Posted on by Metro Hobbies

With all the buzz coming our way shortly about AK Interactive's new 3rd Generation acrylics (which is now in stock!), we thought this would be a good time to share our quick road test of their highly acclaimed line of REAL COLORS lacquers, which is considered by the industry as one of the best.

According to AK Interactive themselves, the new Real Colors paint range was designed with an improved chemical formula over other brands in the market and a paint of the highest quality. The development stage was quite hush-hush, but with the release of the Real Colors range of books, they revealed that a lot of research and development went into the process of extracting and sourcing actual colour swatches from real vehicles and paint sources. Extensive documentation backs up all their research, and its evident they did their homework.

In effect, they were basing the resulting colours of the entire range on the real thing, not merely on photographs (which fade) or museum repaints (which are wrong). To really get it right, they consulted with leading historical experts, with names like Starmer, Kiroff, Skulski and Zaloga! Numerous artifacts were scanned, analysed and professionally colour-matched to create the colours.

To begin, a line of 114 references (Standard, WWII, Modern, Clear and Varnishes) were developed perfectly suited for AFVs, and a similar line is made specifically for aircraft. We're expecting a complete line of naval and train modelling colours to follow shortly.

With the issue of colour accuracy out to the way, the question remained - how easy are they to use? Well, there was only one way to find out.

We chose a Tamiya 1/35 Jagdpanzer IV, a recent release, as our test subject. This is a fairly straightforward kit to put together (as Tamiya kits go), and with the lack of a turret made the painting process so much easier.

First off a primer was needed. We began the process with airbrushing AK Interactive's own Rotbraun Red Brown primer over the entire vehicle. The beauty of armour modelling is you can put everything together without worrying too much about subassemblies, unlike aircraft and naval subject. So pretty much we followed how the real thing was painted as well.

As per the practice of late war German AFVs (from October 1944 onwards), many vehicles were painted with a base coat of Olivgrun RAL 6003, or olive green, which Real Colour apparently matched. 

Using the Real Color High Compatibility thinner, we applied a ratio of 50/50 paint to thinner, and the paint went on beautifully. It made short work of the entire vehicle with the use of a single action airbrush. There was absolutely no clogging!

Next on was the first layer of camouflage based on the instruction sheet, which was Rotbraun RAL 8017. This time we used a double action airbrush as we needed a finer demarcation. Again, the paint went on beautifully, and I found the way the paint overspray to be much finer than Vallejo's Model Air or Tamiya's Acrylic Lacquers. Though the paint was thinned, it was obvious the pigment were well saturated; I only needed one pass to get good colour with no transparency.

The last layer of camouflage was Dunkelgelb RAL 7028, Dark Yellow. This was the lightest of the colours, yet when we sprayed on top of the darker green and brown, there was no loss of opacity and good colour. We were very pleased as the result is what you wanted - a canvas ready for detail painting and weathering.

We finished off the Jagdpanzer quickly after that. We applied detail painting, a gloss coat for decals first, then successive layers of washes, rain streaks and some AK mud and grime on the lower hull. More on that in another article!

Of note was the use of AK Interactive's own streaking grime wash with their odourless turps, which was a joy to use. To further mute the colours, we oversprayed the entire vehicle with a Dark Yellow filter, and that took away the toylike appearance of the camouflage. Then it was some fun with AK pigments.

Lastly, we applied the AK Interactive matt varnish on the upper hull.

The Verdict

We loved it. The finished result was really what photos and illustrations of the Jagdpanzer IV looked like, and it gave us a bit of a thrill that we got this result with such little fuss. The AK Interactive Real Colors really delivered the colours we wanted for sure, but more than that, the ease of use is exactly the way we expect a product of the 21st century to be - easy.