Tag - airbrushing

Sparmax flyer review dn models masks for scale models

Sparmax Flyer Airbrush – a review

Intro:

The first time I saw the the Flyer from Sparmax I was beyond surprised. I have couple of their products on my bench that I use on regular basis. The newest item that I got was quite different. And by that I mean not bad or good, but approached with different perspective from the manufacturer. It turned out to be a pleasant surprise, but let me fill you in how I got to that point.

The Flyer, as this airbrush is called, appeared different and was made from plastic, but not only that. It grip resembles some pistol grip airbrushes, but it is limited to its vertical structure, missing the metal pieces which are standard for an airbrush. By that I mean the “gun point” that you use to aim and shoot.

Sparmax flyer review dn models masks for scale models  

On top of it the jar /or maybe I should call it a cartridge/ of paint is placed, and the whole thing when prepped for work resembles the tranquilizer guns seen in some sci-fi movies. Sparmax Flyer is made of plastic – predominantly – and it has black body with orange trigger and transparent top where you can see the color and quantity of paint.

To be frank, the start was rather disappointing. But you should never judge things from the first glimpse.

The ergonomics:

Time for the first kiss. I gotta admit, the grip is very nice and the airbrush fits in your palm, allowing firm grip and easy trigger control. It is not heavy, probably due to plastics which is being made from and especially when the paint comes to its last drops in the jar. But even full, the 15 ml fluid bottle is not much of a weight changer.

If you haven’t used pistol grip airbrush, getting used to the Flyer will present some time-challenge. I have been into pistol-grip airbrushes for more than 8 years already and the transfer was an easy one. The lack of an extension of the business end of the Flyer is somewhat odd though.

Sparmax flyer review dn models masks for scale models

With that said, I have to add, that this isn’t a precise airbrush. This is far from the snipers which are with .15 or .2mm needle/nozzle combos. The nozzle here is .4mm but for more than one reasons, the control is very limited. In general, this is an airbrush which is contemplated to be used for general airbrushing over large areas.

The working pattern:

That take us to this very next step. How does it work? For the rugged looks that it has, it gives stellar performance actually. How did Sparmax made the magic? I have no idea. The results are even coats, great atomization, unified and smooth surface results and trouble-less performance.

From the very first session, the airbrush completed the tasks that I had in my mind. Which was spraying over a flat surface and with single layer. What I tried was primer and paint, intentionally missing the clear coats. From my experience, if you can do primer and paint, clears are a breeze.

Sparmax flyer review dn models masks for scale models

There were no hick-ups, no un-even areas nor any other troubles or mishaps. Some of these you can easily get with Chinese cheapos, especially single-action ones. For my surprise this toy-ish looking chunk of plastic did the job better than those and with finesse.

Sparmax flyer review dn models masks for scale models

It is difficult to get used to the distance from which you should apply the material. Again, lack of extension of the business end justifies that /my point from the beginning – the missing “gun point” that you use to aim and shoot/. But in few minutes everything comes into place and comfort kicks in.

Sparmax flyer review dn models masks for scale models

The desired add-on:

Air pressure regulator that I have from Sparmax did great deal of work with my initial trials. I consider this /or such/ add-on a must if you plan to use Sparmax Flyer. The standard 1/8” hose fitting allows for easy attachment of such, as well as an moisture trap along the line. The latter one is very adequate add-on too, since this airbrush is air-grizzler and with air often comes the water.

Sparmax flyer review dn models masks for scale models

However, the add-on that I enjoyed the most and will use every time with the Flyer is the air pressure regulator or Air Control Valve as Sparmax call it.

The bottle(s):

The Fluid bottle of the Sparmax Flyer is more than just a bottle. The nozzle of the airbrush is embedded in it. I got lucky, because I got two separate bottle from the get go. Thus two nozzles. No cleaning needed, at least not so often. However, in my case the second fluid bottle was a bonus. Originally, the airbrush comes with only one.

Sparmax flyer review dn models masks for scale modelsSparmax flyer review dn models masks for scale models

The fact that the nozzle is included though, makes me think that there is no way to get one too many of these. Each paint in separate jar, with its own nozzle, well, it doesn’t get any better than that. Or does it? Yeah, maybe when self-cleaning airbrushes appear on the market. But I doubt it, since I remember the self-cleaning VHS tape recorders. Do you?

Conclusion:

Sparmax Flyer is one odd bird. It has primitive appearance, but it works perfectly fine. Besides, it is very fancy for non-professional airbrush users. It resembles that tranquilizer gun from Total Recall –Schwarzenegger classic – where they injected his neck with a sedative from something that I think was the Flyer prototype. I am joking of course.

Sparmax flyer review dn models masks for scale models

The airbrush is very good entry level tool and even for advanced users, it will do most of the general work, especially if you work on large areas. Control-wise is limited. Sometimes that can be annoying. But if you are entering the airbrush realm with it, you won’t notice that. Even if you do, you wouldn’t mind, trust me. It saves a lot of trouble being what it is.

I have to admit, at first glance, I underestimated it. And I was wrong. It is pretty neat airbrush. The looks can be deceiving…

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Masks vs Decals - The Analysis by DN Models ah-1z viper marines

Masks Vs. Decals – The Analysis

Masks vs. Decals - the analysis, is a short article, about how decals alter the appearance of a scale model, while masks can improve it. With that said, we must clarify the idea of the scale model. It is all about realism. Scaled down, made in an art form, any miniature is after the realism. Well, some are not, but those are usually different form of art. In scale modeling, people are fighting over sizes, panel lines, measurements and what not. And it all comes down to this: how accurate the replica in scale is. However, even the best and most accurate dimension-wise models are useless without the proper colors and markings. And those are subjects basis for even nastier feuds. Of course, the goal is still the same. Perfection in all dimensions and appearance that will cheat the eye to believe, that this is the real thing. Now, much has been written about colors. Acrylics versus enamels, this brand over that one and so on. With that said, the markings are still under consideration. Tamiya for example, are ill-famous for their thick decals. They don't adhere to the surface nicely. Usually, they can ruin the whole project. And of course, weathering those can be a struggle. That goes for aftermarket decals as well. And this is where masking in scale modeling comes in.

Masks are not only for canopies, they can be used for everything.

Masks vs. Decals is not an actual challenge. It is a self explanatory subject. Why? Well, masks vs. decals would've been a discussion in case most of the application out there in the real world were made with decals. They aren't. Let me show you why: What you can see above is an AH-1Z helicopter. Real life bird. Painted with masks. Now see how neatly it looks on that picture. And let me share with you why you cannot get better than masks in modeling. What you see below is a close up of the markings. Is the question Masks vs. Decals here stands? I don't think so. You can clearly see the overspray spot and that it perfectly matches the color of the markings. How close can you get by doing this painting over decals? Pretty close some of you might say.

That may be the case. But if you use masks, you will be 100% accurate.

But again, that is not the sole reason. Now, on the picture below, you can see that there is a leveling in between the layers of paint: Decals are one unified surface. A film, that holds the transparent part and the markings - all in one. But what you see above and what you can achieve on a model are different things. Not that you will need that supreme form of accuracy in 48th scale. For example, with that AH-1Z that is a good point, since one of the best kits of the Viper is exactly in quarter scale. But even if those were vinyl stickers on the real thing, in order to be more accurate, in scale your only option is to go for the masks. What about paint layering? Well masks vs. decals gives masks advantage here again. It is true, that mostly, such things are visible on armor vehicles. Rarely on aircraft. But take a moment to inspect the picture below: Looking close enough, you can see that there is paint leveling from the previous markings. The best way to get there is not with decals. Well, it might be, if you cut out the transparent film. But where is the point in doing that, when you can do that solely by using a paint mask set for the markings? And be as thick as you might want to be.

Best advantage of the masks set is the weathering option that they provide.

Chipping is visible not only on armored vehicles. Weathering and missing paint flakes can be seen on every extensively used vehicle. No matter is it a helicopter, train, tank or plane. Let me clear that out for you: This can be done with decals. And with tons of risks following. Especially when it comes down to the clear film and the possible wash troubles that will follow with the final weathering. So, masks vs. decals here? Masks win. Why? Well, you can do this with hairspray, salt method, masking fluid and what not. In all those possible variants, you will get this exact effect. No clear film to worry about, no color discrepancy, no nothing. Pure and simple. Give it a try with masks, see where that will lead you. Be my guest.

Weathering over painted insignia is far easier. It always was, always will be.

Finally, the paint that goes under the masks. Yes, many complain about that. I even had to gear up with my airbrush and travel 50 miles once, just to prove a point. Thin layer of paint, drying with the airbrush and air only for a 2-3 seconds and another thin layer. And no underlying paint, no defects no nothing. But for those who cannot cope with that, here it goes: Well, it happens to the best of us. It happens to me more often that I want to admit. Obviously the sailor who painted this won't be awarded at the next IPMS at his local chapter. It happens. So what? Apparently, it happens in real life too. As you can see from the picture above. Overspray and underlying paint is unavoidable. And what if it happens? Well, you can get better realism, that's what. True, scaled down, those will be mostly invisible. The last picture especially. The edges on technical signs as NO STEP or NO PUSH too. But not the chipping, not the edges and paint layering and not the accuracy of the appearance and colors. All of those will be perfectly into scale. And only if you go for the masks. Scaled down, the thickness of the elements of the scale model are the bigger issue here. You don't believe that the trailing edge of an aircraft in 48th scale correspond to the real thing, do you? And on the flying toys, sharp edges are most common thing visible. The thickness of the clear parts too. Imagine the weight of a canopy that thick if you scale up your plastic part. Insignia? Yeah, but not that much. This might be slightly different compared to reality, but it is 10 or 15%. The elements mentioned above are awfully out of scale. With which of those you will be closer to reality? I trust the masks will suffice. So what was the question again? Masks vs. Decals? www.dnmodels.com
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Top 5 Airbrushes for Beginners. And not only.

Getting an Airbrush is a somewhat difficult decision. Price-wise it is on the heavy side, although with the current prices of scale models it might be considered acceptable expense, especially if you deal with larger scales. Now, getting an airbrush for beginners or your "First Airbrush" might be a challenge. On the other hand, what you will see in this article will not be only for beginners. The reason for that is that your first airbrush might be very helpful for you as a beginner's tool, but in the same time you can buy a tool that can stick with you for quite a while. Airbrushes can last long, as long as a decade or more. Usually, a person uses an airbrush between 3 to 5 years and then either upgrade or renew some of the parts. Some people use them for 5 to 10 years, some even more, which means that the airbrush was a good choice from the get go and that it justified the investment.

The airbrushes that will be mentioned in this article are exactly those IMHO. They are tools that are not simplified for price lowering, nor are way too complex to be un-suitable for beginner and intermediate users. Those are airbrushes that can serve a long and trustworthy career on your bench and are "battle proven". They are neither too expensive, nor clones of better tools. These are airbrushes that are affordable, reliable and can be your companion for long long time. The most important thing is that they will do all that you need, with the sole requirement from your end - to practice enough to master using them.

Number 5: Paasche Talon TG Dual-Action Gravity Feed airbrush. This is a tool that I used to begin with, when I got into more serious airbrushing. The one that I am showing here has 3 sets of nozzles. The price - considering the set - is on the lower end. I never had any issues with that airbrush, beside one time only. My paint cup cracked, where it joins to airbrush body. Extremely fast reaction from customer service, and I got a new airbrush, without the need to returning the damaged one. So lots of spare parts came as a bonus. The airbrush is good, with odd sized nozzles, but still perfect for almost everything you can think of. A bit heavy though.

Pros: Cheap, 3 sets of nozzles, tail stopper, hose included, big paint cup. Cons: Odd nozzle sizes, a little off- in terms of balance, a bit heavy, non-standard hose attachment size. Number 4: Badger 105 - the notorious Patriot.  You can spray almost everything through the Patriot and it will never let you down. Well, it might not be never, but we are talking about a very tough tool here. The price is on the lower end and probably this is the cheapest option. It lacks the sophisticated looks as well as some tricky small add-ons that others have, but still this is a legendary airbrush. If you are on a strict budget, this is the tool for you. Some of the best modelers use it and I have mentioned that before in several other airbrush articles. Pros: Cheap, yet reliable. Perfect for those on a budget. You can spray almost everything through it. Some of the best use it and once you get use to it, it is hardly a replaceable tool. Cons: Large nozzle size .5mm, rugged looks, poor needle protection, non standard hose attachment. Number 3: Harder & Steenbeck Ultra 2 in 1. This is a tricky one. The trigger is flimsy and it takes time to get use to it. Ballance-wise it is pretty much the same. You need time for adjustment /if you are a beginner/, especially with the two paint cup options. It has two needle-nozzle setups included which practically gives you two airbrushes. It is not an expensive tool, considering the brand, and the needles and nozzles can be used with the higher-end airbrushes from Harder & Steenbeck. Pros: Nice brand, precise tool, two needles and nozzles in the pack, parts interchangeable with higher-end airbrushes from the same manufacturer. Cons: Flimsy trigger, no tail stopper, expensive replacement parts. Number 2: Sparmax MAX-3 Dual-Action Airbrush. This is my personal favorite. It is reliable and tough airbrush. Many use it as a main weapon of choice and the results that it can give you are astonishing. Sparmax produce airbrushes for other brands for 40 years already and they know what they are doing. This is an improvement compared to their older models and there is a lot embedded in this tool for that price. Sparmax MAX 3 and MAX 4, respectively .3mm and .4mm nozzles, are all-around airbrushes that can suit 99% of the modelers for their career.  Pros: Very comfortable, rugged, reliable and reasonably priced. It has all that you might want from an airbrush. Cons: It is not a famous brand per se. That is its only con. Number 1: Iwata HP-C Plus. The one and only! Yes, this is my absolute favorite. I have it, use it and trust it more than anything else. Although pretty much the same as Number 2 mentioned here, Iwata is a brand that we all love and admire. Once you get the felling of it and that will be it for the rest of your modeling career. If you want style, this is it. True, this is the highest cost you will pay compared to the others mentioned above. However, considering that this is Iwata: it is not their most expensive tool. I would've said to go with Eclispe series, but this is a tool that combines it all and in the same time I believe you can start with it. So High-Performane series all the way if you ask me! It will cost you the price of two, maybe three decent kits, but it will last you a lifetime if you take good care of it. Pros: It is a famous brand, it can last you a lifetime with proper care, it is made in Japan. Precise, reliable, beautifully crafted. Cons: Price of the tool, price of the spare parts, price of nice add-ons like crown cap, pressure regulator and such. You can get most of it if you buy Eclipse series, but still... As a conclusion: No matter which of those five you might choose, with decent amount of training sessions, you will eventually get used to any of them. They should cover pretty much the whole range of your modeling needs, while keeping the price at a reasonable level. There are more of course, both - in terms of brands and bells & whistles. But the five mentioned above are the most popular and probably the ones that you will be able to get easily. You also get a guarantee of a steady supply of spare parts if needed and probably, some of your modeling buddies already have one of them in stash, so help will be available if needed. So, pick one and start airbrushing! www.dnmodels.com  
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The Importance of having good airbrush.

This is very interesting and discussed subject. It’s been and probably will be – an object of much controversy, opinion impacts and sometimes even feuds. Latter one is predominantly brand related. But not only. The airbrush subject is reliant on many sub-options, like where one is located, perception of that particular stage of the modeling in general and of course – personal budget. Nowadays, money are most important. They are melting faster, compared to what we had back in a day. And that is not only because everything is more expensive. It is actually. But also because there are a lot of options and various add-ons to everything. Manufacturers explore the buyers mind to its limit and provide us with what-not, just to make more out of each and every one of us. It is enough to see how many equal models are available with the sole difference of decal options and different boxart. But that is still enough to tempt a modeler to get “just one more” and stash it. Airbrush-wise it is more or less the same. But this has its differences too. Firstly, because the airbrush is meant to last. This is the most important difference between a decal set, a model or a sandpaper piece. The airbrush is a tool that requires a long term engagement. Pretty much like buying a car. Thus, the investment should be considered wisely and one must know exactly how far he/she will go using that airbrush. Usage is the path to eventual airbrush exchange at a later point, but also brings experience. Don’t get me wrong, that doesn’t mean that if you are not using it you will save it for later, but on the other hand it doesn’t mean either – go buy an expensive tool and use the hell out of it. There must be a clear and thought-through idea, on how often and for what applications one will use an airbrush. Airbrushes that are high-end tools with small nozzles /by small I mean .2mm and less/ are far from suitable for priming and clear coats. Maybe you can use them for clear coats if you are working in 72nd scale. But it is a maybe. Those airbrushes cost more, usually featuring delicate parts that are also – too expensive to exchange. On the other hand, using a general-usage airbrush /.4-.5mm nozzle/ might not suffice the needs for small scales and for fine work on larger scales, like hand-painted stripes on a Me-109 in 48th and even 32nd scale. Of course, many might think that .3mm or .35mm - which are in general most used airbrushes - will be just in the middle and will cover both of the situations described above. The only thing that you have to add to solve the equation is experience. And that is too, close to the truth, but it is not an absolute. The airbrush must first fit in your hand, to give you the right feel, to be of the right weight and to reacts to your body accordingly. By the latter one I mean the right amount of tension applied to the trigger, which is one of the reasons that I dumped the most expensive airbrush that I ever had. If the tool does not correspond to one of the factors mentioned above, at some point you will be either disappointed in it or you will consider upgrading. Which might be actually downgrading in terms of pure specifications, just like in my case. There are of course, modelers that can do miracles with simple, rugged and rather cheap airbrushes. Panzermeister36 – as he is famous in YouTube society – is one of the best modelers I know. He uses Badger, which you can find brand new for under $70. This is .5mm airbrush, which is - more or less -considered an obsolete design and it is not that marketed as Iwata, Sparmax or Harder & Steenbeck. It does offer comfortable feel and reliability and in the same time many use it on a regular basis or started airbrushing with it. But it is not an all-round tool per se. However, if you see Panzermeister videos, you will see that he managed to master the Badger airbrush to the point where he probably won’t need anything else for the rest of his modeling career. I trust that the reason for that is because the guy managed to get a decent airbrush and combined it with a talent and experience, which gave the perfect combination for success. Many others found that same formula using Sparmax. That company produces airbrushes for other brands as well, so you might not know that you are using one currently. It might have Tamiya on the side for example. However, they are better than Badgers in my opinion and quite reliable too. But are not the only option for decent airbrushes either. So in general, it is important to find the right one for your own goals and stick with it, to add “mastering” to the process. Because the tool is as good as its master’s hands and experience. High precision tools? Yes, they do help. Harder & Steenbeck and Iwata are leading brands when it comes down to quality tools. But as in my case, H&S might present more of a challenge than help. The trigger with those is somewhat flimsy and the prices of spare parts are insane. Interestingly, back when I bought mine, the prices in US were lower compared to Europe, and the H&S are /or were at that time/ a German brand. Prices not only for the spares, but for the whole airbrush. Ridiculous, isn’t it? The problem with high precision tools is often the fragility of their needles and nozzles. And the corresponding price tags. Besides, the smaller the nozzle – the higher the number on the tag. But the narrower the opening, the narrower the production range of the airbrush. Which is a tricky way to look at it. You may be able to produce fine lines, nice mottling and almost handwrite with such airbrushes, but you cannot paint general areas easily. Actually you can, but with a lot more time and it is generally annoying. With that though, comes the need to clean the airbrush more often, which brings the risk of damaging the needle or the nozzle if you disassemble it in full. So we are back at square one – the price of the parts. And let’s not forget the base price of the tool itself. And back to the beginning, the money that you pay. That is probably the most nasty bump that you can hit on the road. If it wasn’t for that, either one of us would’ve owned and used five or ten airbrushes. Maybe even more. But that is not the case. It is possible to have 2-3 Badgers, but that is comparable to a price of a decent Iwata. So in general, one must choose between a brand, a price, a needle/nozzle size and tool features. I won’t even start on grip options and flow controllers. So to choose the right one depends on your own perception. There are some points to be made and they are valid whatever your preference might be. Don’t go for the cheapest option. That will come at a price at a later stage. Don’t go for the exact opposite too. That will limit the usage and will limit the risks you would dare take while airbrushing. And without exploring the boundaries, you can never find the abilities of the tool. Neither your own. What is important is to have a reliable tool. One that will work even if you mess it up a bit. And one that you can supply with spares when the need comes. And it will happen, trust me. You can expect it sooner than later. What makes the real difference, is that having a good airbrush provides you with the sole option to turn that plastic into a decent copy of the reality. Because even the best and cleanest build, featuring metal, resin and improvements of any kind, will look simply as a plastic chunk if its not for the paint and the appropriate transfer of that over the model. And the medium used to do that is the airbrush. This is what turns a jar of paint into a camo scheme. Via your hand. Compressors are another subject, but this is a whole different matter. When it comes down to the airbrush, it is good to take a moment to think about the things written above. It might be confusing at first, but then when you sleep over it, you will see that sometimes less is more and not always getting the cheapest means that you made the best financial decision. Neither is paying for overpriced tools with features that you will never use. It is very individual. Because it is pretty much like buying a glove. So choose wisely!
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Sparmax Beetle Compressor

Intro: The compressor is one of the most important parts of the airbrushing system. It is almost as important as the airbrush itself and sometimes it determines the end results based on the qualities that it holds. In general, it is not a complex machinery. Every refrigerator has one, but don’t let that fool you. There are many fine lines that shouldn’t be crossed and the tool itself should be fine-tuned for perfection. The really great devices on the market are with decent size. That is the price one must pay to have a good compressor with air tank, moisture trap and pressure gauge, that can support multiple airbrushes and in the same time to be quite and movable. By movable I mean the ability to take it with you and not feel like you just went to the gym and overdone it there. Some of those compressors have handles, casings and many goodies that help, but still the size and the weight are the issues that one cannot avoid. So for some this might be a problem. And of course, with every problem there is a solution. There are new generation of compressors, which are small, quiet and portable. They work with batteries and are easily usable with all kinds of electricity, no matter where on the planet you are located. That is perfect for those who are constantly on the run and travel by plane, where allowed baggage weight is shrinking by the minute. Box and its contents: In a typical Sparmax luxury black box, we have a cardboard casings placed internally to separate the parts inside. With the set of the Beetle compressor, we get a power cable and a transformer, just like on a regular laptop, a transparent hose with a plastic screw that fits the beetle perfectly and a simple, but well explained instruction sheet. Everything is arranged in a way that even if you decide to take the whole original boxing with you, you still won’t be bothered by the overall size and weight. Let alone if you take those things separately. One thing I want to note here is that the hose is coiled, which takes a bit more space than usual, but that is a bonus feature anyhow. Another point of view for that hose is that the coil helps with the moisture. The power box that I got with my Sparmax Beetle is suited for 220V EU standard. However it is clearly visible on the pictures that this can be easily exchanged for a different standard and especially important if you share your time between different continents. Size and goodies: The Beetle compressor itself is a cute little box, featuring a pressure knob, Start/Stop button, airbrush holder and conical silicon feet, which in my opinion are its coolest feature. Thanx to those four fellas, there is almost no vibration and even if you put that on your table where you paint your model, you won’t note any difference while spraying. The size itself - is too - visible on the pictures. It is a slightly larger than a soda can and almost the same form and volume as a box of chocolate truffles. It is very comfy in the hand and designed in such a way, that you cannot drop it on the ground accidentally. Very stable and with a firm grip on the surface that it sits on. The size of the Beetle makes it perfect for small modeling rooms and for people who do not want to invest in larger compressors for the obvious reasons. Alongside with those, the investment is very reasonable and the combination of the low noise, size and reliability makes that very tempting purchase. Ideas implemented: Smart stop feature is on top of my list here. The reason for that is the size which comes with its downsides. The lack of an air tank can be compensated only with such a feature. When you stop airbrushing and put your airbrush on the holder of the Beetle, it automatically stops. That saves the compressor’s life, electricity /especially important if you are on battery power/ and it makes it even less noticeable in terms of noise. Second most important feature in my list is the pressure limits. The compressor is set to work with the pressures most widely used when spraying acrylics, lacquers and Alclads. There is no gauge, but the turn knob is limited within minimum and maximum and from what I tested, it seems that the range is pretty well balanced. The air might be insufficient only for high pressure settings for cleaning the airbrush, but not everybody uses that method anyhow. Third most important feature in my eyes is the battery power option. More than once I lost a compressor due to some kind of a mechanical failure or even worse – my spray session was ruined due to electricity breakage. For such a case, the Sparmax Beetle is indispensable. You can easily take it from the box, put the battery power and continue the work that you started with your main compressor beast, without the worry that your paint job is ruined. In my opinion, Sparmax did a brilliant job with that decision. Actual performance: Sparmax Beetle performs reliably as mentioned above. Yes, you might want something more complex if you are using a high-end airbrush and you are desperate for absolute precision, but the normal spray session is pretty much covered. The combination with a regular airbrush, something in the range of .3mm to .5mm and normal paints or primers should be perfectly fine and easy job for everybody. Even though there is no tank and pressure gauge, it is rather easy to make the Beetle work steadily and to provide consistent results. Again, the lack of vibration is important, since while working and with those silicon feet, the compressor is as if it isn’t on the bench at all. Conclusion: Sparmax Beetle is an interesting decision. From whatever perspective, this compressor has its place on your bench. You might wonder why would one need it if you already have that dual-piston beast that can support 4 airbrushes simultaneously and have 3 moisture traps and fine pressure regulator. Well, for a those of you, that answer is: Back Up. Especially with the battery option mentioned. The latter one is optional and not included in the set. But highly recommended. For the modelers that are not that well equipped, the Beetle is exactly what you can get when you buy a Smart Car. It is small, you can park it perpendicularly and still, in 90% of the time it does the job that you usually use your minivan for. Yes, there are those 10% when the Sparmax Beetle won’t suffice. But it wasn’t designed as an all-‘round tool anyhow. In my opinion, you should check it out and if possible – give it a try. A five minute test with the Beetle and you will quickly learn why Sparmax are a leader in the airbrush industry. And in the end if you can afford it, you shouldn’t hesitate: whatever situation you might end in, the Sparmax Beetle can be a very neat a tricky way to get out of it with finesse!
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Sparmax SP-540 Double-Action Airbrush

Intro: The more one uses a specific tool, the more he or she is inclined to continue using it and avoid changes. One reason for that is the experience and the mastery that a person can achieve being comfortable around and with something. Another is that the habit of using something quite often becomes a second nature. That being said, there is no wonder why some of the most experienced modelers paint with old and rugged airbrushes, that are off the market and without support of any kind. However, they are sufficient for the job they are being used for, sometimes even exceeding the expectations of the spectators. Based on the tech specs and the perception that the more tiny the nozzle is and the extras included are abundant, many people avoid buying simple, tough and proven airbrushes. However those airbrushes can do magical things and perform as well as the top tools on the market. That is for the half of the price, but with a little more practice and experience required. In other words, it is not guaranteed that if you buy the most expensive tool you will become master. But is guaranteed, that with a regular airbrush, you can become a pro, just based on knowledge and constant improvement and strong will. One such airbrush is the SP-540. It is a Sparmax tool, which seems simple and rugged, but if you get to know it better, you will see that there is a lot more behind the looks and it well exceeds many expectations. The supposed purpose: With 0.4mm nozzle, missing the tail-stopper and bottom feed from plastic bottles, Sparmax SP-540 looks far from exciting. For some it might look cheap and even worthless. What is expected from such airbrush is to perform good on general subjects. Like priming, clear coats and single tone applications. For some of the industries different from scale modeling, it is accepted that this tool can do general work, but nothing overly specific. All of that, based on the nozzle size, lack of fine pressure valve or tail stopper. Not much of a stud, if one might say. The actual performace: Actual performance of the SP-540 differs from the supposed one. And by far. 0.4mm nozzle is not such a sniper weapon as seen on the ones that we are used to recently - .2mm or .15mm – but is still very much within the limits of what is accepted as common. And that is .3mm or .35mm for most of the brands. When you come to think of it, that is not much. Besides, the most important thing about an airbrush is its balance and the ergonomics, not the nozzle size. And Sparmax SP-540 is very balanced and fine tuned airbrush. It is dual action, bottom feed tool that makes it perfect starter. The bottle size and attachment guarantees that spills are almost impossible and the lack of tail stopper can help you focus on working your trigger, not just squeezing it, depending on the mechanics to stop it when needed. That last one is actually really important, since paint build up can really mess things up if you are too dependent on the stopper. The overall simplicity of the tools helps for the maintenance and spare you the hassle for unwanted damages of the fine parts. The business end of the SP-540 for example, even though looks bigger than what we are used to, is working just fine. Easy to clean, low risk of damage, far from delicate. In the positive way of course. The airbrush can do a lot more than it is expected from. It can draw fine lines /especially with the needle cap off/ and in the same time can cover evenly, while working with envious consistence, compared with the rest airbrushes in that same class. No wonder, since Sparmax are making airbrushes for 4 decades already. SP-540 can be easily used as a primer-only tool, or a starter airbrush, but it can stick with you for a long long time too, even as a main gun. That is only if you can develop the feel for it, which is strongly individual. Based on my personal experience, if you start with it, you will most likely stick to it and for a while. Value against Money: The cheapest airbrushes that come from China perform exactly how they are valued. They are inconsistent, defective and can let you down in the worst moment. The next level is basic tool airbrushes, such as SP-540, usually bottom feed too. However, this isn’t one level above the Chinese cheapos, but at least 4 or 5. The value of the airbrush is very good. Actually, you pay a little above the Cheapo airbrush, but you pay 2 or 3 times less than the next level tool, while you are getting a quality closer to the higher category. So when you come to think of it, this is the best value for the money that you can get from airbrushing. Especially if you are in the first years of your airbrushing career. It is unreasonable to start with an airbrush that costs $150-200, because you will damage it at some point. Accidents happen. Especially to the newcomers. On the other hand it is unreasonable to get a tool that can easily push you away from airbrushing, based on ill practice and inconsistent results. What that leaves you with, is pretty much only one simple and reasonable choice. Even though that choice can be widen within the brands. Quality: As mentioned above, 40 years of experience for Sparmax can help you with that choice. To be that long in the game, you gotta know how to play it. SP-540 is a very good option and the quality is not neglected in any way. The airbrush only looks rugged. It is very nice and balanced tool actually. It is not heavy, nor the trigger is flimsy. The only thing that might fool you is the look of the tail, which is not made by polished metal. However the rest is just where it should be: the quality of the box, the contents, the little goodies included. Like the hanger of the plastic clamshell for example. The small things that make a big difference combined altogether. Conclusion: I cannot lie and I must say that I am Sparmax fan. I own several of their airbrushes and in my honesty, I never met anyone who does not appreciate Sparmax as a brand. SP-540 is not surprisingly one very satisfactory tool. Especially when you come to think of it as an investment. The price is right, the quality is more than decent. On the other hand the lack of bells and whistles might not tempt you at first, but simple things usually work with less effort and fewer troubles. That does not mean that you should consider it as an all-in-one tool. But a tool that can easily complete most of the tasks and will serve most of the modelers out there fulfilling their needs in airbrushing. My personal opinion is that this is another hit from Sparmax, targeted towards a wider audience. Probably the larger part of the users out there. And with that quality, I think this is an all-around winner! www.dnmodels.com
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Cheap Chinese Airbrush Review – .2mm Spirit Air 180

Chinese knock-off concept Wherever we turn nowadays, we see Chinese production. Some of that is with acceptable quality, some is not. The thing is, everything comes from China because it is cheaper. Not that there aren’t nice things that are cheap enough, but Chinese goods are always cheaper. And many people fall into that trap. Well, it is not always a trap, but most of the times it is. Chinese knock offs are very popular among people who use airbrushes. The reasons are many, but again – the knockoffs are cheaper. Parts for them are cheaper too. The performance though, well, this is the theme of the current article. The reason I am writing this is because I decided to get a cheap, so called “high-precision” airbrush and compare it with the rest, based on my experience and needs. The one I choose was Spirit Air 180. That is the same as Veda WD-180, Haosheng HS-80 or whatever else with -180 from the Chinese airbrushes available on the market. That is a dual-action, gravity feed airbrush, featuring tail-stopper and a MAC valve. It is with .2mm needle, 9cc color cup and a crown cap and it is considered as a high-precision tool. Contents The engraving “Spirit Air” on the side of the airbrush was the reason to pick that -180 option. There were many more, but this was the most decent looking picture-wise. I payed around $15 for it. Give or take a dollar for any possible currency exchange rates. The airbrush came in a cardboard box, instead of a proper case /which was mentioned in the description/. I’ve had other Chinese cheapos, but that was a first with cardboard box. Anyhow. The box isn’t something that I would whine about, since I ordered that tool only for testing purposes and eventually emergencies. There is the standard blue foaming, in which the airbrush sits. Alongside with it, there is a wrench for the nozzle, a hose connector, with braided entry into the hose and an instruction sheet. The hose connector is meant to be used with standard pneumatic hose, not an airbrush-specific one, which sometimes is very handy. Instruction sheet is modest single page thing, with basic guidelines on the airbrush and a schematic of the airbrush parts. The description of each part follows, numbered properly, but I believe that is useless, since a needle-nozzle combo usually costs couple of dollars and the whole thing costs $15-20. I would buy a new one instead, and that way I would have a lot more spares if something happens. This is just in theory of course. How it sprays The million dollar question is how that thing works. And the answer is – OK. It is not brilliant. It is far from it. It isn’t that bad either. What you should know is that the craftsmanship used while producing this tool was at a mediocre level. When you pull the trigger, you can feel the moving parts and that there is some friction which you almost never feel in a high-end airbrush. Lubing them might help, but you will still know that it is there. And annoys people who own better airbrushes. The weight is fine, and the tail stopper works as expected. What is interesting, is that the airbrush can create very fine lines from the get go. Without any additional needle polishing, lubing or whatever preparation of any kind. It is not consistent to the maximum, which is one of the major let downs of the tool, but it does provide. Using properly diluted paints and correct pressure would help in this case. With that said, you can still expect some surprises and not perfectly equal lines. But let’s look at that from a different perspective: if you are a professional airbrush user, you won’t get this as an everyday tool. If you are entering into the world of airbrushing, well, you will be overwhelmed with what this tool can do. So I think that is part of the million dollar question’s answer. Trigger is smooth enough considering the price and for larger areas it works even with that .2mm nozzle. So general coverage is doable, as well as fine lines and a quick transition between both. At least that is what I test always when spraying. Crown cap allows for quick access to clear the needle from any paint residue while airbrushing during dry days, although you have to be extra cautious, since it is .2mm and it is easily damageable. Other than that everything works. Not perfectly smooth, but acceptable. MAC valve That is a feature that some find very attractive and some never use. I have used it, but frankly – only couple of times. It works here, but again – that friction can be felt while using it. It limits the air to the nozzle and it does it smoothly, so you might find it comfy for some applications. The combination with the needle stopper, proper PSI setting from your compressor and well prepared paint will do the job for sure. Actually, I own couple of other Chinese cheapos without it and in the end it is probably better to have it, than not. You pay the same price anyhow. Is there any reason why? So what would make someone buy this airbrush? Price isn’t the only answer. A decent tank kit in 35th or a plane in 48th will cost more than $50-60 nowadays. So buying an airbrush that costs fraction of that is not the best idea. At least not if you are into modeling and you wanna be a pro. However, having such tool might be a good back-up option. I have couple for such purposes. I would never use that for painting a difficult camo scheme on an expensive kit. But in case I damage my main airbrush, and need to finish something, this is an option. It was not that long ago when having an airbrush was a cool thing and not many were blessed. I remember those times and I feel lucky that I own several guns nowadays. So the option of having one too many is non-existent. Conclusion It works. It is far from perfect, but to counter that comes the price. A crown cap from Iwata costs as much as this whole airbrush. If you wanna use it for starting your hobby engagements – it is a good option. If you want to use it as a backup tool like in my case – it will work just fine too. What I would avoid is, to use this as a main tool. It is not that good and in the end you will never get to experience what is to own and use a truly high-end airbrush like Custom Micron or H&S Infinity. Even if you start using that as a main gun, you should step up in a while. It can provide you with good foundation for basic airbrushing, but nothing further. If you tune it up – polish the needle, lube it, make it work more properly – you can extend its lifespan. But in the end, this is not a tool that have many years in it, nor represent a serious airbrushing future. It is just a Chinese knockoff, that costs as much as a BIG Mac menu and holds that amount of satisfaction and quality. www.dnmodels.com
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Mr.Hobby PS-270 Procon Boy FWA Platinum Airbrush

Introduction: Among high-precision airbrushes that I got my hands on, PS-270 Platinum is the most affordable one. I am starting with this, because quality, especially the last decade comes at almost unbearable price. Market is flooded with Chinese replicas, who tend to satisfy many, while in the same time is slowly but steadily killing the good companies, dumping their sales and forcing them either to lower their quality or, due to the lack of sales quantity – the increase prices of their new products. High-precision airbrushes from Iwata and H&S /the leaders on the market/ are costing insane amounts, even though providing wonderful results. In the same time, modelling is becoming more and more competitive, due to the tons of information in Internet, shared techniques, ideas and more. Modellers are trying to elevate their level and tools are a mandatory expense when it comes down to that. So the question that arises is: Do one must accept and live with the compromise of buying cheap Chinese substitute, marketed as a ultra-high-precision airbrush, or go for the real thing, pay more and live happily ever after? Paying the cost of H&S or Iwata Custom Micron is not for everybody’s wallet, nor mentality. On the other hand, the Chinese cheapos have a lifespan of a fly. So what one should do? Below is the answer. Package and contents: PS-270 Procon Boy FWA Platinum comes in a boxing wrap that can be hanged on the wall, with transparent opening, showing partially the airbrush. It is dark-ish in appearance, accenting on the airbrush itself, which is really nicely crafted tool. On the front there is limited amount of info, while on the back there is a more thorough description of the Mr.Hobby PS-270 in Japanese. Inside, we have a plastic case, full with foaming material, shaped in a form of the Mr.Hobby PS-270. In general, the appearance of the case is not so high as with H&S and Iwata, but let that not fool you. The airbrush is a top notch tool. The set features a hose, Mr.Air /can/ connection and the proper fitting to connect it to it on the airbrush foot. It still keeps the standard 1/8 on the airbrush and that is achieved through a fitting conversion. The hose is with smaller fitting /both sides/ though – the one that corresponds to the air can application. Something that is most definitely a bad idea for experienced modellers. There is also a wrench for the nozzle, cover from translucent and flexible rubber for the front end of the airbrush, tail stopper, crown cap, two sets of instruction sheets and a cap cover.  Instructions: Unlike on most airbrushes, instruction here deserve a bit more attention. There are two sheets, one being the standard information, including specifications, parts dissection, suggestions, setting up, cutaway and the regular info for anybody who might be a first timer with this airbrush. Fortunately, that is partially in English, but I would assume that if you bought airbrush like Mr.Hobby PS-270, you already know your way around airbrushing. Thus, Japanese explanations would be self-explanatory with the help of the pictures. Which is the case with the second info-sheet. Here, everything is in Japanese. So you either rely on pictures solely, or you will have to use clever phone app that translates everything you point it at. That is, if you want to read it thoroughly of course. The second sheet is very nicely done, featuring a drawings of a boy that get himself through airbrushing, experiencing different scenarios which are explained and the new owner is being guided properly. This comic like story book might be amusing at first glance, but in reality is very useful. Even with years of experience, I tend to read through stuff like that every once in a while when I am in doubt. The tool: PS-270 Platinum itself is a piece of art airbrush. The foot of the airbrush is tilted backwards, while the rear-end needle cover with the tail stopper is shaped neatly and that creates very fine appearance in general. Trigger features visible holes in its root, paint cup is braided at its top and all that, added to the clean and shiny look of the metal gives one very posh appearance. PS-270 Procon Boy FWA features 10ml cup, just enough for most of the scale modelling applications out there. For the nozzle of .2mm it might be even more than needed. The air regulation valve on the bottom of the airbrush adds to the precision, and puts that airbrush in the higher-end of tools used in our hobby. The crown cap is the only needle cap in the set, which is pretty self-explanatory – this is /again/ a high-precision tool. The crown allows for the air to leave without disturbing the airflow additionally. Very useful for close and fine painting, especially with mottling and fine lines, typical for WWII German armour and aircraft. The tail stopper works very smoothly and even though I still haven’t tested the Mr.Hobby PS-270 Platinum excessively, I know for a fact that Mr.Hobby airbrushes are reliable and sturdy tools that will get you through the years. After all, this is Japanese made airbrush, with the corresponding quality expected from it. Ergonomics: It is comfortable. Actually, it is very very comfortable. While with H&S the trigger is too soft for my taste, Iwata is a bit on the other end – the Mr.Hobby PS-270 Platinum FWA is just in the middle. The round top of the trigger is not demanding as with triggers that show cutaway on one of their ends. The pressure needed is very acceptable and even though for me is perfect, for some it might be a bit off. That is just a possibility which is not very probable though. The tilted foot of the main body helps the grip, especially if you put an air filter just after it. It almost becomes a trigger-action-like. No handle of course. Pointy business end of PS-270 Procon Boy FWA is somewhat guide for your hand, which I found to be very useful. At first, I thought that it is a bit ugly. I though: “This ant-eater of an airbrush is odd”. But then I remembered that Olympos Micron – considered one of the best, if not the-best in the business had that same feature. It actually helps. Visually mostly and maybe not with a lot, but still. Once you get used to that, it will stick. Cleaning, Spare parts, availability: The cleaning process of the PS-270 Platinum is the same as with every other airbrush. It is clearly depicted in the instructions too. I tend to deviate a bit, always flushing two or more cups of cleaner through it with high pressure. More often than not, using harsh and aggressive cleaners too. Especially when cleaning after metallic paints. No troubles with that what so ever. For the seals and the needle, I would advise to consider your availability if you choose to get Mr.Hobby: if in your area there are available, it’s great. You need nothing more than the airbrush package. If not, I would suggest to get couple of spare parts, just in case. After all Mr.Hobby PS-270 is with .2mm needle/nozzle combo and that is rather demanding. No matter the brand. As for availability, it is not that popular as Iwata, but still can be found and is widely-enough used tool. That was my main concern at first, but after a short research I found out that it is with decent availability. Compared with others: Now the answer to the important question mentioned above: “Do I get the cheapo or do I go for the overpriced but considered best in the business?” The answer is: “Neither.” You can simply get the PS-270 Procon Boy FWA Platinum. And yes, it is that good. More than what is said above. Mr.Hobby might not be famous with their airbrushes as Sparmax, H&S, Badger, Iwata and Paasche, but oh boy are they competitive! That rather inexpensive tool works better than HP-C+ that I am used to and most definitely can compete with Evolution FPS and Infinity by H&S. Latter ones always being a bit troublemakers for me with their feather-light triggers. Procon Boy FWA PS-270 sprays equally fine, it also has a crown cap and the only controversial that I saw was the fact that Mr.Hobby provided the option for can air supply attachment. For that quality this is unacceptable. PS-270 Platinum is eons away from that kind of a work habits. Conclusion: Definitely worth the investment if you want to step-up. And by stepping up I mean my experience too, going from HP-C+ as a main gun, which is not bad at all. Here everything is a bit more refined. More ergonomic, more delicate. The visual resemblance with Olympos airbrushes at the front end is somehow justified by the performance and that puts Mr.Hobby in the same class as the most precise and expensive airbrushes out there. There is better tools available, but for that price I think this is the spot on investment. I never doubted Japanese quality and Mr.Hobby PS-270 is just another proof for that. Be sure to check Mr.Hobby for their airbrush line, since PS-270 Platinum is not the only gun that deserves attention. They do have a lot to show for! For a video review of PS-270 showing its capabilities while working, visit DN Models' YouTube channel. Link is available at the top. www.dnmodels.com
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Sparmax Arism VIZ Compressor Unboxing & Review

Introduction: When airbrushing, the compressor is the most important, complex and usually most expensive part of the system. Compressors that we use are either heavy and home-made designs, or expensive and usually mid-sized boxes from the famous brands. Latter ones are often with the size of the box of a 32nd scale kit, and sit in standing up position, usually capable of supporting two or more airbrushes. Moving those can be a bit of a hustle though. Modelers that travel a lot and those who make presentations at shows and conventions know that from a bitter experience. That results in using different compressors every time are not a good ones. People are being forced to use what is available locally and with that, the eventual surprises as an unpleasant bonus. The compressor that we’re going to take a look at in this article is something that will help out in such situations. It is a Sparmax product and it is from their Arism line of compressors. The name is simply : VIZ. Box: Arism VIZ comes in a cardboard suitcase, made from the black material that Sparmax uses to pack their airbrushes. The opening is from the top, and there is a plastic handle which - when the flip cardboard pieces close - forms a suitcase to run around with. The box is relatively heavy, since there is a lot of cardboard walls inside, separating the main compressor body from the rest of the parts. And they are many. Additionally, compressor body sits on four cardboard-made legs, to avoid Arism VIZ to sit directly on the bottom of that suitcase. Outside, besides being black /and always in fashion/, many logos and short descriptions can be seen, pointing out the characteristics or the features that Arism VIZ holds. Much like Sparmax airbrushes, from the outside it looks very neat and attractive, with design suitable for a gift, rather than a tool. Contents: Besides the compressor body, inside of the box we can find everything needed to start spraying, with only the airbrush missing. Each part is carefully packed in translucent plastic bag, protecting it and making everything to look more in order. We have a hose with 1/8 fittings from both sides, usable with most of the airbrushes available nowadays. There is a Silver Bullet Plus moisture trap, cable that goes into the compressor with adapter and a cable for the main, in this case EU standard plug. Two instruction sheets are presented, first one being a signed declaration that the compressor corresponds to the international standards and the second – the user guide. That latter one has thorough description of the compressor, how you should adjust the pressure and how to cope with eventual troubles that might arise during work. Power Supply: Sparmax Arism VIZ has a DC motor. You get your power through an adapter, pretty much the same looking black box, as the one you have with your laptop charger. The C13 three-pin connector makes this pretty self-explanatory for usage Worldwide. In this particular case, Sparmax supplied EU plug, but the same C13 cable can be easily obtained with US standard plug and since the adapter is here, the compressor will work everywhere you plug it into the main, as long as you have the correct plug. Sparmax offer a battery chrger pack in case your modeling room is detached or you spray where no electricity is present. Also, in case of a power failure, while you are in a middle of a spray session, that will pull you out of trouble. Compressor body: The VIZ is very luxurious looking box. It has Sparmax logo on the front and back and both sides mention are with mirror-like cover. On the front, we have a pressure gauge, small but clearly visible, featuring the Sparmax logo. Also, the 1/8 fitting for the hose. On the back, we have an ON/OFF button, as well as the hole for the power supply. Four legs support the compressor to sit correctly in place, and on the top we have a handle, with the Sparmax logo, which is comfortable and sturdy. Right next to it is a square hole-button, where the Smart Stop trigger-airbrush-holder sits. But for that a bit later. The compressor is 2.5 kilos in weight, 20cm in length, 12 in width and 18 in height. Add-ons: Smart Stop feature from Sparmax is the most important add-on for this compressor. It is represented by a plastic translucent airbrush holder, made from material looking like a glass part. You put that in the hole on the top, and it sits on the square base, that is one with the holder. When an airbrush is placed over it, the weight is enough to push down the button and the Smart Stop is activated. The compressor stops working and it is if like you just shut it down. Another interesting add-on /besides that holder/ and again, doing more than one job is the Silver Bullet Plus moisture trap. It serves for more than just collecting the excess water, due to the fact that it has a swiveling knob with which you can regulate the pressure. The compressor itself lacks such knob, and this is the way through which you can set up the correct pressure. Moisture traps are often neglected by modelers and accidents tend to happen due to that fact. Sparmax made it somewhat mandatory feature with the Arism VIZ, which I liked a lot in the very first moment I saw it. Another add-on to that compressor set is the hose /1/8 fittings on each end/, which you probably won’t consider as something special, except when this is your first compressor ever. In that case, the hose is wonderful addition and will save you time and money. Choosing the correct hose isn’t that easy as it sounds, since it all matters – fittings, materials and length of course. Doing the job: Arism VIZ is very quiet. It purrs like a cat and most importantly, doesn’t vibrate. Small single-piston compressors /sometimes dual-pistons too/ are shaking and bouncing around, which is annoying. Besides, sometimes that could cause trouble, when the compressor slowly slips away from you bench and simultaneously pulling the hose with it, while you are carefully spraying on your model. That is, in case you leave it on the ground. If it is on the bench and same thing happens - it could cause a small catastrophe. The pressure supplied is enough for .4 or .5mm nozzles, the flow is steady and above all, you are protected by the Silver Bullet Plus. Despite being small, Arism VIZ works just like a big compressor and doesn’t disappoints. The pressure gauge seems very accurate and the fact that the compressor is quite movable, completes the package. Conclusion: Arism VIZ from Sparmax is a dream come true for those who travel a lot and bring their work with them. It is perfect for presentations and demos, it is quiet, doesn’t shake and bounce and above all – it works reliably. Sparmax are famous for that quality. In terms of price, it is comparable with small single-piston or even dual-piston compressors that doesn’t have metal cases, but it offers a lot more than them. Cable wise it is very smart and organized tool. Cable management is much appreciated nowadays as you all know. The battery pack offer, combined with the Smart Stop feature from Sparmax makes it extremely flexible compressor suitable for many unusual purposes. With that said, for a first compressor I believe the VIZ is perfect. For experienced and heavily armed modelers, Arism VIZ will probably serve as an additional tool, one that can help when the main compressor fails or when on the road. Especially for demonstration purposes on scale modeling shows, when the room is limited usually. Just remember, no matter if you are experienced modeler with couple compressors or a first-timer with one or none: the main gear is not eternal, and we all know what can happen if your main tool fails you right in a middle of an important project. Very flexible, very user friendly and wisely contemplated tool! Highly recommended! www.dnmodels.com
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Sparmax MAX 4 - the daily driver for the working modeler

Sparmax MAX 4 – the daily driver for the working modeler

Sparmax is a company that will surprise you if you get to look at their history. For many, this company became popular only the last 10-15 years ago but they are around long long before that. Actually, the company was founded in 1978, nearly 40 years ago and quickly became recognizable manufacturer among the big brands. Sparmax comes from Taiwan and for those of you who weren't around 4 decades ago, that meant quality and decent prices back then. There were no China in the game as we know it today and now when they are here, the quality of the products is far from comparable. Made in Taiwan meant reliability most of all and this is valid to this day.   Sparmax became popular with their airbrushes in the last decade but they constantly improved over the years with refining the designs and implementing nice decisions, making them among the leaders in the business. Their airbrushes are comparable with Iwata and Harder & Steenbeck and the label "cheap but decent airbrush" is no longer valid. Actually, their airbrushes are still very affordable, but are no cheap or at least not in the bad way of the meaning. As for quality, they are a lot more than decent. And I can vouch for that from experience and from the fact that I know quite a few modelers who got into Sparmax by first acquiring one: "For primers and eventually varnishes" but now are using the Sparmax airbrushes for every stage of the painting process. Also known as - the daily drivers. MAX 4 is one of the two airbrushes in the Sparmax's MAX line, the other one being labeled "Three". MAX 3 and MAX 4 are pretty much similar in appearance, the difference being - as you might've guessed - the needle/nozzle set for each of them. The "Three" has .3mm nozzle and MAX 4 is respectively with .4mm. Both have 7ml color cup. As a concept, they are designed to be a workhorse, tough and fitting within most of the budgets. The overall look, feel and qualities though, puts them in another category. The Packing and The Box: Sparmax MAX 4 comes nicely wrapped in a cardboard box, which holds a plastic clamshell with the orange logo of the company on it. The cardboard is black and sturdy, minimalistic in appearance but just enough to protect the airbrush from damages while in transportation. on the side of it, you can find the description of the exact model /both MAX 3 and MAX 4 are described/ as well as glossy Sparmax logo and airbrush picture embedded in the cardboard on the top. There are bonuses like single-action transformer, cleaning brush and crown cap for this set, which are described properly all over. The clamshell is made from transparent material, showing the airbrush and the instructions included in the set. It is sturdy but made with finesse and it has a small plastic O-ring hanger  on one of its ends. It also features a plastic clasp, guaranteeing your airbrush will stay in the box if you hang it on the wall. The box is not a big one, definitely smaller compared to Iwata or H&S plastic boxes and with that comes the only budget appearance of the Sparmax MAX 4. The fact that it is smaller and it has a hanger is a great advantage for airbrush storage, especially in case like mine - I do have few of them and one box over the other doesn't cut the deal. Sometimes, you have to remove the whole pile to get to the airbrush that might be sitting in the bottom. The Airbrush: Sparmax MAX 4 has many qualities, but the most important one for me and the first one I noticed was its balance. The airbrush sits in my hand properly, fits just like a glove. Or, it is a continuation of my arm to be more proper. The weight is right, the trigger is not too light, everything works for me just fine. Depending on the size of your hands and your overall feel for airbrushes this might be different for you. However, fellow modelers with different approaches towards spraying and of course - different size hands found the MAX 4 to be quite a balanced and comfy spray gun to work with. So it is probably the airbrush here, not me. The nozzle size is also a thing to be taken into account. Super-fine airbrushes never worked for me. Too small needle/nozzle combos, like .15 or .2 quite often bumped my work for being either too slow for my style or need cleaning of the needle tip too often within an airbrushing session. This of course eliminates the option for spraying varnishes or - God forbid! - primers. It simply takes too much of your time. Above .3 is suitable for everything, or at least my experience tells me so. MAX 4 has .4 nozzle, which is pretty well suited with its needle and even smallest lines are not a problem. For larger applications it is pretty much self explanatory. The bigger nozzle wins. I do work mostly in 32nd scale aircraft, 35th armor and the rest is 48th. I believe that MAX 4 can include all this within the range of its working force. Another feature not typical for budget airbrushes is the tail stopper. It is a screw that you unscrew to leave your trigger it's full motion, or, screw-in to limit the back and forth action and limit the paint respectively. This is something that is absent on the mid- and low-range airbrushes where the tip of the tail is just rounded, nothing more. Here we have the full nine yards. Very useful add-on for those who tend to overspray. The Coating: One very important thing is the airbrush coating. MAX 4 is a descendant of the Sparmax DH line and I haven't seen damages over those, even being used for years. The coating here is superb, the feel is great and the polished look will help you maintain the MAX 4 with ease. Every drop of paint or primer stuck there will be removed easily. Fingerprints disappear quite straight forward too. All this is due to the proper coat. Compared with matt-coated airbrushes, color coated or even non-metal ones /yes, there are some of those!/ this is pretty much the best possible option. The quality of the outer layer is comparable with Iwata and I believe this is no coincidence. The add-ons included: With MAX 4 comes three important goodies, being added as a bonus in the set. Those are the crown cap, the cleaning brush and the single-action transforming part. The crown cap is my favorite, since I trust in spraying without the cap and only with the needle sticking out. This is risky, but it's worth the risk. Finer lines are easily achievable. The other possible solution to this is what H&S added in Infinity, a twin horn cap, which is clearing the air around the needle, but doesn't protect it enough. Here we have a proper crown, allowing the proper spray to be achieved without too much of a risk. The needle is still protected from all sides, however the air is free to leave around the curves. The cleaning brush is for those who bought this for a first or eventually their second airbrush. There is no way on Earth that you will have no cleaning tools if you are familiar with airbrushes and are working constantly with them. It is a must to have cleaning tools and this is the end of this story. So if you are a beginner, Sparmax gave a helping hand. The single-action transformer makes this airbrush very suitable for slightly different purposes. Maybe you will want to use it for primer that way, or eventually - varnish. Or tricky-for-some: metalizer paints. Those are the options where you need steady flow without playing on the trigger unconsciously or even knowingly. It isn't something for everyday use, especially when you have such a dual-action airbrush as Sparmax MAX 4, but it is good addition to the whole set indeed. At least it gives you the option. Conclusion: The working modeler needs something reliable, affordable and once used to it - long lasting. In other words, the daily driver - the one we use the most - has to be battle proven airbrush, with good spare parts availability, no defects and with defined decent qualities. With Sparmax MAX 4, we have this and more. It is affordable and even packed within a minimalistic box - manufactured with finesse and precision. The spare parts are cheap and available in almost all of the respected and popular airbrush supply stores. The airbrush is spraying more than accurately, the maintenance is straight-forward. You can transform it in a single-action gun easily and there is a crown cap included in this set. If this does not sums it up as the perfect daily driver, I have no clue what does. The way the MAX 4 sits in the hand is pleasant, balanced and the trigger is not flimsy but smooth. The gun is a proven workhorse for many and since I tested it extensively last couple of days, I will make it my daily driver from now on for sure. If you haven't got the pleasure of using Sparmax - try it. MAX 4 is among their best airbrushes and I can assure you: you will be surprised how many qualities that airbrush holds once you get to use it. With that price, MAX 4 has no competition on the market. Or, if you are willing to pay twice the price for the same quality, well, be my guest! You won't be getting anything different than what we have here.  
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