One of my most exciting discoveries at the recent 2008 IPMSUSA National Convention was a new line of airbrushes manufactured by GREX. Of great interest to me was their new Genesis XA single action airbrush. I was delighted to see that it featured a gravity feed system. A brief test run revealed a very smooth spray pattern and I knew I had to get one to try out on a model.
The XA incorporates many of the features I had been hoping one of the established airbrush manufacturers would incorporate. The basic design of the most popular single action airbrushes hasn’t changed in as long as I can remember. I believe this plays into the common misconception that a single action airbrush is a beginners tool to be quickly discarded like training wheels on a bike once the basic technique has been learned. The new XA airbrush should change that mindset.
I recently came to the conclusion that for modeling, a single action airbrush may just be the best tool for many painting tasks. Applying primer, covering broad areas, and applying clear coats are all much easier with a single action brush. A double action airbrush is helpful for painting fine detail and accomplishing sophisticated weathering effects, but it really isn’t the best tool for covering large areas. Trying to do so is kind of like trying to cut down a tree with a kitchen knife instead of an ax. You can do it, but it makes the job a lot harder.
Having said all that, there are a number of elements to the common single action airbrush design that I though could use some updating. Foremost among these is the provision for gravity feed paint flow. The ability to add paint from the top of the airbrush allows the force of gravity to assist in delivering the paint rather than make the air do all the work. It provides for much more efficient use of paint as every drop can be applied to the model, requires less air pressure and allows for a much finer spray pattern. The detachable color cup on the XA is also a great feature as it allows you to use minute amounts of paint rather than having to mix up a lot of paint that would go to waste. To be honest, on a model, a little paint can go a long way. With the XA you can just mix whatever amount you need from a couple drops to an entire paint reservoir.
Picking up the XA for the first time, I was reminded of the scene in “Jurassic Park” where the kid is playing with the night vision goggles. One of the adults asks, “Are those heavy?” When the kid says yes, the man replies, “then they’re expensive.” The XA feels very substantial. There are no plastic parts here. All of the parts of the brush are finely machined and the finish is flawless.
Of course the true test of any airbrush is how it sprays and I was not disappointed, however, I did have a little bit of a learning curve. My XA delivered the same impressively fine spray pattern with Tamiya acrylic paint that I observed at the demo at the Nats. However, I discovered that there is a limit to how far back the needle can be adjusted to increase the paint flow. If it is opened too much, the paint will actually begin to leak from the tip resulting in an initial splatter when the trigger is depressed. The old single action airbrush rule of starting and stopping the paint off of the model is still good advice. Once I learned to anticipate this function of the design, I had no problems applying an incredibly smooth layer of dark sea blue paint to the 1/72 scale F4U Corsair model I chose as my test subject. (The whole model, by the way, required only about 2 1/2 color cups of thinned paint!) My old Paashe often left an orange peel finish. There was no trace of this with the XA.
I also initially found the design of the airbrush a little unconventional in that it lacks the long handle of most other airbrushes. I quickly adapted and had no issues other than finding it easier to press the trigger with my thumb.
Some may find the price of this airbrush surprising when compared to other single action airbrushes, however, rest assured this is an extremely well made tool with novel features that will make the job of painting a model much more efficient and pleasurable. It is a serious tool for the serious modeler. As my grandfather used to say, “any task is easy if you use the right tool for the job,” and when it comes to airbrushing models, the XA is that tool.
KPL Systems carries the entire GREX line of airbrushes.
Contact Ken LaSala at email@example.com for ordering information.