I’ve been an avid minis painter for going on 20+ years. While I don’t have the patience to create something that’s going to win awards, I still prefer to play board games with painted minis. I mean, even sloppy minis with a splash of color are better than dull gray plastic. And there is nothing wrong with just shooting for “tabletop quality” when painting minis. It definitely gets the job done.
That being said, I’ve also worked my way through a variety of different paint brands over the years. I’ve run the full range from random acrylic paints I got at Hobby Lobby all the way up to the pricey Citadel paints. Today I mainly use a mixture of paints from Army Painter, Reaper, and Games Workshop (contrast paints). But a new brand has caught my eye.
With a logo yanked straight out of the 80s, Turbo Dork has definitely figured out its brand. Unlike paints from Reaper or Vallejo, Turbo Dork doesn’t seem to be interested in replacing your every day, general-use paints. They have a lane and they are driving down it with a semi-truck.
Their company apparently started out in 2018 “as one man’s quest to find the perfect metallic purple for his Emperor’s Children”. And that’s what Turbo Dork paints focus on. Metallic colors, and also, shifting colors (I may need to bust out my Generra Hypercolor t-shirt for the rest of this review) are their bread and butter. So curious as to what these paints were about, I asked the company to send me a few samples, and here’s what I found out.
I’ve found most companies have just a few metallics, primarily in the silvers and gold ranges, preferring instead to focus on flat colors. Occasionally you’ll find some primary color metallics, but nothing in the range of what Turbo Dork has. I’ve been painting Battletech minis lately, so this timing was also pretty perfect. My King Crab mini was just begging to be painted in red (I mean, it’s a crab after all), so I used their Red Rum paint for the main body. I primed it black and gave it a simple dry brush with the red. I was quite pleased with the results.
The Color Shifts
Looking for a bit of fun, I decided to try out their Miami Sunset paint on my Wolfhound mech. The effect is a little hard to photograph, but as you rotate the mini, the color shift is definitely noticeable. It switches from purple to a bit of an orange. I feel like the color shift paints are going to be somewhat case-specific. A flat metallic has a lot of uses, but a color-changing one probably isn’t going to work in as many situations. However, for my hot shot wolfhound mechwarrior, he was happy to bling out his ride.
I also wanted to give the paints a range of testing options. First up, let’s talk about the undercoats. Like all paints, you’ll want to prime your minis first. Each bottle of Turbo Dork paint also tells you the best base color to use. Spoiler alert: most tell you to use black. That being said, some can also use a white undercoat. But I wanted to test out one on a white base layer that wasn’t supposed to be. I 3d printed a few minis I downloaded from Loot Studio to get started. Then I grabbed a bottle of their Boullion metallic and gave it an airbrush on both a white and black mini. The bottle clearly says black undercoat, so I was curious as to how it would turn out. While I probably could have gone with another coat of paint on the white mini, the results were definitely much better on the black coat.
Next, I tried it over a zenithal coating. If you don’t know what that is, be sure to read my primer here. But their Bees Knees gold paint says it can be used over a black, white, or zenithal undercoat. Grabbing a random mini I had 3d printed earlier, I gave them each a prime and then applied a zenithal to one of them. Please ignore the broken sword on one of the minis, I dropped it like a dummy and didn’t feel like reprinting it. Anyway, the one on the white coat is pretty shiny and worked fairly well. However, the zenithal coating definitely helps bring out the details on the mini better. The gold is darker overall, but it has more of a “gold statue” feel to it. It’s less luminous, but still pretty shiny.
Finally, I wanted to try the difference between brushwork and airbrushing. For this one, I used a Drone mini. I use Silver Fox on the drone and Blue Raspberry on the smokey part below. For the drone bits, I really can’t tell much of a difference between the brushed on one and the airbrushed. I will caveat this by saying that I’m very much an airbrush newbie, so please don’t judge me on the quality of my airbrush work. However, when it comes to the Blue Raspberry smoke part, the difference is more noticeable. The airbrushed model has more of a luster to it, and almost feels like it glows in the light compared to the brushed on one. The brushed one is by no means bad, but airbrushing is definitely a step up in the finish quality (and probably could be even better with a more experienced airbrush user).
Overall, I was pretty impressed with the quality of the Turbo Dork paints. My only complaint after using these bottles a lot is that they tend to have a bit of an issue with clogging. The company helpfully has a shaker ball installed in every bottle, but more than once I’ve had to deal with a clogged nozzle. I usually just poke a safety pin down the hole and it clears things up. I do need to caution against squeezing these bottles too hard though. I once tried to dislodge a clog by squeezing harder and the dropper top popped off, spraying globs of paint all over my pallet.
But outside of that I really liked Turbo Dork’s line of paints. To be honest, just about any mini painter should grab a line of at least the primary metallics. While I think that their use will be somewhat situational, especially their color-shifting line of paints, they do produce excellent results. But mechs, vehicles, robots, armor… pretty much any hard surface that you’d like to have a little bit of a shiny will look amazing with this line of paints. You can check out their full range of paints on their website.