I have heard of Tru-Color Paints probably a year ago by now. They have an extensive line of railroad and car paints and they are continuously expanding their military line (aircraft, naval, armor). I’ve heard good things about them and I was interested to try them out. But honestly, the price was putting me off a bit. When I had the opportunity to review a few free samples, I jumped to it.
This review covers Tru-Paint TCP 1445 RAL 7021 Dunkelgrau, TCP-1446 RAL 7028 Dunkelgelb #1, TCP-1447 RAL 7028 Dunkelgelb #2, TCP-1448 RAL 7028 Dunkelgelb #3, TCP-1449 RAL 7028 Dunkelgelb #4 and TCP-1449 RAL 7008 Gray Green.
The first thing you notice about these paints is that the bottles are larger than the standard hobby bottles; they come in 1 oz and 2 oz. That means their smallest bottle has about twice (or more) the paint from most hobby paint manufactures. Consider that fact when you think on their price; I was not doing that while looking at the paints in the hobby store.
The second thing you notice about these paints is that when you open the bottle, they are smelly. Make sure you have proper protection when using them. Now, having warned you that the paints are smelly (perhaps a drawback) that also means they dry fast (an advantage).
Regarding the paint chemistry… well I’m, not a chemist, so I’m going to quote the information from their website: Tru-Color Paint is a solvent based paint with an acrylic polymer used as the binding agent which adheres very well to plastic or metal models, when those models are properly prepared. The pigments and/or dyes used to produce the correct colors are very finely ground so that they do not clog air-brushes. To insure proper adhesion for plastic models – wash the model in mild soapy water to remove residual processing oils and dirt, rinse thoroughly with clean water and let dry or use a lint free cloth to dry. It is now ready to be painted. For metal models (brass for example), sand blast or treat the metal surface in some fashion to give Tru-Color Paint a prepared surface to adhere to. Then use our Primer, Tru-Color Paint 007 or 256, and spray paint the model, allow sufficient drying time and then paint the model with the desired color(s).
In my spray tests, I’ve found the paint is ready to be sprayed out of the bottle (after mixing it with a paint mixer). It has a consistency similar to partially skim milk. I sprayed the paint at 25 psi (dynamic, not static) and it atomized beautifully. All the colors had good density; a couple of fine coats were all that was needed to get a uniform band of dense color. I should point out that the manufacturer recommended pressure is 28 to 35 psi, but 25 psi did just fine. Although I live in Colorado and altitude might have played a role in getting away with just 25 psi.
As I mentioned before, the paint dried fast. Within 10 minutes it was dry to the touch. Maybe it was dry to the touch faster than that. I honestly did not think of checking it sooner. The paint adhesion is pretty good. After 24 hrs. of curing time (to play safe) I applied 3M blue masking tape and peel it off without lifting the paint. I very gently scratched the surface with my nail and the paint did not lift.
I also sprayed a photoetch piece, for which I did not prepare the material as recommended. The paint adhered well to it, but it will lift if scratched. So the lesson here is to pay attention to what the manufacturer recommends.
On the topic of the paint finish: they dry to a satin finish. If you have good quality aftermarket decals you might not need to apply a gloss coat to the paint job.
On the color test, as you can see in the pictures I’ve used two wings from an old model. One of them has the 4 Dunkelgelb sprayed in bands, using only a paper mask to delineate the bands. I repeat, I used the 4 variations of Dunkelgelb, but #1 and #2 are virtually the same shade and it is very difficult to tell them apart. The other wing was used for the Dunklegrau and the Grey Green. The Gray Green seem more like a “buff” color to my eyes.
Regarding the color situation, and not having paint chips to compare them myself I reached to the manufacturer and ask about the similar tones of Dunkelgelbs and the shades of Grey Green. Here are their answers
- Yes, several of the Dunkelgelb's are very close together. The German Army colors were matched by Dan Mouritzen, the curator of the Dutch museum in charge of WWII history. Dr. Mouritzen has in the museum's possession a number of German WWII armor that he used to match the various German Armor colors.
- He matched the colors to areas of the vehicles that were not exposed to direct sunlight, such as under fenders, wheel wells, etc.
- According to Dr. Mouritzen, the reason for the number of colors such as dark yellow, are: there were a number of manufacturers of the paint without proper quality control over production, especially in the latter part of the war; and, that poor directions were given to field commanders doing repair and refurbishment work in the field.
- The gray-green was matched to the official RLM paint guide that I currently possess. Although the RLM guide is 2007 in copyright, Dr. Mouritzen assures us that the gray-green changed its number classification, not the saturation or hue (of that color.)
Based on the answers from the manufacturer, they have done they research and colors were matched to areas of real subjects that were not exposed to direct sunlight, etc.
In summary: these paints are excellent. With proper ventilation and a respirator, the strong smell of them is no problem. The advantage of being smelly is that they dry out fast. They have good color density and they atomize fantastically. They do not obscure any surface detail and they are ready to spray out of the bottle. To top them off, the adhesion (to plastic) is outstanding.
Perhaps the best testimony I can give as to how well impressed I am with these paints is that after reviewing them, I went to my local hobby store and bought a six-pack set (Southeast Asia Camouflages) without thinking about it twice. I knew I was getting high quality hobby paint and they are worth every dollar.
I would like to thank Tru-Color Paints (in particular Scott Cohen for kindly answering my messages) and IPMS/USA for the review sample.