by: Karl N. Hoy [ ]
Originally published on:
If you’ve been modelling for a while it’s highly likely you use an airbrush. And if you do use one you’ll very probably go through a few of them on your quest to find that most elusive thing- the ‘perfect’ airbrush.
I started with an Aztek, a simple siphon feed, single action that used a propellant can and then a diaphragm compressor. As I got more adept I wanted more than just a ‘spray gun’ with no control. I moved on to an Aztek A470. I still have this rather indestructible of tools but I eventually I wanted something with more finesse.
An Iwata TR0 with a 0.2mm needle and side feed was my choice. Something went wrong with this at first and, with advice from the company I bought it from, I changed to a 0.5mm nozzle and needle. Unfortunately I never really felt comfortable with the trigger mechanism- I seemed to always be trying to get the movement right instead of concentrating on painting.
Eventually I bought a cheap Premi-Air G35 and when I could get better results from this (a conventional airbrush in terms of trigger operation) I knew it was time to sell my Iwata.
I spent a while looking at various airbrushes and was settled on a Badger Renegade Velocity when I noticed they had a new airbrush out, the Renegade Krome.
IN THE BOX
I’ve never owned a Badger airbrush before but I had been aware of them for a long time and knew some modellers who had never used anything but. Their recent Renegade series came in nice clasp-closed metal and leather boxes and so does the Krome, nicely shielded by dense foam.
Its not just one airbrush in the box either, not technically speaking anyway. As standard with the Krome you get two needles, two nozzles and two head assemblies. One is .21mm and the other is .33mm.
Other features include ‘Tensionsense’ ultra responsive trigger tension control system, ‘Stopset’ accu-precision trigger setting mode, exact taper fit, non-thread, micro precise paint tips, ‘Pointperfect’ polished needle micrology, ‘Smartcenter’ nozzle technology with patented ‘guide and hold’ assembly design that ensure perfect paint tip centering for tighter line production.
As you may have guessed the above paragraph was taken from the features section in the instructions. So, you might ask, what does all that mean in English? Well the trigger control is extremely fine- smooth, easy and responsive.
The ‘stopset’ device is located at the end of the airbrush body and is a kind of control knob that, when dialled in so it moves closer to the front, stops the trigger being travelling the full way. This is a very useful design feature as it means you can stop the trigger moving beyond a certain point, allowing you to be fully confident you won’t get an unwanted blast of paint by mistake. It also allows easy (using the notch on the handle to correspond with the numbers on the stopset dial) recreation of previous spray patterns down to increments of 1/1000th of an inch.
The ‘smartcenter’ nozzles are nicely machined and the technology behind it I’m sure is excellent. It boils down to the fact that you don’t screw the nozzle on or off like you do on the majority of airbrushes. You simply ‘place’ it into the body and it settles not unlike a magnet. The good thing about this is you don’t have to worry about over-tightening and possibly damaging the nozzle as you would on most airbrushes. One bad thing is the slightest touch will knock the nozzle off (when the paint tips are not on and the nozzle is exposed) and it is very small and can be hard to find!
‘Needle Micrology’, I assume, is simply referring to the high quality machining process used to produce the needles. The paint atomisation produced from them is ultra-fine and I’ve been thoroughly impressed by the results I have achieved with this piece of kit. Thankfully the needles are also not as delicate as they look; although still take extra care with them.
Although the Krome is a ‘Renegade’ airbrush much of the design and mechanisms are new or upgraded. Naturally the color and finger rest are the two most obvious changes compared to the Velocity series. The finger rest can be removed easily but when attached it does provide a very comfortable hold. The rear body is also very different from the other Renegades and includes a cut-away portion exposing the needle chuck allowing easy access.
The interior workings of the Krome also contain a number changes designed to make it even more precise than its predecessors. These changes include a re-designed trigger mechanism that is much softer and more responsive- part of it coming from the Sotar. Essentially all of this means the airbrush is extremely responsive and very accurate in patterns, even when the needle guard is touching the painting surface. And despite the rather complicated sounding mechanisms and features the Krome it is very simple to use and dis-assembles quickly and smoothly for cleaning.
USING THE AIRBRUSH
As I’ve said the Krome is very simple to use and if you’ve had experience with a double action airbrush before you’ll be flying. Simply put, paint goes in the cup, rubber cap comes off the front, connect the air hose to the compressor and pull the trigger!
In his review of the Grex Tritium airbrush Bill Cross explained that he thought reviews of airbrushes that only presented lines on a page as a ‘test’ were relatively useless in terms of what it can do, especially in relation to a plastic model. With that in mind I set out to do both lines on a page and some actual modelling tests.
It must be said that prior to using the airbrush on the models I did perhaps five minutes of practice with the airbrush and that I am 100% confident that with much more use even better results will be easily attainable.
My first subject was a Panzer IV. The dark yellow base had already been applied with my G35 when I received the Krome so I used it to add the field applied camouflage green and red brown in a large size blob pattern.
For the tests on this model I used Tamiya paints, Flat Green and Red Brown thinned with Tamiya thinner to roughly the consistency of milk and shot between 12 and 20 PSI (using an Iwata compressor- a small hose adapter is needed to use the Badger with an Iwata compressor) to test how it performed.
Flawlessly is the first word I think of when considering the performance of the Krome. I had never used a Badger brush before and yet I was achieving results beyond the reach of any other airbrush I have ever used. We often say, in modelling, that airbrushing is a skill that takes time to master and is impossible to perfect. This is true and it is also largely true that instantly perfect results are un-attainable but I maintain that with this piece of kit you’ll get those results a whole lot faster than with anything else available out there!
The trigger mechanism is so smooth and feels comfortable straight away- the exactitude of the trigger and mechanism design allows a massive degree of control with a one-handed grip. Two hands steps this control up a gear and you’ll be surprised at how fine a line you can get with this grip.
The trigger setting ‘stopset’ device is also very useful in that it ensures you can’t accidentally pull the trigger past the point you are comfortable with- ensuring you don’t spray too much by mistake. The control of this is something new for me and I’ve been very surprised by how easy it is to use effectively- its likely going to end up one of those things you don’t know how you managed without.
Cleaning is also pretty easy as the paint cup is large and wide even at the bottom. I suggest using cotton buds, a fine brush or a dedicated cleaning set to clean this airbrush. The only negative is I seem to get a build up of paint around the very bottom of the cup that is stubborn to remove, even with thinner and will only come away with a bit of forceful scrubbing.
Assembly and dis-assembly is also a doddle. Unfortunately this is not very well detailed in the two page instructions (perhaps the poorest part of this airbrush). Only a blow-out diagram identifying all the airbrush parts (to help ordering spares) is provided. However, simply screw off the rear part of the body and the needle chuck can then be screwed off and the needle withdrawn. The front end is similarly easy- unscrew the tip and nozzle housing to expose the nozzle which you can then take off.
The other needle and its housing are simple to fit too requiring no changes to the airbrush apart from the nozzle and the paint tip. Unfortunately the tip of this needle is exposed and not guarded like the other one so take care when using this. Fine, precision lines are also achievable with this needle but I think it will be best used to cover larger areas and can then be swapped with the .21mm needle for finer work- I assume this is part of the idea behind including the two needles.
Further tests were carried out both on paper and on a scrap piece of model. The blue paint is Vallejo Model Air Blue- this performed as expected in that it doesn’t, initially, work as well as Tamiya paint. This is nothing to do with the airbrush- Model Air behaves very differently to Tamiya paint and needs practice to lay down complex lines or camouflage patterns. Having said that I was surprised by how good the Model Air sprayed as it was the first time I’d used it with this airbrush.
The green paint was, again, Tamiya Flat Green and it sprayed flawlessly.
These are easily the poorest part of the kit and include one sheet printed on both sides. One side has a diagram showing the individual parts of the Krome and then a list identifying them so replacements can be easily ordered. There is only a tiny section on troubleshooting and maintenance. The lengthiest part is about Paint Seal O-Ring replacement.
Compared to other airbrush makes these instructions are poor and if you’ve never used an airbrush before the lack of detail may prove to be a problem. I can’t see why more detailed instructions and perhaps some tips on best usage of the airbrush are not included. Even a link to a page on the Badger website would be useful. This, I feel, really needs to be looked at.
I bought my Krome from from MidTennHobbies’ which have an exclusive US deal until 1st December. As you read this various companies in Europe and the US are getting their stocks ready and by the time this article hits the web they should be ready for sale. Please check the following places:
TC Graphics and Paint.com
The Hobby Company (UK- Retail Distributor)
Other Parts of the World:
For me this is the best airbrush I’ve ever owned and I’ve been impressed with it since I put paint to model. I think the Renegade Krome has so much potential given the excellent price and the fact you effectively get two airbrushes in one. The precision and finesse of action would easily equate to prices well above $200 for airbrushes from some of the other companies out there. In these rather tough economic times this airbrush really is a bargain but there’s no strings attached- you are not buying something second rate- this is a top of the line piece of equipment, precision engineered and a joy to work with.
There are, as with most things, a few niggles. The instructions could be vastly improved, perhaps including a warning that the nozzles can be knocked out easily when fully exposed. A detachable paint cup (with a screw around the bottom of the neck) would have been a nice addition too, allowing smaller or larger cups to be screwed on as and when they are needed. Some lube would also have been a nice inclusion in the box.
It is my belief that Badger have produced a world beating airbrush capable of holding its own against any other similar piece of kit out there- the features and finesse of this piece of equipment and the price it retails for are not to be sniffed at. I have no reservations about thoroughly recommending this stunning airbrush.
A big thank you to Jan Myers at Badger and especially to Ken Schlotfeldt, Badger President, for answering various questions I had and providing me with information for this review. Also thanks to Tim Murrell at EverythingAirbrush, Jack at MidTennHobbies, Rafael Wunsch at Intl-Trade and Pete Binger at The Hobby Company.
I also must mention that I bought my Renegade Krome at MidTennHobbies.com- they kindly sent me the brush and an Iwata adapter to the UK very quickly at a fantastic price.