamiya model paints. This blog post of yours, wants to make me source out these old paints, just to give them a go, and satisfy an old boy-hood dream. Thanks for sharing all this useful info.
    Note: I use Vallejo paints now.

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  8. just wonderful article
    good to see that I inspired this one

    thanks again ;)

    the enigmatic Masp :)

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  9. Wow, that was a trip down memory lane.
    I had the space marine set and the original colour paint set. I have about ten of this range left, yeah the lids are in a bad way and I might have spilled the odd pot over the years but compared to my newer GW paints, the originals are still fresh as a daisy. I've had to throw out countless pots of the 00's range after turning into a plastic dried mess, 25 year old paints FTW.

    I actually have the blue and green metallics, they go by the name polished blue and glistening green, I don't know how I got hold of them as I never had the set, haha.

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  10. I managed to get the Monster Set recently at a miraculously low price, replacing my mostly intact paints from those many years past. Alas the one casualty was Brazen Bronze (as it was in the original set as well). But the real finds were Ghoul Grey and Titilating Pink, which I have yet to effectively replicate, especially the intense fluorescence of the pink.

    @Muskie: I did find a suitable replacement for Ghoul Grey is Reaper 09148, Ghoul Skin! It has that brownish-yellowish-greenish tone that seems to line up just about right.

    Other notes: The Coat D'Arms grey primer is almost identical to Smelly Primer, as is the new Imperial Primer (except it is black). They even retain the smelliness!

    Re: Metallics. I did some searching and the list is Amethyst Purple, Polished Blue, Glistening Green, Dwarf Bronze and Beaten Copper.

    http://www.littlemetalmen.com/useful.php?stuff=oldcitps

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  11. Another quick note: I just opened a relatively new pot of Coat D'Arms "Brass" and it resulted in a very similar experience as "Brazen Bronze" those many years ago.

    Some metallics just don't seem to hold up well no matter what.

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    Replies
    1. Funny you should mention Brazen Bronze not surviving to the present day. I've bought two Monster Paint Sets over the years, and both of them were practically mint, but BB had died a death in each. The paint hadn't dried up, but it had separated into a hard mass and a milky liquid. Something similar happened with Bolt Gun Metal and Tin Bitz from the Space Marine/Orc and Eldar set.

      Oh, and magic metal from Coat d'Arms makes a very good subsitute for Tin Bitz.

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  12. So, I have some old, round bottles of Citadel paint. They look like the ones from the metallic paint set (kind of similar label, same general bottle/lid design). However, they just have names like "Red," and "Green." No Snakebite Leather, no Orc Flesh. Just color names. About how old are these?

    I notice that they seem to have survived much better than the actual named paints.

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    Replies
    1. Are they labels, or just written in with pen? I have a Monster and Creature set with no labels at all, and those sets date back from '85-'88 I believe.

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  13. They're labels. They have a couple of demons on them, and say Citadel Colour. The colors are numbered, like 1-Red, 2-orange, etc. The lids on 'em are black, rather than the white I've seen on other old Citadel paint pots.

    Actually, I just looked up above, and I'm pretty sure they're inks, which would help explain how they've survived longer than the paints. They have exactly the same labels as on the experts inks in the post, just a different bottle. Even the numbers are the same.

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    Replies
    1. Sounds like you have the original ink bottles there. They were used for the first run of inks, only to be replaced with the standard paint pot, with a black lid, later on. Early Citadel Colour sets were indeed released with no labels, the labels were added as the range grew and more paints were sold individually.

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  14. "I am sure you too have noticed how with each relaunch you get less and less paint from modern Citadel"

    Ugh.

    For all their many other faults, they've been 12ml since GW gave up what you could now call 'Coat D'arms style' pots. No more, no less. Oldhammer is pretty great - I wouldn't be reading through this blog archive otherwise - but please try not to make stuff up to convince people.

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    1. Actually:
      They were 20ml in the 'Coat D'arms style'.
      Then they went down to 17.5ml in the first iteration of the hex style pot (with the evil sun tooted face logo in the centre of the label)
      Then down to 12ml where they have stayed since.

      Just clarifying, since you were stating 'they've been 12ml since GW gave up what you could now call 'Coat D'arms style' pots. No more, no less.', and I assume from your accusation that Oldhammer was making stuff up that you would want to be as accurate as possible.....

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  15. The first paint set I owned was the Space Marine set - still got the painting guide, covered in paint splotches.

    The Metallic set was disappointing. Unless you had arms like Popeye, there was no way to get the metallic flakes mixed into the paint properly. I still have my Glistening Green, Amethyst Purple and Beaten Copper. There's a stubborn layer of nearly solid metallic particlesat the bottom of all three, which has been there undisturbed since I bought the sodding things. The actual paint in the pot, as a result, was always too thin, lacking in coverage and not very metallic. Nowadays I just use the current Citadel washes (shades, now, I think) over silver - works a treat.

    If anyone ever got any use out of the Yellow Ink from the Expert Paint set, let me know. For me, it was too yellow - no darker than the yellow paint, so didn't provide any shading.

    I could be wrong, but are the Coat d'Arms paints not the equivalent of the _second_ series of Citadel Colour paints - the ones in the hexagonal pots, released in the early/mid 90s? Colour names such as "Angel green", "Hideous Blue" and "Jade green" would suggest that to me. The dark green colour was "Salamanders green" in the Space Marine paint set, only to be renamed "Dark Angels green" in the subsequent formulation. As I recall, the paint range in general was made brighter and more "primary", for want of a better word, as 'Eavy Metal moved into the "red period".

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    1. Some interesting comments. I own all the paints from the original colour, creature and monster paint sets and have bought the corresponding coat'arms paints and they match very closely indeed. Not all the colours are available, with titillating pink and bilious green being two of them. As for the yellow ink, it was produced to enhance greens in particular, though John Blanche always adovacated mixing inks to create different hues and not just using them straight from the pot, so mix orange or chestnut with yellow to shade said colour.

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    2. Great background to the paints Orlygg. I canstill remember rushing home in 1988 with the Colour and Monster paint sets and a box of Fantasy Regiments. I've still got some of those original paints (now in dropper bottles).

      Andrew - you are right, the Coat D'Arms paints are the second series equivalents. Both the first and second series were produced by the same company (HMG Paints Ltd.). The colours are similar to the first series though, only a few are missing (i.e., Swamp Brown and Woodland Green). Mike McVey was heavily involved in the reformulation of the paints, hence, we finally got different flesh colours as as opposed to a single Bronzed Flesh. Around 1997, Citadel changed the supplier to a French company for the third series and HMG later re-released the second series paints as Coat D'Arms.

      I agree with the comments on the Yellow ink, I later found out that most of the Eavy Metal team, at that time, used Rotring and Winsor & Newton inks rather than the Citadel inks. You can actually see the pots in quite a few of the old photographs in White Dwarf.

      There was also a final boxed set of paints released - The Epic Battle Paint Set which contained some useful colours: Fire Orange, Jungle Green, Sulphur Desert Yellow, Codex Grey, Battle Green, Horizon Blue, Nightworld Blue, Ash Waste Grey and Imperial Strike Green.

      I still use both the first and second series paints alongside Vallejo paints as I've never been able to match some of the colours.

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  16. Does anyone know of a current (even approximate) match for Woodland Green?

    Many thanks.

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    1. Army Painter Greenskin is the closest I have found.

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    2. Im trying to find out how you guys that painted for the 3rd Edition Did the Orcs skin in the book? it says that for Goblin green you shade with a mix of woodland green and swamp brown (watered down id guess) and highlight with the gob green and then mix with yellow or white. is that how they did it? Ive got the Orcs from the Fantasy regiments (first plastics) and want them just like in the old 3rd Ed Book ive been searching for years and testing but havent quite got it. Any help would be awesome orlygg. (im taking a wild guess that by your profile pic your Bryan Ansell the pic from the warhammer armies book "avenging lord of chaos" that im looking at here while i type this)

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    3. Well, it cannot be Goblin Green because that colour wasn't released until long after the WFB3 rulebook was. Any base green can be used for goblin and orc skin, but what is vital is that you create the highlights with a touch of yellow and an off white. Bleach bone is perfect for this. Using pure white creates a rather washed out look for goblins. A very thin yellow glaze once the layering is complete also helps achieve that '80s look.

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    4. So maybe they had a colour similar to it, in the 3rd ed book it has stages of painting for an orc and the base colour of the orc looks just like goblin green. The Highlights stage im getting almost the same as in the book (like you said touch of yellow but id only tryed straight white like the shading chart in the 3rd ed book, but ill be trying the off white for sure) my problem is the shading/inking getting that right seems a challenge, Ive found the 2 pots today the lids are breaking up (over 30 years old) but ill be testing the swamp brown + woodland green mix today to see how it goes and if it works then source close matches that i can still get (like your army painter green you said for the woodland green swamp brown will be a challenge but its a very unique colour) but the most important thing is my orc +gob army looks like it just came straight out of the 3rd ed book as thats what I grew up with and always wished i had.

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    5. The swamp brown + woodland green looks similar to how they did the orc skin shading, but there is a problem cant get them any more now thankfully you have a lot of experience here and have found a close Woodland green substitute in the army painter Greenskin which I will get, any idea on a swamp brown substitute Orlygg?
      p.s btw I love this blog so much usefull stuff for a "old warhammer guy" like me, its great.

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  17. I had the Citadel Colour, Space Marine, and Ork & Eldar Paintsets when I first got into collecting and painting, and then gradually picked up individual colours as needed.
    Like many of the commentors, I had some problems with certain metallics - Tin Bitz was generally a watery pain in the ass, but could be used as a sort of metallic ink, and Brazen Brass also had a tendency to glurge up, but my Boltgun Metal, Mithril Silver and Shining Gold gave me many years of good service.
    Indeed, looking through my collection, the vast majority of old paints (either the original round bottles or the later, large hexagon ones) are all still serviceable. My more recent paint purches have all dried out.

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  18. A lovely and well informed articule, as usual, I had a one of those sets, the space marine one, but the other set I had, I notice is missing, the Advanced Hero Quest Paint Set

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  19. Oh and I still have a few of the 2nd release in the Hex pots which are still usable as well!

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  20. Excellent stuff. We are of an identical mindset when it comes to viontage paints and the joy and nostalgia attached to them. I recently won an auction for the Monster, Creature, Colour and Expert sets, unopened.!!! The paint is primo, literally felt like xmas 1990 all over again. They will stay that way of course, I have backup vintage citadel colour I use. Marvelous feeling I must say.

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  21. Did coat d'arms not do a woodland green equivalent? couldnt see it on the chart?
    J-M

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  22. God, I wish I still had all my old paint boxes. Love the artwork on all the old Citadel stuff. Still have a couple vials of the hexagon shaped citadel ones. Somehow they haven't dried up after 30 years. I don't remember ever seeing the Metallic Paint Sets. Pretty cool.

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