Tamiya has had lacquer paints in their catalogue for a long time, but until recently, at least in the U.S, they were only available in spray cans, which limited how they could be used and incurred a rather steep price. However, Tamiya has now made their lacquer paints available in .33 fl.oz. bottles in the United States. The color range is limited at the moment, and we can only hope that more colors become available in the future. In addition to this, many products from companies in Asia are in short supply for various reasons, so it may take a while.
The paints have to be thinned to be airbrushed and require a lacquer thinner. Tamiya does make it’s own such thinner, but in the case of this review, I used some generic big box store lacquer thinner, which worked fine, but I have read of others also using Mr. Color Leveling Thinner with some success. In any case, what this means is if they are to be airbrushed, you need to work in a very well ventilated place as the fumes from the evaporating lacquer thinner can be hazardous.
I found the paint to flow nicely and went on evenly leaving a smooth finish. The paint I was working with, Wooden Deck Tan , #LP16, dried to a dead flat in just minutes. Being a lacquer, you need to be careful what type of primer is used or if used on bare plastic, as the possibility for crazing exists if applied too “wet”. I did try to brush paint a few details but found unless I was very careful, it lifted the coat of paint underneath.
With a limited range of colors, the problems with having to use a lacquer thinner and with Tamiya’s acrylics spraying and/or brushing so well with neither limitation, I’m not quite sure what advantages there are to using these paints, unless it lies in the use of the gloss colors for automotive models, as like most lacquer, after being allowed to set completely, they may be buffable to a high gloss finish, although I did not test this possibility.
I’d like to thank Tamiya for providing the review sample I worked with and IPMS/USA for the chance to learn about this new product first-hand.