June 15, 2017

TRENCH RUNNER REVIEW: Steve Lowenthal Reviews VMS Airbrush Thinners & Cleaners

A new manufacture here at MTSC is Vantage Modeling Solutions of Poland. VMS produces a unique airbrush thinner and airbrush cleaner that many modelers will want to add to their workbench. Steve Lowenthal puts them to the test...
Acrylic Airbrush Thinner 2.0
When it comes to thinning your paints, the accepted rule of thumb is to use the same brand of thinner as your paints. After all, who knows your paint’s formulation better, and how best to thin it, than the manufacturer? Unfortunately, with the plethora of paint brands a modeler often uses, this can make for a costly proposition. Enter VMS. With the inclusion of leveling and homogenizing agents, flow improver, and extensive testing, they’ve created what they call a “wide spectrum thinner” for all water based acrylic modeling paints. While having a single paint thinner is a great money saver, what makes this product truly cost effective, and like no other product out there, is it comes as a liquid concentrate. To use this product, you mix it with distilled water in a 2:3 ratio of concentrate to water. So the 200ml bottle of concentrate yields 500ml of thinner. The monetary savings of the smaller bottle and the lower weight yielding cheaper shipping costs, your savings can be substantial. And you can purchase it with a 200ml bottle to store your mix in.
Performance Now let’s see if it is worth the savings and take a look at how the thinner performs. VMS says they’ve successfully tested their product with Vallejo, Humbrol, Tamiya, Revell, Model Master, Italeri, Gunze (H series only), and Pactra paints. It won’t work with the Gunze C line as it is a solvent based acrylic. For my testing, I will be using Vallejo, Tamiya, AK Interactive, and a few others. Currently, I am not aware of any recommended paint specific thinning ratios by VMS, so some experimentation will be necessary.
Vallejo Model ColorThis is a rather thick paint out of the bottle. Normally, I only use these paints for brush painting and rarely airbrush them. I thought this would be a good test for the VMS thinner as a fair amount of it will be required to get this paint flowing properly. After some experimentation, I found a 60/40 mix of thinner/paint, shot at about 15 psi got the paint to flow through a Harder & Steenbeck Evolution Silverline Two In One Airbrush relatively smoothly. I did start to have some clogging issues, and tip drying after several minutes of spraying.
Vallejo Model Air While Vallejo states the paint can be sprayed directly from the bottle, I’ve always found a little thinner helps it spray smoother.  A 20/80 thinner/paint mix shot at 20psi yielded excellent results with no clogging during the testing.
Mission Models Being a specialized paint that uses an additive, I stayed close to the recommended formula for testing. Using 20% VMS thinner and 10% MM Intermix yielded very pleasing results at 15 psi. I would say my control was similar to using all Mission Models products in the mix.  Some experimentation would be recommended to be sure the long term effects of not using the specialized Mission Models thinner would yield similar results later on in the decaling and weathering process.
AK Interactive I found it sprayed just as well with no thinner or 10% thinner. Adding more thinner than that made it too thin. The thinner may have extended the time before I experienced tip drying. Otherwise, I found thinning this paint was unnecessary.
Tamiya With 40% thinner and 20% psi, I had very good control. The paint flowed well and there was no tip drying. I was able to get the finest line of any of the paints test with this combination.
Lifecolor This paint is a little thicker than some of the others tested and needed around 40-50% thinner sprayed at 20psi. I was happy with how it went down but I experienced some tip drying every few minutes. While it got annoying, continued cleaning kept did keep the spraying neat.
Acrylic Airbrush Cleaner Pro
In addition to the airbrush thinner, VMS also has an acrylic airbrush cleaner that comes in a solution and a concentrate. Both available in 200ml bottles.  The solution can be used out of the bottle at full strength or can be mixed with water at a 1:1 ratio for lighter cleaning duties. Unlike the thinner, the cleaner can be mixed with ordinary tap water for satisfactory results.  The concentrate is a more flexible product and can be called a cleaning system as it lends itself to a wider variety of cleaning needs. 

VMS recommends mixing their cleaner in the following ratios:
- 20/80% cleaner/water – an economical solution used to clean fresh to hours old paint.
- 30 to 40% cleaner /water – this works well for cleaning fresh to cured paints.
- 50/50% - the strongest solution. Used for cleaning very old paint.

In between testing, I used the solution version straight out of the bottle to clean out my airbrush. Sometimes letting the paint in the brush dry and sometimes cleaning fresh paint. Needless to say, the dried paint needed more work to clean, but the solution was able to dissolve the paint, in both situations, making cleaning problem free.

Conclusions – Using VMS’ Airbrush Thinners 2.0 as a universal thinner for acrylic paints worked well with the paints I tested. It didn’t have a detectable odor and generally performed as advertised with only a few of the paints experiencing some degree of tip drying. A drop of Extender will most likely solve that problem. I keep some around as tip drying can be a problem even with brand compatible thinners. I can get behind the money saving idea of purchasing a 200ml bottle and having it yield 500ml of product. However, I am not a fan of the screw top bottle. It forces me to use a pipette or pouring which can be messy and wasteful. A dropper style cap would better fit my working style. Interesting thing is, if you don’t want to bother with mixing, you can purchase 50ml bottles of pre-mixed thinner and that bottle has a dropper top.

I found the VMS Airbrush Cleaners Pro solution worked well at its intended task. It had a mild odor that I found more annoying than offensive.  While I didn’t use the concentrate, I would prefer it over the solution, as it lends itself to multiple situations. It also seems to be a stronger product out of the bottle, which should be better at cleaning for those stubborn circumstances. In addition, buying a 200ml bottle that can yield as much as 1000ml of product, doesn’t hurt either. The cleaner would also benefit from a dropper style cap.

View to Order VMS Thinners HERE
View to Order VMS Cleaners HERE


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