by: Todd Michalak [ ]
Iwata, well known in the modelling community by providing airbrushes, spray guns and compressors introduces the next in a line of innovative ideas; The Neo for Iwata Side-feed Trigger Airbrush.
Recently I had the opportunity to have a close look at the Neo for Iwata TRN2 Side Feed Trigger Airbrush. This a new design for Iwata with a couple interesting features. The one feature that stands out most from the start is the pistol grip and trigger action. Originally starting out on the single action and duel action “bottom-feeder” airbrushes and for a few years now from the school of gravity feed airbrushes I was a bit intrigued at this design.
Editors note: Also be sure to check out Todd's cleaning guide video towards the bottom of the page!
The Neo for Iwata TRN2 airbrush weighs in at a comparable 171.5 grams, with the small cup installed, 201.5 grams. This airbrush has a durable, polished chrome finish. It’s most noticeable feature is the pistol grip style handle and trigger.
The pistol grip is constructed from ABS plastic and contours nicely to fit the hand well. The trigger, with its large swooping design, is preset for the paint and airflow. Simply pull the trigger and the paint and air are mixed proportionally similar to a single action airbrush. If you are heavy-handed with your trigger there is a standard micrometer style control dial at the back end of the airbrush. With the dial turned all the way in, the trigger is more or less locked and no air or paint will flow. As you turn the dial fixture counter clockwise, both air and paint are released and you can dial in your own personal setting.
The Neo for Iwata TRN2 airbrush is specifically designed to work at lower pressures than would typically be used. This feature actually gives more control while performing close detail work such as camouflage and touch-ups.
The airbrush is supplied paint through a side feed gravity action. There are two cups supplied with this kit; a ¼ oz. (7cc) and a ½ oz. (15cc) gravity side-feed cups as well as a 1 oz. (30cc) Iwata Big Mouth Bottle and conversion extension. The ¼ oz. cup is much larger than the traditional gravity fed airbrushes. The ½ oz. ounce cup is enormous! This interchangeable feature would most certainly come in handy for painting many larger scale models. The threaded compression connection on both cups makes for an easy change depending on the job you are doing. Both cups come with removable lids. Each cup can be used with or without the lid installed. The 1 oz. Iwata Big Mouth Bottle is essentially a siphon feed that converts the side-feed properties. All other Big Mouth Bottles and Iwata regular bottles are compatible with this.
The Airbrush comes equipped with a 0.5 mm sized Iwata needle and nozzle installed in a similar fashion to most airbrushes on the market today; however, this is where things become a bit more complex. The overall parts list excluding the cups that make up this airbrush is huge! Aside from cleaning the cup, the feed chamber and tip areas, from time to time it is always good to breakdown the entire airbrush and cleans accordingly. With the Neo for Iwata TRN2 airbrush this is not exactly an effortless task.
Breaking down the airbrush into sub-assemblies, there is a tremendous amount of parts that make up this airbrush. As you can see in the pictures, there is thirteen parts in the pistol grip and trigger assembly, thirteen parts to the inside the main part of the airbrush body including the body, four parts to the needle tip assembly and the needle. This does not include the two paint cups, Big Mouth Bottle and extension arm. Pheeew!
Disassembly is not too difficult really, as it is easier to take things apart then to put them back together. I was able to complete taking the entire airbrush apart in about 10 minutes or so. Since the enormous amount of parts to this airbrush it may be best to do this on a cookie sheet or tray with a small lip to keep the parts from going all over. This would technically not need to be done on a regular basis certainly, but from time to time it may be advisable to do this to check all the rubber seals and nylon washers.
Getting the feel for things
After a quick look at the parts and how things work I of course needed to hook things up and give this one a test drive. The air fitting at the bottom of the pistol grip is a standard 1/8” NPT fitting as found on most airbrush compressors so I was able to jump right in without having to pick up any reducing couplings.
The trigger action is very smooth. As I mentioned above, this airbrush is preset for the paint and airflow very similar to a single action airbrush. The biggest difference is the trigger action verses the top push button on the single action airbrushes. The slide action and trigger control is much easier to control and with the position dial located at the back of the Neo you can dial in the right setting and let the airbrush do the rest.
The pistol grip is very comfortable, almost a natural feel to it. I am used to using a variety of airbrushes but as of late a standard duel action gravity feed has been my medium of choice. After a few minutes of playing around holing the Neo, getting a feel for the weight and balance, it is time to load this up with some paint and have a go.
What better place to start trying out an airbrush than with some good old primer. I decided to some Vallejo primer first. I have had a mixed experience with Vallejo’s primer depending on environmental conditions, pressure and which type of airbrush being used. This seemed the best choice then. Surprisingly, things went well. There was no tip clogging and a clean, smooth primer coat was the result. I was very pleased with this part of the test drive. I would suspect some of the decent result lies with the 0.5 mm needle. Being slightly larger than my usual 0.2 mm there is more room for the paint to flow smoothly through the tip by the needle. Second could be the proportioning of the air/paint ratio that is built into the airbrush. I did manage to break out a little AK Interactive primer I have. This primer is thinner in consistency and covers completely differently, again depending on condition as well as the other items I mentioned. Again, I was able to obtain smooth coverage. A slight adjustment to the needle stop ensured the same spay coverage all the while.
Moving onto some paint, I chose several brands to have a go with; Vallejo Model Air and Model Color thinned, AK Interactive, K4, Badger, Life Color, Tamiya and finally Alclad…oh my!! Each one of these paints performed very well in the Neo Side-feed airbrush. I especially liked the fact that this airbrush is designed to work at lower pressures. This is crucial with metallic colors, especially Alclad. Typically Alclad needs to be applied at around 12 to 15 psi and extremely lightly. This was able to be obtained down to 9 to 10 psi. This is where the dial control setting on the rear comes in handy. The light mist stays uniform throughout the coats.
I feel the Neo for Iwata TRN2 Side Feed Trigger Airbrush is a well-engineered and well-constructed airbrush with an ergonomically friendly design with the pistol grip and trigger. The airbrush felt comfortable in my hand as did pulling the trigger and laying down some paint.
Clean up is fairly straightforward in regards to the cups and the front end of the airbrush. The place where things can become problematic is in the complex design of the unit. There are numerous part throughout the airbrush, more than I am used to dealing with and at times I thought things might be overdesigned; however, most of this excess of parts goes directly to the proportioning of the air/paint mixture and the feature of lower pressure applications.
The addition of two side-feed cups and the siphon bottle attachment is very nice, however slightly impractical in most modelling applications. I say this as the larger cup and the Wide Mouth Bottle are enormous! A staggering amount of paint can be placed into these and with the exception of 1/72 submarines, 1/6 tanks and maybe some 1/32 aircraft, I feel these attachments are added for marketing of large scale modelers, craft projects and body tanning. The smaller ¼ oz. cup is more than sufficient for the majority of all modelling excursions. The only item with the smaller cup I found a bit troublesome is the side-feed itself only in the tube that connects to the airbrush and a small chamber inside the airbrush at the end of the tube holds about as much paint as I would normally place into my gravity fed airbrush. This is noticed when you place the paint into the airbrush, it seems to just disappear as it heads down the tube into the airbrush and if you are not paying attention will end up putting more paint than is needed which results in a bit of waste.
As for the price of the Neo for Iwata TRN2 Side Feed Trigger Airbrush, this seems to be correct for an airbrush of this quality. There are decent airbrushes for less and exceptional airbrushes for a heck of a lot more money but you do get what you pay for nowadays; however, the quality is right up there with many of the mainstream airbrushes on the market.
All in all, I feel this is a fine airbrush with an innovative design, albeit certainly geared towards the larger sizes of scale modelling and non-modelling applications, this is still a solid quality at a fair price for what the airbrush is intended for.
To make clear any references to The Neo for Iwata Side Feed Trigger Airbrush as being "like" a single action airbrush the author wishes to make clear the fact that the Neo for Iwata Side Feed Trigger Airbrush a Duel Action airbrush and should be considered as such