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Thursday, June 9, 2011

To paint or not to paint?

The older the figure, the trickier the answer. Whenever I consider painting a figure that is 40 or 50 years old I invariably feel torn. One consequence of adding even a little bit of paint is an immediate drop in value. Take for instance a set of Airfix Italians from the 1980's. It's hard to find them on eBay for anything less than $4 a piece, $3 if you are lucky. However, painted, I was recently able to get some for less than $1 per figure. There's also the amount of time and effort that goes into painting them, particularly if you are like me and don't know when the paint job is 'good enough' and you should stop fooling around with it, so you end up doing touch-up after touch-up to fix what you messed up during the previous touch-up. Lastly we have a less tangible element, the purity of the figure has been lost forever after having survived sometimes longer than yourself.
Then there are some figures that are manufactured in some pretty unusual colors which are not even close to those of the uniforms worn by the actual guys they represent, like the MPC Soviet guy in the picture below. Painting them allows you to combine figures from different manufacturers into a single combat unit that looks... uniform. It also adds realism to your battle scenes, particularly if you have vehicles, buildings and terrain to go with them, And lastly, I certainly find it very rewarding and a joy for the eyes, to see the finished product. So how do I deal with this 'dilemma'? Well, I've chosen not to chose. I usually buy at least two figures of each pose, with the intention of painting one and preserving the others in their original state. Perhaps not great for the purse and for the backlog of painting work but it has made the act of applying primer to a collectible item a bit less painful. What about you? Are you entrenched on either side of the argument?

Click here to see pictures of painted Soviet Infantry.


  1. It's a tough one. I paint more of new purchases, and less of soldiers that belonged to my older brothers once and are from the early 1960's. But, ultimately, if I feel like painting it, I paing it -- no matter how old it is.

  2. I agree. At the end of the day I get them to enjoy them and I enjoy them more when they are painted.