When I was in high school, I wanted a fast, flashy car. A Camaro, or Mustang, or Firebird. Or better yet, a Corvette. To have such a car would make me cool (I already had the mullet and the Van Halen t-shirt), and of course the girls would see me as wonderful, my friends would see me as the epitome of manliness, and all would be just right with the world.
I finally got the car- a 1982 Firebird. It was so cool…. had the equalizer in it with all sorts of little knobs, speakers in every corner, fat tires, gorgeous rims… I had arrived.
Only I still had no girlfriend, my friends still thought I was a goofball, and looking back, that mullet really made me look like a dufus.
I had a friend who had a truck. An F-150. Nothing fancy. Regular tires. Stock radio. Plain old paint job. But he had a girlfriend. And most everyone agreed he was a one of the coolest guys around. I asked him “why a truck?” His answer was simple- “it gets the job done”.
I think sometimes that’s the way it is with airbrushes for modelers. We like to talk about the sporty ones, with the shiny features and capabilities to go from 0-60 in nothing flat and corner on a dime. But as with cars- very few of us actually have the ability to actually make good use of all that power. Most of the time, we just need to get the job done.
Ladies and gentleman, let me introduce you to Badger Air-Brush Company’s latest offering- the Badger 105 “Patriot”.
My primary airbrush has been a Badger 155 Anthem for a while now. Sure there are fancier airbrushes out there. (More expensive ones, too…) And I know there are people who really can make those fancy airbrushes roll over and play fetch. But one thing separates them from me: talent. Sure, I can do a good job…. but to quote Clint Eastwood in one of the Dirty Harry movies, “a man has got to know his limitations.” Putting a super-fancy airbrush in my hands is like putting a wristwatch on a monkey. It just don’t make sense.
So me and my 155 have had a good time. The only, only complaint I had was I really like the gravity-fed brushes over the siphon fed-brushes. But it’s a small complaint… didn’t really effect the results, just my own preference.
Then Ken Schlotfeldt, president of Badger Air-Brush, told me about a new brush they were coming out with- a gravity fed 155.
And he asked me if I’d like to try it out.
Are Van Halen t-shirts cool? 🙂
So when it arrived in the mail this past weekend, I couldn’t wait to try it out.
If you’ve ever seen or owned a Badger 155, you’ll immediately recognize the look of the Badger 105 Patriot. Except for the removal of the siphon feed opening on the bottom, and the addition of a large color cup on the top, they are the same double-action airbrush. And I’m grateful for that….
Now, for the feature list…. straight from the brochure….
- Patented “Easy Access” needle removal system
- Easy maintenance self centering nozzle design
- Exacting control for intricate airbrushing detail
- Perfect proportion comfort balance system
- Parts interchangeability with Badger’s 155, 200 and 360
Innovative precision design, superior performance, and amazing affordability.
What’s all that mean in real terms, you may be asking yourself? (Go on, ask yourself…)
For one, I love the simple needle removal. I rarely fully disassemble my airbrush. But being able to very quickly rotate the locking screw a turn or two, partially withdraw the needle, and dip the end of the airbrush in the cleaning solution to dislodge any wayward paint is really, really nice. It’s made cleaning my airbrush before I put it away super quick and efficient. And the 105 needle is not hard to find, if you need a replacement. In fact, at the major art stores that carry Badger products, if they have no other needles, I always see the 105/155 needle. And it’s not going to break the bank either.
The double-action trigger control is very nice, and very smooth. I’m not a real precise user when it comes to airbrushes, and some that I’ve tried have so little up-and-down motion in the trigger that I either have to use it full-on or full-off. With the 105, I can actually get some in-between going, which is very nice. (I could with the 155 too…)
One immediate change I really liked was the balance. Since I’d never had a gravity-fed 155, this was a very nice surprise. But I immediately liked the difference in balance with the color cup on top and centered. You’d think such a minor adjustment wouldn’t be that noticeable, but I picked it up and thought “where have you been all my modeling life?” And the color cup is no longer bumping into the model if I’m doing close detail work. I guess the best way to describe it is you completely forget the cup is there…. it’s more like an airbrush pencil. It just sort of floats along.
And speaking of detail work… I love hearing modelers talk about how fine a line they can get. “Oh yeah… well I can get a line that is only 3 atoms wide with zero overspray…” “Oh yeah, well mine can go down to .05 nano- fractometers so I can do Luftwaffe mottling in 1/350th scale…”
Yeah, OK, and my mullet was cool. 😉
Face it- how many of us can actually do that kind of work? Or need to? For the average modeler, a consistent, pencil lead thin line is almost always the smallest ever needed. And often, that has more to do with the hand that holds the airbrush than the airbrush.
Now having said that, I’m proud to say I did a pencil lead thin line with only a bit of overspray, using Tamiya acrylics thinned about 2:1 with alcohol. If I’d thinned further, I probably could’ve tightened it down more. The gravity fed brush makes shooting paint at lower psi much easier, so close work is a pleasure. I’d been able to do that with the 155. Now I can do it better with the 105.
And I’m quite sure someone with less shaky hands and better eyesight could take it down a few more notches, easily. The point is- if you want tight lines, the 105 can deliver.
And it sprays over a wide area as well. From about 6 inches away at 15-18 psi, with the same 2:1 ratio of paint, I got a pattern a little over two inches across with some overspray. Plenty wide to make quick work of any 1/72 or 1/48 scale aircraft. Bigger aircraft and ships may require more, but if you build those, you kind of expect that anyway.
And cleaning is really simple. I had excess paint in the color cup I wasn’t going to save, so I dumped it in a waste jar. I used my trusty old rag to wipe the color cup out. I then filled the color cup halfway with my cleaner (in this case, alcohol), and using a medium-stiff brush, swabbed down inside the color cup. I dumped out the cleaner, refilled the cup with cleaner, and blew that through at about 40 psi, occasionally rocking the trigger back and forth to work any paint on the needle free. It was clean enough to use another color at that point. (So I did…. 😉
A nice note about cleaning down in the color cup- some gravity fed brushed I’ve used always seem to have a little corner or nook that is hard to reach. Not on the 105. It has a “trough” that is fully accessible, with no hard to reach places. It’s all in reach, which makes cleaning that much nicer.
Before I put it away, I did the needle loosening and cleaning I’d previously mentioned, just to make sure nothing dried out inside that I may have missed.
If you ever do have to break the brush down, put away the wrenches. It’s all hand-tightened. It comes apart in no time flat, and back together just as easy. (For some reason I’m hearing “Major Payne” saying “I like to hang upside down and take apart my Badger 105 real fast and put it back together before my nose bleeds.” The mind is an odd thing…)
I can’t say enough good about this airbrush. It has more ability than I have talent. It just feels good to use, and it delivers everything I need it to do. For most modelers, this will be all the airbrush they’ll ever need. Now that I have this one, and the 155, I don’t know that I’ll ever need another. They’re both very good, and very tough. Like a truck.
They get the job done.
Thanks to Ken Schlotfeldt for this airbrush. Scheduled availability for Badger Air-Brush Company’s 105 “Patriot” is August 1st, 2009. MSRP is $119. (But my guess is you’ll be able to find it for around $80-100 at the usual Badger outlets.)