“The new Real Colors paint range is a very, very special step forward for AK.
And we guess for you, too.” – quote from AK Interactive website
I feel spoiled being a modeller in 2019 with all the fantastic paints we have compared to the stuff we had in the early 80’s when I built my first scale models. Not only do we have a choice between paint types – we also have a wide choice of colours! Sadly finding that scale correct obscure paint only used a couple times during WWII is usually very hard, let alone trying to figure out how to mix it yourself so when AK Interactive released their book Real Colors of WWII I bought it directly! AK Interactive had really done their homework trying to find and catalogue all of the most common colours used during WWII and now released it as a reference book to help us modellers. I honestly wasn’t surprised when they announced the AK Interactive Real Colors range of paint about a year ago and now that the range has grown a lot, and become readily available internationally, it was time to test them thoroughly to find out their properties and if there were anything we had to take into consideration when using them?
I ordered 23 different colours to test with. (And I bought them with my own money! This is not a free review sample.) 22 of them are classic WWII colours – mainly German to be honest, and the RC009 Orange that simply looked awesome in the colour chart! I wasn’t sure where to use said Orange colour in my modelling routine but since I’ve recently started tinkering with Ma.K. I felt it could work there perhaps?
The first thing I discovered when the package of paint arrived was a blue mess. The jar of RC017 Sky Blue had leaked… Luckily it was well wrapped in bubble wrap so I was able to clean it up, but the lid was hardly screwed on at all… As I unpacked everything and cleaned off the other jars I noticed that about half of the jars had loose lids, but only just tight enough to not leak whereas the other half had properly tight lids. I’ve reported this back to the store that sold them to me (and got a refund), and I’ve reported this back to AK Interactive, so they can have a look at their production line and hopefully find the issue – if not it’s been sorted already? This has got nothing to do with the paint quality, just to point that out!
Whilst waiting for the shipment to arrive I read up on the paint, how it was supposed to be a paint that was compatible with “every” thinner out there. I also looked at some demo videos but I’d rather work out the properties myself since I live in a different climate than the people making these videos, and I’ve got different setup etc.
So far I’ve been testing with both MLT (Mr. Levelling Thinner) and IPA (isopropanol) and they both work really well at a 50/50 ratio.
Using Real Colors reminds me a lot of using Tamiya paint, which is a hybrid acrylic if you ask me. Very simple to use and very hard to fail, and Real Colors was super easy to use! I was using an H&S infinity with a 0.15 mm needle & nozzle, running the compressor at 20 PSI, and I had great control and minimal overspray. No splattering just very smooth and so far I’ve never had a dry tip or any blockage in my airbrush – which is very good! Making scribbles on a piece of paper or plastic is a good test to see how well you can control the paint.
It didn’t care what surface I was painting, bare plastic or primed, the results were great in both cases.
I used 3M Blue and Tamiya masking tape to test if the paint lifts if you forget to detack the masking tape but no such problems. I had a few small specks of paint lift with 3M Blue when I ripped off the masking tape as fast as I could, but that was just me trying to provoke a failure and not something you do on a scale model! Very good performance!
I used every type of weathering products I’ve got at home, including oil paint + odourless thinner, panel liners, streaking grimes, dust effects, washes etc and none of them reacted with the paint. Very good!
Doing the decal test and using a decal softener/fixer, in this case Tamiya Mark Fit Strong, sadly yielded the first failure because the paint dissolved right away when I applied Mark Fit Strong. Ok, most people use some type of varnish or clear coat before they apply decals. I don’t. Not if I don’t really have to and I’m going to have to change my process here.
It’s worth mentioning that the AK Interactive Real Colors are flat. I mean really flat! We armour modellers like this whereas airplane and car modellers are of a different opinion… You have to find out what process works best for you depending on what finish you’re after? I’m sure a descent clear coat will address the flat issue if you do it properly.
I’m really pleased with this new paint and the colours are fantastic and spot on if you ask me! No more mixing of colours until you have something acceptable, and no more inconsistency – just open another jar and paint on!
I will now start using the AK Interactive Real Colors on a couple builds I’m doing to see how it works for real and not just doing tests on plasticard…
What’s the verdict then? I don’t know for sure what to compare it to because it feels a bit like a Tamiya paint, but it isn’t, and it’s not like a MRP (Mr. Paint) either, despite that it’s supposed to be an acrylic lacquer?! It does however work really well. I’ve heard some people are having splatter problems whereas I’ve had none. Different airbrushes and pressure can yield different results, and that’s why we do these tests before we start using them for real. In my case 20 PSI was working really well with a 0.15 mm needle & nozzle. The issue with decal softener/fixer is something I’d wished wasn’t a problem because it means my usual process doesn’t work, but I can work around it. It does mark it down a bit sadly…
From a pure colour perspective it’s top score for sure but I have to score it on usability and I’ll give it a 4 out of 5 for now. A very strong 4 that is, being close to 5, but it isn’t perfect sadly.
I feel I’m going to do an awful lot of painting with AK Interactive Real Colors from now on because I love the available colours very much! Thank you AK Interactive!!! It’s just a shame it took a year for them to become readily available, but on the other hand the amount of colours today are fantastic! It’s a bit like when MRP added AFV colours and many of us were just throwing money at them so we too could get our hands on this new lacquer paint everyone was talking about! 😀 Right now the word on the street is AK Real Colors and I’m excited to do my first “full interior” build with these new accurate colours. You can bet it’s going to be a Panther of some type… I’ve got more than a few in the stash already… 😉