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Humbrol enamels cutback 2023


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Chatting to my local model shop proprietor, he told me that Humbrol will be severely cutting back their enamel paints range from the beginning of next year. He gave me a printed list of the surviving colours. It lists just 87, little more than half the range in the current 2022 catalogue. I have not seen mention of this to the wider public, apparently the news is strictly for the trade at the moment. Can anybody confirm it?

 

Edited by steelpillow
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My LHS owner alluded to this when we were discussing how difficult it is for him to get Humbrol paints.

I know there are folk here who don't like that brand of paint but there are still a few of us who use it. ( even if some of the tins are over 20 years old!)

Perhaps Humbrol should consider going back to a decent paint formula then their sales might improve

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There's that reality TV series following Hornby, can't recall its name. They did a piece on Humbrol paints once. It's a tiny cottage industry; mix up a batch in a bucket and when the colour match is right, squirt it into a few hundred tinlets and put them into store, where many will sit for some years.

So once a colour is out of stock, you just have to wait for the guy to get round to mixing that bucket again. And he probably has to wait for the supplier to send all the necessary small bags of pigment or bottles of dye; until the last one is in, the bucket is kept busy on colours he can mix.

So if productivity is low and he and his apprentice can't meet demand - or the apprentice moves on - do you buy another bucket and employ another pair of hands, or do you halve your range to match his production rate?

Being Humbrol, you change your mind slightly faster than the average modeller can keep up with. :(

But I do sympathise over the paint formulas - every time you finally get it right, the solvent is made illegal and you have to start again. Or the market (us dodgy lot) suddenly wants them thinned for the airbrush, or thickened for better value, or faster- or slower-drying or whatever this afternoon's gossip declares to be fashionable.

Edited by steelpillow
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I switched from enamel to acrylic paints many years ago, but still have fond memories of opening a tin of Airfix/Humbrol enamel paint whilst sitting at the dining table and being really excited to paint the Ju-87 I had bought that morning and slapped together as soon as we got home from town 😁

 

It is a shame that the range maybe being halved, but I would imagine that other manufactures (Xtracolor, Colourcoats etc.) will gain from their loss as lots of guys and girls still use enamels.

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18 hours ago, steelpillow said:

It's a tiny cottage industry

I'm not sure that's true if it's Rustin's that are still supplying the paint. I think you're on to something about batching, preparing a few ml for tinlets must be very labour intensive compared to the large quantities they put out for household and commercial. Also, maintaining a large range of colours must be a nightmare in predicting how much of any specific colour you might want to produce. I'd bet the bean counters are consistently on the case trying to get the range rationalised.

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1 hour ago, mac1677 said:

It is a shame that the range maybe being halved, but I would imagine that other manufactures (Xtracolor, Colourcoats etc.) will gain from their loss as lots of guys and girls still use enamels.

It is a shame, but for me Humbrol paints are mostly nostalgia, they stopped being the best paints with the end of 'Authentics' range, since then either for economic or health and safety reasons Humbrol have lost their quality. Not since they were produced in Marfleet near Hull have they been any good

 

Miko (still maintains a small collection of ancient but still usable 'Authentic' colours)

Edited by MikoLee
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11 minutes ago, Paul Brown said:

I'm not sure that's true if it's Rustin's that are still supplying the paint. I think you're on to something about batching, preparing a few ml for tinlets must be very labour intensive compared to the large quantities they put out for household and commercial. Also, maintaining a large range of colours must be a nightmare in predicting how much of any specific colour you might want to produce. I'd bet the bean counters are consistently on the case trying to get the range rationalised.

There has to be money in it, surely? if you consider one tiny tinlet goes for £2.49 retail that's over £170 an litre! If they apply the technology that Halfords use for producing paints for cars, they have that clever machine where the colour is scanned electronically a few buttons are pushed and two minutes later you have an half litre aerosol matching your car colour, there has to be more car colours than there are in the Humbrol range? one man in a week could turn out enough stock to satisfy every modeller in the world for years! and it's not like it has an expiry date, or not at least a short term one, I have usable Humbrol tinlets that are nearly half a century old, they aren't 14ml they're 2 fl oz!

 

Miko (Humbrol collector but infrequent user)

 

 

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2 hours ago, mac1677 said:

paint the Ju-87 I had bought that morning and slapped together as soon as we got home from town 😁

Brings back memories. I think most of us did that, although you are probably the only one who still paints a model you started building that morning. 

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4 hours ago, Paul Brown said:

I'm not sure that's true if it's Rustin's that are still supplying the paint. I think you're on to something about batching, preparing a few ml for tinlets must be very labour intensive compared to the large quantities they put out for household and commercial. Also, maintaining a large range of colours must be a nightmare in predicting how much of any specific colour you might want to produce. I'd bet the bean counters are consistently on the case trying to get the range rationalised.

 

3 hours ago, MikoLee said:

Halfords ... have that clever machine where the colour is scanned electronically a few buttons are pushed and two minutes later you have an half litre aerosol matching your car colour.

So they buy in (maybe Rustin's) ready-made paints directly, then mix'n'match for the tinlets? Or maybe it is more like a manual version of the Halfords machine; tip small quantities of bottled colours into one of two or three base colours? (Beancounter: "No you can't have a machine. It would still need someone to push the buttons, so you might as well do the rest while you're at it"). Either way, they are not their supplier's biggest customer and will be treated accordingly.

Edited by steelpillow
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1 hour ago, steelpillow said:

 

So they buy in (maybe Rustin's) ready-made paints directly, then mix'n'match for the tinlets? Or maybe it is more like a manual version of the Halfords machine; tip small quantities of bottled colours into one of two or three base colours? (Beancounter: "No you can't have a machine. It would still need someone to push the buttons, so you might as well do the rest while you're at it"). Either way, they are not their supplier's biggest customer and will be treated accordingly.

. . . or, it could be that they realise that their product is hopeless compared to the ever growing ever improving competition?

They've been selling their stuff to a market driven by nostalgia and life long habits for a long time now

 

Miko (I love the notion of Humbrol, not so keen on their product, which is really quite saddening)

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I'm sure if Jamie (Sovereign Hobbies) sees this thread he'd be able to put us right about the economics behind selling small tinlets of paint. I've been banging on for years about the (apparent) disproportionate cost of model paint, but I think you'll find that selling in such small quantities is disproportionately costly. 

Humbrol enamel used to be the benchmark in hobby paint, sadly no longer the case, but you have to bear in mind that hobbyists aren't the only users and there may be a segment of the market that is perfectly happy with the product. If they want to appeal to hobbyists they need to be looking at spirit and lacquer based acrylics.  

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1 hour ago, MikoLee said:

. . . or, it could be that they realise that their product is hopeless compared to the ever growing ever improving competition?

They've been selling their stuff to a market driven by nostalgia and life long habits for a long time no

I don't see that at all. Any good artist's supplier still has a huge range of oil and watercolour paints alongside their newfangled wonder-acrylics. Linseed oil is still boiled up and sold in bottles for the oil painters, and a new generation are coming to appreciate the qualities of the medium. There is no reason to suppose that model-making is not going the same way (No Humbrol, not linseed though, aaarrgh!).

The big problem is that the market is fragmenting as every new formula and brand is introduced, while modelling is less popular and hence the market is also shrinking. Acrylics have taken the majority of it, whether in water- or spirit-based form.

Also, Revell are now making a big comeback push with their oil paints and some of the big hobby chains which used to be exclusively Humbrol now only stock their oils and Tamiya acrylics. (I have moaned elsewhere about Revell's aggressive solvents).

Humbrol do face an unpleasant situation in which there are only two ways out: out-spend and out-compete Revell, or cut costs and pull in your horns. I am not envious of their position.

Edited by steelpillow
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39 minutes ago, PaulT said:

think everyone has switched on to acrylics of which every man and his dog in the modelling world is making

Nay lad.

I use acrylics in limited quantities(I'm a sprayer remember-I like things I can clean out of my A/B's with solvent),

I still like good old Humbrol(I've got loads of tins of it)for firing through the air brushes.

I find Revell enamels aren't too bad either.

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Pear drops! Suddenly it all comes back to me, after all these years. My Revell enamel and thinners smell of pear drops. So does acetone, a standard cellulose solvent for a hundred years, until the world changed and things were forgotten that should not have been forgotten. Revell have been putting cellulose solvents into their enamel paints! No wonder they are so aggressive. Or am I as mad as Gollum?

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On 04/12/2022 at 15:20, steelpillow said:

Pear drops! Suddenly it all comes back to me, after all these years. My Revell enamel and thinners smell of pear drops. So does acetone, a standard cellulose solvent for a hundred years, until the world changed and things were forgotten that should not have been forgotten. Revell have been putting cellulose solvents into their enamel paints! No wonder they are so aggressive. Or am I as mad as Gollum?

It is, or was? Toluene I think, it was banned from many products a while ago, it does have that sweet acetylene aroma, a bit like nail polish remover of old, it too is aggressive to some plastics, but paint with it seemed to work well compared to the stuff they use today.

Anyone tried Molak enamels? they seem to have the chemical properties of 'classic' Humbrol of years ago 

 

 

Miko (sorted my enamel paint collection today, took quite a while!)

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44 minutes ago, MikoLee said:

It is, or was? Toluene I think, it was banned from many products a while ago, it does have that sweet acetylene aroma, a bit like nail polish remover of old, it too is aggressive to some plastics, but paint with it seemed to work well compared to the stuff they use today.

Toluene smells a bit more generic paint thinners. I seem to recall it was in the original formula for Micro-Weld. It was banned many decades ago, and good riddance too.

The classic nail polish remover of old is acetone, as that cosmetic was cellulose based. No idea if it still is, but acetone itself is relatively benign (our bodies sometimes make it) and it is still present in many household products.

 

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