I was looking forward to the Imperial Primer from the moment it was announced. It is a primer in a tub rather than a spray can. I could think of many uses for it and I’ve already used it for many of them. So, in order to review it I decided to primer two barricades that I had, one using Citadel Paints’ Chaos Black Primer spray paint (it’s what I have, other primers are obviously available) and the other using the new Imperial Primer in a bottle (well, tub).
The barricades came from the Games Workshop’s Urban Barricades and Walls set and are made of resin. I know that to do a really thorough test I should test the two primers on plastic, metal, greenstuff and Finecast, but I don’t own any Finecast and I didn’t have any of the rest available that I wanted to use as test pieces. One was the barricades was broken and I superglued it back together, but it didn’t make any difference to the test. I washed both barricades in warm soapy water before I started to ensure that they were clean.
I applied the Imperial Primer with a broad brush that I usually use for loading paint onto my pallet and painting very large areas. It has quite soft bristles and tends not to leave any obvious brushmarks on the piece. I used approximately two coats of Imperial Primer, used straight from the bottle without any dilution. For most of the piece I only needed one coat but over larger areas I needed two. I applied a coat of Chaos Black Primer to the other model. I had to coat it in two sessions as the primer could only be applied to one side at a time.
After priming the two pieces were quite similar. There are no obvious brushmarks visible on the piece painted with Imperial Primer. I had however missed one edge of the model coated using the Chaos Black spray. The picture below shows the results, with the front piece being the one primed using the Imperial Primer.
So, what were the pros of using the Imperial Primer over the Chaos Black spray?
- Odour/fumes: The Imperial Primer has a slightly fishy smell in the bottle. However it is quite faint and does not hang around. The Chaos Black spray does produce quite a bit of fumes from the propellant, which are not pleasant. The smell also lingers. I have to spray indoors as I have no outdoor space, and although the area I use is well ventilated, the smell does linger for quite a while.
- Weather independent: Related to the last point is that the Imperial Primer, as it produces no fumes, can be used in an enclosed space, which, if you live somewhere where it rains a lot, is a bonus. If it rains, my window has to remain shut, which means no undercoating with the Chaos Black Primer. I’m not usually in a hurry to primer something, but if I had to do something in a hurry on a wet day, and we get plenty of them here, I could use the Imperial Primer.
- Control: With the Imperial Primer it is far easier to control where the primer goes. This means that you can use it in all those little crevasses that the spray misses, prime a new addition to an already painted model or touch up a spot of damage.
Of course, there are also cons.
- Evenness of coat: It is much easier to get an even coat of primer on a large area using a spray primer
- Speed: Using a spray primer means that you can coat several models in seconds instead of one model in minutes.
- Mess: This is the bottle rather than the product itself. Every time I open the tub I get a coating of black all over my hand and on my modelling area. The picture below was taken partway through coating the barricade with the Imperial Primer. It washes off fairly easily, but if like me, you work in an area of clutter, it’s best to move any painted models well out of the way!
In the end the Imperial Primer is a very useful product. It in no way replaces the spray but is a very useful addition to my paint box. I’ve used it mostly to touch up areas that the spray primer has missed, most recently on the awkward shaped cloak on one of my Wolf Scouts. I also used it to fix a meltagun where the spray primer wouldn’t stick. I don’t grade things, I’m not consistent, but the Imperial Primer is very nearly there. It’s an adequate substitute for the spray and brilliant for touching up areas that the spray can’t reach. It’s a pity about the bottle, but I can live with that in return for a product that I’m already finding an essential addition to my modelling stuff.