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It's a very soggy day in Aberdeenshire today and therefore one purpose made for model making indoors!

It has taken me far too long to get around to having a more formalised presence here on Britmodeller and hope to share some of what we're doing both in the UK and internationally.

13 months ago I read on Facebook that White Ensign Models were to cease trading. This came as a shock and huge disappointment. I've been making models since I was a child with both my father and grandfather but had only fairly recently got back in to it properly after a break where starting careers and family got in the way. I'm quite clear on what happened after that Facebook announcement but how it all happened is a bit of a mystery and somehow I ended up owning my favourite paint brand. We started the new company immediately but it took us some time set up properly. I dislike chaos and wanted to do things properly. Colourcoats was relaunched at the Scottish Nationals model show in Perth in April 2015, the first commercial order was dispatch to the USA shortly after and our shiny new webstore opened for UK Mainland customers in June.

I mostly model aeroplanes and ships myself, and soon after getting Colourcoats up and running again, I realised I could no longer obtain most of my favourite naval modelling products in particular, so we have thus far reinvested everything we've taken into improving that situation in the UK, and now offer White Ensign Models again (now imported from California), Pontos Models and new-start Infini Model both from South Korea. More is on the way this quarter.

We're just rolling out colour boxsets at the moment which are proving popular already, happily.

The Colourcoats paint range currently comprises:

Colourcoats Sea.

Modern Naval

The Great War

United States Navy

Imperial Japanese Navy

Royal Navy

Kriegsmarine (German navy)

Regia Marina (Italian navy)

Colourcoats Land.

Australian Army

Imperial Japanese Army

Army for Defence for Israel

United States Army

Red Army (Soviet)

British Army

Wehrmacht (German army)

Regia Esercito (Italian army)

Colourcoats Air.

The Great War

Armee de l'Air (French air force)

US Army Air Corps / US Air Force / US Navy

Imperial Japanese Army and Navy

Royal Air Force / Fleet Air Arm

Luftwaffe (German air force)

Royal Australian Air Force

Regia Aeronautica (Italian air force)

Royal Netherlands Air Force

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I for one an extremely glad you had the guts to do this, you've virtually saved ship modelling in the UK!

Good luck with the future, and please please I hope you can get a better deal with delivery charges!

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It was great to see you take on the Colourcoats range James. I like the idea of the box sets and look forward to seeing more released.

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Thanks Gents,

Starting a business isn't that hard - I already run another. We had never set up a retail webstore before, but although time-consuming that wasn't hard either. International postage is very expensive - it has to go air mail really, but there are specialist companies who do all the IATA stuff to ensure the paperwork is done properly, the packaging meets the IATA requirements and offer a door-to-door service. Ideal for small businesses, but too expensive for individuals so we've gone the stockist route. There's sea transport - I've done that before running group-buys for a car club. Unless you have a 20ft container, nobody wants to know - and even with an agent what you get is an HGV turn up with a 20ft container on the back asking if you have a fork-lift to offload it. Sending paint within the UK is however the main reason it took 6 months to get trading again.

Most couriers want the option to put packages on a plane for overnight hub-to-hub transport. That would mean the whole IATA thing above. Anything that has to stay on the ground (to be shipped by road under ADR regulations) by law has to have a diamond class sticker on the package and a Material Safety Data Sheet in the packaging. Drivers need a training course by law so none of the couriers except Parcel Force will grant a contract to ship enamel paints in the UK. Parcel Force have their own HGVs so road transport isn't a problem - the problem is their pricing structure which is a flat-rate charge for 0-30kg. It would be a veritable bargain paying them a tenner move 30kg but it stings a bit for someone wanting a couple of 14ml tins. We can offset the shipping using margins in the paint where practical so we absorb half for orders of 12 tins and pay it all for 24 tins or more. We free-post the larger detail sets etc too and luckily the PE sets can be posted as large letters. It's really just the small paint orders that we're strung up with at present. We do keep hassling our account manager within Parcel Force though.

It's quite interesting to read the prohibited items lists on all the couriers' websites. There's very little you can send through them knowingly. As an individual, one can always chance it but it doesn't take the brains of Britain to work out what's inside a package from a company account who's core business is enamel paint.

We've even had suggestions from other businesses to try certain couriers. Getting past the call-centre for new accounts is hard. Their initial scripts are to turn down business for anything on the prohibitions list. If you can infact speak to their boss and get as far as discussing the specifics of enamel paint, their HSE departments either never respond and the whole communication process just dies, or they read the MSDS and say "Sorry, we can't ship paint". I strongly suspect most retailers just chance it, but I see personal risk and little reward for that.

Our position is strengthening though. As a small fish in Parcel Force's large pond negotiating power was non-existant initially and although not the dictatorship a business the size of Amazon will have, we can haggle a bit now as the quantity of packages has exceeded the contractual minimums set and continues to do well. Sales of naval colours greatly outsell the aircraft and armour colours though, so there's an opportunity there to improve further, which can only help postal price negotiations.

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Hello James. How are you doing? It's certainly a day for inside around here but alas the only thing I'm painting is a bedroom wall :( Not sure how many 14ml tins I'd need for this task :lol:

Having recently sat the IMDG course through work I know something of how much hassle sending anything with a UN number can generate so can only imagine the issues you face. I also strongly suspect couriers use it as a great way to justify charging more.

Must say I'm seriously impressed with the quality and performance of the paints you produce so far as I've been able to test them; well up with my favourite brand for brushability and far superior to others that I've tried. Hopefully I'll be able to test them through the airbrush soon on an upcoming GB subject and give you a more comprehensive report.

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I'm very grateful to see the rebirth of Colourcoats though I did a huge stock up when WEM stopped trading so I have not needed to order for a while, but the quality and range of paints is superb.

Cheers

Dennis

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...Dennis you're lucky - that's all I was trying to do! I only wanted to stock up on RN anti-fouling red but the liquidators sold me 26,000 tins :/

26,000? Well on the plus side, you won't have to buy another paint company for a while :lol:

Cheers,

Stew

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Do you have the Netherlands colours in stock or do these still have to be bought from a specific shop in the Netherlands itself?

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Hi Graham,

The Dutch colours are on the medium term plan. We didn't even inherit any samples last year but obtained 2 full sets from Michel at Naval Models. We kept one as a control set to compare future batches to and Stew Dapple got the other.

Thanks for the kind words Nigel. See you soon :)

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Dennis you're lucky - that's all I was trying to do! I only wanted to stock up on RN anti-fouling red but the liquidators sold me 26,000 tins :/

Wow, I thought I bought in bulk !!

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Hi James!

I'd been considering getting some of your enamels to paint up some British Shermans and whatnot, since you seem to have an SCC15 that would spare me from having to mix. But I had some questions, having never used enamels before.

Can I put an acrylic clear coat over it and then us enamel washes, or will that mess up everything?

Also, does anyone carry your land colours in the USA? I've only seen naval and aircraft paints.

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Hi!

In reverse order, H&B Hobbies in MA started up specifically to carry the Air colours but we have already sent other stuff to him as special orders and Bob is a very approachable guy. If memory serves he's considering expanding in to the Land colours too - it's worth making any desires known to him as with any other overseas stockist for others reading. When they know there are customers they have more confidence in ordering more diverse ranges :)

Onto the paints themselves - you should find enamels in general extremely robust compared to acrylics. They are not critical in terms of thinning and are very forgiving to work with. They adhere to all usual modelling materials very well and don't unpaint themselves when unmasking etc. The pigment grains are very fine too and the paints spray on extremely smoothly.

If using cellulose based thinners (lacquer thinners in US terminology) they dry pretty much as fast as acrylics but without drying in the airbrush nozzle. If using mineral spirit / turpentine / white spirit (paint thinners in US terminology) they take a little longer but matt colours, which all the armour paints are can be handled in a couple of hours.

The main difference is that enamel paints cure whereas acrylics evaporate dry. You can apply acrylic clearcoats over the top without issue providing the enamel has cured. A close-up sniff of the enamel is a good clue - no scent means you're safe to go. Likewise enamel washes are safe on top of all acrylics I've tried provided the latter are properly dried first.

They tend to react if aerosol solvent/propellant chemicals are applied in top so don't do that, and they react if soaked in cyanoacrylate accelerator (e.g. Zip Kicker). Personally I avoid aerosols and CA accelerator is ok if you take the surgical strike approach to application rather than carpet bombing a fully painted model...

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Wow, rapid responses! Enamels almost don't sound like the antichrist...almost. One more question for you: I notice your SCC15 says "reformulated" -- is this to bring it more in line with the Mike Starmer colour chips?

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@ Procopius, I recently tried out a few of Colourcoats' Luftwaffe colours (WIP is still floating around near the front page) and used an acrylic clear coat over the top to seal them from my enamel washes and it all worked without any problems to the paint.

Duncan B

EDIT: link to WIP here; http://www.britmodeller.com/forums/index.php?/topic/234992989-airfix-148-messerschmitt-bf109e1-1jg20-sept-1939-completed-31st-december/

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Wow, rapid responses! Enamels almost don't sound like the antichrist...almost. One more question for you: I notice your SCC15 says "reformulated" -- is this to bring it more in line with the Mike Starmer colour chips?

I'll need to check with John Snyder about that one...

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