After using Model Master Acryl paints almost exclusively for the last eight years, I recently switched to Citadel paints after several strong recommendations. Both of these brands are excellent, and would work great for minimate customs. However, I have noticed a few differences between them, and I wanted to share my findings with you.
The color swatches above were painted on a flat white piece of plastic, scanned in to my computer, and then cropped for this image. As you can see, there is very little difference in the end result of the two brands. The reds and yellow all are bright and smooth. With a primed surface, you will get vibrant colors from either one. Both types of paint come in a large variety of colors, and mix well within their own brand. With Model Masters you get a choice between flat, gloss, and semi-gloss. With Citadel they do not identify the gloss on the bottle, which makes it kind of a crap shoot. Most of their colors are in between flat and semi-gloss, while some, like the Blood Red above, are definitely gloss.
My main problem with Citadel Paint is that it does not work on some types of plastic. The image above is a Mighty Mugg’s foot. I coated the entire foot in Citadel Chaos Black. Slowly, the black paint receded into what you see in the image above. A second coat produced the same results. The paint simply would not stick to the plastic. Model Masters had no problem with this. Citadel also has this problem on certain minimate plastics, but I could not find the right piece in time for this article.
Citadel works fine on primed surfaces, but there are many times where you will not want to prime a surface. I was working on a custom minimate last week that used a spare piece of bright yellow plastic as an accessory. I wanted to paint a small part of this yellow piece to be black. I tried it with Citadel, and it was a sloppy mess like the Mighty Mugg foot above. I had to wipe it clean and use Model Masters instead. If I had wanted to use Citadel I would have had to prime the entire surface (with a non-Citadel brand of paint), repaint it with a few coats of yellow, and then paint the black piece. That would have been a lot of wasted time and effort, when I could do it in one step with Model Masters.
My main problem with Model Masters is the paint’s consistency. Some colors are as thick as paste, and I have to thin them out with acrylic thinner. Others are so thin that I need to do extra coats to get a good finish. Citadel paints have the same smooth consistency across the board.
So assuming you have a different brand of primer for using Citadel, or a bottle of acrylic thinner on-hand for Model Masters, what are the other differences? Very few come to mind. Citadel has a slightly better bottle design, that allows the excess paint to drop back into the bottle. Model Master bottles can occassionally get stuck. The other main difference is price. You can expect to pay 50% more for Citadel paints, even though they produce an end result that is almost identical to Model Masters.
So which brand will I be using from now on? Both, actually. Obviously I will keep Model Masters on-hand for use with plastics that Citadel won’t stick to. But there are also slight differences in the shades of blue offered by each company, and I like to have several options available to me. I will be keeping Citadel on my desk because of its smooth consistency. If I don’t need to mix any colors, I would choose a perfect Citadel consistency over a too-thick or too-thin Model Masters one, which happens with about 20% of their paints. Like I mentioned before, this problem is easily fixed, but when I am working on ten customs at once, I would rather not waste the extra time.
Have you noticed any other differences that I did not mention here?