On the previous article we talked about the basic tools every modeler should have on their bench. In this article however we are going to talk about a few extra tools that although they might require a more experienced modeler to use them, it will take the kit to that extra level of detail that most of us wish for. Let’s begin!
Photo-etched benders: By now you should know what a photo-etched part is. Some manufactures are including them almost as standard in their kits, Eduard comes to my mind; a tool to be able to handle them effectible is a must. Photo-etched benders comes is different sizes but mostly same shape and function.
How does it work? A PE bender consist mainly in a heavy metal base, rectangular or square, and another sheet of metal with different shapes and sizes that will press but screwing the top plate against the bottom until the PE part is clamp between them. Once the part is secure, with a blade or the thin plastic part provided with the bender, one can lift or push down (depending on the angle desired) until the PE part starts to bend and take the shape required. For small scales like 1/100, 1/72 or 1/48 a small PE bender will be enough, but if you build different scales and specially 1/32, 1/35 up the recommendation is to invest on a bigger bender that can bend the pieces without the risk of being unevenly bend.
As the PE parts becomes cheaper and more available, so are the benders. If you are into super detailing kits, it is a must to have.
Airbrush: Most modelers thinks that is vital to have an airbrush to be able to get a smooth painting job. Figure or experience modelers will disagreed: if you know your paints and have a good set or paintbrushes one can paint extremally detailed paintwork that is almost impossible to achieve with an airbrush.
I would like to say that they complement each other; paintbrush is necessary and once you know how to operate an airbrush it will become one of those tools in your bench that you couldn’t go by without it. If you are thinking to know the mechanics and functionality of an airbrush, I recommend you watch our video “airbrushes for beginners” here.
There are different types of airbrush but for the sake of the article we will concentrate in double-action airbrushes. Single action airbrushes have limited functionality and are just as expensive nowadays as the double action ones… so why pay the same and get less?
If you watched the video/article in our site about “airbrush for beginners” , you should know how a double-action airbrush works. Prices ranges wildly and remember that you get what you paid for so it is always a good idea to buy best airbrush you can get from your hard-earned money. Do your research and compare prices. Most known brands are H&S, IWATA, Sparmax, Badger, Passché, etc…
Most modelers invest on a good airbrush and get one or two “generic ones” or so called “Chinese knock outs” for “dirty jobs” like priming.
If you are thinking to get your first airbrush start low and make your way up. There is nothing more frustrating than to spend all your savings on an expensive airbrush and after a short while being put off by it because poor maintenance or not being able to mix paints properly. A cheap airbrush will give you the opportunity to experiment and well as to learn how to troubleshoot your airbrush if a problem arises. Keep and eye on an upcoming article/video about troubleshooting your airbrush.
Compressor: Unfortunately, an airbrush is nothing without a compressor. These two goes hand in hand. There are lots of different compressor sizes and types, but we will concentrate on “hobby” compressors suitable for airbrushing.
There are single and double piston ones, mainly maintenance free due to their construction. I would recommend a compressor that can give 3 kilos of pressure, 2 kilos one should be the bare minimum for todays standards. Some compressor comes with an extra air tank. This are extremally desired due to the ability to hold compressed air giving the compressor a rest (elongating its life) plus a rest to your ears, since the piston is not working continuously. Tanks comes in 3 or 5 liters… 3 liters is more the norm and is enough for the average modeler.
Spray booth: yes, the list goes on and on… seems that just getting an airbrush is not as easy as it seems after all! Paint booth are used to extract fumes produce by praying paint into the model.
Acrylic paints seem the safest to use nowadays and are extremally popular due to their ease of use and low pollution. Enamels and laker paints are very toxic and a paint booth is a must if your intent is to spray these paints. Nowadays there are different models of spray booths: ideally you should position your booth next to a window so the fumes can scape outside your room but if that is impossible there are models that “recycle” the air through filters. Unfortunately they are not cheap, but since we are talking about your health… they are priceless!
Paintbrushes: You will be surprised why I have included brushes under the “advance tool” section but I can promise you that there is more in brushes that meets the eye. It is easy just to head on your favorite hobby shop and buy the “brush pack” by some manufacturers but if you really want a finesse in your paint work, you should start to know your brushes… just like your airbrush!
Paintbrushes comes in different materials, sizes and function. Try to avoid cheap brushes with thick and brittle ends. Aim for quality and invest on paintbrush cleaning solution too, nothing is more frustrating than to try to do a delicate and precise job being ruin by that “hair” sticking out because it is a cheap brush, or you haven’t cleaned properly. We did discuss that it was recommended to have 2 airbrushes, for redundancy purpose and quality of the “work” at hand. With paintbrushes how many is too many? The simple answer is you can never have enough brushes! Due to their variety and quality, we can be spoiled in the sense that we can have a set for precision painting, a set for weathering and a set for general purpose to name a few. If you find a brush works for you, stick with it and master it!
Well by now you should have a general idea of the tools needed to start scale modelling. Be aware that there are many more tools out there and new ones that comes out that cannot be covered in a single article, they are just too many!. But at least I have described in two articles the “must have” ones.
Hope you found this article interesting and keep an eye on upcoming ones! As always, be safe and happy modelling