January 16, 2013

HobbyZone Paint Table & Paint Rack Review

Shortly after Christmas I took the plunge and ordered some products from a Polish hobby company HobbyZone. They had some great looking pieces for organizing ones painting and modelling areas, all of which were highly recommended across the internet.

After doing some measurements of my existing workspace I counted up my assorted paints, inks, brushes and tools. Armed with this information I started looking over the various painting tables and paint racks available, then placed an order for the following items:
  • Paint rack (w/ 25mm slots)
  • Paint rack (w/ 30mm slots)
  • Large Paint Table (w/ 30mm slots)
A day or so after I placed my order I received a shipping confirmation with a tracking number. I checked the status of this package, nearly every day in fact, impatiently awaiting its arrival. Thursday night I received a parcel notice. I was able to liberate it from the clutches of a Canada Post clerk early Saturday morning.

Upon arriving home I tore open my package. My first impression was not quite as exciting and happy as I'd hoped.

The top shelf of the paint rack with 30mm slots had two cracked wings. These aren't major, but are certainly disappointing. A little bit of white glue can cover these up and it will likely never be a problem. However, this is the first thing I saw when I open my eagerly awaited package...so we're off to a rather disheartening beginning. I constructed the rack easily enough (there are no instructions for the paint racks), but my annoyance was not assuaged just yet.

The paint rack with 25mm slots was (happily) undamaged and also went together with no trouble.

So far, things are at 50/50, but I'm obviously rather annoyed. Shipping costs for these products were NOT cheap, in fact, with the shipping fees added on, my bill almost doubled. As in somewhere around $48 for the products, $40-ish for shipping. While the stuff arrived very quickly, at this point I'm not entirely happy with my investment.

On to the largest item of the three: the paint station. HobbyZone makes three different sizes of paint table, which are made of the same materials as their paint racks. I opted for the mid-sized table, which is a little bit larger than the Games Workshop Paint Station. Upon opening the box things looked pretty good, until I removed the top few items from the package.

One of the shelves in this box wasn't just cracked, but flat out busted. This is the bottom-most shelf of the paint station too, so I assume that it will be bearing weight. No other components were damaged in the box. However, even though I was extremely miffed at this point I decided to press on and see how things went. Perhaps a little white glue and some patience would win out.

Construction of the painting table went easily enough. Unlike the paint racks, the table comes with a sheet of instructions for putting it together. Two of the steps involve bending wooden components and fitting them into pre-cut slots. This was a little nerve-wracking, based on the already broken bits I'd received in the box, but I was able to get those glued in without mishap.

The broken shelf proved more difficult, and I was actually required to glue it together on two separate occasions during the process of building my table. I also felt that mounting the shelf component onto the table bottom was was not a perfect fit. The pre-cut slots were not an exact match and I needed to do a little fiddling to get it to sit down in the recess, which once again resulted in repairs being needed for my broken shelf.

After all was said and done, the table should prove serviceable enough. The broken shelf has support from underneath and the the side, so I hope it will hold up. A few extra layers of glue covered with a touch of white paint should hide the damage but it's a serious disappointment that I even have to consider doing that.

I sent some feedback of my experience to HobbyZone in the hopes that they'll improve the boxes and packing materials used to ship their products. They replied a few hours later with their apologies, and offered to send replacements for the damaged components. Since I've already constructed the table, a replacement won't be useful for that, but I may take them up on a replacement paint rack shelf. A little more robust packing would go a long way.

So how would I rate things now that everything is put together?

Hobby Zone Paint Racks

- Easy to assemble
- Lots of storage capacity (54 slots for 25mm dropper bottles, 40 slots for larger pots like P3 or GW)
- Each paint bottle or pot is easily visible and accessible
- Looks great on my hobby desk

- Poorly packaged, one rack shelf arrived damaged

Hobby Zone Large Paint Table

- Low-profile is very comfortable to work at
- Lots of additional storage space for frequently-used paints (36 slots if storing larger GW or P3 pots)
- Plenty of spaces for brushes, tools and two water cups
- White finish helps reflect ambient light without color bleed

- Poorly packaged, one shelf arrived fully broken in two
- Curved back wall won't fit a rectangular cutting mat nicely
- White finish gets dirty quickly when painting (but can be scrubbed clean fairly easily)
- Cup holder holes are an odd size, you'll have to do some searching to find cups that will fit
- The optional wings will only be useful to some people. I'm not one of them.

Now that I've complained about everything...here's a look at my workstation with everything all set up, including the lovely new hobby lamp I got from my girl for Christmas. It does look pretty good doesn't it? When I'm not using the table, I prefer to push it back under the shelf, out of the way a little bit. Due to that I'm not able to store brushes in the rear slots, but there is still plenty of room for my pin vice, hobby knife, files and hobby clippers.

So all in all, nicely designed and highly functional products. If I have two cautions it would be these:

1. As HobbyZone is located in Poland, shipping costs to Canada (or anywhere else outside of the EU) are going to be very costly.
2. The products are shipped in small, flat cardboard packages and have no padding inside. Without bubble wrap or styrofoam to cushion the components there is a fairly high risk of damage during transit. Keep that in mind before you order.


Adam Porter said...

Don't order from HobbyZone! I ordered some organizers over 2 and half weeks ago and I still haven't received what I ordered. I contacted HobbyZone customer service and so far they have been very unhelpful. Hobby zone keeps blaming the shipping company. I contact the shipping company and they haven’t even received my order for shipping yet. The fact is I ordered some organizers, Hobbyzone took my money and after over two weeks I have seen nothing! HobbyZone said I have to wait up to 3 months for my package to arrive before they will issue a refund. What a joke!

Obsidian3D said...

I would agree with you. I like these and they've served me well, but I never received the replacement part they said they would send, and if they haven't improved the packing they never will. There are a lot more sources now for these kind of racks and tables, so definitely look around.

Adam Porter said...

Any recommendations?

Obsidian3D said...

Sorry but I don't. I haven't bothered to look for other options now that I have these.