Model Air Adhesion

Vallejo Model Air is good paint for brushing and I could probably learn to use it for all my work–if I had to. But first, all the Testors Model Master Acryl and Tamiya Acrylic paint would have to disappear from the market, and I’d have to test the new Mission Models paint to make sure it wasn’t better than the Vallejo product. I’d also have to eliminate all possibility of finding a source in the U.S. for Xtracrylix.

So…it’s not likely to happen. But, in some places, for some people, this paint is the only game in town and that’s not such a bad thing. The real drawback with the Vallejo paint is its syrupy, sticky consistency that defeats brushpainting unless you can figure out how to make it less sticky. It’s not unusable (like Vallejo Model Color) because it’s thinner. Let me rephrase that. It can be used due to the fact that it is thin. The thinness of the paint makes it possible to brush it on. If you thinned Vallejo Model Color this much, in an attempt to use it for brushing, it quite literally BEADS UP on the surface of the plastic. Of course, one could spray on a primer but do I really have to explain why that is not allowed here?

Gentlemen. Decorum.

A thin paint that is brushable and does not bead up is good. A thin paint that is brushable, does not bead up, is self-leveling and has very good adhesion is called Model Master Acryl. Vallejo isn’t quite in that league. Aside from the stickiness issue, there’s the adhesion problem.

Here’s a coat of MM Acryl/ Polly Scale mix (they’re the same paint for my purposes) on a “test subject.”

After ten hours, I took my thumbnail and attempted to peel it off of the plastic. How well you do this depends upon how much time you have spent peeling Budweiser labels off of bottles with your thumbnail.


All I managed to do was create some shiny spots. It you hold the test subject in the light at just the right angle you can see them.

Now, this very good adhesion isn’t universal and I don’t guarantee that you’ll get the same result. Here is another test subject where I was able to use my Budweiser label skills to better effect. It took some effort, but I was able to remove some paint.

This is the MM Acryl/Polly Scale paint (above). I can be scraped off, but it ain’t easy. This is after ten hours of “curing.” Now let’s take a look at the Vallejo product after about 36 hours of curing (below).

I can scrape it off fairly easily. Not super easy, but it can be done. Now, if you are a science guy and like numbers and such, you’re probably wondering what all this nonsense is about. After all, it’s just a bunch of hoo-ha and seems to be entirely subjective. No measurement.

Yes. That is true. Based on my subjective, thumbnail sketch of the adhesive properties of Vallejo Model Air, I’d say it acceptable. It might even look good until you see some paint (MM Acryl) that actually has good adhesion. It’s all relative. Because I do not use masking tape (hardly ever) I’m not too concerned about it. But if you mask, you might want to consider this.

“Subjective” is not a word that is used to build confidence in a source of information. All I can say is that I know that the paint I use (MM Acryl) is better. It “paints on” better. It adheres better. It’s better paint. So much better, in fact, that I’ll probably never buy another bottle of Model Air. That doesn’t mean that Model Air is junk. Model Color is junk. Model Air just isn’t as good as paint I already use.



4 Replies to “Model Air Adhesion”

  1. I thought this may have been the result. A pity, as this stuff is more available here than MM Acryl or Revell Aqua.

    Looking forward to your trial on the mission paints, even though they are not available here.

    1. The stuff is a beautiful insignia blue. This whole experience with Vallejo’s “airbrush only” paint makes me want to try other “airbrush only” paints. I have a sneaking suspicion that these guys do not know what they are talking about. Thin paint is not “airbrush only.” Actually, in my experience, Vallejo Model Air is too thick for airbrushing. It’s just right for brushing, except for the “stickiness” problem that could probably be fixed. If I were going to airbrush Model Air, I’d put some thinner in it. They tell you that it should be the consistency of milk. Don’t any of these guys drink milk? Model Air is the consistency of buttermilk. Mmmmm. Buttermilk.

  2. Well, depends on the milk! I swear milk has gotten thinner as times gone on…

    You will find a huge gaggle of Vallejo clones out there, all with similar characteristics (some indeed made by vallejo and rebadged) and I wouldn’t be surprised if some other paints simply threw the towel in and commissioned the big V to make the paint for them in the future, as everytime you see a post about brush painting, inevitably the V word is shouted in at least 75% of the content. While I don’t find it as offensive as you, the adherence problems of the V have annoyed me.

    So, we have MM Acryl, Revell Aqua and Xtracrylix for the Dan School of thought. All of which are similar enough to paint the same way. This way has worked for me and is a rival for enamel finishes, unfortunately the sporadic supplies of these paints available to me leaves me in enamel land half the time

    From what you have said, Lifecolor isn’t really up to snuff. No self leveling? No adherence?

    The new Humbrol Acrylic I can make to work. When it hasn’t got grit in the pot. How this passes even a rudimentary quality control is beyond me…even the cheapest garbage from a DIY store doesn’t have this issue, and for the amount of money we pay for these ‘hobby’ paints…

    Tamiya and Gunze I can get to work via your methods. But it is a hassle having to prepare the mixtures, Get the exact mix of paint, and finding suitable containers to store those colour mixes. etc. I did try just thinning the paint with a bottle of X-20A and this also works to a degree, but it requires more coats, heavily thinned, to paint a model.

    If only one of the local hobby shops would supply MM Acryl, Revell Aqua, or even Xtracrylix, it would make life so much simpler

  3. Lifecolor doesn’t selflevel and you need some 2-4 coats to get acceptable results. Did buy a cheap lot some time ago so is still some time away from emptying the cupboard! Adherence – don’t know haven’t tried. But then I’m not a painter so I just want it to cover up…

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