Most modellers these days have an airbrush, it more or less one of the first thing you buy when you start to take the hobby a little more seriously, quickly followed by a compressor when you realise how much it is going to cost you in air propellant cans. My first airbrush was a Badger 200 and I still own it, OK I have replaced the needle a couple of times as well as the tips but it is still my old faithful airbrush. I like it because it so simple to use, its easy to clean and cheap to run. I have even tried others a Aztec for example (and hated it if I'm truly honest) I also own a badger 150 with different tips and needles but still go back to the old badger 200 every time.
It was at scale model world in Telford, England this year I first saw the new Iwata Revolution TR series of airbrushes being demonstrated to the general public, I was amazed at how easy it was for every body picking it up for the first time and then using it as if they had owned one for years. Due to the high amount of traffic at the stand I was unable to have a go myself, so I went away from the show intrigued and want to try this new airbrush for myself, luckily for me I now get to put one through its paces in my own workshop.
In the Box
The airbrush arrives fitted inside a plastic box, sitting inside a foam cut out, next to a 2oz cup and a moisture trap, so is well protected during transit and should reach you in perfect working order. Also included in the box are a couple of stickers, the regulation Health and Safety sheet, a set of instructions in English and Chinese, a small spanner and a test piece of paper to show that your airbrush was tested with paint before being sent from the manufactures. Also included is the registration sheet for the 10year warranty.
The revolution series of airbrushes is at what I would call the value end of the market, these are designed for beginners and those on a budget, does this mean that the quality is not the same as the higher end models, no of course not, they are built from the same quality of materials using the same machines with exactly the same attention to detail and quality as the more higher end Iwata airbrush. What it does mean is you do get a lot of technology for your money with the piece of mind that it will last for years to come. The first thing that stands out when you see the new Revolution TR series for the first time is that it has a trigger at the front instead of the usual top button. I though this may actually be a little bit awkward at first after so many years using a standard top button airbrush, but was surprised how naturally it sits in the hand, this is helped by fitting the moisture trap to the bottom of the airbrush. Theres nothing worse than splattering water from the compressor over your freshly painted model so this is a welcome addition to the kit.
The Air brush is in fact a dual action controlled by the front trigger, this may seem strange to those used to the more normal action of the top button (press down for air and back for paint) but it does in fact work and works very well, but more of that later. The TR-2 version comes with a 0.5mm Nozzle although it can do quite fine lines it is more of a general airbrush, those looking for real fine detail may be better with the TR-1 with the 0.3mm nozzle. Picking up the airbrush for the first time there is a quite positive feel to it, its hard to explain with out actually holding one but it feels so well balanced with the paint cup and moisture trap fitted it is actually a joy to hold. The airbrush is pretty much the standard layout (except for the trigger), it has two holes at the front for mounting the paint cups one left and one right with a small blocking plug to seal the unused hole so it is perfect for both left and right hand users. The rear unscrews to show a small threaded nut which holds the needle in place, untighten the nut and the needle pulls out ready for cleaning. The tips are removable, just bear in mind the threads as they look quite fine, this means you could swap them out for a set of fine tips and needle (as in the TR-1) if you felt you really needed that extra fine spray pattern
As well as the airbrush you get the moisture trap this is designed to screw on to the bottom of the airbrush, and has a small push pin so you can release any moisture it catches. There is also a 2oz paint cup, machined out of steel with a lid. this is some thing other manufactures miss with there side feed cups, but does pretty much allow you to spray as you please with out spilling the paint everywhere (yes I did learn this the hardway with my badger). The cup has quite a snug positive fit into the airbrush and with it fitted the airbrush does not feel front heavy in any way. The instructions are in a large fold out sheet one side in Chinese the other in English, some of the translation is a little odd but you get the idea. The instructions contain advice on cleaning and maintaining your airbrush, a broken down parts index as well as a small fault finding section. A small spanner is also included to help you disassemble the airbrush if needed. Finally most of the Iwata extras will also fit the TR series of airbrushes including the paint cup set that has five plastic paint cups (again with lids) and a couple of very small funnels (with out lids) so should you wish to do rapid paint changes these are a ideal and cost effective way of doing it, as the metal ones are quite expensive. For those wanting to have a side bottle they also do one in a plastic with a vertical suction feed as comes standard with a lot of other airbrushes.
The Road test
So on to the road test, I have heard from a lot of people about the quality of the Iwata range and how I should upgrade from my badger, I had tried this years ago with an Aztec which I total hated, just could not get on with it and went back to my old airbrush. To also enable me to do this review I was also was sent a braided hose (Iwata to 1/4BSP fitting), this is an extra you may need, and it has to be purchased separately, but it does mean you don't have to buy a new compressor as well. Fitting the hose to my Rip max compressor was a simple matter of taking the old badger hose off and screwing the new one on. Airbrushes.com can pretty much match any fitting to any compressor with the various adaptors they have, it would just be a case of contacting them to discuss your requirements.
The airbrush was put together with the 2oz cup and the moisture trap and fitted to the hose, the compressor was then run up and the pressure set at 20psi (the normal I ran my badger at), I mixed up some life colour acrylics with thinner in the cup and was ready to paint. I use an old card board box as a paint screen when spraying on my desk, this is also used to set and test the paint, so was an ideal chance to run a few test lines across it before hitting the model. Pulling the trigger slowly you begin to release the air, as you pull further back the paint is introduced. I was then able to spray across the box adjusting the pattern as I went, the control this trigger gives is surprisingly good, it was easier to control than my dual action ever was and due to the positioning of the trigger I was able to keep the lines going for longer with out cramp setting into my finger. I must point out at this point that I was using my Index finger to control the trigger and my thumb and forefinger to guide the airbrush. Then it happened it started to splatter, and leave large blodges of paint. I checked the cup which was still had paint in it. I cleaned it out and cleaned the airbrush and re-did the test again using Tamiya acrylics (it was my first time using life colour, to many firsts in my eyes to get a clear picture of the problem) and again it started to splatter a check of the airbrush showed it was still clean, so I dropped the compressor pressure down to 10psi and tried again this time perfect, the paint sprayed out with out the splatter (just goes to show how bad a state my old badger was actually in with out me realising it) and I was able to produce thick and thin lines by just adjusting the pressure on the trigger, I have to say at this point I was grinning from ear to ear, Its was in fact fun to use. Another clean out later I was ready to try it for real, I have a Accurate Armour Austin K2/Y Ambulance sitting on my shelf waiting to paint, and this seemed an ideal opportunity to do so, deciding to continue with Tamiya paints as I was used to how they work. After mixing up the base colour in the cup I was ready to paint, and again grinning as I misted on the first layer of colour onto the model, and due to the control over the paint the trigger gave me I was able to mist in some of the smaller areas on the model with out over spraying. The paint job went on quicker and easier than I imagined, and is a testament to how easy this airbrush is to use. I know I have a few years experience under my belt, but still it was easier to use than my badger 200 and the 150. I do believe anybody could pick this up and use it and with a few test goes be able to airbrush quite easily and competently with minimum problems. Next up to try will be some a more complicated German camouflage scheme to see how it handles, I will add some extra pictures to the review with a amendment once done.
Due to there complete trust in the quality of the Iwata Product Airbrushes.com now offer to extend the current five year warranty of the airbrush to ten years, this is only on Iwata airbrushes brought from them or one of there authorised dealers. I would recommend that if you are seriously considering an new airbrush you should take a look at, WARNING: A buyers Guide to the Airbrush
this really does emphasise why you should not cut corners when buying you airbrush, The market is full of cheap copies and whilst it may seem a bargain at the time, it will eventually cost you. A real Iwata will give a life time worth of use whilst a copy you will be replacing every year as there are no parts. If your going to make the investment then please do it right first time.
After giving the Iwata a good try out, I can confidently put my old badger to rest, it has had its time and been a faithful friend over the years, but this Iwata gives me the same ease of use as my badger but with even more control. Do I recommend the TR series, oh yes, if you are looking for a good solid airbrush without the complicated control and aches of using a normal duel action for long periods of time then this is for you. Add in the ten year warranty they now offer with every Iwata then this brush will last a lifetime. If you ever get the chance to try one of these at a show, muscle your way to the front and have a go , you will not leave disappointed but more than likely with a new airbrush under your arm. Like anything else practise makes perfect, you won't pick this up and paint like the pro's but you will be on the first steps to wards it.