Mistakes were made
When AK Interactive shot themselves in the foot earlier this year with a marketing campaign that was in poor taste, I gave them a pass
and said in a Podcast that “mistakes were made. Obviously,” It’s not as simple as “mistakes were made” this time. The company has made
a mess of one of their most beloved products not once but twice in the last two years. I’ve given AK multiple passes on their mistakes and
have sung their praises for years, but AK Interactive is simply frustrating to deal with these days. While I stand by my statements that they
make the best enamel washes on the market, it’s become increasingly difficult to continue supporting them.
If you keep up with my insight articles, you may already know my story and how I came across Streaking Grime several years ago. I had
a feeling it was a great product when I first discovered it in one of Gavin Manner’s Instagram posts, but when I ordered and received my
first bottle, cracked that seal open, and laid a thin layer of grime over an off-white base color for the first time; I knew it was something
special. The only reason I started making tutorials is that I felt that people needed to know about this product and how many doors it
You may be saying to yourself, enamel washes and oils have been around for years. They are not some big secret! So what is this guy
talking about? Well, in the world of Gamesworkshop, you are indoctrinated into a paint system and application process that grossly fails
to capture Gamesworkshop’s own lore, and that system uses acrylics only. A few years ago, hardly anyone painting Warhammer knew
about enamels and the freedom one can gain using enamel/oils. They are incredibly versatile, and when paired with the reductive
technique, you can achieve a spectacular result quickly. Not only this, the color of the original Streaking Grime was so perfect for that
muted and drab look we often want in our grimdark painting. It really was magic in a bottle.
Then one day, what seems like out of the blue, AK decided to change the formula. Now some of you are a little late to the party to notice
exactly how many times the formula has changed. Remember, the grimdark style has only recently started gaining traction in the
community. My earliest video featuring Streaking Grime was in 2016 with my Dunecrawler tutorial. The first video I made that
featured Streaking Grime that gained any amount of attention was the “How to Paint: Death Guard – Plague Marine” tutorial.
I first published this video to YouTube in August of 2017. It went viral overnight, being viewed 30,000 times in the first 12 hours. When
I realized I was on to something. I took the video down (the original post is still unlisted) and built the earliest version of the Grimdark
Compendium off of the back of it.
So in 2017, Ak Interactive’s Streaking Grime AK012 was perfection in a bottle. Years later, and with no communication or announcement,
the color changed and changed drastically. Let’s Take a look at how it changed.
Original Streaking Grime – 2016-2017. Notice the deep brown hue with a slight green tint. This iteration of Streaking Grime was, in my
opinion, the correct one. When you say the word grime, this is what comes to mind.
First Formula Change – 2020. The second iteration of Streaking Grime moved toward a much more reddish/warm hue. Nothing about
this says “grime” and is much more in line with a rust tone. In fact, in this picture, I’m using both Streaking Grime and Rust Streaks. Can
you spot the difference?
Second Formula Change – 2021. Unfortunately, I do not have a work-in-progress photo for this iteration. By this time, I made my own
mix for grime, so I haven’t purchased any. As you can see, though, the third and current iteration of Streaking Grime is a dark olive green.
Where the problem lies
This is all just disappointing, and here is why. I guess they think that when push comes to shove, we mix our own Streaking Grime, and
that should be fine, right? Well, that’s assuming everyone in the hobby knows how to mix consistent batches of paint on their own, which
isn’t the case. Again, the Gamesworkshop indoctrination into a paint system, designed to get all the money, keeps the new artist
un-privy to color matching, color theory, and how to mix on their palettes. It’s not something they are learning because they
don’t need to. Even if we can mix the color, are we going to get the correct finish? That is an essential part of all of this. I talk about
surface finish variation as being one of the core elements of the Grimdark Style quite often. The enamels from AK dry a certain way,
which in my opinion, is what sets them above any other brands out there. We need to be able to rely on consistent formulas.
I’m usually a modest person, but I don’t feel even a little bit shy about saying that my tutorials led to boatloads of Streaking Grime and
Rust Streaks sells for Fernando and his company. In our community, my name and website are heavily associated with Streaking Grime
and Ak Interactive. So for me, it’s akin to recommending your friend for a job, and then that friend goes on to make a fool out of himself
and you all in one go. Once the Warhammer community caught wind of exactly how good the product was, they bought it all up, and I
mean ALL of it. It was sold out everywhere for months on end. At one point, I even sold the stuff myself but had to end up closing that
part of my business because I couldn’t keep anything in stock. Imagine painting one thousand points of a two thousand point army
with one version of streaking grime, then not being able to restock your personal stores for months, and then when you are finally able
to get your hands on it, it’s a completely different color. Equally annoying, especially for me, was that the good folks in the community
trying to follow my tutorials were concerned that the color of the Streaking Grime that they had was not the same as the Streaking Grime
I was using in my tutorials. The implications run deep, deeper than what I have written here. Hell, the Rust Streaks formula is experiencing
the same issues. People are concerned, and those people have reached out to AK Interactive’s Customer Service team; let’s see what they heard
This is where things get weird…
Before going further, I should point out that before I began this article, I reached out to the community in hopes of receiving any insight
into the correspondences they might have received from AK. I received several replies, but most of them were inquiries that were never
responded to. I also have my own correspondences with AK’s President Fernando Vallejo, which I will share, but I’ll get into those last.
I believe it would be in bad taste for me to show screenshots or copy and paste any email correspondences into this article, so we will
take a look at a good’ol shortlist of the questions and answers I’ve read in some of these emails.
- Q: “Are products AK7001 Streaking Grime and AK012 Streaking Grime the same color?”
- A: “The colors are Identical.”
I’m a little confused by the response here. The AK7001 Streaking Grime is nowhere close to either version of the AK012. If you go to Ak’s
Website right now, you will see that the description on this set clearly states that AK012/AK7001 are the same product.
- Q: “It was suggested that we use AK013 (Rust Streaks) or AK083 (Track Wash) to replace the old version (Reddish Version) of Streaking
Grime since the color has been reworked to a green color. Is there another Streaking Grime you can suggest that will match more
- A: “Due to passage of time initial color was away from original, and it had turned too much red and Brown. We’ve tried to move it
closer again. As you say, many people had become used to that tone, but many other people didn’t use it because it was wrong.
Anyway, we apologized for this inconvenience but we’re talking about a reference that is used to make general dirt and the exact
tone may vary and this shouldn’t be a problem for the modelers.”
This is the most telling answer we get in all of the emails. In this exchange, the customer refers to the “old” or “correct” Streaking Grime as
the reddish-brown color. This goes to show the level of confusion AK has caused while managing their color formulas. The Reddish Brown
is indeed the incorrect tone and hue for Streaking Grime, but the customer is none the wiser and has no clue what they are moving the color
back to. The newer greener hue is an overcorrection in the fact they “Tried to move it closer again” (Tried to fix the color back to the
They are also insinuating that the original dark brown color of Streaking Grime slowly drifted towards red over an
extended period of time. I guess that could be the case, but I never noticed a slow change. I was selling Streaking Grime in large volumes
at the time and remember distinctly it just being different all of the sudden.
In the second part of the answer, we can see a little bit of spiciness flaring up! I am going to make an assumption here
and say that they have obviously been dealing with a fair amount of backlash on the matter. They make a blanketed statement, essentially
saying Streaking Grime is a general dirt reference, and that exact tone will vary and should be no problem for modelers; again, assuming all
modelers are of the same skill level and could easily mix out the solution on their palette.
- Q: “I have two pots of Streaking Grime here, both AK012 that are different colors. Has there been an issue or a bad batch?”
- A: “We have changed the manufacturer of our colors. The color is a little off but will be corrected.”
I will mention one last email where a representative of AK tells a customer that “the color may look green, but will dry dark brown.”
For example, take a look at the picture below. Oddly, I could not find this photo on AK’s website. I found this image on a hobby store’s
website, so it could be an unofficial image or a fake, but I doubt it. It shows the new green version of Streaking Grime with an example of the
effect on the left. This image backs up what AK is trying to convenience at least that one customer of. It seems pretty absurd but after going
through AK’s web store and seeing all the indescrepencies it wouldn’t seem that unlikely that they actually use this image and try to convenience
us that the Green Grime drys like in the example shown below.
There are many more emails, and I could go on, but I think you get the picture. The responses seem to be all over the place, nothing is consistent,
and they are pretty clear that there was no “bad batch.” It’s hard to say what exactly the issue is. I couldn’t find any statements on the matter
on any of AK’s social media pages, so I doubt we will ever get a public statement. If I had to guess, I would say that AK did change manufacturers
at some point. The reason I say that is because of all of the other enamel colors that suddenly changed as well and seemingly all at the same time.
What did Fernando have to say?
My own correspondences with Fernando started out as friendly and pleasant exchanges far before any of the formula changes happened.
He seemed to enjoy my application methods and was happy to see that I was teaching people how to use his products in a different way.
He even went so far as to offer me a sponsorship for our first “Into the Dark” painting competition. Stating he would be happy to send me
products to give away as prizes. We even talked about a discount code for Grimdark Compendium members that would give them 10%
off purchases from the AK Webstore. He seemed genuinely interested in working with me.
Later, I did ask him about the formula change. He told me there had been “no changes since day one,” and that was the last I heard from him.
I sent three follow-up emails about the Web Store code and prizes for the Competition but unfortunately received no response.
Where are we at now?
Me personally? I’m praying AK Interactive gets their sh*t together for the sake of my older content. The Grimdark Style is exploding right now,
and the Compendium is at the forefront of the movement. I would love for all the new folks digesting our content to have a good experience and
not be confused as to why their enamels don’t look like the examples in the tutorials. That’s just me.
I understand the frustration everyone else is experiencing as well, and it’s hard for me to suggest a solid fix. Remember, some people want that
Dark Brown/Greenish-Yellow Grime, and some people want the Reddish Brown Grime. Personally, I’ll be using Streaking Grime 7001, the
(Dark Brown/Greenish-Yellow Grime), from AK until I find something better or make my own Enamel Weathering System. You can find
this version of Streaking Grime in AK7000 Locomotive & Wagon Set. It also comes with a Rust Streaks that is closer to the original and
a dark grey, almost black, enamel wash.
In the future, I hope to work out something with Migs. I still want to get a discount code or some link for the community and maybe
be able to give away some product from time to time. With that being said, I do want AK Interactive to be successful, and I’m sure they will be.
They definitely need to go through their website and clean some things up to meet customer expectations.
I also spoke a few times in this article about how a lot of folks have been indoctrinated into Gamesworkshop’s Paint System, and while I
believe that there is nothing wrong with buying or using Citadel Paints or that particular paint system, I do believe that the community
should invest in themselves and practice a bit of color theory. It’s instrumental in a pinch. I have an example of a color palette, one that
I use for flesh and weathering. I’ll be talking more about this particular palette and how to create it in my upcoming Masterclass.
Can you see the version of Streaking Grime that you like in this palette? Sometime’s we can’t only rely on big companies to take care of
us or to always be around, for that matter. That’s when investing in yourself will pay dividends. You don’t want something like bad
batches or messed-up formulas to stop you dead in your tracks. Always push yourself to be more knowledgeable in the things you
are passionate about. And most importantly, Stay Grimdark.