AGAMA Model Paints Review
Reviewed by Michael Ullman
AGAMA is a Czech Republic brand of paint for use by modelers.
During my research about RLM colours I learned that AGAMA used an original colour chart from RLM document L.Dv. 521/1 dated 1938, to produce their Luftwaffe colours. That was reason enough for me to check just how accurate these AGAMA-paints are.
AGAMA has the usual range of gloss, matt and metallic paint plus a range of authentic colours. As a Czech company they have available also some colours used by the Czech and Russian air forces.
The greatest advantage of the small AGAMA catalogue is that it has paint chips using actual AGAMA paints. This is much better than printed colour charts which cannot accurately match the actual paint. From the photo in the catalogue the impression is that the AGAMA jars are the very similar to those produced by Humbrol or Revell-Germany.
Given my main interest (and experience) I decided to test some of the RLM range and chose four paint samples; RLM 78, 79, 80 plus gloss white.
First I checked the paint chip in the catalogue with my RLM paint chips that I had collected during my research. As anticipated, a visual check showed that the AGAMA catalogue samples matched very well with my RLM paint samples. I am sure that this will be also the case with the other paints from the different air forces such as Russia, Japan, USA or Great Britain.
The second part of my trial was to check the use and handling of the AGAMA colours. Are AGAMA good as my favourite brand, Xtra-Color? My practice test was performed using my compressor and Hansa Gravity Flow-Double-Action-airbrush, plus the usual white spirit and a 1:72 Fw 190-Model, from Academy, from the desk of my nine year old son.
When I opened the jars the first thing that caught my eye is that the pigments of the AGAMA-paints have no tendency to separate; there is no sediment on the bottom of the tins. Personally, I found also that the AGAMA product does not have the intense odour that one finds with Humbrol or Xtra-Color.
To achieve the scale-effect I added the gloss white AGAMA paint. I also hoped that this would give the matt AGAMA paints a more glossy finish. Both paints, RLM 78 and gloss white, mixed together easily in my mixing jar with white spirit as thinner. When I sprayed the bottom of the Fw 190 with the mixed and thinned AGAMA paint I found that the AGAMA-paint, like Xtra-Color, was easy to spray. It produced a nice thin and, at the same time, solid coat.
However, after the colour was dry I observed that, despite mixing the RLM 78 with 50% gloss white, it retained its very matt surface finish. Every modeler knows that with a matt surface it is difficult to get decals to adhere without silvering. By comparison with Xtra-Color, with its gloss finish, this is a disadvantage for AGAMA.
The upper surfaces of the model, painted in RLM 79, resulted in the same very matt finish as seen on the lower surface of the model. With the camouflage colour RLM 80 I decided to test several different application techniques. For these I reduced the pressure output of my compressor. All kinds of camouflage, include the special Luftwaffe "wave-mirror" effect, was applied without problems. It appears then that AGAMA uses very fine pigments that makes it possible to produce perfect, scaled down camouflage effects.
The conclusion of the trial tests were that AGAMA is as good as Xtra Color, but with the disadvantage of the very matt surface finish.
I was so pleased with the AGAMA paints that I decided to extend my tests to try to achieve a surface finish, similar to Xtra-Colour, to prevent the problem of decals silvering. This involved several different steps to achieve a gloss surface.
First I polished the surface, as soon as it dried, using a tissue. The surface was easy to polish, but fragments of the tissue adhered to the surface. A longer drying time is necessary and the use of a cotton cloth is recommended.
I then tried spraying a gloss coat on the matt surface. Several coats are necessary to achieve a satisfactory gloss surface, however this option is not really suitable as the multiple coats covered up the crisp surface details of the Fw 190-kit.
Use of "Future" on the dull surface was also tried. Again it was necessary to use several coats on the matt surface to achieve a gloss finish. This proved barely suitable however because, again, the multiple coats covered up the crisp surface details of the Fw 190 kit.
Polishing the matt surface with "Model Wax" was also tried and produced a semi matt finish comparable with one gloss coat. Next I used "Future" on the polished surface. This was successful, the resulting surface finish being glossy enough to take decals without silvering.
This last test produced a gloss surface similar to the surface of a dry Xtra-Color paint. However, for me, Xtra-Color is more user friendly as a model-paint because of the extra time needed to give the AGAMA paints a gloss surface. If AGAMA produce their authentic colour range in a gloss standard they will be equal to Xtra-Color.
How expensive is a jar? Which hobby shops have AGAMA stocked? In Germany a jar costs 2,75 Deutsch Mark (this was the price in November 1999), approximately US$1.50. Unfortunately I know of only one hobby shop in Germany that has AGAMA stocked. This is
The Hobby shop:
Frank-Modellbau Obere Vorstadt 21 72458 Albstadt-Ebingen Tel.: 0049-7431-4442 http://home.t-online.de/home/frank.modellbau.airmodel/
My special thanks to Ken Merrick in Australia for the final editing of the English translation of my original German text.
Review Text and Images Copyright © 2000 by Michael