by: Darren Baker [ ]
Iwata airbrushes are renowned throughout the model making fraternity as one of the best brands of airbrushes available today. Their current range of airbrushes such as Custom Micron, Eclipse, and HP has been joined by a new model range The NEO. With the current financial situation, Iwata has released the NEO range in order that people who want to start using airbrushes have the option of an affordable entry level airbrush which still retains the Iwata guarantee of quality.
This airbrush has the option of a siphon or gravity fed model, both of which are dual action airbrushes. The airbrush is supplied in a card box with cut out foam inner packaging which securely holds the airbrush and supplied extras. The airbrush I am reviewing here is the gravity fed NEO. This airbrush is supplied with a 0.35mm needle and fluid nozzle which is for finer detail, you can purchase separately a 0.5mm needle and fluid nozzle. Replacement needles of either size cost £6.50, and fluid nozzles of both sizes cost £14.00.
This airbrush is supplied with two interchangeable paint cups, one of which holds 9ml of paint and has a lid to prevent spillage, the other cup holds 1.8ml of paint but does not have a lid to prevent spillage. This airbrush can also be used without a cup fitted as the airbrush itself will hold 0.9ml of paint for touching up the finish on your model. Lastly included in the box is a spanner for removing the brass nozzle that the needle travels through.
The airbrush has a chrome finish all over with the name of the brush acid etched onto the left side. The needle adjuster is completely enclosed which could be seen as a negative but, with this being an introduction level airbrush and I being used to using Badger airbrushes previously this will soon be forgotten about. The airbrush feels to be very nicely balanced and overall looks very well designed, constructed, and put together.
Here is where I had to overcome my first issue; having used Badger siphon fed airbrushes previously I had to get used to using much lower air pressures and train myself to make the most of this airbrush and its capabilities. This highlights one of the things everyone new to airbrushing has to overcome, and that is that an airbrush will not allow you to paint like Mig Jimenez from the get go as it is a skill set that will get better and easier the more you practice. I will say that I found this gravity fed airbrush easier to get along with a faster learning curve than I did a siphon fed Badger airbrush, I am a little unsure whether this is down to previously learnt skills or not.
I found the best pressure for me to work with was between 10 15psi as opposed to the 20 30psi I was accustomed to with the Badger airbrushes. I did find that at less than 10psi and over 20psi I struggled to prevent too much paint hitting the plastic which will cause runs if care is not taken, under 10psi I found I was having to get too close to the subject to clearly see what was happening. This brings up another skill set that needs to be learnt and that is how much closer to the subject you can work without hitting problems with paint application.
There is a possible weakness to this brush which is that broad coverage is not the best in its supplied configuration, but that may be improved by purchasing the 0.5mm set up available separately. It is also worth mentioning that due to the lower pressures that can be used and paint control it provides that your paint goes further saving you money in the long run.
Cleaning the airbrush is so much easier with this design as you can actually see if you have cleaned all of the paint residue from the airbrush chamber. The cleaning regime I followed was to;
Spray the small amount of paint remaining in the chamber onto some tissue.
Then fill with your chosen cleaning solution.
Spray that out while agitating the chamber with a cotton bud.
Place some more fresh clean solution into the chamber.
Spray that and then fill with water.
Spray that out.
After following these steps the airbrush was as clean as it was before adding paint.
As an entry level gravity fed airbrush this NEO is a hit with me and I will only be using the Badger from now on for broad area coverage. Having now experienced both gravity and siphon fed airbrushes I have to say that gravity fed does seem to me to be the best option, and you could do far worse than trying this airbrush as a starter. This airbrush should also be considered by those that have siphon designed airbrushes for the finer detail painting that needs doing.