Humbrol tin evolution

By Eric Verschuur and Rob de Bie



Notes:

This is a research page, showing what we found so far. Nothing is set in concrete. If you have comments, please let us know.

The order of tins is derived from study of the tins and old Humbrol leaflets and colour charts. It is not based directly on Humbrol information.

Range expansion/reduction dating is not confirmed, and usually placed between double brackets to indicate uncertainty of the timing.

This page only lists the popular small tinlets, not the larger tins that Humbrol also produced in much smaller numbers.

Variations in the lids also occur: painted or white, with a printed or stamped number, etcetera. These differences are largely ignored in this tin overview.

Thanks to: Rob van Riel (Netherlands) for photos of three tin types, Mario Wens (Netherlands) for great leads, Ricardo Dacoba (Argentina) for photos of the oldest tin, Dreamjourney1 (Japan) for a photo of an old bottle of thinner, Huub van Dijk (Netherlands) for his donation of a collection of old tins, and John Walker (UK).






Standard range

   Era:
Tin shown: undated advertisement
Front: 'Humbrol Enamel' text
Back:
Label: ?
Comments:
   Era: 1956 and 1958 advertisements
Tin shown: (MW)
Front: 'Humbrol' text in the red logo type that is still used, 'Art oil' and 'Enamel' texts in black, 'HOC' logo in red. Background is white with golden stripes and a black band at the bottom
Back: text in English, '1/2 fl. oz. imp'
Label: ?
Comments: bottom is attached with a flange, this is not a deep drawn tin
   Era: 1959, 1960 and 1961 advertisements
Tin shown: Sky-ish (HvD)
Front: logo consisting of a yellow and black circle with a red horizontal bar with 'Humbrol' text. 'Art oil' text in yellow part, 'Plastic enamel' text in black part. Tartan-like background in very light and dark grey. 'New' in red on the left side in
Back: instructions in English
Label: printed on tin
Comments: tin is slightly taller than all subsequent tins. The bottom of the tins was painted white. Range of 34 colors
   Era:
Tin shown: Flesh-ish (HvD)
Front: same as above, but with 'Matt' on either side of the Humbrol logo, and the tartan pattern is blue on white
Back: same as above
Label: printed on tin
Comments: same as above
   Era: 1961, 1962 included
Tin shown: 6 or 9 (light yellow) (HvD)
Front: logo consisting of a yellow and black circle with a red horizontal bar with 'Humbrol' text. 'One Hour' text in yellow part, 'Plastic enamel' text in black part. Tartan-like background in very light and dark grey.
Back: instructions in English, '1/2 fl. oz. imp' on the side
Label: printed on tin
Comments:
   Era:
Tin shown: light grey (HvD)
Front: same as above, but with 'Matt' on either side of the Humbrol logo, and the tartan pattern is blue on white
Back: same as above
Label: printed on tin
Comments: the blue tartan pattern indicates a matt colour
   Era:
Tin shown: 12 (HvD)
Front: same as two tins above, but with 'Liquid' instead of 'One Hour' and the colour instead of 'Plastic Enamel'
Back: same as above
Label: printed on tin
Comments: fits in with the above two tins
   Era: 1962, 1965 advertisements
Tin shown: 2 (HvD)
Front: logo consisting of a yellow and black circle with a red horizontal bar with 'Humbrol' text. 'One hour' text in yellow part, 'Enamel' text in black part. Tartan-like background in very light and dark grey
Back: instructions in English, '14 c.c.' on one side and '1/2 fl. oz. imp' on the other side
Label: printed on tin
Comments: (( Range consisted of 34 colours. ))
   Era:
Tin shown: 29 (HvD)
Front: same as above, but with 'Matt' to the right of the Humbrol logo, and the tartan pattern is blue on white
Back: instructions in English, '14 c.c.' on one side and '1/2 fl. oz. imp' on the other side
Label: printed on tin
Comments: the blue tartan pattern indicates a matt colour
   Era:
Tin shown: 16 (HvD)
Front: same as two tins above, but with 'Liquid' instead of 'One Hour' and the colour instead of 'Plastic Enamel'
Back: same as above
Label: printed on tin
Comments: fits in with the above two tins
   Era: appears to have been introduced in 1965
Tin shown: 13 (EV)
Front: white on red Humbrol logo, then a gold band, 'Enamel' text, red band and lastly a grey band with 'Non-poisonous' text.
Back: text in six languages on rear side: English, French, German, Italian, Swedish and Spanish.
Label: printed on tin
Comments: (( Range expanded to 49 colours. ))
   Era: May 1970, 1972, 1975 and 1978 included
Tin shown: 64 (EV)
Front: grey band no longer extends to the bottom of tin.
Back: 'Shake then stir well' (in red capital text) instead of 'Stir well', but not in the other languages!
Label: printed on tin
Comments: (((( Range expanded to 80 colours (numbers go up to 99). ))))
   Era: 1971 advertisement
Tin shown: 29 (HvD)
Front: white on red Humbrol logo, 'MATT' to the right, then a gold band, 'Enamel' text, red band and lastly a blue band with 'Non-poisonous' text.
Back: text in six languages on rear side: English, French, German, Italian, Swedish and Spanish.
Label: printed on tin
Comments: the blue band indicates a matt colour. However, matt colours were also sold in the 'grey band' tin shown above
   Era: 1978-1980 included
Tin shown: 91 (AH)
Front: front side reduced to 1/3 of circumference, to make room for more text on the back. Gold band under Humbrol prone to fading.
Back: three columns of text. Text identical but larger.
Label: printed on tin
Comments: (( Range expanded to 80 colours (numbers go up to 99), possibly in 1978 (brochure proudly shows the figure '80' made from tins . ))
   Era:
Tin shown: 20 (RdB)
Front: front side increased to roughly 45% of circumference. 'Non-poisonous' label deleted. Blue band could be an indication that the paint formulation was changed somewhat (thinning is best done with Humbrol thinner or alternatively white spirit).
Back: text made slighter smaller, and 'non-poisonous' text deleted from all languages. 'Division of Borden (UK) Ltd' added.
Label: printed on tin
Comments: range expanded to 116 colours (numbers go up to 135) around 1983-1985.
   Era:
Tin shown: 105 (RdB)
Front: white on red Humbrol logo changed to red Humbrol lettering. Red-white-blue banner added, blue banner at bottom simplified. Alternatively you can say the narrow blue band moved upwards .. 'Enamel' text slightly larger and fatter.
Back: -
Label: printed on tin
Comments: -
   Era: 1993 advertisment
Tin shown: 127 (AH)
Front: 'Enamel' replaced by 'Color', possibly because the word 'enamel' was not understood outside the UK.
Back: 'Division of Borden (UK) Ltd' removed.
Label: printed on tin
Comments: (( Range expanded to 184 colours (numbers go up to 209) to include part of the deleted Authentics paint range. ))
   Era:
Tin shown: 68 (RdB)
Front: front side made narrower, roughly 30% of circumference, to make room for the back side
Back: additional column with recycling symbol, age statement and other text. 'Humbrol metallics cannot be overcoated' text added to all languages.
Label: shrink plastic
Comments: painted lids and white lids with a coloured sticker were used. (( Range expanded to 184 colours (numbers go up to 209) to include part of the deleted Authentics paint range. ))
   Era:
Tin shown: 87 (AH)
Front: Humbrol logo enhanced with multi-coloured paint 'scribble' on the left side. 'Color' replaced by 'Enamel' as before. Red stripe under 'Humbrol' deleted. Text 'Enamel Paint Peinture Email Emailfarbe' added below blue band.
Back: 'flammable' warnings are added. Fonts made smaller and leaner.
Label: shrink plastic
Comments: Range reduced to 140 colours (numbers go up to 250).
   Era: 1997 included
Tin shown: 69 (RdB)
Front: basically as above, but with 'Super' text added in yellow, and 'Enamel' placed lower
Back: text in two columns, seven languages
Label: shrink plastic
Comments: introduction of 'Super Enamel' formulation. 15 micron colour particle size. Range expanded to 151 colours (numbers go up to 250). As compensation for the previous reduction Humbrol issued a 'Super Paint Colour System' / 'Colour Mixing binder' with mixing instructions for many military colours. Although very accurate, this was not popular with modelers.
   Era:
Tin shown: 170 (RdB)
Front: same as above, but the blue bar now contains 'Enamel - Peinture Email - Email-Farbe' text
Back: barcode added, pictograms instead of text showing mixing and drying instructions.
Label: shrink plastic
Comments: -
   Era: 2002 included
Tin shown: 201 (RdB)
Front: 'Super Enamel' name dropped, back to simply 'Enamel'. Humbrol logo modernised. Colour 'scribble' is no longer partially covered by the Humbrol logo.
Back: instructions changed to 17 languages. Barcode dropped, sticker on bottom instead.
Label: shrink plastic
Comments: -
   Era: 2006 included
Tin shown: 33 (RdB)
Front: slightly smaller fonts used
Back: chemicals added, allergy warning, possibly because of EU regulations?
Label: shrink plastic
Comments: reportedly produced in China with resulting quality problems.
   Era: 2012 included
Tin shown: 126 (RdB)
Front: red 'Humbrol' with a blue shadow, slightly larger fonts used
Back: chemicals and allergy warning removed, just 'flammable - inflammable' in nine languages
Label: shrink plastic
Comments: range extended with 13 new colours (173 and 237-249)
   Era:
Tin shown: 241 (RdB)
Front: blue 'wave' at the bottom
Back: covers 2/3rds of the tin now. Left side contains mainly safety warnings in English, French and Dutch in a red rectangle, red and yellow Hornby logo at the bottom. Right side has the same pictograms as before, plus UK flag and 'Made in the UK' text
Label: shrink plastic
Comments:
   Era:
Tin shown: 11 (RdB)
Front: magenta 'wave' at the bottom
Back: same as above, but both text and pictograms are now contained in a single black rectangle
Label: shrink plastic
Comments: the tin shape is slightly different: instead of a straight taper, the bottom half now has more curvature
   Era: 2017 included
Tin shown: 127 (RdB)
Front: wave color back to blue
Back: same as above, but the black rectangle is deleted. No logo for Hornby, just the text 'Hornby Hobbies'. Blue band at the bottom deleted
Label: shrink plastic
Comments: continuation of the new tin shape


Standard range - French versions

   Era:
Tin shown: (Airfix Collecting forum)
Front: standard Humbrol logo in white and red, 'Enamel / Email' in black (French spelling of enamel), 'Net 14 ml' followed by 'Enamel paint - Painture email'
Back: unknown
Label: unknown
Comments:


Standard range - Dutch / Belgian versions

   Era:
Tin shown: (Airfix Collecting forum)
Front: standard Humbrol logo in white and red, 'Enamel paint' in black, 'Voor ieder klusje een Humbrol busje' ('For every job a Humbrol tinlet', a free translation of the old Humbrol slogan 'A colour for every purpose'), and a colorful background of toys and household items
Back: unknown
Label: unknown
Comments: I've never seen this tin although I live in the Netherlands!


Standard range - US versions

   Era:
Tin shown: (Ebay)
Front: standard Humbrol logo in white and red, 'for master modelers' in black, 'Enamel' in black, 'Net 1/2 fl oz' followed by warnings in red: 'Caution flammable - Harmful or fatal if swallowed - See cautions elsewehere on label'
Back: unknown
Label: unknown
Comments:
   Era: 1997 included
Tin shown: (Ebay)
Front: as above but with larger blue text box
Back: text in English only?
Label: shrink plastic
Comments:


Authentic colours



   Era: 1972 included
Tin shown: HU4 (EV)
Front: first 'Authentics' tin with three brown-blue-brown blocks at the bottom
Back: 'Stir well' instead of 'Shake then stir well' instruction (see H13 EV)
Label: printed on tin
Comments: the range consisted of 22 sets of 6 colours each. The tins were available individually or as sets of 6; these sets had instructions included describing their use.
   Era:
Tin shown: HU1 (RdB)
Front: Camouflage band circling top and bottom of the tin. Yellow and brown camouflage spots
Back: unchanged
Label: printed on tin
Comments: -
   Era: May 1970, 1973, 1975 and 1978 advertisements
Tin shown: HG1 (EV)
Front: brown-blue blocks at the bottom now circle the tin.
Back: -
Label: printed on tin ---- Label is likely applied too low to this particular tin ----
Comments: -
   Era: May 1970, 1973, 1975 and 1978 advertisements
Tin shown: HU1 (AH)
Front: -
Back: text all black instead of red and black
Label: printed on tin
Comments: -
   Era: 1980 and 1981 advertisements
Tin shown: HS217 (EV)
Front: six brown-blue blocks at the bottom, no longer circling the tin
Back: 'Division of Borden (UK) Ltd' added. 'Non-toxic' deleted from texts. Text reverted to black and red.
Label: printed on tin
Comments: ((Range expanded to 144 colours.))
   Era:
Tin shown: HG1 (Ebay)
Front: standard Humbrol logo in white and red, 'for master modelers' in black, 'authentic color' in blue, 'Net 1/2 fl oz' followed by warnings in red: 'Caution flammable - Harmful or fatal if swallowed - See cautions elsewehere on label'
Back: unknown
Label: unknown
Comments: likely a tin for the American market
   Era: 1985 and 1989 advertisements
Tin shown: RAL6014 (RdB)
Front: sticker in black and gold
Back: -
Label: sticker
Comments: Authentics stopped in 1989.
On the Hyperscale forum, Edgar Brooks reported that 'After a whole raft of complaints that some were no longer accurate, a check revealed that the foreman, instead of checking each batch against a colour card, had been checking each one against a sample taken from the previous batch, hence the gradual drift that no-one had noticed. Rather than go through the hassle (and expense) of recalling every tin, and checking it, the decision was taken to drop the whole range, and start again.' This information came from Humbrol factory staff. Graham Boak added that 'When they stopped selling them only in sets, and the Authentics tins became available separately, there was a step change in the accuracy of the representation. I accept that this might be difficult to prove after so many years, but if there was an gradual deterioration this was additional to the original changes.'



Railway colours

   Era:
Tin shown: ? (RD)
Front: logo consisting of a yellow and black circle with a red horizontal bar with 'Humbrol' text. 'Railway' text in yellow part, 'Enamel' text in black part. Tartan-like background in pink and red.
Back: instructions in English
Label: printed on tin
Comments: bottom is attached with a flange, this is not a deep drawn tin
   Era:
Tin shown: ? (JW)
Front: same as previous tin design
Back: top row text: "Authentic - HOC (in logo) - Semi-matt". Instructions in English
Label: printed on tin
Comments: deep drawn tin with integral bottom


Authentic Railway colours

   Era: 1972 included
Tin shown:
Front: ?
Back: ?
Label: ?
Comments: the range consisted of 8 sets of 6 colours each. The tins were available individually or as sets of 6; these sets had instructions included describing their use.


Scenic Paint

   Era:
Tin shown: (JW)
Front: logo consisting of a yellow and black circle with a red horizontal bar with 'Humbrol' text. 'Scenic' text in yellow part, 'Enamel' text in black part. Tartan-like background in very light and medium green
Back: top row text: "Authentic - HOC (in logo) - Matt". Instructions in English
Label: printed on tin
Comments: bottom is attached with a flange, this is not a deep drawn tin


International Racing colours

   Era: shown in 1965 and 1966 advertisement
Tin shown: R303 (EV)
Front: yellow/black checkers band, Humbrol logo in red and white, 'international' in black, a yellow street car with two finish flags, 'Racing Colours' text, yellow/black checkers band
Back: -
Label: printed on tin
Comments: released alongside 'Authentic Railway colours'. Roughly twenty colours?
   Era:
Tin shown: R309
Front: Humbrol logo in black, red band with front view of a 'sixties single-seater and two finish flags, 'racing colours' text
Back: -
Label: -
Comments: Likely the second tin style. Photo credit: Sean Rothman
   Era:
Tin shown: R310
Front: standard Authentic Colour tin
Back: -
Label: -
Comments: HC310 stamped on the lid, refill box marked 'Metallic Red R810'. Photo credit: T-shirt Tony


Metal Cote

   Era: 1985 advertisement says they were new
Tin shown: 8188 steel (RdB)
Front: -
Back: -
Label: printed on tin
Comments: six colours, later reduced to four (gold and bronze deleted). Introduced when the standard range tins first had 'Color' instead of 'Enamel'
   Era:
Tin shown: 27004 steel (EV)
Front: Humbrol logo enhanced with multi-coloured paint 'scribble' on the left side.
Back: -
Label: sticker over shrink foil
Comments: 5-digit number instead of 4-digit number, not related
   Era: 2002 included
Tin shown:
Front: completely redesigned label, equivalent of one from the standard ranges
Back: -
Label: shrink foil ?
Comments: -
   Era: 2013 included
Tin shown: 27001 (RdB)
Front: again a completely redesigned label, medium grey background with a 'metallic' blue band with 'Metal Cote'
Back: instructions and safety warnings in English and German. No logo for Hornby, just the text 'Hornby Hobbies'
Label: paper sticker
Comments: a transparent plastic warning label with a raised triangle (for the blind probably) added to the rear side
   Era: 2016 included
Tin shown: 27003 (RdB)
Front: again a completely redesigned label, with a light gray instead of blue 'wave' at the bottom
Back: covers 2/3rds of the tin now. Left side contains mainly safety warnings in English, French and Dutch in a red rectangle, red and yellow Hornby logo at the bottom. Right side has the same pictograms as before, plus UK flag and 'Made in the UK' text
Label: paper sticker
Comments: -


Polyurethane

   Era: 1978 included
Tin shown: H35 (EV)
Front: Vertical blue bar positioned left of center and interrupted by white on red Humbrol logo and black 'CLEAR polyurethane' text, the word CLEAR in black outline.
Back: Two columns of text in six languages on rear side: English, French, German, Italian, Swedish and Spanish. 'NON-POISONOUS. Stir well.' in text.
Label: printed on tin
Comments: Unlike the other gloss enamel colours, this gloss clear was claimed to be resistant to model airplane fuels (containing nitromethane) hence the different label on the front of the tin. The lid was stamped 'CLEAR 35'. From the same era as the first pictured tin in the standard range.


Fluorescent Paint

   Era: 1958
Tin shown: advertisement
Front: 'Fluorescent' and 'Hi-Glo' texts. Tartan-like background in colours that still have to be identified
Back: ?
Label: ?
Comments:
   Era:
Tin shown:
Front:
Back: instructions: must be painted on Base White, and thinned with (nitro) cellulose thinner.
Label: sticker
Comments: Borden era. Had no numbers assigned. The standard range matt white was changed later so it could be used too as a base for fluorescent paint.
   Era:
Tin shown: 207 (EV)
Front: Black and red with Humbrol logo and 'Fluorescent paint gloss' text
Back: Instructions changed to: must be painted on Base White (206), and can be thinned with Humbrol Enamel Thinner
Label: sticker
Comments: Borden era. Paint composition apparently changed. Range now includes gloss fluorescent colours. Assigned a number in the standard range (192-209 range)
   Era:
Tin shown: 207 (EV)
Front: Same as above, but 'MATT' instead of 'GLOSS'
Back: Likely similar
Label:
Comments:
   Era:
Tin shown: 203 (EV)
Front: Identical to the sixth tin in the standard range
Back: Instructions changed to standard text without special instructions.
Label: printed on tin
Comments: Borden era.


Glow Paint

   Era:
Tin shown: #? (RvR)
Front: standard Humbrol logo, large dark blue rectangle with 'Glow' text, followed by a light blue band
Back: text 'Stir thoroughly. Apply thin coat over matt white base. For exterior use recoat with clear varnish after 24 hours'
Label: sticker over tin like 105 (currentlty the sixteenth tin in the standard range)
Comments: tin was packaged in a cardboard box. One use was formation ('slime') lights on US jets. After years they still glow in the dark!
   Era: early 2000's
Tin shown: #? (I8534)
Front: dark blue with greenish-glowing text 'Glow', red Humbrol text with small colour 'scribble' at left top
Back:
Label: paper sticker
Comments:


Marine Paint

   Era:
Tin shown: H35 (HvD)
Front: logo consisting of a yellow and black circle with a red horizontal bar with 'Humbrol' text. 'Marine' text in yellow part, 'Clear varnish' text in black part. Tartan-like background in very light and dark grey
Back: instructions in English, '14 c.c.' on one side and '1/2 fl. oz. imp' on the other side
Label: printed on tin
Comments:


Revell paint made by Humbrol

   Era: pre 1979
Tin shown: R49 (EV)
Front: Revell logo in yellow, white, black and red on a rectangular yellow background, then red text FARBE on white and lastly black text 'NICHT GIFTIG' on white square over yellow background
Back: Four columns of text on rear side: German, English, Swedish and Italian. Two red bars spanning two columns each with white text, the first one reading 'Auch für Holz, Glas u. Keramik' the second one carrying the Humbrol logo. Below the red bars french text is spread out.
Label: printed on tin
Comments: This Revell tin ended up being used (accidentally?) by Humbrol, and was distributed in a batch of Humbrol paint. The lid was stamped 'MATT 49', 49 being the Humbrol series code for matt clear.


Monogram paint made by Humbrol

   Era: 1985 included
Tin shown: #? (RvR)
Front: Monogram logo in red, white and blue, Humbrol text in red in the usual font, red and blue stripes, texts 'Enamel', 'Net 1/2 fl oz' and 'Caution: combustible See cautions on back'
Back: text in two columns, English only
Label: printed on tin
Comments: a short-lived co-opereration, that probably started in 1985. Monogram models from that year included a leaflet offering three free tins, the offer expiring 31 December 1986.






Various photos

The six-colour Authentic sets were sold individually and in these
boxes, with instructions. The boxes for aircraft colours had light
blue sides, AFV colours light green, military colours purple-blue,
railway colours yellow-green, and ship colours light grey-blue. They
are shown in a 1973 advertisement.
The yellow and brown camouflaged Authentic tins
were also available as six tin sets in an
oversize box. The same box was also used
for tins shown in the third row. (Ebay photo)
And another Authentics packaging variant. (Ebay photo) And yet another. (Ebay photo)
The six tinlet boxes that the original tins
came in. (Ricardo Dacoba photo)
A mint bottle of Humbrol enamel thinner from around 1967
(photo by Dreamjourney1)


Return to models page