I have been using enamels for many years (decades) now. Enamel hobby paints are getting harder to find and there are the health considerations on enamels, so I have been exploring different acrylics options out there. I was excited to see I had the chance to review the AMMO products, as some of my modeling buddies had good things to say about them.
Readying the AMMO website, you learn that these paints are odorless, water soluble, and non-toxic. All of those above make these paints interesting alternatives as non-toxicity is a great thing and odorless makes the rest of the family happy.
I have to say that I did find a very faint smell on these paints. It is not strong at all and it is not offensive nor headache-inducing as enamels or lacquers. The best I can describe the smell is ‘earthly’. A bit like mud or clay, from a pottery workshop.
The smell lingers for several days after painting, which indicates the paint is still drying/curing or at the very least degassing. I do live in Colorado, so perhaps the high altitude played a role on the lingering smell. I was able to spray different colors -all from the same line- on top of each other w/o a problem. Still I would be careful to spray a coat of a different type of paint on top of them while they are degassing, as that might craze the other layer of paint/clear coat.
The instructions are very clear, they tell you to shake the paint well (the little ball agitator makes it easy) and to spray in very thin coats (almost like a mist), letting the coats dry a bit in between and to let the paint set for 24 hrs. before the next step.
In my tests, I followed those instructions. The only thing I changed was to actually blow some air with the airbrush between the coats. It took a bit of practice to get it right and I needed between 5 and 8 coats to get the color density you see in the pictures. I personally like the need of several thin coats to build up the color, as that allows you to do pre-shading/black basing if you want to.
Another thing I did was to test the need for a primer or not. I sprayed the front of the test wing with One-Shot grey primer from AMMO and the back of the wing was simply bare plastic.
As you can see, with 5 to 8 coats it is not possible to see any difference on the paint color, indicating that they have built up a consistent pigment density, all of that without obscuring surface detail.
I also practiced spraying the paints with and without thinner (A.Mig-2000). You can spray them without thinner, but truly the spray better with the thinner. They atomize better and it almost seems like they level better, but I’m saying that based just on an ‘by eye’ observation.
After giving it 24 hours of drying time, the abuse began. I burnished tape on the wing and rip it off, band-aid style. Both in the primed area and unprimed area. No paint lifting in either section. I then got a new piece of tape, burnished it down and left it in place for 3 days. Rip it off band-aid style and no damage whatsoever to the paint.
To clean the airbrush cup I used Windex and then flushed it with water. It took about 30 sec. to do a clean up between colors. After spraying 6 different colors I took apart the airbrush and cleaned it up with a paper towel damp with Windex and then another piece of paper towel with water. Very easy to do.
These paints are designed to be either airbrushed or brush painted. In a Hellcat spare wing I did some airbrushing and the I applied some more paint with a regular brush, unthinned. I extended the green over the light wood section (darker on lighter color) and then the light wood over the dark brown (lighter on darker).
My findings are that these paints behave nicely on a brush, they have good color density -as they cover the darker color, they level very well -you cannot see any brush strokes, and the color is virtually the same when applied with brush or airbrush. I cannot tell the difference on the green, I can barely tell the difference on the light wood. If you only have to do a minor touch up, you can do it with a brush and nobody would be able to tell.
The paints have very little odor, are non-toxic and if you give them 24 hrs. drying time, very durable. They do seem to continue degassing for several days based on that faint smell, and that might slow down the overall pace of your modeling.
These paints do apply in a slightly different way than other paints I have sprayed. Given that they are water-based you have to mist them and build the color density very slowly, blowing air (double action airbrush help) in between the coats as to overcome the water surface tension. It takes a bit of practice to get them to spray right, but after about 15 minutes practicing on a spare part, I got the hang on how to do it.
I have to say that I am quite pleased with these paints. I will certainly add them to my growing collection of acrylic paints and likely become a ‘standard’ for future builds.
I would like to thank AMMO by Mig Jimenez for the sample and opportunity for the review.