Is Coat D’arms the same as old Citadel Paints? We take a look at (mostly) this and (a bit) more in our Coat D’arms Paint Review for Miniatures & Wargames Models
The Best Paints for Miniatures & Wargames Models
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Coat D’arms Paint Review – Black Hat Miniatures
Black Hat Miniatures is a UK wargames company which officially formed in 2004. Their original motives included the production of 18mm metal Sci-Fi Models.
They are known now amongst the majority of the greater wargames community for their Coat D’arms paints. But the Coat D’arms brand wasn’t originally part of Black Hat Miniatures. It was acquired from Gladiator Miniatures in 2006. Black Hat went on to acquire more miniatures companies over the following years and brought model production in-house.
They are also the distributor of Coat D’arms paints. They sent us the following paints to have a play with for our review.
Coat D’arms consistes of 3 ranges of paints.
- WWII (42 Paints)
- Military (38 Paints)
- Fantasy (72 Paints)
All of the colours above are from the Fantasy line – this is what we asked for – to answer a very specific question…
Is Coat D’arms the same as old Citadel Paints?
You’ll hear many people online say “Coat D’Arms used to make Citadel Paints” which is not true, so let’s clear it up. Coat D’arms, did not make Citadel paints. Coat D’Arms isn’t even a company, it’s just a brand of paints distributed by Black Hat Miniatures. Black Hat Miniatures don’t make them. HMG Paints do. HMG also make paints for companies like Privateer Press, Warcolours, Foundry and… Games Workshop.
So, other than HMG making paints for both companies (along with many others) why do people think Coat D’arms Paints are the old 1990’s era Citadel Paints? We asked a contact we got at Black hat Miniatures to find out – here’s what they had to say…
[When Coat d’arms was purchased in 2006], According to the previous owner [Gladiator Miniatures] they were using HMG Paints in Manchester [UK] to manufacturer a range of WW2 paints. [Games Workshop] was also using HMG and when GW dropped HMG as a manufacturer and moved to a French Manufacturer, Coat D’arms used the same paint formulations as GW to create a fantasy range.Black Hat Miniatures Contact
So, there you go. When Games Workshop dropped HMG as their paint manufacturer – Black Hat Miniatures (actually Gladiator games which was acquired by Black Hat) started selling those formulations as their Fantasy range.
Which is why we asked for the Fantasy range for our review, because the first thing we are going to do (now I’ve transferred my old Citadel Blood Red to a Dropper Bottle) is put them head-to-head – to see if Coat D’arms are actually matched to Classic Citadel Colours.
In the above, I’ve also included Warcolours Nostalgia 88 which are also claimed to be matched to the classic Citadel colours. however – I’ll say this upfront – I found out after the test that the Warcolours Nostalgia 88 is only matched to the 1988-1994 Citadel Range. From 1994 onwards, though still made by HMG but now in custom hexagonal pots, were apparently different paint formulations.
I’ve kept everything in the same order below so you know which paint is which, Warcolours – Citadel – Coat Darms.
First up, I painted 3 models with white primer and then airbrushed on the 3 Blood Red paints as a comparison.
As I said above we’ll mostly ignore the Warcolours example as it’s not intended to be a match for this era of Citadel paints. The other two, however, look damn close in the picture here, but in real life, you have a slight but noticeable difference – with Citadel Blood Red being a bit richer and more vibrant than Coat D’arms.
The next test was over a test card primered with Black, Grey and White
This is where some differences slightly start to show, as you can see here that the Coat D’arms paint is slightly more orange
To be more direct, I zoomed right in and blurred out the surface detail to show a direct comparison of the surface colours of Citadel Vs Coat D’arms.
Its still pretty damn close – Honestly I’ve seen more difference between batches of the same paint than is shown here. You’ll see many people online note the inconsistencies between different batches of HMG paints from all the brands they produce.
Just to be doubly sure – I tried again with the other classic Citadel colour I could get my hand on Space Wolves Grey (which is the proper Space Wolves colour). This Time Vs Coat D’arms Lupin Grey (they may be using the formulations, but Coat D’arms can’t name their range after Games Workshop’s Space Marine Factions – Quite a few of the Fantasy range have name changes.
Again on a test card (because I didn’t fancy wasting more models) I sprayed both paints. Here you can see a much larger difference.
You can clearly see here that the Citadel Space Wolves Grey is he proper classic Icy-Blue whereas the Lupin Grey is more like the baby-blue Fenrisian Grey colour of the current Space Wolves.
Its even clearer when zoomed in – these aren’t the same hue.
Honestly, when looking at both comparisons, one can be excused as batch inconsistency but the other is just too far off to be a workable alternative for me.
I’m not doubting the claim from my contact at Black Hat Miniatures that these were the original formulas, but if so there have certainly been some changes over the last decade and a half – which is not really surprising.
Like I said above, many people have said you can get big differences between batches from HMG anyway.
Coat D’arms Paint Review – Application to Models
To test the paints which claim to be classic colours – there was no doubt over what I should be painting – some classic models.
I took the above Finecast models and the below Pewter (well, one is also Finecast) models to throw some of these colours at.
Let me just say, the less we say about Finecast the better – this stuff is just awful. The moulds these models were made from were created for metal casting, not resin!
If it wasn’t for the fact that the mould channels and left-over flash obscure most of the details, the bubbles from the moulding process destroy half of the flat surfaces. Please don’t spend money on this stuff – it’s absolute trash!
I didn’t bother with half of the necesary cleanup to get Finecast to a decent paintable standard.
Coat D’arms Paint Review – Primer
To get the models ready for paint, I airbrushed on some black primer and highlighted certain areas with white primer to make them pop out.
Leaving any intended metallic areas black. Whilst this is not a true zenithal highlight – I’ve learned that this way helps showcase the individual forms of the models better than 1 layer of white from a 45-degree angle above.
All primed up and ready for paint
Coat D’arms Paint Review – Airbrushing
The first thing to say about airbrushing is that because these paints come in pots rather than dropper bottles you can’t simply pour the paint. Whilst this is a downer on one hand, on the other, you can more easily control how much you add to your Airbrush hopper with a brush, it just takes longer.
I have nothing negative to say about the standard colours in regard to Airbrushing. There’s some inconsistency in coverage between them which, like with most brands, is something you need to be aware of.
But they were all easy to thin down with Airbrush thinner and spray on, giving nice amounts of transparency which supports the pre-shade really well.
The metallic colours, however, weren’t so great, the pigment was quite dense which lead to visible speckling and overspray no matter how much dilution was given. This is quite expected with older style and cheaper metallic paints.
Coat D’arms Paint Review – Brush Work
Brushwork was hit-or-miss depending on the colours. Again, typical of this kind of range.
The main colours painted on ok to really well, the white coverage was very good as were the flesh tones and each had a more matte finish. Barbarian leather (which is the replacement for the old Snakebite Leather) needed several coats in all applications and had more of a satin sheen when dry.
Red was equally as gloopy and covered much better over lighter colours than darker ones. Fairly standard for a Red. Though Yellow was odd, the coverage wasn’t great but it was very easy to get a consistent layer coverage – which is not something I remember from the old Citadel range. This applied more like ink than paint. Maybe my memory of over 15 years ago isn’t so good – or I’m just a much better painter now.
The metallic coverage was pretty good, just one layer shown in all the images above and it’s solid enough that a shade would cover any missed spots. It is, like most metallics a bit thicker on it’s application, however.
Coat D’arms Paint Review – Washes
With this set Black hat Miniatures sent me two types of Wash. Ink Washes and Super Washes. When I was 13 years old, I had no concept of what a wash would do – I never used them and so I don’t remember how the old Citadel Washes really acted.
So here I just applied them as model washes to test them out. First up, the Black Ink Wash over all the red and silver areas.
This did not apply well at all. It looked great when it was wet, the ink flowed into all the recesses almost perfectly and left the surface areas just a little bit darker. however, as it dried, the colour pulled away from the recesses leaving the complete opposite effect.
I now have bright red recesses and obviously pooling on surface areas, suffice to say that Kharn is wrecked and will take a lot to repair him. So the Ink Washes, arent what I would generally refer to as Washes, they are just inks…
As for the superwash I had much better results, Below I applied the dark brown superwash, slightly diluted, over the entire surface of Fabius Bile’s cloak
The intensity of this was was actually quite soft and it needed a few coats in places to build up the shadow. It’s a bit closer to a glaze consistency but I like this as it lets me build up the shadow softly, with enough drying time to allow me to wick away any pooling marks with a damp brush.
Will Coat D’arms Paint Improve My Hobby?
Improve… no, they are paints like any other to be honest. There’s nothing remarkable here to write home about.
The claim is that they are made from the original formulas that GW used in the 1990s and whilst this may be true, of the two paints I was able (could afford) to test, one is pretty close the other… not so much.
There’s still a nice variety of colours to choose from but from the bottles rather than droppers and the inconsistent behaviour of each paint. Unfortunately, there’s little here to recommend that would push you to go out of your way to get any.
If you do get your hands on some though, they’re generrally fine.
Coat D’arms Paint Review – Final Thoughts
|– Same formula as 1990s Citadel Paints?||– Pots not Dropper Bottles|
– Inconsistent coverage
– Ink Washes are not Washes
– Colours don’ match old Citadel 100%
I’ll be honest, I had a lot of fun with this review – but it was mostly for the trip down nostalgia lane. Painting some old sculpts with old-style paints and having a limited selection to choose from (now because Black hat Miniatures provided a limited selection and previously because I was 13 and could only afford about 20 paints in total).
I have nothing amazing to say about them, but I have nothing terribly bad to say about them either.
The only note of worth is that they may be the classic Citadel formulas, I have this claim first hand from someone at Black hat Miniatures, but even then, they heard it from the people at Gladiator Games so it’s already third-hand information.
I know there are many people out there who treasure these old colours and perhaps a Different batch of Citadel Blood Red would be a closer match to this, maybe less of a match. I remember having this colour discrepancy issue back when I was a kid painting miniatures so it’s not unreasonable to expect a bigger difference with an almost 20-year gap.
As we move further into the Primaris era of Games workshop we are moving further away from these classic colours, with all our old favourite characters bing reinvented – the value of having old matching colours is steadily dwindling.
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