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Tamiya Color spray paints

Manufacturer: Tamiya, distributed by Tamiya America, 2 Orion, Aliso Viejo, CA 92656-4200, 800-826-4922
Price: $4.50
Comments: Aerosol nitrocellulose lacquer, safe for unprotected styrene
Pros: Dries quickly, lays on smooth, good gloss, excellent optional clearcoat
Cons: As for any aerosol paint

Tamiya recently introduced its Tamiya Color line of lacquer aerosol paints to the U.S. market after several years of being available in other markets. The paints come in cans containing 100ml of paint. Despite being lacquers, they are safe for use on styrene without additional primers or sealers. The paints dry very quickly, but they do have a considerable odor, so good ventilation is a must - if you spray indoors, I recommend using a vented spray booth, a respirator, or both. The line includes 52 colors, including a clear gloss. According to Tamiya, once the paints are dry, you can apply either enamels or acrylics over them.

I applied Tamiya lacquers to three car bodies, all from Revell-Monogram: a 1970 Buick GSX, a reissue "Snake" 'Cuda funny car, and a reissue "Mongoose" Duster funny car. I painted the Buick with No. 19 metallic blue, the 'Cuda with No. 16 yellow over Tamiya Fine Surface primer (No. 87044), and the Duster with No. 8 Italian red. For each coat, I warmed the paint in a pan of approximately 100-degree (Fahrenheit) water, then shook the can for about 30 seconds. I gave each body two light "dust" coats, followed by two wet coats on the Buick and the Duster, and one on the 'Cuda. The paints covered well, even the yellow, though Tamiya's estimate of two to three bodies per can seems optimistic.

I was pleased with the results - the finishes were quite smooth, especially on the non-metallic colors, where relatively little orange-peel finish was evident compared with most hobby spray enamels (or auto touch-up enamels) I've tried. The yellow appeared slightly smoother but a touch less glossy than the red, both probably due to the primer. The surface texture of the metallic blue was a bit rougher, though with less orange peel visible than on the red and yellow, and the flake is evenly dispersed. The paints dry quickly - I waited only about 30 minutes between coats with no visible ill effects.

I did not clearcoat the yellow or red bodies, but I did try Tamiya clear lacquer over the blue metallic with excellent results. Here also, I applied a dust coat and two wet coats, and the resulting finish is very smooth, with a deep, wet-looking gloss.

Tamiya color coatings dried thin enough that they revealed not only every detail, but a few very minor warps in the funny car shells that I had not noticed before painting! In fact, a fellow modeler who had prepped a shell with 400-grit paper told me that the lacquer finish was thin enough that it showed some sanding marks. I may polish my Duster, more due to some dust (naturally!) that got in the finish than to any dissatisfaction with the paint, but I'll happily finish the 'Cuda and the Buick as is - one of these days.

If you're willing to be a bit patient in your bodywork and take the proper safety precautions, Tamiya Color lacquers should reward you with quick, beautiful finishes for your models. Highly recommended.

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