FineScale Modeler

Pining for Model Master enamels


I’ve been building models for about 65 years. Admittedly, my early years did not include painting, but through the years, I have come to like enamels — specifical­ly Testors Model Master paints. There was a good selection of colors, they airbrushed well, and I only needed one type of thinner. When Testors shut up shop, I felt it was time to switch to acrylics. After all, my modeling buddies told me they were better, smelled less, and cleaned up with water.

At my local hobby store, Testors’ absence was soon filled by a selection of acrylics and their older, smellier brothers, lacquers.

I quickly discovered moving to acrylics wasn’t that simple. First, the color selection didn’t seem as good, and they were often geared to Gundams. Different brands of acrylics don’t always play well with each other, have different thinning requiremen­ts, and don’t cover or airbrush the way enamels did. If I couldn’t find the shade I needed, I ended up getting a lacquer and the required brand thinner.

I’m bracing myself for an onslaught of “Have you tried Brand X paints, they’re the ones I use all the time” comments, but I’m still unraveling acrylics and lacquers. I’m learning, but I pine for the days when I used enamels. Things were so much simpler then. – Jim James Winter Garden, Fla.

Ed.: I get it, Jim. When you find a paint you like that produces consistent results, it can be hard to let go. Acrylics have many advantages, but each is a little different and the learning curve can be steep, especially when it comes to thinning and airbrushin­g. Not to jump on the “Have you tried” bandwagon, I have become a big fan of the lacquers (you’ll sometimes see them referred to as acrylic lacquers) that have found new prominence recently. While thinning ratios differ between brands, most of them can be used with Tamiya Lacquer Thinner or Mr. Color Thinner, both of which are relatively easy to find. And with so many brands, including Tamiya, Mr. Color, Hataka, AK Interactiv­e Real Color, SMS, and MR Paint, the range of colors is bigger than Model

Master. - A.S.

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