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Ammo by Mig Jimenez Cobra Motor Paints acrylic paint review

A new line of water-based acrylic paints developed specifically for scale auto modelers
If you’ve visited a well-stocked hobby shop lately, you’ve no doubt seen a rack of products from Ammo by Mig Jimenez (Ammo). The company offers an amazing variety of paints and weathering supplies that, until now, have been aimed mostly at the military modeler. Its new Cobra Motor Paints line offers water-based acrylics in 62 colors plus a 2K clear and thinners developed for automotive modelers. Yes, most of the paints are exterior colors of racing or European heritage, but there are some interior colors, too.
Sprayed with paint directly from the bottle (no thinner), the spoon on the left received mist coats and showed a little texture after drying. The center and right were sprayed with a wet coat and dried smooth.
Here is Copper Brown Metallic (No. A.MIG-0356) thinned at 2:1 with the Cobra Acrylic Thinner (No. A.MIG-2260). The spoon on the left is over white, and the one on the right is over black. Notice the slight color difference.
The metallic colors sprayed beautifully and gave an even finish. I used denatured alcohol to thin the Alcoa Aluminum (No. A.MIG-0345; center) and Mr. Leveling Thinner on the BBS Gold (No. A.MIG-0355; right).
To test the coverage, I primed a spoon black and then painted it Pure White (No. A.MIG-0300). It didn’t take long to get a solid white coat.

Cobra Motor Paints are meant mainly for airbrushing, so that was the focus of my tests, although I did try to hand-brush a couple of items, also. All the tests were done with a Paasche VL, No. 3 (.75mm) needle, and sprayed at about 15 psi.

Initially, I tried spraying paint straight from the jar on a primed spoon. After several light passes with some drying time between, I had a surface with a slight texture — not bad, but still noticeable. Next, I went with a light first pass but continued to build until I had a wet surface. This dried to a perfectly smooth finish. My third test was sprayed similarly to the second, but I left the spoon bare plastic to see if the paint reacted differently to the primed spoons. After drying overnight, I tried scratching the surface with my fingernails and found the finish quite durable, and no difference between the primed and unprimed samples.

Next up, painting with the Cobra acrylic thinner. I initially used about a 2:1 paint/thinner mix, again using a light first pass and then slowly adding passes until I had a wet coat. It sprayed better and more easily achieved the final wet surface. The paint seems flexible regarding thinning ratios, so I suggest experimenting to see what works best for you.

The label of the Ammo-supplied thinner states that it contains isopropyl alcohol and acetone. I turned to my go-to thinner for my next test: Mr. Color Leveling Thinner. I tried the same 2:1 mix, and the results were excellent. It sprayed beautifully and dried perfectly smooth. Denatured alcohol sprayed on well and leveled, too. However, you may experience trouble with the tip drying if you’re spraying lightly for long periods. Lastly, I tried thinning with just water, and even that sprayed on well and seemed to leave a durable finish when dry.

For cleanup, I tried a variety of methods but found that right after spraying, I could flush most of the paint out of the color cup with water and then follow up with either 91% isopropyl alcohol or lacquer thinner.
Brush-painting with Cobra Motor Paints is probably best kept to small, detail items. However, the paint’s self-leveling properties kept brush strokes to a minimum.

I only tried brush-painting a couple of smaller parts to see how well Cobra Motor Paints would work. The self-leveling chemistry minimized brush strokes. The red I brushed on the fire extinguisher and the exhaust color both covered well. The aluminum color took more work to get an even coat. All these colors are flat, so if your detail needs to be glossy — like the fire extinguisher — you will need to add a clear coat.
Because it’s a water-based acrylic, I tried thinning Cobra Motor Paints with water. It worked just fine and didn’t seem to leave the paint any less durable than the other examples.
I puddled Micro Sol and Tamiya Mark Fit (Strong) decal setting solutions on this spoon and let them sit to see if it would affect the paint. Both did seem to slightly soften the paint, but I had to really try to get the small scratches. Neither left stains after drying.

Since these are base-coat/clear-coat finishes, the final durability will be determined by the clear coat you use. Before the clear was added, I wanted to see how well the paint held up to handling. In my estimation, Cobra Motor Paints is some pretty tough stuff, and normal handling shouldn’t cause you any worry. I had to work to scratch painted surfaces and had no issues with masks lifting paint, even on a non-primed surface. I left a puddle of Micro Sol and Tamiya Mark Fit (Strong) decal solutions. Both softened the paint slightly, but neither left a stain when dry.
Comparing MCW Guardsman Blue (No. 6436; right) to the same color from Cobra (No. A.MIG-0350; left) shows a substantial difference in color. To my eye, the MCW is much closer to the actual color, the Cobra paint seems much too bright. However, paint chips would be required for a definitive answer.
Dark British Racing Green from MCW (No. 2080; right) and Cobra British Racing Dark Green (No. A.MIG-0324; left) aren’t quite as drastic in person as they appear in the photo. I’m also not sure if there is a real standard for the color, so it’s possible both could be right, depending on the sample they’re based on.
The transparent colors let me down. Granted, you probably won’t be using them on anything this large, but the Yellow Transparent (No. A.MIG-0358) and Red Transparent (No. A.MIG-0360) seemed to take quite a bit to build up proper color density.
Color accuracy

Always a topic of debate, it is difficult to know, in many cases, if a paint truly matches a color it is purported to match. In the Cobra Motor Paints line, many of the colors are keyed to certain race cars or teams, so I thought it would be interesting to compare them to another respected brand. In this case, Model Car World, which has a reputation for color accuracy.

You can see a marked difference between the MCW and Cobra paints, especially in the Guardsman blue (used on the ’65 Shelby Cobra race cars). To my eye, the MCW is much closer to the real thing. The British racing dark green is closer in person than it appears in the photo, and I would hazard a guess that it looks different under the clear coat, too.
Mixing colors

If there is a drawback to the Cobra paint range, it is that some of the colors are extremely similar to each other or are aimed at specific origins. So, I thought I’d try mixing a couple of colors to see how they played together.

First, I added a little Alcoa Aluminum (No. A.MID-0345) with a yellow to see if it would make a metallic yellow. On that, it failed miserably, looking more greenish-yellow than metallic, but they did mix without issue. Additionally, I was able to mix both Tamiya and Mr. Color acrylic paints with the Cobra colors, and this should substantially open up your color choices.
Here is Rosso Metallizzato (No. A.MIG-0353) over gray primer (left) and white primer (right). While I applied the Cobra Crystal Glass acrylic clear (No. A.MIG-0357) over the test spoon on the right, it didn’t look as good as the ones I dipped in Pledge Floor Gloss.
From left to right: Mineral Grau (No. A.MIG-0346), Metallic Turquoise (No. A.MIG-0349), and Racing Purple (No. A.MIG-0352) with the clear used over each. The metallic particles are very fine and not overpowering.
Clear coat

I dipped some of the test spoons in Pledge Floor Gloss to see how the color popped with the clear coat, and it worked well if you want to go that route.

Ammo also makes an acrylic clear in the range called Crystal Glass (No. A.MIG-0357). The intended clear coat, though, is the 2K lacquer (No. A.MIG-2261). I have never used a 2K clear before, but I can see now why it seems to be the go-to for many top builders. The finish is incredible!

I followed the recommended mix of 2:1:1 clear/hardener/thinner and found that it was easy to use. However, be sure to use a properly filtered respirator with this stuff. A simple mask will not cut it.

My two favorite spray-can clears are Testors Lacquer and Mr. Super Clear. Both worked fine over the Cobra Motor Paints, as did Tamiya Clear (No. X-22) thinned with Mr. Leveling Thinner.
The Chrome Effect for Black Gloss (No. A.MIG-0343) is not a paint but a powder you buff onto a gloss black surface. Right, I’ve applied it to Cobra Gloss Black Primer (A.MIG-0342); left, I went over Tamiya Gloss Black (No. TS-14). With proper surface prep and a little more buffing, I think it could look good, and the chrome appears to be quite durable.
I grabbed a pair of seats from my spares box to test the Reddish Leather (No. A.MIG-0318) and Brown Leather (No. A.MIG-0319) colors for the interiors. As with the other paints in the range, the coverage was excellent, and none of the seat texture or detail was lost.
Spoons are a great way to test thinning ratios and application, but the real test is painting a body. This is Giallio Modena (No. A.MIG-0305), thinned about 3:2 paint/thinner with Mr. Leveling Thinner.
I sprayed a light initial coat and followed with a second light coat sprayed perpendicular to the first. I repeated the process with successively heavier coats until I achieved an even, wet coat.
After letting the body dry for several hours, I airbrushed the Clear Lacquer 2K (No. A.MIG-2261), following the recommended 2:1:1 clear/hardener/thinner ratio. It sprayed beautifully, and the finish is fantastic!
Final assessment

All-in-all, I’m impressed. The Cobra Motor Paints range sprayed beautifully and was easy to use. I found the coverage excellent, the finish super smooth, and it was amenable to supporting a choice of clears, from acrylics to lacquers. The fact that the paint itself has little or no odor is offset by the 2K clear, but if that’s an issue, just use the Tamiya Clear acrylic.

If you’re looking to change paint brands or just want to add more to your arsenal, give these a try. I think you’ll be glad you did.
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