Testor's Mighty Mini
|Date of Review||September 2005|
|Pros||Entry-level airbrush and compressor combo|
Most modelers reach a point in their level of building and finishing sophistication that they are ready to transition into an airbrush. The major drawbacks of airbrushes are the initial expense, the cost of an air source whether disposable air cans or air compressor, and not having any experience with the tool to make an educated decision.
Testor Corporation is releasing the Mighty Mini - an entry-level airbrushing system that comes complete with compressor, airbrush, hose, paint cup, jar and jar adaptor, and a set of airbrush-ready acrylic paints, all for a price less than most airbrushes alone.
The airbrush is a single-action design made from plastic. It has a rather ingenious system that mounts the paint nozzle and needle assembly into one of two clips. The upper clip is for painting small areas (less paint flow) while the lower is for greater paint flow (larger areas). The mounting is holds the paint nozzle assembly firmly and allows for easy adjustments of the paint nozzle.
The paint cup is another interesting design. It is cylindrical in shape, the siphon tube molded into one side of the cup, and a small cap is located at the top of the cup where the siphon tube turns to enter the airbrush that makes it easy to clean the tube after painting.
The paint bottle adapter is designed to mount to the top of the small paint bottles. An empty bottle is provided to allow you to mix your own colors.
The air compressor is a small unit that looks like a larger aquarium air pump, but this unit pumps out air pressure - I'd guess around 20-25 psi. It is about as loud as a a standard diaphragm air compressor. It will sit easily on the workbench or table, but the noise level might make the compressor better left on the floor. A nylon air hose connects the airbrush to the compressor. The air hose appears to be permanently affixed to the airbrush.
I gave the unit a test drive. The airbrush was a bit small in my hand, which would make it ideal for kids 12-18 and older users with smaller hands. Flow control was very easy to manage and I was able to get consistent coverage - no pulsating in the airflow. With this unit, I'd keep my paints thin to ensure good flow and make clean-up easier.
On the top of the air compressor are two recesses, one to hold the paint cup, the other to hold a Pactra small paint bottle. With the vibrations in my unit, these recesses would be perfect to drop in your next bottle of paint to get mixed up while you're working on the current color.
My only concern would be lifespan - after a number of cycles of painting, dismantling, cleaning, reassembling and more painting, some of the nylon/plastic parts may get brittle after enough exposure to thinners/cleaners. Then again, by that time, you'd have learned enough about airbrushing that you'd be ready to step up into the next level anyway.
This is just the solution to see if airbrushing is for you without spending hundreds of dollars on more sophisticated equipment. It is an even better investment if your child is getting interested in the hobby, but hasn't been at it long enough to know if they'll stay with it.
My sincere thanks to Testors and the DLV Company for this review sample!