by: Rowan Baylis [ ]
It goes without saying that it's always exciting to try out a new Iwata airbrush, because their reputation for quality and reliability is second to none. But I must admit I did a major double-take when faced with the strange little cube-shaped box of the new Revolution M-1. I'd never seen an airbrush packed like this - and, on opening the box, I'd never seen an airbrush quite like it either!
The HP-M1 is the most compact airbrush I've ever used. Basically, it's a gravity fed single-action airbrush with a 0.3mm nozzle, but instead having of the usual long pen-like body, it's as though the designers have stepped back and asked the radical question "Why does an airbrush have to be the shape it always is?" - decided that it doesn't, and chopped the end off! The result is small enough to fit neatly in the palm of your hand.
Ironically, for a "pocket-sized" airbrush, the box is actually much larger than it needs to be, as the M-1 only uses less than 1/3 of its depth - the rest is completely empty (although you could store an air hose (not included) and other accessories in the ample space under the M-1's nicely padded tray).
As you'd expect with an Iwata, the finish is superb with beautifully machined parts. The needle is highly polished and the 1.5 fl.oz paint cup has a neatly fitting lid to prevent spills. The M-1 comes with a 5-year warranty as standard, and the Airbrush Company have extended this to a whopping 10 years. This kind of faith in their products inspires confidence.
So what's it like in action? I was initially concerned that the stunted body would prove awkward, but in fact it's amazingly comfortable to use. If, like me, you have trouble with RSI and mild arthritis, you may find a conventional airbrush soon becomes quite painful to hold. Lengthy spraying sessions are something of a chore. However, the short body of the M-1 means you can hold it in a variety of different ways, and I felt perfectly "at home" with it from the word go.
But a single-action airbrush? There's a lot of playground snobbery attached to what type of airbrush you use, with some ill-informed people opining that only a dual-action tool is worth considering for "serious" use. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth for most modelling tasks - certainly when the airbrush is built to the standard of this Iwata. And some common spraying tasks are easier with a single-action brush - e.g. Luftwaffe "mirror waves" or some mottle patterns, where you can be confident of a consistent line width and spot size without battle fatigue setting in. The airflow is controlled by the trigger on the top, while the amount of paint is adjusted by the know at the rear of the airbrush. This turns precisely with a silky-smooth action and, if need be, you can alter the setting while you're spraying to adjust the paint flow through the course of a stroke.
The 0.3mm nozzle allows for some fine work, reaching down to line widths of less than 1mm with no trouble (as you'll see from the pictures, the finest lines highlighted the pulsing in the airflow from the compressor I was using), while opened up it's also able to spray around 1/2 cm wide to fill in broader areas well.
A new airbrush should arrive perfectly set up, so while it's tempting to go by the results straight from the box, a fairer test comes after a week or two's use with a few dis-assemblies for thorough cleaning as in the patterns shown here. I've tried the 'M1 with suitably thinned enamels and acrylics with equal success - the only paint which defeated it was a pot of old coarse-grained ModelMaster Gold, where the particles were simply too large to pass through such a fine nozzle. In such cases the M-1's stablemate, the 0.4mm HP-M2, is also available which would cope better and it also has a 7ml paint cup for larger jobs.
The 'M1 is very simple to clean and dismantle - the paint cup allows easy access for quick mid-session cleaning, while turning the paint control fully counter-clockwise allows you to withdraw the needle. A minor black-mark against Iwata is that they don't provide any detailed instructions and the Internet link they give for more information doesn't seem to work.
ConclusionIwata's HP-M1 is a simple, beautifully designed high quality piece of kit that should give excellent results for years if looked after properly. Choosing the right airbrush for you is a totally subjective matter so, as always, I'd advise a "test drive" if at all possible before buying, but the key indicator for me when trying any new airbrush is whether, at the end of the tests, I'm in a hurry to get back to my existing setup. In the case of the M-1, I've left it connected and I'd use it quite happily for any modelling project I can foresee. Highly recommended.
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