Recently I got hold of products of Polish company HobbyZone and I’ve been using them (HobbyZone paint station and paint stands) for over two weeks now. I must admit that despite my initial reservations based on my experience with the Games Workshop Paint Station, they allowed me to organize my paint station and made fitting it into my constanly shrinking miniature painting space much easier.
I mainly tested the paint station, but in addition to the HobbyZone paint station review I also managed to prepare a review of the two paint stands that I have. Now I can see all my paints! Previously I kept them in my drawer. I hoped they should remain in place on the Ikea antislip mat, but whenever I opened the drawer I found them in a completely changed order. Ikea can wipe their backs with their mats! 😛
After testing HobbyZone products I prepared a review of the HobbyZone accessories I had. You can read about my opinions below.
Much joy from a small thing!
According to the producer’s description, the paint stand is a perfect solution for keeping your painting place tidy while painting models. We’re assured that thanks to firm slots chances of spilling paint are really slim.
It looks like this:
What do we get?
The stand measures 42,5 cm x 18 cm x 9,5 cm and is supplied in elements which need to be assembled. Assembly is childishly easy, doesn’t require and gluing and parts fit perfectly. Adding even a simplest manual (even on the company’s website) wouldn’t be a bad thing, as it could that shelves should be mounted in a zipper-like way (with slots shifted in relation to the previous shelf) – just like on my photos.
Parts to build the stand:
Building is childishly simple:
Of course it’s not necessary, but it would answer the only doubt one could have while assembling the stand.
Paint stands are available in 2 variants, the difference being in the size and number of paint bottle slots. It can be either 40 x 36mm slots or 54 x 28mm slots.
These smaller slots are suited for “dropper” bottles, for example Vallejo or Reaper MSP. The larger ones can hold even more “bulging” bottles – like Games Workshop‘s or P3, but also those of smaller diameter. Unfortunately it results in a disadvantage: when something is universal, it’s never perfectly suited to its purpose. It’s true also in this case – many of my paints fit pretty loosely to those 36mm slots. It doesn’t make them any less usable, but is not as “professional” and convenient as better fitting smaller slots, which hold paints (for example Vallejo) much better.
Vallejo and Reaper MSP series paints sit perfectly in 28mm slots:
Unfortunately universal 36mm slots have their disadvantages:
Inks and pigments don’t fit into slots:
When placing an order one should choose the version of paint stand they want shipped. Moreover, the producers are very flexible and don’t even mind such sophisticated ideas like mixing different types of shelves within one stand – you just need to write what kind of shelves you want and it can surely be arranged with HobbyZone!
I have one stand for my Vallejo and Reaper paints (smaller slots) and one for P3 and Citadel paints – the universal size (which means: larger slots).
As you surely know I have a complete mix of various paint bottles, but despite this the universal size didn’t suit my needs that fine, which I already described above. It is surely a personal thing, because a person relying more on Games Workshop paints would surely have a different opinion. I have few paints in such bottles and smaller bottles move loosely in those large slots.
As you can see on my photos, even GW jars sit there pretty loosely, just like P3 ones. The best fit I got was with Vallejo alcohol-based metallics:
Only alcohol-based Vallejo metallics sit firmly, while other paints sit rather loosely:
I tried to fill unused slots with MIG pigments and Winsor & Newton inks, but they didn’t fit there. Fortunately I managed to find room for them on the HobbyZone paint station (which you will see below).
I can suggest that introducing additional types of shelves with different slots, better suited to other popular products, would make HobbyZone’s offer more attractive. Especially if people are going to order customized choices of shelves depending on their needs (for example 1 x pigments shelf, 1 x Citadel paints shelf, 1 x P3 paints shelf and 1 x Vallejo shelf).
Currently I am only missing one Vallejo stand and a benchtop organizer for complete happiness, but there’s always time to pick these up…
HobbyZone paint station
The paint stand I have is called a professional paint station by HobbyZone. Actually I prefer to call it a “tabletop”, but let’s use the name given by the producer. The difference between types of paint stations is in sizes and number of shelves. The professional one has three shelves and measures 60 cm x 40 cm x 8 cm.
What do we get
The paint station is made of a base and three shelves with slots for paints, brushes and tools, and two additional side shelves (that I call “ears”). My table came assembled and glued, and only the “ears” (side shelves) required putting into prepared slots, but it was very easy.
Paint station in parts:
It’s very easy to add side shelves:
Completely assembled HobbyZone paint station:
Wide choice of different tool slots:
The side shelves are stabilized by additional supports, which prevents them from bending and makes them stable
Moreover, the paint station is very functional even without these additional shelves and some may even prefer it this way as it takes less space. I was told one can also order it unassembled, but I didn’t make use of this option as it has no impact on pricing.
Holders on sides of the paint station make it very portable, which solves my current organization problems. Additionally I can have all the useful things really close at hand, and paints selected for painting 4 models simultaneously fit into their slots just fine. 😀
Just like paint stands, paint stations are also offered in 2 versions: with larger and smaller slots, and the choice is made when placing the order. Moreover, you can use the without changing the price and creating a freely selected choice of shelves customized to your needs.
As I already mentioned it, since the producers were really flexible regarding customization of their products, I could choose the kind of slots I wanted for my paint station. As far as I know they wouldn’t mind similar requests from other customers too. 😉
My paint station has slots for large and small paint bottles:
Surface of the Paint station
I remember I used to have a Games Workshop paint station, but it became really worn and ugly with time – I didn’t mind glue and paint stains but I felt that instead of washing the thing I was rubbing dirt into it. (Hehe, I must sound like a frustrated housewife, but hey, you must be cleaning your desks before major holidays, too ;)) I like to have my workplace clean because working in a mess makes me tired fast. That’s also one of the reasons why I didn’t decide to get the HobbyZone paint station before.
Then I was convinced by laminated suface of the paint station. I think it will make the table more resistant to damage and wearing, and will allow it to look neat for a longer time. And it has to look this way because it sits in my dining room, which is also my workshop. So far cleaning is easy and I haven’t experienced any problems, so keeping the paint station tidy and in good order didn’t cause any problems, but I’ve been using it only for like two weeks.
Now a few words about the base of the paint station – the tabletop. The first thing is that HobbyZone offers paint stations in a few sizes, and I decided to get the biggest one (which is called “professional”, so how could I resist! ;)) The width is comfortable – moving from a large table onto it was no problem for me and I didn’t feel it’s too small for my needs. Of course I can’t tell if a broad-shouldered man would say the same, but for me the size is OK. I only find the depth of the tabletop a bit too short, so I keep it pushed like 10cm back onto the table, which increases the depth of the paint station and my workspace. But would I decide to order a deeper one? Not really, because I would be unable to keep it on my wardrobe. So in my case the size is just fine I think I don’t really find the difference in levels of both tabletops a problem, because the base of the paint station is pretty thin.
This reminds me of a problem I had with the Games Workshop paint station, which had a thicker base and it made my forearms hurt after working for a longer time. You know, the difference of levels and sharp edge of the paint station made my arms go numb and painful. Bear in mind that I often happen to sit and paint for longer periods of time, so such problems can discourage to use this kind of equipment. That was one of the reasons why I was unsure if I would like the HobbyZone table. Fortunately its thickness is just right – it assures stability of the whole thing, while not making it painful for the painter’s arms. I have to admit that while carrying the loaded paint station around I felt as if the base was pretty flexible due to its low thickness, but I hope it won’t end up in the same way as the Games Workshop paint station, which soon became warped… But whatever I would call the GW thing, I wouldn’t call it “flexible”.
The base is thin enough so it doesn’t cause any pain even during long painting sessions:
Quality of the paint station caused no objections on my end, and the HobbyZone logo doesn’t jump at you, and is a nice visual touch instead. You know that for me such little things can mean a lot
Of course, like a typical woman I had a crazy idea to repaint the paint station to a color more harmonized with my apartment, but I quickly realized that the white color of the paint station has a big advantage – it doesn’t create any color cast, which would alter the way painted models look. White also reflects more light, which makes your workspace brighter and better lit (without blinding you ;)). I don’t know if it was intentional or not, but even if it was just accidental – it must have been a lucky accident.
Elements of the HobbyZone paint station are glued solidly and neatly, and edges are finished in a clean way so it seems there’s no risk of tearing or chipping. Of course I am judging after like two weeks of usage, so I can’t tell what it’s going to look like after a year or two.
Gluing is neat, workmanship is flawless:
I did a little improvement to the table, which allows me to carry it more securely (and it’s very important to me). I fixed the miniatures and elements I was working on to the paint station with Blu-tack or Patafix. This keeps them secured to their places and I don’t have to fear the possibility of anything dropping from the table when I am transporting it.
My problem was that I couldn’t find suitable water glasses to fit in the slots prepared in the paint station. They could become another product from HobbyZone, but on our miniature painting forum I was told to use disposable plastic cups, and they fit perfectly, so this problem was already solved. Not that I wouldn’t prefer something more durable…
On the photos you can see that for now I prefer to use the slots originally planned for water cups to keep my sculpting tools and a coaster on which I keep spare little bits, and I carry my water glasses on the tabletop:
I keep my water cups on the base, as I don’t have suitable glasses to fit in the slots:
As you can surely see, I am very satisfied with the improvements and reorganization I managed to achieve thanks to the paint station and paint stands. I would rate the quality of these products as very good, they’re easy to keep clean and much room for paints, toold and miniatures I am painting allows me to keep most of the things I might need while working on miniatures (and surely also other models) close at hand. I hope these products are durable enough so I don’t have to replace them with new ones (and remember they’re getting some rough time from me – painting every day and being carried around a few times a day).
If there’s anything I don’t quite like, it’s the larger-sized paint slots. I can’t say they’re bad, but they simply don’t suit my needs all that well. Although supposed to be universal slots, they aren’t well suited to some of more frequently used products. And if they’re supposed to be a good fit for a particular kind of bottles, then they could be fitting more accurately. It may be a matter of taste though. I dealt with it by moving some of my supplies onto the paint station, but this means I have some of my rarely used products there where I don’t really need them so much. They could rest on paint stands, but I hope such paint stands are still to be produced.
I think that HobbyZone started well with a line of products for us, painters. Now they should open their minds to suggestions coming from the hobby community and react to market situation. There are some suggestions from me in this very review. 😉
Prices of their products are not high in my opinion. People who spend a few hours daily painting, should be able to spend some money on equipping and reorganizing their workspaces.
Would I recommend these products to other painters? Yes, with completely clear conscience. Just remember that it’s not any kind of a magic solution which will tidy up and reorganize your workshops. In my case it worked well because I always wanted to have easy access to tools, paints and models that I am working on, and to be able to carry my painting equipment easily – and both the paint station and paint stands allow for easy portability. I got what I expected.
Ideas and suggestions
First thing is what I already mentioned: shelves with different shapes and sizes of slots. It would allow to customize paint stands for the kind of products one actually uses. Especially that HobbyZone is pretty flexible as far as customizations go.
Another idea I have is to make similar shelves, but instead of paint bottle slots, they would have little drawers for fine modeling supplies, like glue, flock, sand, static grass, etc. If they keep the same size as paint stands, one could build a whole wall of such shelves.
Alternatively they could also split benchtop organizers into smaller modules (let’s say in 3 variants: empty, shelves and drawers), which could be combined depending on your needs and preferences.
The last idea I would like to remind about was to provide those unfortunate water cups, which would fit the slots in paint stations. I would most likely buy them for my paint station.
And let’s not forget the display cabinets section on HobbyZone website, which is still empty. I really wonder when we will see anything there and what will they look like.
And what would you like to suggest to HobbyZone? Maybe you have used their products and would like to share your own opinion? I am curious what you have to say on this subject and sure that the HobbyZone crew will check this review and comments here.