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  1. #1
    Vent's Avatar
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    Games Workshop Air Brush Review

    The Games Workshop Air Brush (New Version, not the one that explodes) was just released in New Zealand and as someone who has used and purchased airbrushes before I thought I'd write up my thoughts on it in the form of a review for the forum. I'm unsure whether anyone has used an airbrush before or has purchased this one, either way these are just my own thoughts.

    Overview: An Airbrush is a tool used for a variety of purposes. Personally I have used an airbrush as a graphic designer, painting on paper and canvas, as well as on a variety of models and RC cars. Like any product an Airbrush can come in many shapes and forms from very complicated to slap and go, including electric compressor or gas-operated propellant. The GW Airbrush is one that aims for an entry level product and tries to keep costs low. To a certain extent it does do what is promised, however it is not without its flaws, and often these flaws can turn a simple job into a chore which requires a lot of time to fix.

    What you get: The airbrush itself costs $60 NZD ($35 USD). For this you get the airbrush, the paint bottle, connector hose (2m long), and the propellant can connection. The cans of propellant cost extra, in New Zealand these are $17 ($10 USD). The paint recommended is foundation, and for the purpose of this review will be what is used.

    Setup: The setup procedure is simple and outlined both in the instructions and as a form of common sense (Slot A goes into Slot B etc). There are a couple of small points of inconvenience with the putting together though; firstly the propellant can connector is made from plastic. While it is a high density plastic this does make screwing it onto a can some time problematic, it needs to be done softly until the connection is flush otherwise it is possible to break a thread track which will compromise the propellant pressure. However once the connection is made the o-ring inside makes a very snug and good fit. The hose connectors can be a touch fiddly, but the size of the tubing is such that larger sizes would result in a loss of pressure. Loading paint is ok, but a touch messy. a design feature of the GW airbrush includes a small hole in the paint bottle lid, this means that mixing the paint and water must be done with your hand over the bottle and not the bottle lid.

    Overall setup takes between 5 - 7 minutes and is easy to do.

    Ease of use: The Airbrush is in the form of a small flamer, and as well as being very cool to look at, is also rather comfortable to hold. In longer spray sessions the handle is a definite plus, it fits snugly into your hand and being a gun-style makes control and aiming easy. The trigger is relatively sensitive as well, a half depressed trigger propels a lower intensity spray. With a little practice it is easy to work out how much force you need. There are certain points of difficulty though, I found that the mixing of paint and water to be a little bit off, in that you need more paint or less water than indicated. As with anything where mixing is required there is fine tuning involved. This means there is a chance of wastage as you find the correct balance required. However when you finally have the right balance the paint works well and provided you have the propellant pressure correct will go on smoothly.

    This leads me to the second point; there is a lot of fine tuning involved in using this airbrush. You need to get the right balance of water to paint and the right level of paint application (You twist the lower needle), this is of course hampered by the fact that your propellant can gets very cold, very quickly, and a cold propellant can loses pressure. So for longer sessions there's a constant need to fine tune as you go and/or have a second can of propellant. (Please note that while GW says use tap water, distilled water is MUCH better than tap water for mixing and depending on where you live tap water is not an option because of the fluoride and other things that go into water)

    The GW airbrush lacks one thing which other more sophisticated airbrushes have, and this is the ability to change the flow settings from wide angle to thin. This kind of makes it a one trick pony, best used for large surfaces such as vehicles or dreadnoughts. If you have the finger control and can lightly depress the trigger theoretically you can use it for basecoating figures. But there is a danger of spraying to much paint and obscuring detail. However, regardless of how lightly you press the trigger the spray is going to come out in a wide format, there is no thin spray option that other Airbrushes have.

    Cleaning: When you're done the clean up procedure is pretty easy. Pour paint back into a pot for next time. Wash out bottle, fill bottle with water and put water through the airbrush like it was paint. This cleans 99% of paint, but not all of it. For that final little bit you do need to take the nozzle apart which in itself isn't that much of a problem. After that you simply break down the parts and store away for next time.

    Clean up time between 5 - 10 minutes.

    Verdict: Overall the GW airbrush is a decent entry level airbrush. It is going to do what it promises to do, but you're going to need to be patient and not expect it to be perfect the first time you use it, just like painting it's going to take some practice to know exactly what works. Likewise do not expect to use this for anything else except basecoating, there is no fine control option. The biggest problems I had with the Airbush are:

    A) The need to mix paint. It's a pain in the ass, and there are other paints that come ready to use which I'm going to try.
    B) Propellant cans. I detest propellant cans. They don't keep pressure for long and they always run out at the worst possible time, but for entry level there is no other way to go. A bonus however is that the hose supplied can be used with a mini compressor. A simple converter and you're away and laughing.
    C) Value for money. There are other Airbrushes on the market that do what the GW does and are cheaper at it. By paying a little more you can even get an entry level airbrush with more features.

    There ya go. All done. I would post some pictures, however my new camera has not yet arrived. When it does I'll post some of how things look afterwards. I hope this is of use to someone.

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  2. #2

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    Re: Games Workshop Air Brush Review

    What kind of a connector or conversion do I need to get to convert the GW airbrush to my compressor? I thought I could get out of having to by GW's propellant but the connector is a different size than my normal airbrush.

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  3. #3
    Vent's Avatar
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    Re: Games Workshop Air Brush Review

    Originally Posted by innella
    What kind of a connector or conversion do I need to get to convert the GW airbrush to my compressor? I thought I could get out of having to by GW's propellant but the connector is a different size than my normal airbrush.
    I use a Power Jet Lite Air Compressor. The hose provided is a different size, but I just bought a low pressure Fleetgard adapter and used some plumbing tape. Works like a dream.

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  4. #4
    Chaplain Vald's Avatar
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    Re: Games Workshop Air Brush Review

    Thanks for the info Vent, I'm looking into buying an airbrush in the next month or so (plastic baneblade variants on the way, woooo hoooo!) and its good to read some details from someone with experience.

    My armies, present and future:
    Imperial Fists (In Progress)
    Inquisition/Daemonhunters (In Progress)
    Tyranids (Now officially in progress!)
    IG Mechanized (sigh...someday)
    Legio Titanicus (again, sigh....)

    My blog (with occasional painting posts!)
    http://elbloggigante.blogspot.com
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  5. #5
    Vent's Avatar
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    Re: Games Workshop Air Brush Review

    Originally Posted by Chaplain Vald
    Thanks for the info Vent, I'm looking into buying an airbrush in the next month or so (plastic baneblade variants on the way, woooo hoooo!) and its good to read some details from someone with experience.
    No worries Chap. If you'd like some more help (IE a few options which I think are better than the GW entry) shout out

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  6. #6
    Jaws's Avatar
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    Re: Games Workshop Air Brush Review

    Thanks, I will be getting a compressor in a few months, and I've been meaning to ask someone who is knowledgeable about them.

    Is there any thing in particular I should be keeping in mind?

    Do I need 2 different tools for airbrushing and just spray painting? You know like basing models, like I would do with a store bought can of paint?
    Different nozzles?

    I've had my eyes on a 'silent running' compressor, it costs about 150 us dollars.

    My blargh!

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  7. #7
    Treadhead's Avatar
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    Re: Games Workshop Air Brush Review

    Re: Compressors

    Oilless compressors are the type you want, capable of outputting at least 30psi.
    Ideally you should have a storage tank on it, this prevents the need for it to be running constantly and does away with a lot of the noise.
    You'll need a regulator and vapour trap.

    AS for the different types of nozzle etc... yes and no. Most airbrushes are capable of spraying from a wide fan down to a small point... The better the brush, the smaller and neater the point. There is one particular type which uses interchangeable nozzles for different spray types (the Aztek brand and my personal recommendation)... It's all a rather moot point as with the GW 'airbrush' you're pretty limited to what you can do. There is very little control over how the paint comes out, it's really only good for basecoating and spraying large areas of colour...

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  8. #8
    Vent's Avatar
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    Re: Games Workshop Air Brush Review

    Originally Posted by Jaws
    Is there any thing in particular I should be keeping in mind?
    Decide well in advance what exactly you are planning to use it for. If you just want it for doing a base coat then you will not need the finest nozzle control. Do you plan to only use it for doing vehicles? Answering these questions now will provide you with a group of airbrushes to choose from and eliminate others that will not be right for you.

    Originally Posted by Jaws
    Do I need 2 different tools for airbrushing and just spray painting? You know like basing models, like I would do with a store bought can of paint?
    This will be answered in part by deciding what you want out of your Airbrush, but if you are going to spend a little more money than the GW airbrush then technically no. Middle range airbrushes are going to come with flow/nozzle control which will limit the amount of paint and spray area meaning that you will not need to purchase different nozzles. However if you get more serious about using an airbrush then you will find that some nozzles will work best for different jobs. But I would suggest going with a single nozzle of variable control to start with.

    Originally Posted by Jaws
    I've had my eyes on a 'silent running' compressor, it costs about 150 us dollars.
    I can't say that I've ever use a silent running air compressor. The one I have now is the one I've had for a very long time. I will give you my opinion however; the more features something has the greater the chance that something can go wrong with it. A silent compressor has additional features over a regular compressor and as such has the potential to go wrong in more ways than a standard compressor.

    Treadhead is totally right in regards to the oilless compressor and storage tank. These days the regulator and vapor trap should be standard on any model. I would also suggest a compressor that is capable of up to 50psi. That is just my personal preference though, 30psi is fine.

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  9. #9
    Jaws's Avatar
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    Re: Games Workshop Air Brush Review

    Ah I see, thanks.

    Regulator and vapor trap. I'll google those.

    EDIT:

    Ok thanks.

    I want it, mainly so I won't have to buy cans of spray paint, but I want the air brush too, just to experiment.

    My brother usually has about 3-4 motorcycles, he might even let me paint one that has eh... crash cowls (is it?) on.

    These are cheap plastic covers, used to replace the normal, expensive plastic stuff that covers the.. well most parts of high performance bikes.

    And from there, who knows?


    I saw a set, like a really cool paint brush set, with extra bells and whistles, all in a really cool box, at my local modelling shop.

    But it cost about 200 us dollar, maybe a bit more.

    I'm thinking, maybe I'll get something between that and the GW one.

    30 psi at the very least. Right.

    I think I'll have the store people turn it on for me, so I can judge the noise, if it is silent enough, I'll get it.

    I didn't see no tank on it (which actually struck me weird, all the ones I have seen to date have a tank), all it is, is a small red box.

    I'll see if I can dig up a link.

    My blargh!

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    I am the man for which no God waits, But for which the whole world yearns
    I'm marked by darkness and by blood, And one thousand powder-burns
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  10. #10
    Jaws's Avatar
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    Re: Games Workshop Air Brush Review

    Ok I think this is the one:

    http://www.biltema.se/products/product. ... emId=84855

    Say nothing about Per Square Inch pressure, all it says is 45 liter per minute.
    Also, it probably does have a tank, looking at it now.
    Says there, its suitable for air brushes.

    My blargh!

    From the raven's hair upon my head, To the feathers on my wings
    I am the man for which no God waits, But for which the whole world yearns
    I'm marked by darkness and by blood, And one thousand powder-burns
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  11. #11
    Treadhead's Avatar
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    Re: Games Workshop Air Brush Review

    Originally Posted by Jaws
    I want it, mainly so I won't have to buy cans of spray paint, but I want the air brush too, just to experiment.
    Look at it this way, the basic GW design will do everything a spray can, and a little bit more...

    Even a halfway decent single action brush will exceed that...

    As for that compressor, it doesn't have a tank, and is rated to 2.4bar, which equates to 34psi.

    In terms of its output, it's adequate (there are good reasons for higher pressures when spraying, but I've found 0-30psi will be sufficient for 95% of the work I want to do with one...) but as it's got no tank it will be constantly running, which uses power, makes noise (even if it's a quiet one) and generates heat (generally not good for the compressor itself in the long term...).

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  12. #12
    Jaws's Avatar
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    Re: Games Workshop Air Brush Review

    Alright, if I can find one as silent with a tank, I'll get that.

    But otherwise, noise is my top priority, since I live in an apartment.

    If the thing breaks down, I'll get a new one, it's not that expensive, it's actually around 100 dollars.

    I'll ask around.


    Thanks for the help, fellers!

    My blargh!

    From the raven's hair upon my head, To the feathers on my wings
    I am the man for which no God waits, But for which the whole world yearns
    I'm marked by darkness and by blood, And one thousand powder-burns
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