by: Robert Blokker [ ]
Let me start off by saying that so far in my modeling life the Badger airbrushes never played a role. This was mostly a matter of availability. Most of the hobby shops around me carried Revell Airbrushes and accessories but also because through the years I got several airbrushes being handed down to me in several ways. My airbrushes park spans several brands like Paasche with their V1 and Olympos with their HP100B and a number of unbranded airbrushes; what I have used most through the years was a Revell Flex Masterclass and this has been my general workhorse for all kinds of spray jobs. I can therefore rightfully say Iím a complete Badger newbie, which ended pretty much with the arrival of the Sotar 20/20.
I received the Sotar 20/20 in a simple cardboard postal box, so I cannot comment on how you usually get them from shops and such. But since my airbrushes usually have their place in the top deck of a big toolbox it is not a great loss. Inside the box was the airbrush along with some papers. Among them an A4 sheet folded twice. The sheet congratulated me on the purchase. It also gives some advice before using the airbrush. For transportation the needle is retracted and you have to unscrew the chuck. Push the needle gently until it seats in the nozzle and screw the chuck tight again. Also this piece of text notes that all the parts need to be hand tightened only, which is something I found some troubles with but more on that later.
Further you will find some warranty stuff on there, some more tips and tricks on maintenance and troubleshooting. On the back you will find a parts run down with an exploded view of the airbrush with all the parts marked with their serial number. And on the bottom half there is a lot of explanation on the unique features of the Sotar 20/20 as the airbrush is stuffed with all sorts of newly patented designs and features.
Upon opening the box and frantically freeing the airbrush from the captive hold of the bubble wrap I started to smile. There is no other word for it. The Sotar looks sexy. It is all black with gold lettering. Iím definitely a nerd when it comes to looks of tools, Badger already scored here with me.
The Badger Sotar 20/20 is a dual action, gravity fed airbrush with adjustable paint control. One thing I noticed in the parts rundown is that the people at Badger managed to cram in a lot of parts in something roughly the size of one of the more expensive fountain pens. Another thing I have so far never encountered on any other airbrush I have is that the back end of the needle has a plastic ball attached to it. Obviously this is for an easier grip when pulling it out the airbrush. However I always got used to unscrewing the nozzle holder and subsequently the nozzle itself and pushing the needle forward out of the airbrush to prevent pulling paint into the airbrushes housing. But cleverly the people at badger fitted it with a Teflon needle seal which should prevent material backup. Weíll see how that goes with cleaning.
Compared to my trusty Revell Flex Masterclass the Sotar 20/20 is a whole lot lighter which should mean it is easier to handle for a long time. The trigger at first feel is also pretty easy to work with and not much force is needed to pull it back. There is another feature that is new for me, and that is the paint adjustment screw. Itís operation is very easy to understand and I canít wait to test this feature out as it should allow you to paint lines of controlled thickness consistently which should make some of the more elaborate camo schemes a breeze.
Firing up the compressor
I got around to testing out the airbrush and I gave it a good run for the money. I was trying to get a good feel for the brush and how it handles and to tell you the truth I was amazed. I tested it out in different air pressures but the best results I received at around 2 bar or 30 PSI. Iím aware that this also has to do with how much your paint is thinned.
I tested the Sotar in all its settings trying to replicate actions I would do on vehicles as well, from the thinnest lines to the thickest ďrelease all at onceĒ setting and it holds up very well. It is truly a versatile airbrush. From very thin lines, to dots all the same size gradually moving up to thicker lines, filling big areas, mottling etc. It did it all without complaining. Hell I bet if you thin your paint good enough you could even write signatures on checks with this airbrush.
The low wide cup offers you a good view on what you are spraying. The little weight of the airbrush makes this a joy to handle and the trigger works very lightly which is a good thing when you are doing precision painting. Another great feature of the Sotar is the ergonomic designed handgrip which makes holding it quite pleasant.
It is a winner on all areas. You can preshade with it using very thin lines. In the higher settings you can fill the rest of the vehicle. Returning to the finer settings you can do intricate camo jobs up to the little dots, and in the all open setting you can give your groundwork a coat of color. How elaborate and time-consuming as it may sound. You can even paint figures with it as well.
Cleanup is a breeze. Although I say this in the knowledge that after spraying I put them in the ultrasonic cleaning apparatus. But even when cleaning by hand you shouldnít experience too much problems. The nozzle could be a bit fiddly as it is a really tiny thing.
Had I never thought about getting an airbrush from Badger before I can honestly say that opinion has been changed now because of the Sotar 20/20. Even though it has a fine setting it can easily be used as an all around workhorse on the workbench and it will stand up to itís job.
I have a few observations though. The Airbrush as I received it comes with a bullet shaped protector cap which is necessary since there is no other protection for the needle tip. It simply sticks out of the spray regulator being very vulnerable there for damaging. If you decide to purchase this very fine airbrush Iíd advice you to buy it with either #20-102, 20-103 or 20-104 as it has two protective prongs to guard over the needle tip.
Another thing I might warn the prospective buyer about is on disassembling the airbrush first time. I did this immediately when I came home because I wanted to get an idea of all the parts and what I needed to do to clean it. Here comes the point I mentioned earlier in the introduction. The instructions clearly says that ďAll parts are to be hand tightened onlyĒ with no tools required. Now Iím not a tiny man and I consider myself to be quite strong in the hands. My example of the Sotar 20/20 seemed to be hand tightened by the Incredible Hulk. And there was absolutely no way I could unscrew parts 20-105 (Paint tip hold down ring) and part 20-101 (spray regulator) from each other without tools. Sadly I caused some minor damage to those parts but nothing that affected the fantastic workings of this precision airbrush. I wonít say that this will happen to you if you decide to buy this airbrush but at least be aware it is a possibility.
I will recommend this airbrush to everybody who wants to work with an airbrush that excels in pretty much every job you need it for in our lovely hobby. Yes with its 300 dollar price tag it is not cheap, but you will get a tool to love.