I Give Up! I’m Buying an Airbrush!!

Just kidding.

Nowadays, when a young lad or lassie decides to enter the exotic and plastic-y world of Gunpla or resin Japanese beauties with names like “Juniper Jumper” — they don’t invest in some paint, some blobby glue in a tube, some tweezers (aka “forceps”) and a paint brush or two and a purely plastic kit of something like the U.S.S. Pittsburgh.

Oh no.

Now, the FIRST thing you buy is an airbrush. Before you get settled-in at the hobby store, you stop by, grab the airbrush and carry it around the store while you look for a “perfect grade” gundam or resin babe to while away the hours while you wait for the rice cooker to kick in.

eBay provides TONS of Chinese airbrushes that work just fine. You can also get a kind of “self contained” model that has a built-in compressor.

And it’s all incredibly cheap. Back in the day, a good airbrush, with compressor, was a hundred bucks. That’s like a THOUSAND in today’s money. If it cost a thousand bingoes to get into scale modeling (or babe or monster robot or whatever) there would be damn fewer kids with airbrushes.

But it don’t. Setting yourself up in air-paint land costs ABOUT THE SAME (unadjusted) as it did in 1970! You can even find deals at Harbor Freight and spend HALF that much.

No wonder the airbrush mob has taken over.

Back in the day, the paint was “of a type” and it was ONE TYPE. There were minor differences, but, for the most part, paint was paint. There was something called “latex house paint” but that was weird and probably for sissies.

Now, we have about twenty kinds of paint and there are more on the horizon. I’m not talking about hobby paint. I’m talking about families of paint, used in industry and everywhere else.

Back in the day, “enamel” was like a glaze. You painted it on metal and it melted into a hard, resilient finish when it was baked in an oven. THAT  was “enamel.”

LACQUER was a mix of solvent, resin and pigment. It would dry fast but it was highly toxic and ate most organic things.

Paint used by artists who painted on canvas was usually made of pigment and linseed oil. It took forever for the linseed oil to “harden” but it was worth it to get the flexibility and ease of use (for the time).

Now, things are different.

We have automobiles that are “painted” in ways that would not have been called “paint” in 1950. We have “coatings” and “finishes” and “surfaces” and “films” and that’s just for starters.

The paints that I recommend for brushing have actually been used by me and they work pretty well. But, over time, I can see that what used to be “simple” is not anymore. I need to use “non-toxic” paint and I apply it with a brush. This is makes sense to me but in the “world” (forums) I find that many of my “buddies” see this as an unreasonable set of requirements. What I’m asking for, they think, is unreasonable.

So I ignore them. I’ve found several paints that are still on the market and brush pretty well and do not poison me. None of them are from the U.S.A.

One is from Denmark (The Army Painter Warpaint) one is from Germany (Revell Aqua) and a third is from Poland (Hataka Blue).

These are, in my opinion, officially “niche” products for a “niche” hobby. It’s a tiny sliver of a hobby that is already a tiny sliver.

Sprue Bros. do not carry the Hataka Blue Line. In the U.S., if you want to buy the Hataka Blue Line, you end up on eBay–dealing with a limited selection. We’ve already discussed getting Revell Aqua and, amazingly, it may be easier to get The Army Painter than to get the other two products.

What a world.

From now on, I can clearly see that my hobby horse has trotted off in a direction that has taken me farther and farther from the pack. Now, I’m an eccentric of eccentrics. If you are along for the ride with me on this, keep in mind that we are “doing it wrong” and will be in the future.

Getting our supplies will not be easy.

6 Replies to “I Give Up! I’m Buying an Airbrush!!”

  1. You had me scared for a second with that topic line…..I’m perfectly happy to keep doing it “wrong”. I’ve “found my joy” again since picking up the brush (in most cases). I’m sure at some point I’ll fire up the airbrush again for something, but for now I’m enjoying doing it “wrong”

  2. I stumbled across this video today: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=upQ-4pKPj98 It’s called, “Why should every modeller learn to use the airbrush”. I’m a dyed in the wool brush painter, so I had to take a look given the hubris of the title. One thing I found curious about the video was the shots focus on the model, airbrush, and hands, but don’t show the larger context. That is, is there any ventilation, is he wearing a mask, where is he using this airbrush, and so on. By contrast, when I watch this other gentleman’s videos, here’s one: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tHh758mw46I , although they are about watercolor painting, he tries to show the entire context in which the painting occurs. Maybe it’s context-free painting instruction that is also part of the problem.

    1. I like your point about context. It reminds me of “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance” and the description of the classical thinking in a typical instruction manual. You and the object are detached from anything else. Floating in space– totally outside of any real situation. Unrelatable. Impossible. No wonder the instructions are hard to follow.

      But something tells me you may have read Pirsig’s masterpiece?

      1. You caught me šŸ™‚ I first read it in my twenties as many goofy people like me did, and have come back to it about once a decade after that – I’m in the geezer demographic. I find different things at each reading, and sometimes reconsider passages I previously thought were important, but that point about context has stuck with me.

        1. I’d have to say that my answer to the question “Name the most important book in your life” is Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. That, and LSD, made me the man I am today!


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