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Monday, May 18, 2015

REVIEW: Colors of War

By Sean "Throckmorton" Sarah

I am a painting nerd. If you've followed my blog posts on here over time you'll notice they're mostly of a painting related ilk. It's my favorite part of the hobby so it's also the part I take most seriously. That... And I'm perpetually bad at rules, so might as well focus on what I know, ya know?

Thus, Battlefront's new Colors of War book had me SUPER JAZZED(tm)

All the painting guides in one place so I don't have to look through a billion books just to find out how pea dot camo is painted? Yes please. 

And, at first look, this is a pretty great resource for both the beginning and advanced World War II hobbyist out there. 

Colors of War is an 89 page full color hard bound guide to every major nation. There are no Japanese (which is kind of weird), Romanians, Italians, Hungarians, French (which is also kind of weird), just the four major players, though one could certainly make the argument for the inclusion of at least the Japanese, Italians and French as they all played a pretty major part at different points in the war. 

But lets get real. The book is $25 Ameri-bucks and well worth every penny. With Battlefront's new focus on accessibility, the new player experience, plastics, and a move to more monetized online resources it makes sense that they've limited this to the "starter" countries while internalizing their paint distribution process. It seems clear to me that they want to be the one stop shop for 15mm WW2 hobbying so integrating each portion of that process is logical. 

However, because of that, the book is a must if you're going to grab the new Colors of War line of paints as it reclassifies all the old Vallejo painting guides into the new names. Thankfully, there is a handy guide to what all the new paint names are: 

Hey Battlefront! If you need someone to review your new paint set I know a chubby guy on the US East Coast who might be interested *COUGH COUGH*

When I first wrote this post there was NO conversion guide out yet for the Vallejo paints that the Colors of War set replaces. But luckily, Battlefront posted them before this got out to print, so I'm very happy to say that Battlefront has also provided us with a color by color chart that tells you what's what. Most interesting to me is that some of the colors are entirely new shades all together. So, like I said... if you want someone to test those paints out... I mean... I know a guy :)
No, I am not tidy. And that's only about 1/4 of my paints, so.... 

The first thing you're greeted with upon opening the book is TANKS, in glorious full color. I dunno why, I just thought this was neat.

The book is broken up essentially into a skills section then discrete national sections covering the specifics for each of the four majors.

The skills section is pretty great, especially for you new folks out there. It covers assembly, basing, painting, and all the bits and bobs you'll need to actually get that army on the table.

Notably, Colors of War uses a chevron system to walk painters through different levels of skill used when painting. If you're a novice just getting your brush wet for the first time, go for the single chevron, if you're an old paint encrusted vet crusin for a painting brusin, go all the way to 3 & a star. The star, of course, symbolizes "Hardcore"!
Though... if splinter camo is "novice" then maybe I need to re-evaluate my skill set

I especially liked the themed and seasonal basing section, desert bases have been a challenge for me to get to look just right.

OK, first, Tyres is spelled wrong. Silly Queen's English! Second, there's no such thing as black. See below:

It even covers how to paint the tiny lights on some tanks. I think I've done that once or twice, but this (known as "gem-ing") is one of those things I always struggle with so I'm exceptionally happy to see it in here. Thanks BF!

The Colors of War or... the War in Color?

While the skills section is good, the meat of the book for me is the national chapters that follow. Each breaks down techniques and considerations specific to that nation.

With a handy dandy, extra visual, table of contents. I really dig this design. The word nerd in me loves the juxtaposition of images to their related text in a reference format.

OK, this is not a knock on the book because I've seen it elsewhere but, who paints on a sprue? Really? Who does that? I honestly want to know if you do, so sound off in the forums. It seems to me like it would just be a pain to do all that work, then clip them off, sand/shave off the plastic grubble and then GO BACK to prime and paint over the little bits that were once attached to the sprue. On the other hand this technique (sans sprue painting) is an exceptionally cool way to get soft edged camo without an airbrush!

Plus, each national chapter breaks down the tanks through the years. I was pretty impressed by this and wasn't at all expecting to see it in here.

Along with divisional markings

Camo schemes

Historical examples and where to place tank markings,

 Country specific markings

Seasonal schemes

And weathering.

All in all this is an excellent resource, especially for the cost! If you've got any interest at all in painting up your own armies, or just want a handy dandy desk reference for schemes, markings, uniforms and all the other bits that make painting up WW2 models so interesting drop the cash and pick this one up!

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