Paint Review: AK Interactive Real Colors Acrylic Lacquers

I believe these are unprecedented times for modelers as far the the range of products that are available. We have seen the emergence of new kit manufacturers, and because of advances in design technology, the quality of kits (engineering) has improved to the point that more and more kits are easier to build without a lot of fit issues.

After market manufacturers have also taken advantage of advances in technology. In addition to traditional products such as photo-etch update sets, resin update sets, vacuformed canopies, white metal and brass landing gear sets, and brass machine gun and canon barrels, we are now seeing a proliferation of after market manufacturers producing 3-D decals for instrument panels and cockpit details. Because of advances in 3-D printer capability, some after market resin manufacturers are turning to 3-D printing of parts and away from the labor intensive and wasteful manual casting process.

Model paints have basically stayed the same as far as the types paints manufactured (acrylics, enamels and lacquers), but we have seen the emergence of new manufacturers, like Hataka Hobby and MRP, attempts improve on existing paints formulas, and the introduction of different lines of paints by certain manufacturers. We have at our disposal a variety of really good model paints with ever increasing ranges of colors.

One of the manufacturers introducing multiple lines of paint is AK Interactive. AK Interactive started with water based acrylic paints for armor, aircraft, and figures. Since that time, they have introduced a line of metallic paints (Extreme Metals), a line of acrylic lacquers for World War II and modern military vehicles and aircraft (Real Colors), and a new line of water based acrylics (3rd Generation Acrylics).

My initial attraction to their Real Colors line of acrylic lacquers was the range of their colors (114 colors for AFV and 133 colors for aircraft), and the fact that they have what appears to be a full line of paints for World War II Japanese Army and Navy aircraft. AK Interactive touts this line of paints as being developed in close consultation with experts who have spent years researching paints used by various combatants. The time spent by AK Interactive researching colors definitely shows. For instance, if you are a modeler that focuses on Luftwaffe aircraft, AK Interactive Real Colors Air series has 3 variations of RLM 76 (Lichtblau), and 3 variations of RLM 81 (Braunviolett) to take in account standard and late war variations.

Compatibility with other acrylic lacquer paint lines is a selling point pushed very hard by AK Interactive. The Real Colors line comes with its own thinner which AK Interactive labels as “High Compatibility Thinner” meaning that you can use it to thin other acrylic lacquer paints, such as Mr. Color and Hataka Hobby acrylic lacquers. Likewise, AK Interactive promotes that you can thin Real Colors with other acrylic lacquer thinners, like Mr. Color Leveling Thinner, and you can mix Real Colors with other acrylic lacquer paints.

The paints come in 10 ml glass bottles and can be purchased individually or in convenient sets of four. I purchased the WW2 US Interior Color set (Dull Dark Green, RC230; US Interior Yellow Green, RC262; Zinc Chromate Yellow, RC263; and Bronze Green, RC264) and a few individual paints. The 10 ml bottle is the same type of bottle used by Tamiya, and has the color and the product number on the lid for easy identification.

I am going to test Real Colors using their own thinner, Mr. Color Leveling Thinner, Hataka Hobby’s acrylic lacquer thinner, and 91% isopropyl alcohol. The paints do not have an overly strong odor and mix very easily by just shaking the bottle.

The first is a test on a plastic spoon using Dark Dull Green, FS34092 (RC230) with AK Interactive’s High Compatibility Thinner. While the paint is not as thick as Mr. Color lacquers, it does need to be thinned. I thinned the Dark Dull Green at a rate of 2 parts paint to 1 part thinner to see how it would spray at that ratio, and sprayed it at 16 psi. The paint laid down beautifully to a smooth matte to semi-matte sheen and covered well. I did have an issue of getting a little paint spit when resuming to paint. I am not sure why the paint did this, but it may have been because the paint was not thinned sufficiently, or I was not spraying at a high enough pressure.

Next was US Interior Yellow Green (RC262) on a plastic spoon using Mr. Color Leveling Thinner at a ratio of 1 part paint to 1 part thinner. I increased the pressure to 20 psi. The paint thinned really well using the Mr. Color Leveling Thinner and again laid down beautifully to a very smooth matte to semi-matte finish. I did not experience the problem with the paint spitting after thinning it more and increasing the pressure. The paint dries within a few minutes to a very tough finish.

Next was Zinc Chromate Yellow (RC263) on a plastic spoon using the Hataka Hobby acrylic lacquer thinner at a ratio of 1 part paint to 1 part thinner at 20 psi. The paint thinned well using Hataka Hobby’s acrylic lacquer thinner, and again laid down beautifully to a very smooth matte to semi-matte finish. I did not experience the problem with the paint spitting. Even with a lighter color, the paint covered well.

Last, I painted the tires and fuselage fuel tank from the Eduard P-51D Mustang kit with Rubber Black (RC022) using 91% isopropyl alcohol thinned to a 1 to 1 ratio. Again, as you can tell from the photos below, the paint laid down beautifully and covered very well.

So a few concluding remarks. First, cleanup was easy, and you do not have to break down and clean your airbrush between colors. Just flush out the prior color with a good airbrush cleaner (I use Alclad II Airbrush Cleaner), and load up the new color. Second, it appears that AK Interactive has lightened the paint to take into account the scale effect of color. Their water based acrylic paints are also lightened to take into account the scale effect of color.

I really like this line of paints. They thin nicely with any type of acrylic lacquer thinner, lay down beautifully to a smooth matte to semi-matte finish, dry quickly, and are very durable. The range of colors is very impressive. Highly recommended.

I did not attempt to thin Real Colors with anything other than thinners made for acrylic lacquers and isopropyl alcohol. AK Interactive markets Real Colors by claiming that they can be thinned with thinners used for water based acrylic paints. Flory Models did a comprehensive vlog of AK Interactive’s Real Colors on YouTube using a lot of different thinners. Their vlog is worth watching.

Paint Comparison: Hataka Hobby Orange Line and MRP Mr. Paint Lacquers

I have been looking for a hobby paint that is a close match for the green used on the tails of 457th FS Mustangs. From my research, it appears that the 457th used Willow Green (FS14187/ANA 503), or something very close to Willow Green. Willow Green was originally used by the U.S. Navy in some of their colorful pre-war paint schemes. I was pleased to find out that both Hataka Hobby and MRP Mr. Paint manufacture a Willow Green lacquer based paint.


I enjoy using lacquers because of their quick drying times and durability. When laid down with an airbrush, they “bite” into the plastic, and therefore, tend to adhere well. The downside to lacquers is that their composition uses chemicals that are dangerous to humans. Prolonged exposure to these chemicals can cause serious health problems, so painting in a well ventilated area is recommended. Those who take the label warnings seriously usually attempt to mitigate these effects by using a paint booth with an exhaust fan that vents the paint fumes to the outside, or a ventilation mask. In addition to the chemicals and the associated strong smell, airbrush clean-up is a little more difficult and time consuming as compared to water based acrylics, and the range of paints in the past have been limited as far as colors.

Both Hataka Hobby and MRP have been around for several years, but their paints have not been readily available in the United States until the last few years. Fortunately now, several U.S. on-line retailers carry both brands, and their wide range of colors are welcomed by modelers who enjoy using lacquer based paints. This is the first time I have had the opportunity to use either paint.

Hataka Hobby Orange Line – Based in Poland, Hataka Hobby produces both water based acrylic paints (Blue Line optimized for brushing, and Red Line optimized for airbrushing) and lacquer paints (Orange Line). Their Orange Line of lacquer paints has a total of 282 colors for both aircraft and military vehicles, and you can purchase them individually or in convenient sets of 4 to 8 colors. Hataka Hobby also provides a proprietary lacquer thinner to thin their paints.

Their paints come in 17 ml plastic bottles with dropper tips and include a stainless steel ball bearing to aid mixing the pigments into suspension. These are similar to the type of bottles used by AK Interactive, Ammo of Mig Jimenez, and Vallejo use for their water based acrylic paints, and the dropper tips make dispensing paint from the bottle incredibly easy. Kudos to Hataka Hobby for using these bottles for their lacquer paints. These paints are not airbrush ready out the bottle, and Hataka Hobby recommends thinning with a 40/60 to 60/40 thinner to paint ratio. Hataka Hobby also recommends spraying them between 10 and 20 psi.

Using my Badger 100GF dual action airbrush, I thinned the paint to a 50/50 paint to thinner ratio, and sprayed it at 15 psi. The paint laid down beautifully, covered well, and dried quickly to a nice matte to semi-matte sheen. There is not a overly strong odor to these paints, and clean-up was not difficult.

Hataka Hobby Orange Line Willow Green (HTK-C221)

MRP Mr. Paint – MRP Mr. Paint is based in Slovakia, and first introduced their line of acrylic lacquer paints (86 colors at last count) for both aircraft and military vehicles. It has now released two lines of water based acrylic paints; one for figure painting and one for airbrushing.

Their acrylic lacquer paints come in either 30ml glass bottles or 30ml plastic bottles with a flip top dropper cap. It appears that MRP is going away from the glass bottles to the plastic bottles (more on the plastic bottles below). They are airbrush ready out of the bottle; no thinning necessary. Because they are pre-thinned, no agitator is necessary as they mix quickly with very little effort. I really like the convenience of not having to thin the paint. Kudos to MRP.

The on-line reviews I have read and listened to, modelers have raved about how good these paints are and their ease of application. I would have to concur wholeheartedly. I sprayed it at 15 psi, and the paint laid down beautifully, covered well, and dried quickly to a nice satin sheen. Again, there is not an overly strong odor to these paints, and clean-up was not difficult.

MRP Mr. Paint Willow Green (MRP-385)

My only complaint about MRP’s acrylic lacquers is not about the paint itself, but about the 30 ml plastic bottles with the flip top dropper cap. Do not hold the bottle at an angle when attempting to transfer paint from the plastic bottle to a paint cup as it will just run onto the cap and not into the airbrush’s paint cup. The best way to transfer paint from the plastic bottle to an airbrush paint cup is to turn the plastic bottle completely upside down and apply pressure to the sides of the bottle. The plastic bottle is fairly stiff, so it really does not lend itself to squeezing. I found it awkward, and like the bottle used by Hataka Hobby much better.

MRP Mr. Paint’s Willow Green is almost an exact match to the color chip for ANA 503 found in The Official Monogram U.S. Navy and Marine Corps Aircraft Color Guide, Volume 2: 1940-1949. Hataka Hobby’s Willow Green is slightly lighter, and looks as if it has been lightened to take into account the scale effect of color. I am not sure if that is intentional on Hataka Hobby’s part as I could not find anything on their website to suggest that they formulated their paint colors in this way. Either paint will work nicely for a 457th FS Iwo Jima VLR Mustang.

I would highly recommend either paint to modelers. The colors appear to be accurate, and both lay down beautifully, cover well, dry quickly, and are very durable. Kudos to both companies.