The Red Conundrum

UPDATE: Thanks to the help of friend and reader of this blog, Alan G, I have solved this conundrum! Alan sent me a couple of bottles of his Red RLM23 and a bottle of Scarlet Red to compare with mine. He noted that they both had the same code (71.003). I tested these paints along with my RLM23 and they were all identical – brighter and more orange in hue to the ‘old’ RLM23. Puzzled, I checked Vallejo’s colour chart. Scarlet Red no longer appears on the chart, but the colour with code 71.003 is now called – you guessed it – Red RLM23! So basically, Vallejo have changed the name of Scarlet Red to Red RLM23. I have no idea why, it seems very confusing to me, but the good news is the old colour is still available (code 71.102) and is now simply called ‘Red’. Thankfully in the tutorial I did reference the colour using the correct code, so hopefully this hasn’t caused any problems for you guys. I will update it to remove the RLM23 reference to avoid any further confusion. Phew.

A short while ago I was running out of one of the key paints for my signature red – the key paint in fact – the red itself, Vallejo Model Air Red RLM23.

I ordered a few new bottles but when I finally ran out of the old paint and started using the new ones I noticed that the hue was slightly different. I say “slightly” because to the un-trained eye the difference probably would be subtle but due to the amount of this colour I’ve used and how many different reds I tried out before settling on it the difference was actually quite stark. At first I thought it might be just one bottle but I tried a couple more and they were all the same. I broke out in a cold sweat.

As some of the regular readers of this blog will know, my Blood Angels red is quite distinctive, and the process of achieving it is quite specific. I have tweaked and developed it over the years but one aspect has remained constant since I first perfected it after much experimentation – Vallejo Model Air Red RLM23. It is (or should I say “was”?) a fairly deep red with an ever-so-subtle shift towards magenta rather than orange. A single coat over white would appear quite pink but subsequent coats resulted in a deep, pure red (especially over a yellow filter which is part of my process). This new colour was missing the magenta bias – it was pillar box red, or London bus red.

So had my worst nightmare come true? Had Vallejo changed the formula for this most crucial of paints? Of course I immediately emailed them to ask, but they said they hadn’t. They asked me of batch numbers etc but this drew a blank. Unfortunately at this point I had none of the previous hue version left, so couldn’t do any kind of comparison except photograph two painted models next to each other. Still this didn’t shed any light from Vallejo’s point of view.

So I’m a bit stuck. I could try to compensate by mixing some purple in with my shading wash or something but I think it would be very difficult to get a match that way. I think I’ll try different reds until I find something close enough, starting with Vallejo Game Air Gory Red. The Game Air range didn’t exist when I came up with my method but I remember thinking Game Color Gory Red being a good colour. I will update this post with the results.

I would be very interested to hear if anyone else has come across this discrepancy, so please get in touch if so, or leave a comment below.


Categories: Misc

8 replies »

  1. Hey man! I don’t know if you remember, but I base my red completely off of your experiments. I recently changed my recipe from using Vallejo Air – Fire Red to RLM23 Red. And I feel like it achieves that great, magenta look you’ve always shown. I just bought the bottle not a couple of weeks back. Soooo…maybe you just got a bad bottle? Hope you find your solution!

  2. Hey keebler,

    I bought three bottles and they all seem to be the pillar box hue rather than the slightly magenta hue I’m used to. It’s a mystery! Even if Vallejo have changed it, I’m sure there will be lots on the market of the old colour, so I may have luck trying a different supplier. I may also ask Vallejo to send me some directly to test.

  3. Wow, thanks so much for sharing your findings on this. Having used your guidance as a basis for my red recipe I would have had a heart attack if I had come across this myself!!

    Did you manage to test then – are we 100% sure that this 71.102 “red” is the exact same colour?


    • I’ve ordered a bottle of Red 71102 so will confirm, but it does look the same and has the same code as I noted down when I wrote the tutorial. My understanding is the codes are gospel but they seem to change the names sometimes. It’s pretty annoying – especially when they use a name that was used for something else before!

      • The man, the myth…!

        I all seriousness thanks for sharing this. I am beyond relieved!

        In a past life (army) I went through this when GW changed thier paint range. It was subtle. But I could always see

        • Yeah it is a relief! I actually noticed on the new bottle of 71.102 there is a tiny note saying “RLM REVISED 2015” – not sure what this means exactly but seems related… I have emailed Vallejo so will see what they say…

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