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AK Interactive Real Colors (Acrylic paints)


JeroenPeters
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AK Interactive 
AK Real Colors
Acrylic Lacquer Paints

Price: € 2,40

 Realcolors_header.jpg

Introduction
AK Interactive recently launched their new Acrylic Lacquer paint line for armour and air subjects. I have to admit that for years and years I have been a solid Tamiya and Gunze fan, thinned with Mr. Color Leveling thinner . I have tried several other brands that offer a full range of RLM colors, but always came back to Gunze. Even though Gunze has several colours that I find a little bit off. Like their RLM65 and RLM02. When looking for a bottle of Gunze RLM63 and was unable to find it, I turned to AK Real colors for the first time. I have been disappointed so very often by well marketed trendy named bottles in the past, that I was skeptical to say the least. I ordered the RLM63, RLM02, RLM66 and a large bottle of Real Colors High Compatibility Thinner for my current Ha-1112 Tripala build. I did several test runs on spare parts through three airbrushes. My Iwata TR-1, my trusty Tamiya trigger airbrush and my Colani. I thinned the paint in a 50%/50% ratio and set the compressor to 1.5bar. The result? I’m in love and converted to a new religion: AK Real Colors will slowly replace my Gunze stock. No kidding.

 

Here's my current 1/32 Tripala build. The Revell Bf109G-6 kit with the Attitude Aviation resin conversion: Link. I used a mix of RLM02 and RLM75. The satin finish makes it great to work with the AK Interactive pencils. All markings are masked with Miracle Masks:

AK_Real_Colors0.jpg


Color accuracy
Before I bought my bottles, I had not done my research and knew nothing about the research AK Interactive had done into their colors. In my opinion a paint has to flow smoothly, dry quick, settle in a nice satin finish, cover well, withstand heavy weathering and be… correct. Let’s start with the latter. For this AK Interactive cooperated with several experts. On their website they give the bio’s of four of these experts that helped with getting the colors right: 

• Jürgen Kiroff, who you might know from the famous Luftwaffe reference books: Luftwaffe Camouflage and Markings Volume I and II. 

• Przemyslaw Skulski, a famous Polish author and publisher who has written over 50 books on a wide range of subjects. From the Fokker DVII to the T-34 tank.

• Mike Starmer, an English expert on camouflage, colors and markings of both airplanes and armour, with a preference for British subjects.

• Steven Zaloga, who I think needs little introduction. Historian, defense consultant and author on military subjects. Amongst modellers he will be most known for his exotic armour models that are always very well researched, surprising and inspiring.

If you are interested in how exactly this team went to work, I can recommend the Real Colors books: Real colors of WW2 and Real Colors of WW2 Aircraft. It shows the relics, documents and vehicles they used to take samples of. 

Here's a shot from the book's content. As you can see a lot of love went into these paint. And not just the marketing side of things:

AK_Real_Colors6.jpg

My personal background is in advertising as a Creative Director. In this sense I have extensive knowledge on colors and know how difficult and important it is to get Pantone colors to match CMYK printing methods. That’s why I was delighted to read that AK used a Spectrophotometer on WW2 relics while taking into account the aging , sun and weather effects. There are sooo many elements to take into account when trying to create the right color. And I will not even go into the scale effect. First of all a color like for example RLM02 did not come in one single shade. As the war progressed, the RLM02 color changed slightly. This had to do with pigments and materials getting scarce. Another factor that made colors differ from batch to batch was caused by different production facilities. I found in AK Real Colors Air chart they offer two different shades of RLM02: the 1938 and 1941 version. Lovely. The same goes for the RLM65, RLM78 and RLM79. The RLM79 and RLM81 even come in three variations. In total Real Colors come in 113 colors for standard, WW2 and modern subjects (like for instance RAL colors) and 133 colors for Air subjects. These include the whole RLM and RAF range. 

Since this range of colors are quite new and not mentioned in your kit instructions, you might find it handy to have a complete color conversion chart. You can find that here and download is as PDF.


The paint
So much for the research that went into these colors. AK claims that this paint flows smoothly through your airbrush and settles in a smooth matt finish. I always use small plastic cups with a lid (used in restaurants) to prepare my paint. In this cup I pour my paint and I use a pipette to add my thinner. Giving me full control. As said: I add 50% thinner and set my compressor to 1.5bar. All to give me maximum control and I can spray the paint in very thin layers. I found that the Real Colors paint and thinner give great coverage and indeed flows smoothly and dries up quick and perfectly even with a satin shine. AK also claims that when you accidently overshoot and end up with a wet area on your model, the paint still dries up in an even finish. I found this to be correct. When I set my premixed cup aside, I see the paint flows to the bottom of the cup and the thinner stays on top. This is no problem, as a few turns with a spatula fix this. I used the Real Colors thinner, but you can also mix the paint with Mr Color Leveling Thinner and even Gunze paints. I would however not advise the latter, since it could mess with your typical satin finish.

These sets were sent to the LSM HQ for review purposes. You can't buy these sets from the dedicated Real Colors website, but you can get them from the AK Interactive webshop. If you flip through the pages, you'l find the sets that contain 3 or 4 bottles. AK_Real_Colors1.jpg

And if you're a real tough guy you might want to go balls out and go for the wooden crate that holds all the 133 AIR subject bottles, costing €319. Ofcourse there's also a green land subject variant with 114 jars which will set you back € 275:

AK_Real_Colors7.jpg 

 

 

Another test I did after painting some spare parts was sticking adhesive tape on them and tearing them off in a rough manner. No problems here. Neither was adding washes and scoffing the surface. This paint really is everything it says it is and I’m sold.

 AK_Real_Colors5.jpg

I can really recommend to give this paint a spin if you’re a fan of acrylic paints, like Tamiya and Gunze and don’t have the guts to try a different formula for a change. Like me.

As a comparison here's a Gunze bottle next to the Real Colors bottle. Both hold 10ml and both have the same style screw cap:

AK_Real_Colors3.jpg

And yes, I tried the yellow opener for the Gunze bottles on the Real color jar and it fits:

AK_Real_Colors4.jpg

The design and marketing that went into these paints is commendable. AK loves their logo and so it's even printed on the bottom of the box:

AK_Real_Colors2.jpg

As you may have guessed by now I am pretty stoked with these paints and applaud the research, marketing and care that went into the development. 

Our sincere thanks to AK Interactive for sending us some samples to play with!

Regards,

Jeroen Peters

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Nice review Jeroen. I've been picking up these paints since they came out. I've got maybe 45 bottles so far. Gunze in Canada is a challenge to find so these are replacing these paints in my supplies like yourself.

One thing though. The AFV colours are a flat finish and it's only the Air ones that have a satin finish. Not sure why they did that.

Carl

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On 8/9/2020 at 7:51 PM, Wumm said:

Can I just ask...

How is the coverage for brush painting Jeroen?

S

I don't think I've brush painted them yet to be honest. They're thicker in viscosity compared to other lacquer paints. Tamiya's new lacquer is runny in comparison.

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  • 1 year later...
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On 6/30/2022 at 10:54 PM, AlexScaleModelling said:

Oh yeah great, you fell in love with AK paints and forgot about your 2mm gaps in your 109 canopy...hahaha

That is a photo etched RB production that indeed was too short. It did not end up this way in the finished model.

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  • 2 weeks later...
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Since even before the forced demise of ModelMaster, my go-to paint of choice has always been Gunze lacquers and Mr Leveling Thinner used on every brand except Mission.

I’ve had spotty luck with most of AK’s other products, but I may just have to give this a try. I’m loathe to try it on one of my big builds until I at least understand it’s properties. 
 

One thing I’ve been looking for is a solid replacement for ModelMaster’s US WW2 interior green shades, so I’ll look and see if AK makes one.

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Ernie

How would you compare AK Lacquers to MRP Lacquers? I'm a huge fan of MRP lacquers and shoot them straight from the bottle with no thinning needed at all. I also use a lot of Mr Color Lacquers and the only drawback in using them, is they need a lot of thinning and being on the lazy side, MRP lacquers removes that one step.

 

 

 

 

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On 7/23/2022 at 10:52 PM, Peterpools said:

Ernie

Took the plunge and ordered some AK Real Color lacquers and will be using them on my Spit, as I wasn't at all happy with the Mig colors.

You will like the paints.

I love them

Done with AK real colors

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Mark

 

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  • 2 months later...

Catching this late, but have a question, I have not heard mention anyone using a primer underneath the AK paints.  Does the AK paint have such amazing adhesion to the plastic that it can withstand masking without lifting, without using a primer base?  Like Peter, I'm very happy to skip steps if I can.  I'm currently using the Vallejo Model Air paints which I find very strong, over a primer base.  Huge caveat there.  But very unhappy at the color accuracy.  Love the MRP paints, esp that I don't have to thin them and their coverage is terrific.  I have gotten to the point where I use a primer as a matter of course.

Thank you for a very detailed review!

Chris

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20 hours ago, CANicoll said:

Catching this late, but have a question, I have not heard mention anyone using a primer underneath the AK paints.  Does the AK paint have such amazing adhesion to the plastic that it can withstand masking without lifting, without using a primer base?  Like Peter, I'm very happy to skip steps if I can.  I'm currently using the Vallejo Model Air paints which I find very strong, over a primer base.  Huge caveat there.  But very unhappy at the color accuracy.  Love the MRP paints, esp that I don't have to thin them and their coverage is terrific.  I have gotten to the point where I use a primer as a matter of course.

Thank you for a very detailed review!

I used AK's Real colors some time now and I really like them. They spray very fine, thinned with Mr. Leveling Thinner and cover very well with only light coats. Until now, I only painted interiors with only a bit of masking, using Kabuki tape and Mr. Neo liquid mask without any lifts. I only primed the PE parts here.

I will use AK's RC for the exterior on my actual Corsair build, but I will apply primer (Mr. Surfacer) for that task. I will mask insignia and stencils with Kabuki and I can't foresee, what kind of physical abuse will be used during weathering (hairspray, chipping, sanding, ...) and which kind of medium I use (acrylic, lacquer, ...). 
Like you, I want to skip unnecessary steps, but for a paintjob, I will opt for a durable base, instead of having paint lifts or other effects at times, I'm thinking of completing the build.
My experiences (many) with Vallejo Air were mixed to subpar in every aspect. They lifted easier, spray more delicate. I trust RC colors way more, but like I said, when it comes to ruining a near finished kit, I will go the safe way. I'm not a re-doer, I will never strip a paintjob, the first application has to be the last, with corrections naturally. A completely ruined paintjob would de-mojo me and I probably would bin the kit.

Cheers Rob

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