Modeller’s Notebook

Review: Lifecolor Primers

Two opening paragraphs for you today. The sun is out and I have an intriguing day ahead, involving model railways, so I thought I would treat you. I also like the product.

Version 1. I once wrote a boardgame review that ran to 7,000 words. There was quite a lot to say and my enthusiasm was way up. This piece will be considerably shorter. I will try not to say, “It does what it says on the tin” at any point.

Version 2. My long hobby career has been a struggle with primers. I have had primers lifting, I have had primers failing to dry or cover, and I have had traumatic incidents with certain spray cans from large companies rhyming with Malfords and Blame Worksop. In the same way I will never knowingly eat blue cheese, I will never use a spray can again. And don’t get me started on varnishes.   

In the past the solutions have been – chronologically – Humbrol white enamel (before they changed the formula), white Gesso, and recently Mr Surfacer and Vallejo Surface Primer. Always open to new tech, I requested a set of the new acrylic primers from LifeColor. Pleased I did this. Very pleased.

The pack contains six colours, but the pots can be purchased individually. Unlike the standard white and black, we get Panzer Grey, German Yellow, Red Brown, Olive Drab, Burned Base, and Tank Interior White. I think we can identify the target market, but obviously they can be cross purposed. No pure black, and I know some of you like to use that for figures, but I am sure it will appear. A light ‘primer’ grey would be nice too.

So, to testing. On my workbench was an Armorfast Jagdpanther that I had just built (in about four seconds flat). I degreased it with alcohol, let it dry, loaded up my Iwata Eclipse and turned on the always satisfying Sparmax compressor. [Makes childish compressor noise with lips. Never fails to entertain me.]. A few minutes later I had a perfectly primed tank. Trying to think of what else to say at this point, but the pictures should help.

Next I did some tree armatures in Panzer Grey. Then some trackwork in Burned Base. And finally I did some lead figures in the White, using a paintbrush. I couldn’t think of anything to do with the Olive Drab.

After drying for an hour or so I did the test, bearing in mind that you could usefully give it an overnight to cure. I rubbed the paint with my finger. Nothing. I then tried to scratch it off with a fingernail. Nothing. It didn’t even shift until I got a cocktail stick on it. I think it is safe to say that you could layer oil washes over this basecoat, do modulation and rub back weathering, and probably fry an egg.

I am going to say this in the nicest possible way. This is tough stuff. It has all the characteristics of early Humbrols, minus the smell. They cover well, dry quickly and are acceptably thin.  I fully intend to use these paints for any priming tasks in the future.

And that is it. 500 words.

Many thanks to for the review samples.

Mike Siggins
15th September 2019

One thought on “Modeller’s Notebook

  1. Looks Ace Siggins. Funny though, when you said “primed” I assumed you’d underspray it in the traddy red ochre of the period 🙂
    You’ll have to go shopping with me for these when I come over for Salute.

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