IntroductionMCW Finishes - Model Car World Paint and Resin
, is a hobby store in Massillon, Ohio. They have started an expanding range of military colors and weathering pigments. While MCW Finishes
offers an established extensive line of automobile paint, this review focuses on their military colors.
Paint and finish. Short of keeping gluey fingerprints off your model, is there anything more important to how a model looks? I'm sure somewhere hidden out there is a secret cloister of modeler monks who have perfected a styrene internal combustion engine running with styrene derived petrol ignited through plastic electrical conduits. Still, no matter how precise their seam lines and functioning scratch-built cotter pins, poor paint and finish ruins any model.
One of the first things MCW Finishes
told me is that these paints spray like nothing else I've ever used. True - keep that in mind. MCW Finishes
Paints and Resin are Our Business
We have been producing our products for over 20 years. We can produce almost any factory car color used from the 1930's to the 1980's. Our ever growing line of military colors provide the right base for your award winning kits.
Count on Our Expertise
Our paints are produced using only top quality PPG paint products and formulas. We mix and package our own paints. We do not buy from someone else and slap our name on the bottle. We even package our own spray cans.
Okay, that has my attention. This company is also putting out a line of pigments. Stand by, I'll bring you a look at those soon.
In pursuit of the perfect model paint, let's get shaking and spraying.
MCW Finishes Military Colors
is gloss lacquer. MCW
is also launching a line of enamels to fill the void of Testors all but abandoning the hobby. Even if lacquers and enamels disturb you, read on anyway. I've sprayed a lot for this review and I'm not wandering into traffic anymore than usual.
Remember glass bottles? MCW
uses 1-ounce glass bottles for their lacquers, and 1/2 oz. for the enamels. Small pellets are included to assist with mixing the paint. One bottle arrived cracked, chipped really, as the integrity of the jar did not fail. All others arrived in good shape.
Briefly, I present MCW's
Primers and Clear
Texture and Miscellaneous
American - Aircraft
American - Armor
British - Aircraft
British - Armor
German - Aircraft
German - Armor
Japanese - Aircraft
Russian - Armor
runs a gamut of almost 60 colors, from a natural metal finish, through the colors of today's Thunderbirds and Blue Angles and Ghost Grays, into World War Two colors, including multiple olive drabs.
American - Armor
Almost 20 colors including several olive drabs from WW2 onward.
German - Aircraft & Armor
Eleven of the main Luftwaffe
colors 1939-45, including Mediterranean colors. Five basic Panzerwaffe
colors including Grunbraun RAL8000.
Japanese - Aircraft
Six colors including Cowl Blue-Black and a very exciting Early Zero Gray-Green.
British - Aircraft and Armor
A small selection of basic RAF colors and a desert tank color.
Russian Armor Green #1 Gloss
The only Soviet color, currently.
Primers and Clear, Texture and Miscellaneous
Over a dozen different primers and sealers and buffers. Clear flat and gloss finishes are available in 20%, 40% and 65%. MCW
also produces hardeners and reducers for those who want to manipulate drying times.
Overview of products complete, let us explore their performance.
How many model paint companies are out there right now? I have yet to use ever brand. Regardless, MCW
told me that I will find these paints unlike anything I am familiar with - they are correct! These lacquers are gloss paints formulated to be sprayed at 15-30 psi. MCW
provides simple instructions concerning recommended pressures and additive mixes for their paint. I read the instructions and recommendations and started the show. I used my trusty Aztek A470 airbrush. The lacquer is like water and I immediately wondered if it would cover?
It absolutely does! Most of the chips and spoons were completely opaque with only 10-15 drops of paint in the airbrush reservoir. It did not matter if I sighed the psi or goosed it to maximum recommended pressure.
The unique thing about this paint is that it is made to spray very close to the surface with multiple coats, wet, without waiting for a layer to dry - and yet without runs or pooling. Noted the wing and consider that not only does it have a coat of primer on it, it also received 7-8 wet coats of paint over the primed surface. No runs, drips, pools, nor obscuring detail. Beautiful!
Equally amazing is how fast it dries to the touch! Perhaps that is a quality of automobile modeling paints but I'm not a car guy so I don't know how they achieve their incredible finishes but I know that this paint is remarkable.
I used the enamel and lacquer flat coats on the M2 Cletracs. You can see a definite muting of the olive drab under the enamel flat coat; the model with the hood serial numbers took the lacquer coat, and you may notice that it initially does not look flat. MCW
reminded me that the lacquer flat coat is also designed to go on wet with multiple coats. Problem solved - worked great.
My demo philosophy is that I want to know if this product will work for me - and therefore you. There are the controlled factory specifications and alchemy, and there are modelers like me who are too squirrelly to wait. I also like to test worse-case conditions and performance on diverse surfaces.
Fortunately, there is no need for additives to use these lacquer paints. No need for binders, thinners, etc. Shake or stir and shoot.
Initially, I shot each color onto chips like I always did. Then I found a paint review by Mario Matijasic [MAKI] in which he used plastic spoons, and I decided to follow that great idea. Now, each color can be viewed upon compound curves, with all of the attending gradations. There are a few shots showing the paint with both a spoon and a flat chip, not that it should matter.
Health & Safety
Decades ago I became concerned with solvent paints and my health, and while I did not entirely give up enamels and lacquers, I curtailed their use. Using MCW Finishes
with a minimum of PPE and common sense, I never felt a tinge woozy nor did I develop a headache.
The "hotter" the paint the more overboard I go with personal protection. My studio thus moved outside where I could always gauge a breeze to blow overspray away from my OSHA respirator. But that sometimes put me in conditions of high temperature and humidity, one session both were in the 90s.
makes primers to protect plastics from the hot solvent of the paint. (Any of you remember the original Floquil paints and their need for barriers to protect plastics from melting?) I used MCW
primer a couple of times but found the paint did not attack the plastics. Models used include military and railroad kits from the late 1960s (you may recognize some original Tamiya figures) through a recent resin kit. I found no adverse reaction with the paint regardless of the material. No old soft plastic figures were used, though.
Each lacquer performed beautifully and unlike what I am used to
. Cleanup between colors is quick and easy, too.
is working on a line of enamels. Some are gloss, some are flat. The hardeners and reducers are produced for them. I used them with the lacquers and report no problems. In fact, I shot lacquers and enamels together. It is not a problem to shoot enamel onto a lacquer but lacquer is usually "hotter" than enamel, and can attack it. It has been weeks since I shot these paints and yet I've found no sign of any paint attacking the plastic or paint coat below.
enamels can be hairy-brushed. Note the old figures. Two enamels went on with a single pass, drying opaque, obscuring no detail. The third, Gloss Enamel 2102 Dark Green, settled as a well gradated wash. MCW
is tweaking the formula; probably not the intended formulation effect but it has an interesting potential for me. It did airbrush flawlessly.
Now we know how MCW
paint behaves out of the bottle and through the nozzle. How about controlling lines and curing?
First, conventionally shot a color, let it cure, and then masked and shot another color. Worked great. That was the day temperature and humidity was high, and MCW
suggested allowing the paint to cure 24 hours before masking. I did and it worked great.
At the same time I decided to try a stress test. Still hot and humid, I shot the base coat, and stuck down a blue brand of masking tape literally after only the time it took me to clean the airbrush and choose a contrasting color. Minutes later the tape came off but the paint did not. No chipping or tearing. Nor did the second color attack the first color. I am impressed. Your thoughts?
Now we test the ability to create a complex camo pattern with fine lines. This tests the viscosity of paint and its ability to control. At first I just shot the paint through a general nozzle, controlling the line with the airbrush trigger. Then I started working the pressure, and eventual used a fine nozzle. Again, all the painting was performed with an Aztek. If MCW
paint works well with an Aztek, I expect it will work better with my special uber-airbrushes.
You can see how fine the lines can be. The first attempts were on model parts, some smooth surfaces, some with other paint on them. Some of my color choices are low contrast so I retraced my lines. Depending on psi and curing time, there were a couple of spots that the paint did start to remove its predecessor. The more complex demos were later shot on the spoons, and I steadied the surface better, without trying to use shaky hands for both airbrush and surface.
The paint flowed without trouble and I experienced no nozzle clogs nor dry tips.
Results: More than satisfactory
Thus ends the practical aspect of this review - how well does MCW
paint work? Now for some thoughts on color fidelity.
First, my photographic quality and your monitor. We aren't going to all see the exact same thing. You will notice shifts in tones and appearance of colors of the spoons and particular color subjects. I tried to shoot everything under very limited atmospheric conditions but the sun moves, glare reflects, etc.
With that in mind, I discern no flaws to any of the colors MCW
kindly provided, and unhesitatingly look forward to finishing my models with them. Why? I compared these paints to the standards of these widely recognized gold standards of color research authorities:
1. Official Monogram Painting Guide to German Aircraft: 1935-1945
2. Painting the Early Zero-Sen, A Primer for Modellers & Artists (Nicholas J I Millman - © ”Straggler” 2011-2020)
3. The Official Monogram US Army Air Service & Air Corps Aircraft Color Guide, Vol 1, 1908-1941
4. USAAF Aircraft Markings and Camouflage 1941-1947: The History of USAAF Aircraft Markings, Insignia, Camouflage, and Colors (Schiffer Military Aviation History)
5. Choice articles by Dana Bell and Steven Zaloga.
Perhaps the color most exciting to me of these samples is MIL-4001 Early Zero Gray-Green
. It reproduces the controversial color J3 Hai-Iro
gray of the Imperial Japanese Navy A6M2 Zero-sen, and does so as the color close to Luftwaffe RLM 02, yet lighter and brighter, with the hint of olive. Side by side, one can perceive the difference between the two colors, but it can take some concentration.
Another color I am particularly impressed with is MIL-2005 Olive Drab OD319
. It captures the shifts in color ranging from a dark olive through a khaki to a brownish hue, as seen upon the M2 Cletrac models.
is creating an impressive range of products with their Military Colors
. Yes, they are unlike any paint I've used before and that it said with high praise. This paint is simple to use and provides very high performance, with high color fidelity. Adherence and curing performance is first rate even when used in harsh conditions of heat and humidity. In spite of being "hot" the lacquers did not attack any surface sprayed upon, and behaved well with other colors.
The trio of enamels sent along are also very satisfying. One brushed like a wash but MCW
is working on that. MCW
is also very good with explaining their factory specs of pressure, preparing enamels with additives if desired, and drying times.
The only critique I have is the limited range of non-US colors. Certainly, as MCW
expands their market share, they will begin filling the void. I am especially interested in their proposed range of railroad colors.
I am extremely positive about MCW
and highly recommend giving it a try.
Please remember to mention to MCW Finishes and retailers that you saw this product here - on