It doesn't matter how many paints you have on the shelf, sooner or later you'll find you need colours that aren't there! It could be that the paint shade in question simply isn't available, or that model colours don't match your references. Or it could be that you want variations in the basic colour to depict weathering or pre-painted sub-assemblies on a real aircraft - whatever the reason, you have to resort to mixing your own paint.
For small areas and "one-offs", it's often sufficient to mix just a few drops of paint in a tot of some kind, but for larger models and with colours that you'll need to use repeatedly, an air-tight storage pot is needed. It's also important to have a reliable way to test and replicate your custom-mix accurately, and it's to meet this need that LifeColor have released their Master Mixer set.
The set arrives in one of LifeColor's standard box packs with instructions in five languages on the back, and comprises:
6 x Empty screw-top plastic 22ml pots
3 x Plastic pipettes
1 x Master dropper
6 x Blank labels
6 x Test cards
The pots, pipettes and master dropper are all re-usable.
The paint pots are the standard LifeColor type. I find these a very handy size, and the design makes them unlikely to tip over accidentally. The screw tops fit firmly but, so far at least, I've never had one stick solid with paint build-up. They are intended for use with LifeColor's acrylic paints, so I wouldn't recommend them for enamels or for storing "hot" mixes for any length of time without testing them carefully. The labels provided fit precisely and wrap right round the pot, so I'd actually cut them into smaller sections for economy and to allow you see the contents in the clear (polypropylene?) bottle.
I've used similar pipettes to these before and have found them pretty durable. Unlike those with a rubber nipple, they don't seem as prone to damage if you're using them with strong solvents. Including three in the set is a nice touch, because it saves washing them out continually to avoid contamination as you experiment with blends of different colours.
The test cards are 6cm x 10cm pieces of good quality white card. Again, you could comfortably cut them into four for economy and still have ample space on each to judge colours.
And, finally, there's the master dropper. I was initially sceptical of this because it's basically a long bolt thread with a rubber handle. Could a screw-thread work better than the flat brush I normally test paints with? The answer is emphatically "Yes!" - the thread wicks up and holds a good quantity of paint, and rolling it on a piece of card produces a thick, even patch of paint (and, obviously, no brush marks).
LifeColor's Master Mixer set is well thought through and should be very useful. You probably could source individual pots etc. cheaper, and of course you will need more strips of card if you're serious about mixing your own paint, but the set is a good way to get you started with everything you require in one pack.
Please remember, when contacting retailers or manufacturers, to mention that you saw their products highlighted here - on AEROSCALE.
Highs:Lows:Verdict: LifeColor's Master Mixer set has everything you need to mix and store your own custom-blends of paint.
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About Rowan Baylis (Merlin) FROM: NO REGIONAL SELECTED, UNITED KINGDOM
I've been modelling for about 40 years, on and off. While I'm happy to build anything, my interests lie primarily in 1/48 scale aircraft. I mostly concentrate on WW2 subjects, although I'm also interested in WW1, Golden Age aviation and the early Jet Age - and have even been known to build the occas...