Ammonia Paint

I use a type of paint that I’ll call “Ammonia Paint.” I call it that because (to me) it smells like ammonia. Not a strong ammonia smell, but just enough to let you know it’s there–like the horseradish in Horsey Sauce.

Hey, it’s good. The sauce, I mean. I can’t help it if some feeb at Arby’s thought “Horsey Sauce” was a good name for food. “Hey kid! Want some horsey sauce?”

There are many kinds of paint that can be used with a brush to get a reasonably good finish on a plastic model, but I find that the ammonia paint works well and is easy (for me) to get. Tamiya, Gunze, Vallejo–all are good paint but all have “issues” when brushed. Revell Aqua Color is kick-ass paint but if you buy it you have to stay in the cult and never, ever leave. You can’t mix Revell with other paint, just like you (probably) can’t mix Vallejo Model Air (c’mon man, you didn’t think I mean Model Color? That shit sucks!) with Revell and so on.

My point (big breath) is that the all-star ammonia paints can be mixed WITH EACH OTHER so if you’re in Vegas and can’t get your usual MM Acryl but CAN get Badger Model Flex you can just press on, mix it up and stir it up and it’s all good.

Oh yeah, I forgot to say what the paints are.

Testor’s Model Master Acryl (and I think the bastards changed the name of this to just “acrylic” or something) is an ammonia paint.

Badger Model Flex is an ammonia paint. The late, great Polly Scale was an ammonia paint.

An airbrush company makes excellent brushing paint.

Xtracrylix. Xtracrylix is an ammonia paint.

Water based. So thin it with WATER.

That’s it. Not counting the de-funct Polly Scale, that’s the fantastic three. Badger Model Flex, MM Acryl (or whatever) and Xtracrylix. You can mix them all with each-other so you can supplement your colors with whatever happens to be the best match and not worry about “compatibility.” You thin it with WATER. Distilled water, if you’re going for some kind of personal best type thing. You stick with these three and you have no hassles, except for the unfortunate “glossy” finish on the Xtracrylix and some of the MM Acryl Luftwaffe colors (which also suffer from expert-itis) but that, my friends, is a story for another day…

10 Replies to “Ammonia Paint”

  1. 1 out of three available ain’t bad. Right? RIGHT?

    Don’t even get me started on MM RLM 70/71, or ‘RAF Dark Green’. I remember you telling about them some years ago, and me thinking ‘oh, they can’t be that bad surely? (purchase)’. I wonder what they actually matched some of these shades to back in the day, and why somebody there doesn’t say ‘well, you know, everyone seems to say they suck. Maybe we should, uh, reformulate them?’.

    Papa Rustoleom probably wouldn’t give them the cash anyway.

  2. I emailed testors regarding the possibility of expanding the mm acryl (sorry acrylic) line, and possibly reformulating the Luftwaffe colours….

    Well…I got a nice, polite but forlorn response from a guy there. He told me the line had been decreased over the years, and due to continuing lagging sales, he could only forsee further cuts in the lineup. Bad news considering this is the only one of the ammonia lineup available here.

    And it really is so easy to brush this stuff. It is literally childs play to get an excellent finish with this paint. Even the prep work: take lid off, stir paint for a minute, check consistency, add water if needed, restir, paint. Simple.

    Yet for some reason, I rarely see anyone raving about mm acryl. Have they tried brushing this stuff next to model color? There is really no contest, apart from model colors massive catalogue of colors.

    1. Yeah, it’s a very weird deal. Everybody gets an airbrush and that’s that. I am gradually coming to terms with this simple fact. I’ll always be on the outside, looking in. Then again, I like being subversive. It suits me.

  3. I wouldn’t say everybody does. There seem to be a hell of a lot of people in Europe still pushing a stick, but it isn’t seen as cool….even there. I did tell a Danish modeller about acryls some time ago, as he had used humbrol enamel for 500 years and was complaining to me about their drop in quality, so I steered him onto them. He started with the mm enamels, said they were good, then tried the a acryl. Now he is a Revell Aqua and MM Acryl devotee. I cannot shut him up about them.

    You know, when you look at how badly many model paints brush these days, you cannot really blame people for thinking an airbrush is the only way. Back in the day, model paint was primarily made for brushing. I see that every time I open a can of Humbrol from the 80s, or a Tamiya acrylic of the old formula. Stir, check consistency, load your brush, self level!

    You were the initial catalyst for that. Does it make you all teary eyed? Knowing that you changed someones life regarding modelling paint? I think we need to have an Oprah special

  4. Quick question Dan

    If I read correctly, you have added windex to non ammonia paints? If so, have you noticed any issues with them going bad over the years?

  5. I used to have problems with paint going “weird” (fizzy, lumpy, stringy) when I used alcohol as a thinner. Now, I use water for the ammonia paints, and Windex for Tamiya paints. No problems have arisen since I gave up alcohol (true in all contexts!). Why Windex works so well with the Tamiya paint is a mystery to me, but it works so I use it. For the most part, though, I use water for paint thinning. I think part of the reason I “resisted” this was just prejudice. “Water” couldn’t be a thinner. I had to get that idea out of my head to make progress. Note, however, that water does not work properly for Tamiya paint–hence the Windex.

  6. Interesting rumour I am chasing up. Someone has told me xtracrylix is made by a company called Agama…who happen to have their own paint line. Could this be another Ammonia brother?

  7. Yep, (the Czech company) Agama make Xtracrylix and Xtracolor for Hannants. As far as I know, it’s just a re-branding of their acrylic and enamel lines (Agama actually also have a third, “alcohol based”, line of paints: ). Being from the Czech Republic, these paints are readily available to me. I do not have much personal experience with them, having just returned to the hobby with my kids (after more than 30 years) and starting where I left – with Humbrol enamels – before doing my research into what has changed over the years. From what I see on Czech forums, Agama paints are not that much popular, as almost all of the “serious” modellers use airbrush and the paints do not work particularly well for them.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.