February 01, 2017

TRENCH RUNNER REVIEW: Steven Lowenthal Puts Mission Models Premium Hobby Paints To The Test

Mission Models Premium Paint, Primer, Thinner and Additives
By Steven Lowenthal
Mission Models, known for making such modeling tools as the Etch-Mate, Micro Chisel, and Multi-Tool, is expanding their family of products with a new line of premium, made in the USA, acrylic non-solvent based paints.

The initial release consists of 53, mostly armor related, military colors, a few metallics, colored primers, thinner and a polyurethane mix additive. They will shortly be adding colors widening the military range, weathering, and a spectrum for figure painters useful for science fiction and other subjects.

Let’s take a look at the different components of the line:

The paints come in 1oz flip-top sealed bottles. That’s nearly twice the amount of paint of the more common 17 ml. (.52oz) bottles of other manufacturers. The paints should be shaken before use and include a mixing ball in the bottle. Due to consistency of the pigments, you may find some colors a little thicker than others but they say this won’t have a significant effect on performance.  MMP states they do not add any additional additives to their paints which results in no shelf life, hard settles or breakdown. They further mention that their paint’s formulation reduces tip drying to a minimum. The paints were designed to be both brush and airbrush ready out of the bottle. However, they do recommend some thinning for airbrushing. Which should be done at 10-15psi (lower for fine lines) and laying the paint down in thin coats. While the paint has a 12 hour cure time, oils can be safely applied after 15 minutes. The use of a hairdryer can shorten that time.

Packaged in 2oz and 4oz flip-top bottles. MMP’s thinner is a dual purpose product – both a thinner/reducer and an airbrush cleaner. A 20-30% thinner to paint ratio is recommended. Thinning above this ration will make the paint more transparent for a pre-shading effect. However, MMP cautions against thinning at a 50/50 ratio.

Polyurethane Mix Additive
Available in 2oz bottles. As mentioned, the paints do not contain any additional additives so MMP recommends adding a few drops of their Polyurethane Mix Additive for improved leveling, durability, and flow capabilities. In essence, this is a flow enhancer. Something you may already be using but with this being specifically designed for these paints. It’s important not to over add enhancers as it will break down the paint, so a 1 or 2/10 drop Additive/Paint ratio is recommended. While James Bond may not approve, the additive should be dropped into the paint cup and stirred, not shaken.

Clean Up
When cleaning the airbrush you can clean the bulk of paint up with water and then followed up with the MMP Thinner as a cleaner.

Spraying- I am using a Harder and Steenbeck Infinity CR+ with a .15 needle for testing. To get a feel for the paints I’m starting with some Resedagrun RAL 6011 straight out of the bottle. Using a spare 1/48 Corsair as a guinea pig, I primed it with Gunze Mr. Surfacer 1500, and once dry, I started shooting the paint at about 15psi (the higher range of MMP’s recommendation). It went down a bit thick and after a few minutes of spraying, started to accumulate on the needle’s tip.  Spraying in thin coats, I found coverage to be very good and noticeably thick. A little too thick, as some of the more delicate panel lines were quickly obscured. Once dry, the paint did level and hunker down a bit better, but I felt it still had softened some of the finer details. Next I added MMP Thinner and Polyurethane Mix Additive in the prescribed ratios. As expected, this resulted in a noticeable improvement. The resulting paint job was thinner and leveled better, but I still felt more detail than I wanted was hidden under this color. In addition, I experienced no paint drying on the tip.
 Since MMP states some colors are thicker than others, I decided to try Sandgrau RAL 7027 and see if it differed. Once again, preparing the mixture as prescribed, I started spraying and found this color to be more to my liking. It went down as I expected it should, with good coverage that covered quickly but dried without obscuring the detail. I found 10psi gave me the best results.
Being the impatient one, I should mention I used a hairdryer in between layers to speed things along. MMP says there is no problem doing this but too much concentrated heat can plasticize the paint. So they recommend keeping the air flow moving and the hairdryer about a foot away. I can attest to the need to adhere to this. 

Masking – Next I tested how the paint stood up to masking. Using Tamiya tape, I placed a few strips on a freshly dried area. Properly removing them 30 minutes later, I experienced no paint lifting.

Washes – I next put MMP’s assertion the paint can handle washes once dried to the touch. I waited until the paint was good and dry in my hands; about 20 minutes to be sure, I started to apply an enamel wash to the panel lines and shadows to raised areas. While the norm is to first lay down a clear coat, I wanted to see how the paint reacted. While the flow of the wash was naturally hampered by the lack of a clear coat, I was able to manipulate the wash without any damage whatsoever to the underlying paint. I didn’t read until after this test that MMP recommends mineral spirits, while enamels will work. I can attest to their pleasant results.

Pre-Shading – Since the paints are very opaque, I wanted to see if there would be any difficulty using them for this technique. After spraying black on the panel lines and waiting for it to dry to the touch, I used a mixture of the Sandgrau RAL 7027 thinned 40% and air pressure at 10psi. The thinner paint sprayed well and I was able to easily control the opacity so the pre-shading wasn’t lost. Taking things a step further, I loaded the brush with some Dunkelgelb RAL 7028 at the same 40/60 ratio and sprayed shadows over the work just completed. The Dunkelgelb performed just as well as the previous color and I was able to lay down shadows while maintaining the pre-shading with pleasing results.

Chipping – Using the hairspray chipping technique has become popular across multiple subjects so I wanted to see how these paints handled. Using a commercial brand of hairspray, I sprayed a couple of light coats over the previously sprayed Resedagrun, followed by a spray of Sandgrau once dry. After waiting for the top color to dry, I started rubbing with a wet brush. The paint quickly started chipping off. I didn’t have to use heavy pressure and it was quite controllable. I then worked the paint with a toothpick and a knife blade, making tiny chips without affecting the paint below. I was quite pleased with how the paint performed.

Polishing – In order to get a smooth finish, I normally polish in between layers of paint and clear coats. It’s important to me that the paint I use stands up to this. Using a Flory Models 2-Sided Polisher, I used it with the blue 2000 grit buffing side initially once the paint cured. Almost immediately, paint form the highest spots rubbed off but the rest of the surface fared well. Switching to the white 12000 grit polisher side, I smoothed out the finish without further paint loss. MMP paint can be polished but is appears to be a little more fragile than other brands.

Brushing – MMP is formulated to be brushed straight out of the bottle without modification. Unfortunately, this is where the paint stumbles the hardest. While it is a little thick for airbrushing, it is much too thin for brush painting. When neat paint was unsuccessful, I tried various attempts with MMP Thinner and Mix Additive to no avail. I was unable to get the paint to achieve a smooth even coat. Definitely a disappointment.

Mixing Manufacturers – Adding a paint to your repertoire usually means adding the manufacturer’s recommended thinner too. Understandably, many avoid the expense, and have a trusted thinner they have found works over their preferred paint lines. Wanting to see if one could deviate from MMP’s thinner, I did some testing with the popular UMP Airbrush Thinner instead. Initially sticking to the recommend paint/thinner/additive, with 15 psi, I found the paint spayed similarly to using MMP thinner but I felt it had a small amount of spitting so I added another drop of UMP. This mix was the winner. The paint flow was smooth, easy to control, and left no tip build up. Using this mix over several colors, I found the same results. With only the thicker Resedagrun needing a slight tweak with a minimal pressure increase.

Clean Up – MMP’s thinner has a second use, airbrush clean up. Using Distilled Water, clean up was a breeze. The paint quickly dissolved, with no stubborn paint needing to be scrubbed. The process ends with a spray of thinner as a final cleaning and conditioning. I found MMP’s paint easier to clean up with water than some other brands.

Pros -
·      • Made in the USA
·       • 1oz flip-top bottles, sealed, with mixing ball
·       • No offensive odor
·       • Good control when airbrushing
·       • Tough enough to handle washes
·       • Responds well to hairspray chipping
·       • Easy clean up
·       • Need to purchase additional products for peak performance
·       • Some colors can be tough to prepare correctly
Click HERE to View & Order the Mission Models Range
Mission Models MMP Primer Tutorial.

Mission Models MMP Paint Tutorial Pt 2 Painting the Sherman Plus Camouflage

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