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Best place to buy quality “hobby” paints?


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The discussion on Rustolium got me thinking.  It seems the main reason most people (myself included) want to use paints like Rustolium, Krylon, etc, is price and convenience.

 I think most of us would agree that there are brands that are better quality, which give more consistent results.  Tamiya and MCW come to mind.  
That being said, we all still want to get the best bang for our buck.  So where do you get your “hobby specific” paint, and if you don’t mind telling, how much does it cost there? 
 

Please note- this thread is not meant to start an argument about cost.  It’s intention is solely to provide information about where to get good prices for good paint.

Thanks for your input!

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14 minutes ago, atomicholiday said:

The discussion on Rustolium got me thinking.  It seems the main reason most people (myself included) want to use paints like Rustolium, Krylon, etc, is price and convenience.

 I think most of us would agree that there are brands that are better quality, which give more consistent results.  Tamiya and MCW come to mind.  
That being said, we all still want to get the best bang for our buck.  So where do you get your “hobby specific” paint, and if you don’t mind telling, how much does it cost there? 
 

Please note- this thread is not meant to start an argument about cost.  It’s intention is solely to provide information about where to get good prices for good paint.

Thanks for your input!

I used to use Rustoleum, then I got an airbrush and starting using craft acrylics, which work pretty good and can be purchased cheap at Walmart and Hobby Lobby. I also tried the Createx paints from HL and they worked good, but are a bit more expensive. Then I tried the Tamiya acrylics using Mr. Hobby Leveling thinner and they are the best I've tried. I get them online from Hobbylinc, they are around 3.00 dollars for the 23ml bottle, the mini 10ml bottles are 2.00 dollars. Try the craft acrylics, they are cheap and may be what you are looking for. Tamiya also has spray cans and can be purchased from Hobbylinc but I have not tried them. They are a little more expensive compared to the acrylics.

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Ceramcoat acryclics (airbrush) from Hobby Lobby.
Tamiya (spray can) from local hobby shop or on-line from Scalehobbyist.com.
Automotive lacquers (airbrush) from Splash-Paints.com and Gravity-Colors.com. (That's Gravity in Spain, not Florida.)

For armor building I also buy a lot of Velejo acrylics from my local hobby shop and from various on-line sources in the US.

 

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If you have an airbrush, the sky is the limit. You can use almost anything and get better results than Rustoleum or Krylon spray cans. I am saying this because since you can use almost anything, you can go to many different places for paint.

Hobby shops
Michaels or other craft stores
Hobby Lobby
Hardeware stores sometimes
Even Target and Walmart can have craft paint in stock.

Not to mention you can get those little bottles of touch up paint at the auto parts store, thin them with the right solvent, and spray those through your airbrush.

Now for spray cans. local hobby shops are usually the best place to go without having to ship.

If you mail order spray cans you can go on Amazon, and even give Ebay a shot.  But there are tons of online hobby shops that have great options too. Some are mentioned above. Modelroundup, Scalehobbiest, I think USA Gundam store might have them. Just to name a few.

And then finally for exterior paints for airbrush use, Splash Paints and MCW Finishes are the best places. They have tons of automotive options and they can custom mix colors for you as well.  I use Splash Paints for modern cars, some popular classic colors, and race car colors. And then I use MCW any time I want a spot on match for a classic original color.

 

Yes, hobby paints cost more. But you are buying something designed for what you are using it for. So you will get better results, easier. And if it is easier to get good results, you will get those good results more consistantly.

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I build aircraft in addition to cars. I found the paints I use for other subjects also work great on car models. I use an airbrush for 95% of the things I paint. 

I really like Mr. Hobby Lacquers. Each 10ml bottle is typically under $3.00  I airbrush just about everything, and these paints are very forgiving when airbrushing. The thinner most commonly used is called "Mr Leveling thinner"  which slows down drying slightly to allow time for the paint to level, ensuring a smooth finish. they have a Rapid thinner, and a "normal" thinner as well. Mr Hobby also makes a great line of primers called Mr. Surfacer . It comes in different grades, the Mr. Finishing surfacer 1500 is my favorite primer.

Since this is a lacquer system, the paint dries fairly quickly. If you want, you can apply paint over Mr Sufacers in a few minutes. 

Tamiya Lacquer paint seems to be very similar, and available at a similar price point.  There are also AK Real Colors which appear to be a similar kind of lacquer.

I usually buy my paint from two very reputable sources:

spruebrothers.com

scalehobbyist.com

Another great source is : megahobby.com

The drawback is that these paints do not brush well. 

On the occasions I need to brush paint something I will usually use my hoard of Model Master, Testors small enamel bottles, Revell Email enamels, or sometimes Ammo of Mig acrylics.  The thing I found with the dropper bottle acrylics is sometimes I need to remove the dropper and stir the paint to loosen up the pigment on the bottom, then shake it. After it is really well mixed it brushes well.

If I want to paint a car body, I look for the color from MCW, or Splash paints. I have yet to use Splash paints, but I expect them to be pretty easy to use.  I have also used Touch up paint from paintscratch.com and automotive touchup.com, which were pretty forgiving.

If you are willing and able to shop at online hobby retailers, there are so many choices.  If you are not ready for an airbrush, Tamiya spray cans are a great choice. 

 

I hope this helps to answer your question.

Edited by kurth
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If you really want a 'good" automotive lacquer paint, there's really no such thing as "cheap".

The best ones are going to come from some of the fore mentioned providers such as MCW, Splash, and one that I don''t think I've seen mentioned yet, Scale Finishes.

 

MCW is my go-to, and although it's probably one of the least economical, in my opinion, it's one of the best for various reasons.

My philosophy is that price is unimportant when it comes to paint for bodies.

It's results that count.

 

I will usually order at least a half dozen or more bottles at a time to mitigate the shipping costs.

 

 

 

Steve

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An airbrush is the game changer. And it doesn't have to be HP- CS something or other. Even simple single action brushes will work. Ya you'll need a little holiday time to get used to it . Other than that I can't discuss cheap options or even MCW for that matter, as they all require the airbrush in my world, that includes decanting Rustoleum and thinning it out some more. I can go on and on but I'm tired of the topic today.

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If you want Tamiya LP lacquer line & Mr. Hobby lacquer line, and Mr. Surfacer line then Burbank house of hobbies, and scalehobbyist is the cheapest. If you want automotive paints well…..isn’t really a cheap way out. There’s quite a few already mentioned in the thread, but they aren’t the cheapest… but there some of the best you’ll get even gravity colors (Spain). 
 

I never understood why a lot of folks spend crazy money on something, and cheap out on what they need to get it done. Example high end speakers, etc just to cheap out on wiring. Don’t get me wrong it’ll work, but quality isn’t the same. P.S This is me thinking out loud nothing towards you OP. 

Edited by Dpate
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15 hours ago, bluestringer said:

I used to use Rustoleum, then I got an airbrush and starting using craft acrylics, which work pretty good and can be purchased cheap at Walmart and Hobby Lobby. I also tried the Createx paints from HL and they worked good, but are a bit more expensive. Then I tried the Tamiya acrylics using Mr. Hobby Leveling thinner and they are the best I've tried. I get them online from Hobbylinc, they are around 3.00 dollars for the 23ml bottle, the mini 10ml bottles are 2.00 dollars. Try the craft acrylics, they are cheap and may be what you are looking for. Tamiya also has spray cans and can be purchased from Hobbylinc but I have not tried them. They are a little more expensive compared to the acrylics.

How is your adhesion with the acrylics? Do they come in scale appropriate metallic colors for car bodies?

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2 hours ago, Dpate said:

I never understood why a lot of folks spend crazy money on something, and cheap out on what they need to get it done. Example high end speakers, etc just to cheap out on wiring. Don’t get me wrong it’ll work, but quality isn’t the same. P.S This is me thinking out loud nothing towards you OP. 

Kind of like the proverbial $200.00 worth of after market parts.........and then leaving the seam in the radiator. :rolleyes:

 

 

 

Steve

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6 hours ago, SfanGoch said:

...........waiting for the question, "Should I use Elmer's Glue Paste as a window adhesive or a dessert topping?"

Don't knock it until you've tried it.   Tastes great and helps to keep the peanuts in place on your ice cream! 

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There is no need to make fun of someone for asking this question.

This is no different than any of the other questions people ask when trying to take that next step to improving their scale model building capabilities. If they have been using products like Rustoleum or Krylon spray cans the whole time they have been building, simply because they are cheap. And now they want to buy quality products that actually work right. More power to them.

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Lighten up, Francis. This is a hobby, not real world life or death decisions. Humor staves off tedium. No members were injured during the posting of the comment. The OP took it in good stride. If it didn't bother him, it definitely shouldn't bother you.

Edited by SfanGoch
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Maybe I could have been a little more clear too.

What I’m really after isn’t “what do you use” or “what’s the best”.  What I’m looking for is who’s got the best prices.

Sorry for any confusion.  Hey what can I say?  I’m a cheap skate!😁

Edited by atomicholiday
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Scale Hobbyist and Hobbylinc have the best prices for various general purpose hobby paints. MCW, Scale Finishes and Splash are pretty much the places for automotive colors. You might want to check out Tru-Color Paint, too. Excellent product and a nice selection of automotive colors. You can use "Find a Retailer" to check availability and best prices.

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7 hours ago, Bills72sj said:

How is your adhesion with the acrylics? Do they come in scale appropriate metallic colors for car bodies?

Until James gets on board and answers for himself I'll offer this much.

Good primer is your friend. Craft paints stick to plastic horribly on their own. But stick great to primer and primer to plastic. So if you don't do anything else I will mention here, at least prime !

Additionally, Createx makes an intercoat #4030 you put into acrylic paint. This turns the paint into poly acrylic and is specifically designed to make their own acrylic line go down and level well and stick to hard surfaces like plastic ( remember Createx is a professional paint company, not just geared to hobbies, they also cater to fabrics companies and automotive industry). Combine that with the paint and shoot the paint over primer, adhesion is a non issue. I've taken blue painters tape to properly dried craft paint and yanked it off intentionally and nothing moved. Same for soft body or fluid body artist acrylics and of course Cteatex which you would expect to work fine.

People have complained of Createx staying kind of rubber like after dry, 4030 cures that. 4030 is a converter, createx was designed for fabrics, as such needs to be flexible and 4030 changes its application to be used on hard things. All you need is about 15% of your blend to be 4030. For me 20-25% in craft paints. To get even closer to the catered hard surface market they introduced the Wicked line of paints. All the same additives apply.

Some artist paints will stick to plastic, in fact I've taken Liquitex soft body as a test and put it down on aluminum foil, waited a few days and crumpled the foil up into a ball and leveled it back out and the paint stuck fine, no primer fwiw. It will also stick to plastic but all the better with a touch of 4030 and over primed plastic.

Tamiya and any of the alcohol solvent acrylics work fine as is. Still best to prime. Tamiya states at their web site that Lacquer thinner as the thinner increases hardness in their acrylic paints. I thin Tamiya with Denatured alcohol or LT. Tamiya's acrylic is acrylic indeed but I personally view it as a hybrid lacquer, it sprays as such to me.

I've been extensively working with acrylics for 7-8 years now conducting more home brewed tests than painting cars. They're here to stay, I took the bull by the horns after 50 some odd years of enamels in both hobby and 1/1. Low and behold mid stream in my testing Model Master went away. Meanwhile I use acrylics freely, I'm not sitting around wondering when the paint will fall off my models because it's not going to. And as far as clear coat, I use whatever I want, no restrictions as yet.

Also for craft paints I pretty much use my own thinner formula, which turns out to be very similar to Bobby Waldrons mix over at Genessis Models ( pro painter and builder,he has a video out on making the thinner). He just uses different name brands of ingredients. I've also switched my flow aid to a trace element of Dawn dish soap for every 3 oz of the blend I mix up. I've found that to work best for me even over Liquitex's professional commercial flow aid.  But just for the record Createx 4011 reducer can be used interchangeably, I do it all the time.

So I'll leave it all here, you guys can do as you wish and meanwhile maybe James will get back.

 

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Now finally: Acrylics have metallics to use, most will be too coarse. In my case if I'm shooting for metallic I'd rather do a silver base coat which can be found in very fine metallic and a clear color over that ( Tamiyas clear colors are very good and you can mix them to get other tones). But if I'm doing this sort of thing I'm not generally going for a factory stock finish. Another thing I do is use Liquitex iridescent medium in acrylic colors. I did up a pink like this for my wife, it's rather pearl looking and she wants to use that on a Cadillac, she wants to build a pink Cadillac lol ! So I did up a blue as well. If we land a pair of Cadillacs , hers will be pearl pink, mine pearl blue.

As to a 60's or 70's real true factory metallic finish ? This is where I digress, I'd use MCW, probably enamel.

But in any case, as I stated earlier on, all this requires an airbrush.

I know I'm way off topic but people asked questions I feel compelled to reply too. Sorry about that ! I'll stop now.

Actual hobby paints I buy from my local dealer or order from MCW but that's really rare since I mostly do some custom paint on the 60's cars if to build one, or my main stay is more solid colors on 50's all the way back to single digit 1900's completely stock builds. If I use hobby paint, it's these: MCW, Tamiya LP lacquer, Tamiya X series acrylics.  Now the only thing I'll say that really complies to cheap alternatives for purchasing actual  hobby paints and the topic of this thread, is before you rule out your local shop, maybe help keep him stay in business and before you do order online consider shipping costs. Remember that he pays those too.

Edited by Dave G.
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Something to consider before calling someone cheap or even yourself cheap is it's getting very expensive to live. And a lot of folks in retirement and in other situations have a fixed income. It gets very legit to look for less expensive options in all areas of life and even depart from certain activities. In some cases it could make the difference in persuing the hobby at all. We don't want to lose fellow hobbyists.

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2 minutes ago, SfanGoch said:

There are no local hobby shops in NYC; so, keeping one in business isn't even an afterthought. :D

Ya, I only have one left here myself and that's nearly 20 miles from me. I do order online especially if to find the right deal with Amazon prime with primes free shipping.

Craft paints and much of what I've mentioned can be a Hobby Lobby/Micheals thing and shop sales and coupons. Stynylrez is an online item for me, nobody has that locally. Same for Mr Primer Surfacer. Those are the only two lines of primers I use.

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For those of you that have to buy your paint online I'd like to offer up a trick I use.

I do all paint searches on Amazon first.  I do this because you can find nearly any of the high quality hobby paints on there. And when you search on Amazon you get better images, a better search engine, and then in the end you get the part number of the product you want, and a price and availability.

Then once you have seen the images, and have your part number, you can search the online hobby shops. Many of the websites the online hobby shops use have search tools that are much less than adequate. So using Amazon to find the part easier, allows you to have the information you need to use the bad search tools and get the results you want.

I use this same technique for all of my hobby paint, tool, and supply needs.

A perfect example is Modelroundup.  They have a tools tab, and a supplies and tools tab.  If you clearly want a tool and you search in the tools tab, you can't find hardly anything because most of their tool offerings are in the supplies and tools tab.  In fact they can get rid of the tools tab because everything in the tools tab is also in the tools and supplies tab, but the tools tab does not have hardly any of the items that are in the tools and supplies tab.

Edited by ctruss53
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