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    Categories: Models

Tools

Tools/Setup
Here are some other stuff that I use. You don’t need all these, but each makes life a bit easier in some way.
The number in the second column indicates how important the item is *to me*, with 5 the most important and 1 the least. May serves as a reference if you’re getting started.

Airbrushing equipments
Iwata HP-BCS Eclipse airbrush 3 This is my main workhorse airbrush. You can run pretty thick paint through it and it stands up to my abuse pretty well, although I’ve bent a lot of needles (good thing they cost around $4.50 each) I got mine for $72. This is a bottom feed airbrush. I use it for artist acrylics. Recently I use it for primer and base coat. This airbrush has a 0.5mm nozzle.
Iwata HP-CS Eclipse airbrush 5 Then Iwata came up with this gravity feed. If I want just one brush this would be it. It’s finer than the BCS and much easier to clean. Since I can’t spray lacquer without thoroughly cleaning my BCS after spraying acrylics, I bought this brush to spray Mr. Color. I think it costed $89. This airbrush has a 0.3mm nozzle and can paint very fine lines.
Iwata Custom Micron-B airbrush 4 I replaced the Badger Sotar (below) with the custom micron. It’s quite expensive ($259 at dixie), but it’s worth it! It has the variable air valve that the sotar don’t – you can control the amount of air released. It’s less suspectible to clogging too. The trigger action is extremely smooth, and the crown cap protects the needle while allowing very fine lines. A lot of pros in airbrush illustration business recommend this brush.
Badger Sotar 20/20 airbrush This is a really fine airbrush! It draws really really fine lines and I use it exclusively for detailing. It’s also easy to clean between colors. The cons is it requires your paint to be very thin or it’ll clog like crazy. I got mine for $150.
Circuit test 459 CFM fan 5 People often wonder about building a spray booth that collects airbrush fumes and filter them out. I think building the booth is a hassle and obscures natural light which is important to my painting. After doing some research, I come to the conclusion that all I need is a very powerful fan that would suck the fumes out once they are done reaching my model. I bought this powerful fan from Circuit Test for about $55, and I couldn’t be happier. CFM measures the amount of airflow through the fan, and 459 is more than many pro-grade spray booth can give you. There has been discussions about potential hazards associated with the fumes igniting the fan motor, but no one has reported such accidents; my fan’s motor is also well concealed. You want to buy a finger guard for the fan (~$2-3) so that the fan don’t accidentally chop your fingers off, and a light switch to hook up the fan. The cool thing is the fan comes in a box that exactly fits the fan, so no container required. To complete the set up, buy some active carbon filters (any would do) that absorbs the fumes (you need to change the filters once in a while though) and you’re set. You can also attach a pipe behind the fan and vent the fumes to the outside; I just put the fan in front of the window on my workshop desk. Here’s a picture of my setup.
Silentaire TC-20 silent air compressor 5 I used to use CO2 tanks for feeding my airbrush but I built too many kits and they could no longer sustain my consumption, and I didn’t own a car back then to drive to the refill place. So I shelved out the $389 for this guy. It’s silent! Unfortunately I think something is leaking somewhere on my compressor so it was acting weird for a while. Now it’s working normal again.
Gunze Sangyo Mr. Color paint 5 These paints forms a really tough paint layer that’s essential for mechs. Anything else would easily scratch off from their moving parts. 180yen per bottle (not counting the expensive shipping charges from Japan) I use Mr. Color Leveling Thinner which contains retarder for airbrushing and handbrushing. See the tips section on things you can do with Mr. Color.
Gunze Sangyo Aqueous Hobby Color 4 These colors is self-leveling (like Pollyscale) and is great for hand brushing. I keep a limited range of these colors for times when I have to hand brush.
Liquitex & Golden artist acrylic paints 2 These paints are readily available and are tons cheaper than modelling paints, plus they have great color range. The one huge drawback of these paints are that they don’t stick to anything well, require a long curing time and form a rather think film. But they are non-toxic. Well you can’t have everything. About $2.60 a bottle and they run for a long time.
Tamiya Acrylics 2 Tamiya is readily available in the states. They are suitable for airbrushing (can be thinned with Windex), but sucks for hand brushing. Rumors has that you can add Liquitex retarder to slow drying, but I haven’t tried. Their adhesion is quite bad and takes a long time to cure.
Testors Enamel paints 1 I use them (rarely) for detailing – filling panel lines etc. $.99 per bottle. They dry out very fast when you leave it in the bottle. Tamiya enamel lasts much longer. Their silver is really nice however.
Gunze Sangyo
Mr. Base White 1000
5 This stuff is pretty opaque. Still not more opaque than a Modeler’s Base White (C-97) though, but half as expensive. I don’t know if you can use this as a primer but I did it anyway, seems to work ok. I also use it as a white color nowadays… much better than other offerings by Gunze. I use a lot of them.
Rembrandt, Gamblin, Winsor & Newton, Old Holland oil paints 5 Oil paints are really wonderful… they add depth to your figure that is hard to achieve (for me) with airbrush. Oil paints drys very slowly so you can blend the color around to achieve different effects. I always finish skins with oil paints. You can either use liquin to speed the drying, or impatient people like me just spray a coat over to “fix” the oil. But most of the time this isn’t necessary because I apply oil last. Oil paints are expensive (about $4-6 for cheaper colors, can be up to $10-13 for more expensive ones), but they last a long time. I mean a LONG time. I have yet to use up a tube by even 1/4.
Grumbacher drying agent 4 Speeds up drying – by quite a lot. I used to use Liquin from Winsor & Newton but Grumbacher’s seems to dry even faster. You can hardly blend the oil after a couple of hours. It gives a glossy surface.
Gunze Mr. Surfacer 500/1000
5 These are superb putty. They have flow which allows them to sink into pinholes, and they have a strong bite which allows them to grab on the surface well. The number 500 means the size of the grain. 500 is coarse and I use it for puttying, and 1000 is fine and gives a very fine surface, suitable as a primer. They are both in light gray – a very light grey. 300 yen per bottle.
Magic sculp epoxy putty 2 You blend part A+B in equal amount and it works like clay. You can smooth it with water and your finger. It is however harder than resin and quite hard to sand. Very fine grained.I think I got it for $20 per 5lb.
Alteco SSG-HG II putty 3 This stuff can be summarized as slow drying superglue + baby powder; that’s what I use nowadays since SSP-HG is quite expensive. This stuff is marvelous for puttying job where you want the putty to stick really well and be reshaped. Due to the superglue the putty just sticks really well to the plastic, and the powder prevents shrinkage of the superglue when it cures. 1500yen per set.
Mori Mori
3 Polyester putty from Japan. It has pretty good adhesion for a polyester putty, though still not strong enough. It can be cut, shaped and sanded when dry. Takes about 20 minutes to dry usually, depending on the amount of hardner you use. It does not shrink, making it idea for filling in huge gaps. I think this is about 980 yen per big tube.
Liquitex Modelling Paste
4 This is like “after-the-fact putty”… since it’s noncaustic I use it to fix problems after final assembly. The most common problem is after fixing a leg to the main body you find a small but noticable gap between the joint (even after initial test assembly it could still happen), then you thin this paste with water and fill it into the gap. After the water evaporates you have a chalk like deposit which you can dry sand.$4-5.
The content inside can become hard after a while due to evaporation. I flooded the content with water to avoid this from happening again.
CA/Superglue 5 CA glue joints are weak against shearing force so I only use it to attach small parts. I also use it to fill gaps from time to time, but I don’t like the fact that it’s so hard to sand, even before they are cured. Vinyl kits need to use CA glue for assembly. The Zap-A-Gap CA on the left can fill gaps (duh), the Flash in the middle has high fluidity for gluing via capillary action and Flex Zap is thicker and slower drying, but the CA is stronger and more flexible.
Wave K-Nozzle 4 These are pretty important for depositing just the right amount of superglue on your target area, or do the capillary action. I can’t live without it when assembling vinyl kits. 200yen per 10. You can barely see one attached with the tip of the Flash CA. If you make sure the tip has no glue left after each session, each nozzle can last a long time.
Epoxy glue 5 Epoxy glue is good for resin-resin bond. It is much stronger than CA glue. You mix a resin part and a hardener part thoroughly, and the mixture will harden and set in some amount of time. Commonly available are 5 minutes and 30 minutes setting epoxy, the latter results in much stronger bond than the former. 5 minutes is good enough for most of my needsI also use clear epoxy to make things such as tears and saliva 🙂
In the picture above are the Z-Poxy from Pacer Technology. Don’t buy the twin tube variant, it’s extremely hard to get the equal amount from it, and the thing is just messy. The Z-Poxy squeeze bottle is ok, but after a while it becomes difficult to squeeze the resin out (any help?) Nowadays I open the cap and dive a skewer straight in. The quantity is measured in “globs” 🙂
CA glue accelerator 4 Instant hardening… Good for filling gaps with CA and for those moment when you must have the thing bonds. $4-5.99 per bottle. As recommended by everyone, don’t use the spraying cap, just apply drops using a toothpick or something to the area you need.
The use of acclerators makes the CA bond very brittle, so only use them when absolutely necessary.
3M blue medium tack masking tape 4 These are my main masking tape. They’re so cheap and they have good flexibility. The tack is pretty strong for artist acrylics tho, so for them I stick the tape to my skin a couple of times before applying. I think $3 last more than a year…
Paramfilm M 4 This is a very interesting “film” – not a tape. You cut out a piece and stretch it out, and it becomes sticky as if it is electrostatic. It can be stretched horizontally and vertically, usually 2 to 3 times (or even more if you’re careful) the original size. Its edge is very straight and the film is very flexible. The tack is very low, but it can be quite sticky if you stretch it out really thin and the film is left on the kit for a while. The disadvantage is the low tack makes it a hassle to mask drastic curves that are more than 90 degrees. While it could bend and mask the area, when you try to mask other areas the film will tend to come off. I’m still practicing using it. Don’t get the expensive repackaged Testors stuff, buy the original from distributors. I got 250 ft for $15 and I think I’m set for life. Do a web search for the distributor since I’ve lost the url of the place I bought it from.
3M Blenderm water-proof bandaid 2 These are great masking tape. They have special properties such as extremely flexible and are quite thin, suitable for curves and stuff. Only bad thing is they’re not as easy to cut due to their flexibility. Although they’re more expensive than the other masking tapes, they sure are cheaper than hobby masking tapes such as Tamiya’s and works just as well. $3 for a small roll. The disadvantage is the edge of these tape can trap dirt, which allows paint to bleed under.
Modeller’s Liquid Mask
“Mask-Sol”
4 This is the green stuff that’s used by GK builders in Japan. I’ve tried liquid frisket, Gunze Sangyo’s Masking Sol (extremely right in the picture) and latex mold builder for liquid mask, but friskets are too thin and too hard to remove sometimes, Masking Sol has insane tack and latex mold builder are too thick. This green stuff doesn’t suffer from these problems. The disadvantage of Modeller’s is that they’re only available via mail order from Japan. 400yen per bottle.
There’s a plastic sealer cup between the cap and the bottle. I recommend for each use pour a little bit from the bottle to the cup, seal the content again with the cup and use what’s there. Prolonged exposure of the content to air will dry up the whole thing quickly. Also the dried latex can be very hard to remove from paint brush, so apply with a pointed toothpick to minimize your pain… dip only the tip of the tooth pick into the cup for precise application. For larger areas, dip more of the toothpick into the liquid and apply by holding the toothpick in a tilted manner.
Soft scrub (Jiff in other countries) 4 I got this from Max’s book Perfect modelling manual. His mixture for washing models includes some mild detergent and some Jiff. The Jiff helps cleaning the surface with that scrubbing action I guess.
Steel wool 1 I use them to polish the kits and the surface of metal kits – they work great!
Dremel Minimite 5 Gotta have one of these to reshape resin, drill holes etc. I don’t want to kill my hands. This is about $30.
This picture shows the most common bits I use, from left to right: Two steel blurs, one prism and one cylindrical. Three engravers, one big and one small sphere, plus a tiny cylindrical. 1/8 and 1/16 inch drill bits.
Kodak DC265 Digital Camera Used to have a DC210 but it has its problems – more like a tourist camera. DC265 has a lot of options and I’m taking better pictures with it. The 3x zoom is especially important for closeups

Some other supplies, most of which almost everyone has, from the left:

  • tweezers
  • scissors
  • liquitex modeling paste
  • pin vise – for fine drilling. I usually use 1/16″ drill bits and up with the dremel.
  • vaseline – as a “mold release” in cases when you don’t want putty to stick.
  • dremel – really should get one; mine’s the cordless mini-mite. I like the low RPM it gives (5000).
  • xacto knife – I have one that has a rubber grip and a hexagonal tail. It *really* helps to prevent those dangerous situations when the knife drop between your legs 🙂
  • nipper – I use them to cut flash sometimes, besides using them for doing injection plastic kits.
  • Mr. Base White (see below)
  • Zap super glue (see below)
  • Mr. Surfacer 500 – great liquid putty, and has pretty strong adhesion
  • Pacer epoxy glue – the bottles are much less messy than those twin-tubes or squeeze-tube variants.
  • SSP-HG (the short cylinder and the weird bottle beside it – see below)
  • files
  • Home-made flexible sanding block (the white thing in the front – see below)
  • Hand-saw
  • Zap gel super glue
  • Modeler’s mask sol (the green stuff – see below)
  • Zip kicker – CA glue accelerator
  • Lacquer thinner – love it despite serious damage to health 🙂
  • Steel wool – gives very nice smooth finish to surfaces