One of a new mini-range of sets of odourless acrylic colours. Under review is CS-01 - German WW2 Armour. If you go to Astromodel
and scroll down to the Lifecolor section you will see three other sets currently available: Nato M.E.R.D.C, and two Tensochrome sets of weathering filters. These sets are an addition to their huge normal range of individual colours, which, broken down by category can be seen here.
I had not used Lifecolor Acrylics before but heard very good reports about them from well known armour modellers. When I heard about the new set I ordered one from Cammetts and decided to try them out on an OOB Jagdtiger build. My previous attempts at spraying acrylics thinned with water had mixed results so I was looking forward to it.
The box has a flip-top lid with some excellent artwork on all six sides, including a colour key of the contained colours, their RAL number, and the German name. On the rear of the box are detailed usage instructions, and further instruction as to which combinations of colours are to be used in various camouflage schemes. Opening the box you are confronted with the six 22ml(net) colours in their plastic bottles, securely nestled in a cardboard cut-out.
The included colours are:
RAL 8020 Gelbbraun
RAL 7027 Sandgrau
RAL 8000 Grunbraun/Gelbbraun
RAL 7028 Dunkelgelb
RAL 8017 Rotbraun/Schokoladen braun
RAL 6003 Olivegrun
As to the accuracy of the colours, much has been written and debated on this subject, for me it comes down to the individual and what appeals to him. I will say however, that the Dunkelgelb when dry, is an almost exact match to that seen on an excellent wartime colour image of a new Jagdtiger on parade, (this image can be seen here
Very important – prime your surface before using these paints as they will adhere far better. I use Photo etch primer from the Smallshop EU as I find it’s much finer than any other I have tried. As with any painting, make sure the area is well ventilated and you are using a suitable mask.
The paint has a consistency of milk, (much thinner than Tamiya, more that of the Vallejo Model Air range), and can be thinned either with Lifecolor Thinner, or a water/alcohol mix. They are completely odourless; the only smell apparent was with an alcohol mix. My thinner was 60% alcohol, 40% distilled water and a drop of glycerine.
I tried a test section thinned 60/40 thinner/paint and the results were excellent. Excellent flow, no blockages, dries instantly, and gives an even layer of unmarked, unblemished colour. Here you can use a higher pressure to obtain greater coverage at a quicker rate.
Next up was a 60/40 water thinned section (90% water, 10% alcohol) - this is where these paints really come into their own. On reading the instructions carefully, I discovered that my previous attempts with water based acrylics had failed because the pressure had been too high. Setting the pressure down to barely audible stopped the build-up of paint on the needle tip, and gave a fine mist of paint on to the surface. I had to make several passes to start to get a proper coverage, but the difference in using water soon became apparent. Again the paint dries very quickly (overspray can be quickly fixed with few seconds from a hairdryer). The finish is a satin smooth compared to the alcohol mix, which was rougher by comparison. A finished coat seems to be about a micron thick, and it actually looks just like the real finish on armour when viewed from a distance. What really struck me was the coverage achieved – when I looked in my cup I had not appeared to have used any paint! I decided to measure the amount used to paint the upper surface of the Jagdtiger – at a 50/50mix of the Dunkelgelb filling two thirds of the gravity cup on my Iwata HPC-plus, I was able to give two complete coats to the entire upper hull.
On the upper hull I then added various highlights, shades, splotches and squiggles with three of the other colours to add depth to the base colour. As the paint goes on almost invisible, and needs several passes to build up, it’s difficult to make a mistake with overspray. The disadvantage is, if you are used to quick results, it takes much longer to get the finished coat, and impatience can lead to tweaking the air pressure/mix (which I did). And getting blotches/water marks (which I did). If you use these paints as per the instructions you should be very happy with the result.
Cleaning between colours took all of a minute – a bit of water, a wipe with a paper towel and the AB was ready. While still wet, water can be used to remove it. Once dry, it cannot be removed either with water or the Lifecolor thinner, (I found this to be and advantage as new layers would not attack those underneath), the instructions recommend trichloroethylene or similar solvent, I used pure alcohol or airbrush reamer which worked fine.
It was here that initially I nearly didn’t write this review. The retailer and his importer told me they did not have replacement colours for sets – only full sets. On enquiring about this with the manufacturer - Astromodel in Italy, they told me that they would only be selling sets, not individual replacement colours. I pointed out to them that however good the product, few modellers would buy a set of paints where a replacement colour would cost £12, and that the lifespan of this range would be exceedingly short-lived. Happily I received an email the next day from the UK importer who informed me that Astromodel have now agreed to send them individual replacement colours.
Astromodel also emailed me with information that this set is the first in a range of 18 specialist German armour and uniform colours, with many more to come after that. If you go to Astromodel
and scroll down to the Lifecolor section you will see three other sets currently available: Nato M.E.R.D.C, and two Tensochrome sets of weathering filters.
These paints are easy to use, give a superb finish, with minimal cleanup. Now that individual replacements are available, I have no hesitation in recommending them, and will be replacing my own hoard of acrylics with the Lifecolor range
*I would advise that outside of the UK you check to ensure that your importer is intending to stock individual replacements for this, or any other set in the range.
My thanks to my bank account for the review sample!