Monday, February 5

Tools tried 'n Tested: Yun Mo Precision Airbrush Review from MENG Model

Meng has entered the tool making business - no, not injection tooling - model making tools! Gary had a look at and a test run of their latest precision airbrush, the Yun Mo .2mm & .3mm Precision Airbrush. He examines and tests the brush out before he uses it on his latest kit in our review...

Tools tried 'n Tested: Yun Mo .2mm & .3mm Precision Airbrush Review
From MENG Model 

Prod# MTS-002
Available from Hobby Easy Price: GBP 80.75/ EUR 92.99/ USD 115.64/ AUD 143.17

I think most modellers would agree that an airbrush is one of the most important tools used during model building. Selecting and then learning to use your airbrush can be one of the more frustrating things you undertake as you strive to improve your modelling efforts, but the return on your investment is possibly greater than any other tool you will buy.

It's also true that many experienced modellers have acquired (and still regularly use) more than one airbrush. This is because, like any tool, one size (or type) does not fit all. Imagine trying to brush paint a model with only one size of the brush, you just wouldn't want to try.

So when it comes to airbrush selection, today more than ever, we have a huge range of types (single & double action, gravity & siphon feed) that come in different tip/needle sizes, colour cup capacities all being provided at a wide range of quality and prices.

MENG Models have now entered the tools market and have quickly built up a small catalogue. Today I look at their latest airbrush offering, the Yun Mo Dual Action Precision Airbrush

The Yun Mo (MTS-002) is actually MENG's second airbrush release and has been developed with a different design concept from their previous entry-level MTS-001 Vermilion Bird brush. 

Pictured below is the first airbrush from Meng - the Vermillion Bird airbrush.
The model we are looking at in this review is the Yun Mo is a gravity feed, dual-action brush with micro air control. It is targeted as a higher-end detailing airbrush offering very fine interchangeable tip sizes and multiple colour cups. This would be an ideal brush for modellers looking for an upgrade or as a second 'detail' airbrush.
The Yun Mo's body is constructed of brass and its surface has received a fashionable matt black hardening treatment. The combination of 0.2/0.3mm nozzles and hardened needles results in superior paint atomization and having a choice of tips makes it suitable for airbrushing most situations from small details to large areas coverage. Meng has also incorporated a new design for the micro air valve and the inclusion of a rear needle adjustor makes the brush extremely customisable to suit just about any painting scenario.
The airbrush comes professionally packed in a sturdy box with dense protective foam incorporating cutouts to store all the components safely.
As I unpacked the brush from its box I noted that it had a solid (weighty) feel, truth be told it reminded me of my Iwata brushes in many ways. The package consists of the following:
Main Airbrush Body (brass)
Two Gravity feed colour cups (5ml and 9ml capacity)
Two hardened steel needles (0.2mm / 0.3mm)
Two nozzle tips (0.2mm / 0.3mm)
Two needle caps (Crown and Horn styles)
Air hose quick-release adapter
Nozzle spanner
Included with the brush is an A4 sized simple foldout instruction guide, providing a packing list and some basic details on how to attach the brush to an air source and general safety recommendations.
The brush has a quality look and feel to it. All the moving parts come packed with lubricant and the matte black finish on the body of the brush provides a reassuring non-slip feel and despite my spilling some nasty solvent thinners on it seems very hardy. It will, of course, be interesting to see how robust the coating is over an extended period of use (abuse :).
One feature that will be welcomed by modellers who are moving from a single action brush to this double action brush is the inclusion of a 'needle travel adjustment' on the very rear of the brushes handle. This adjuster provides a safety stop capability that prevents the needle, when pulled back, from travelling too far and accidentally releasing too much paint from the nozzle (ie making a mess). Double Action airbrushes offer greater control because, air and paint are controlled by a single trigger. You have to simultaneously push the trigger down for air and pull it back to introduce paint into the air stream, which sounds easy, but takes some practice to get the two movements properly co-ordinated.
The two colour cups (5ml and 9ml) offered with the Yun Mo package can be interchanged via a simple screw thread on the top of the brush body. Even though its something that I myself use infrequently the inclusion of caps for both cups is also a nice feature. I swapped the cups several times as I was testing the brush and found the thread and seal to be positive, at no point did I experience any paint leakage.
A quick look inside the cups reveals that the black surface treatment has not been extended to the interior. This is probably a good idea as constant exposure to paint and solvents would accelerate the deterioration of the coating. The brass construction is quite evident from these photos.
Once I had familiarized myself with the general parts of the brush I, of course, wanted to pull it apart (its a strange compulsion I think all modellers suffer from). Disassembly felt oddly familiar and the deeper I went the physical similarity of this MENG brush to my Iwata brushes became apparent. By MENG providing two tip/needle sizes, two colour cup sizes and two different nozzle caps you start to get the feeling of getting two brushes for the price of one.
A closeup of the two tips reveals a very subtle shape difference between the 0.2mm and 0.3mm needles. Sensibly MENG has included engraved concentric bands on the rear end of the needles to allow easy identification of which is which. Trying to tell the difference between 0.2mm and 0.3mm using just your naked eye would be quite the challenge.
The needle cap on an airbrush is designed to protect the needle from the work and the work from the needle. A castle/crown cap allows you to get closer to your work and thus achieve finer detail, whilst still protecting the needle. It also decreases paint build-up on the needle and in the nozzle cap, preventing spitting. I have never used a horn cap before but given the design, I think its safe to assume that its intent is to have the absolute minimum material in the cap whilst still providing some protection to the tip.

The benefits of a cutaway style cap are obtained due to the better air displacement provided by the cut away sections of the crown cap. The cut-outs allow air to displace when you are getting very close to the work surface, so a crown cap is a great accessory for doing fine detail safely. Removing the needle cap completely decreases the spray pattern's spread just a bit. This allows you to spray finer details, however, there is a risk to the needle tip once you remove it.
The rear cover of the airbrush acts as both a handle and a counterbalance for the weight in the front of the brush. Its vital that an airbrush be balanced so that when using it you don't have to worry about stabilising the brush itself in your hand. Inside the handle is the main spring loaded needle chucking components. The layout and design of these parts are identical to my Iwata HP-B brush. In fact, I'm confident that I could interchange the parts between the two.
When performing the deep cleaning on your airbrush you will need to be confident in stripping and rebuilding it. The MENG Yun Mo parts breakdown is pretty standard as far as double action brushes go so you should have no problems here. Be sure to obtain some suitable lubricant for use when you re-assemble the internal parts of the brush.
Perhaps the most delicate part of any brush (and by far away the easiest to lose) is the nozzle. To remove the nozzle you will need to use the supplied spanner. The MENG Yun Ho includes two nozzles to suit the 0.2mm & 0.3mm needles. This means everytime you want to change your needle, you will need to unscrew and replace the nozzle as well.

The Micro Air Control adjustment enables infinite control of the airflow at the head of the airbrush, which is different than just regulating the air pressure at the compressor. For fine line or detail work, it can be adjusted to create the optimum airflow for maximum control of the paint output. This is a feature normally found only on high-end brushes and is a classy inclusion on the MENG brush.
When it comes time to hook your brush up-to an air source you will need an appropriate hose or MENG provide a quick-release adapter for use with a compatible hose. It's again worth noting that the thread fitting on the brush was a perfect fit to my Iwata hose.
Of course its useful to carefully examine the brush components but in the end, the only test that matters is how well it applies paint. I attached the brush to my compressor set at 15psi and tested both needle sizes with a variety of paints (Tamiya Acrylic, Gunze Mr Color, Mr Paint Lacquer Acrylics and some garden variety Humbrol enamels). Initially, the trigger mechanism was a bit stiff but after a short time it loosened up and the needle moved smoothly.
I'll be honest and admit I'm not the best freehand airbrusher in the world. With the 0.2mm needle fitted and using some Tamiya Acrylic paint, I still was able to lay down some very fine lines with the MENG brush. With more practice, especially with the Micro Air Control valve, I'm sure you could achieve greatness with this brush.
MENG has also recently released a companion addon for their airbrushes, the MTS-025 Light-weight Airbrush Water Trap Filter.
Moisture is an airbrushes worst enemy. When not dealt with, water droplets can make their way from the compressor to the airbrush and end up mixing with the paint stream with undesirable results. Unfortunately, when we compress air the moisture therein returns to its liquid form (ie water). The more moist (humid) the air we compress the more water that ends up coming out the other end.

Water (or moisture) traps are a fairly standard add-on for any compressor and airbrush rig. You can use a trap that fits to your compressors regulator or an inline trap (like this MENG filter) which stops the water along its path in the hose. Either way, the goal is to trap the water before it gets to the airbrush. In very humid climates (like those close to the equator) having two filters may even be your best option, one at the compressor and the second inline.

The MENG MTS-025 filter is made of light-weight metal and is designed to attach directly to the MENG MTS-001 Vermilion Bird airbrush and MTS-002 Yun Mo airbrush. For the fashion conscious it even comes in black to match the airbrush styling.
Supplied with two spare filter pads, you simply twist the body to open and swap out the pads to ensure moisture continues to be trapped before reaching the airbrush
The water filter is supplied with a simple guide on how to fit and use it. It's worth mentioning that filter would work fine with any brand airbrush which used a standard 1/8 inch fitting.
CONCLUSION - Meng Yun Lo Precision Airbrush (MTS-002)
In many ways, it makes sense for newer kit manufacturers like MENG to break into the tool and paint side of the hobby. Tamiya and to a lesser extent Hasegawa have been doing it for years, Trumpeter more recently but they are all wishing to be that 'one stop shop' for all your modelling needs. MENG has previously partnered with AK for paint and now are moving into producing top-end tools like airbrushes.

I have no hesitation in recommending this brush to anyone looking to upgrade their current brush or who have a basic brush already and want a second detail brush. A quick scan of the web showed the MTS-002 retailing for around US$120, which for a brush with this feature set seems like good value.
Next step for me is to take the Yun Mo out for a proper spin when I tackle the painting of my MENG 1:48 F-35A shortly. Stay tuned ...

Gary Wickham

Thanks to Meng Models who sent this to Gary to use to paint his new F-35 (and many other) kits with. You can get this Brush and all it's accessories from Meng's Distributors Worldwide.