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Memory Lane

I always assumed I’d lost the first model I ever painted, but two days ago, whilst clearing out some junk in my parents’ house, I chanced upon an old, battered GW box. What should I find inside? The best goram paint job you’ve ever seen, that’s what. Feast your eyes on this beauty:


In my thirteen-year-old mind, that was a badass colour scheme. Nothing says ‘dangerous’ or ‘the 90s’ like a bright red boltgun. And caked-on paint. And a Goblin Green base. And... whatever that stuff is on said base.

Why do I bring this up? Well, other than pure comedy value, because a lot of hobbyists come to the conclusion that they’re rubbish at painting, and will never get any better. This post, therefore, is here to reassure you that even reasonably competent painters like me were once utterly crap. Come with me now, on a journey through time and space, to the world of my teenage failures...

Of course no budding hobbyist’s experience would be complete without collecting Ultwamawines, and I was no different.

Spehss Mahreens!

Of course there was only one way to improve on that masterwork of primary colours, and that was a lurid orange wash.

The more you look at this model's pose, the
less it makes any sense.

It’s fairly amusing seeing how my painting style has switched. Nowadays, my fart-it-out-with-some-batch-painting-techniques-tactical-marine looks like this:

Mmmm, grungy.

Curiosity now reared its head: what other horrors could I unearth? Into long-discarded boxes I dove, and soon learned that my greatest weakness for the first five to six years of my hobby was explosively poor taste.

It was the 90s.
Please don't hate me.
Say what you will about using Goblin Green as camouflage, but
why, why did I think blue blankets made sense?

Shortly after this, I discovered my first great hobby love: the Eldar. I immediately plumped for a colour scheme that entailed a horrible clash (green and blue).

Clearly, though, this wasn’t hideous enough. When it came to the rangers, I had to do something special.

No. Just... no.

Slowly, though, my technical skills were improving. Here, for example, I learnt how to paint a skin tone that says “Dale Winton’s been swimming in the sewers again.”

The Sunburst Yellow hair is also a strident winner.

Vehicles were a real highpoint. Like everyone else, my first tank featured ALL the mod cons. This beast started life as a Leman Russ Demolisher, but then got turned into a Vanquisher after I sawed up an RAF Tornado’s spare fuel tank. You can’t really see in this photo, because it’s hiding behind the pintle-mounted heavy bolter, but the hunter-killer missile is literally just glued straight on to the side of the turret. No mount, nothing, just love and enthusiasm. I don’t even know what those other missiles are supposed to be.

After that astonishing deployment of green ink, I moved on to slightly more restrained territory. This Chimera “benefitted” from a liberal coat of Goblin Green spraypaint, because clearly I loved Goblin Green more than anything else in the whole wide worzel.

It's like a Lego brick trying to imitate a mouldy fresian cow.
From Canada.

Inevitably, though, my skills improved, and my Eldar soon fell victim to repaintitis - a disease whereby you repaint badly-done models without stripping the old paint off first. And you know what? I thought metal paints were the coolest thing ever, even cooler than Goblin Green, and what this Fire Prism needed was some naff, poorly-conceived metal tribal designs all over it.

Mmmm, classy.

That said, other Eldar models of the era were starting to show signs of some painting ability. May I refer you to the purple layering on Eldrad’s robes here:

Just ignore everything but the purple. Please.

It’s amusing to compare all these to a more recent paint job, like, oh, I dunno, Inquisitor Drake.

In the unlikely event that you’re curious to see all that silliness in chronological order, I put them all in one image, with date estimates next to ’em:

There. I have nothing left to hide.



  1. Nice! Love the trip down memory lane - I was right there with you along so much of that ride (I was purple and teal to your blue and green). In fact, once upon a time I did that psyker's twin brother, paint-scheme and all. Great post!

  2. I rarely finished painting anything when I was younger - and most of the stuff I still own is being dumped in vats of methylated spirits to get repainted...

    1. Hahaha fair play, although I'm so glad I haven't stripped some of my old models - they're dreadfully built anyway - and it's awesome seeing how much your skillz have come along. That said, were I ever to do another Eldar army... yeah, the Fairy Power Spray's getting busted out.

  3. God, this takes me back. I remember using Humbrol paints to start with as I had them left over from painting Airfix kits. And the conviction that all the marines in the Rogue Trader box were made infinitely better by lopping off one of their hands and replacing it with one of the belt knives (officers got 2 knives).
    I am somewhat gratified to see that bronzed flesh paint and flesh wash were merely GW being ahead of their time. Now every time I see someone come out of a tanning salon with day-glo orange skin I feel the grim dark future is just that little bit closer!

    1. Ahhh, Humbrol paints... that takes me back even further. Those poor, poor plane kits. How they suffered.

      Also really, really happy about the image of an Astartes captain with knives for hands. Pure genius.

    2. Knives for hands that's fracking genius!

      I love the war adolescent boy brains work!

  4. A trip down memory lane indeed, especially as I recall those tanks very well, and to be fair the Fire PRism was a huge improvement on the previous paint scheme it had (although I have an idea that some of the older paint showed around the edges of the cockpit glass).

    Also you were ahead of the game with the Ultramarines, changing their bolters to black long before GW did, I recall because I copied you. ;)

    1. Thanks man! I love that I could work out that red guns were bad, but then several years later fart out THOSE Eldar Rangers.

    2. Well it's a well established fact that your teenage self had wood for Amethist Purple in a major way, so any excuse to use it I guess...

    3. I've still got that pot somewhere. Maybe I'll use it on my Dark Eldar... :P

  5. Great blog post this, the old-style space marines take me back! I moved house few weeks back and found some old models - some horribly, stodgy khorne beserkers. Why I thought multiple layers of blood red was a good idea I'll never know.

    Also, my luminous green genestealers, which were scorpion green drybrushed over the blue plastic. Truly terrible!

    1. Teehee Scorpion Green over blue plastic? Classy.


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