A Post With No Name

This is a rare and special thing.

A post from me that’s limited on snark and more expansive in the fun area.

Yes folks, it’s NOSTALGIA!

The image that accompanies this essay on time and motion is a spray can that represents a whole way of life. It’s an example of something that doesn’t even show up on the internet.

It’s an example of the spray version of a brand of paint called “Scale Model Flats” made by Pactra. Pactra was one of many paint companies in the U.S.A. before Testors bought them all, shut them down, and then pulled down the temple around itself while laughing maniacally.

Sit down for a moment and I’ll tell you a tale of days gone by…

In Britain, proper modellers built proper Airfixes using proper Humbrol paint. In my country, in the U.S.A., we didn’t have Airfix or Humbrol. We had crummy old Testors. Testors was crap then, and they have worked had to maintain a crap reputation over the years. Their paint isn’t so bad–but they more than make up for that by being complete bastards.

But hey–I promised to go light on the snark, so my apologies.

Testors, back in the sixties, was a rack of glossy enamel. There was nothing wrong with this paint. It worked fine. The rack, though, was the birthplace of hip-hop because they would take the candy-apple red and metallic purple and spray it on the rack. In the store.

No, seriously. Every rack of hobby paint in the country had somebody take the paint and just spray it on the rack. To see what color it was, I guess. I mean, I suppose that was the motive. That kind of asshole behavior always has an edge of “righteousness” about it. “Bastards should let you see what yer buyin’!” PSSSSSSSSSST. “There, that looks about right!”

This meant that the spray cans might be full, or not. Sometimes, on dark nights during a full moon, some particularly inbred interlopers would just spray the hell out of the display. Just for fun.

Good times.

A kid could draw some weird conclusions about paint and models from all that, but by the time I was able to use my brain for higher functions, we’d relocated close to California and therefore I was exposed to Scale Modeler Magazine and Air Space Model and 1001 NEW Model Airplane Ideas. They were not bad magazines. At least, they lacked the infernal hostility that’s present in our current magazines. Also, they were the only game in town.

No interwebs in 1969.

Scale Modeler told me about all kinds of paint. There was Floquil. There was Ulrich. I tried both and they both ate plastic.

Well I’ll be damned.

Whatever. Maybe they were “airbrush only.” Even then, the airbrush was THE WAY. Death to heretics.

Also available was the good paint. SCALE MODEL FLATS from PACTRA. They had an adult kind of seriousness about them. The bottles were large. The colors were AWESOME. If you wanted to paint a Vietnam USAF Phantom, you could just get Artillery Olive, Olive Drab, Camouflage Gray and Light Earth. I’m pretty sure those were the colors, which I’m trying to recall after fifty years–so they might be off.

But I doubt it.

They were right on. “Mud” was a match for the color of Israeli tanks. Desert Yellow was for Wehrmacht armor.

You could paint any damn thing in the world with those paints. Anything.

Once in a while I’d catch a glimpse of a far-off mystical place called either “Atlantis” or “England.” That was where they made Humbrol Authentics.

I put that shit on everything.

Humbrol Authentics worked so well that it took over the lives of adherents. There are people in Britain right now who still paint with these paints–either ones they’ve had for fifty years or imaginary ones they imagine they use when they actually have the crummy modern Humbrol paint.

Humbrol Athentics was the epitome of the paint race. Nothing could top them. They worked like magic for brush painters. Several million cancer cases didn’t happen because this paint was on the market and as long as it was there was no need for an airbrush.

I would never have imagined that painting models would become the mass mongolian monkey fuck that it’s become now. Yes, we had smelly thinners. But a little mineral spirits in a jar and you could paint with Humbrol Authentics and Pactra Scale Model Flats until Jesus comes and tells you there’s no hurry–he’s got plenty of time he doesn’t want to interrupt you while you’re painting.


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