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Customer Service Matters or Seriously, Buy a Badger Airbrush

At Infinity Harbour, I take customer service extremely seriously. One of the reasons for launching the business was the general dissatisfaction I had with game shops, both brick and mortar and online, and their customer service. There are of course notable exceptions, but in general, good customer service is hard to find anywhere it seems these days. Exceptional customer service is even more rare. Recently, I had an amazing experience with Badger Airbrush that deserves being shared with the gaming community.

Every week, I field a good number of requests from customers about airbrushes. We don’t sell airbrushes at Infinity Harbour so I don’t have any financial motive in my recommendations. I, like many of you, have acquired too many airbrushes over the years and my drawer has multiple samples from Badger, Harder-Steenbeck, Iwata, and even a cheap Chinese eBay one I use for large scenery elements. Given the service I received this week from Badger, it is a bit embarrassing that my “top-end” airbrush from them is the relatively modest Krome. I bounce around a lot with my brushes but when I spray acrylics, I always seem to end up using the Krome at some point. Airbrush preference is extremely subjective but for me, the Krome is rugged, extremely forgiving of air pressure and paint mix. This flexibility, coupled with excellent detail capabilities have made it my go to brush ever since I bought it shortly after its launch in 2011. Lately though, it has seen less use and my Harder-Steenbeck has been in heavy rotation. Nevertheless, this brush has lots of hours logged for me. It is also the brush I recommend unequivocally when people ask me who are starting out what to purchase. It is forgiving enough to learn on but has capabilities and quality that give you tons of room to grow into. If everyone I recommended one to bought one, Badger would sell several a week.

A couple years ago, my Krome suffered some damage. The lower unit came detached and I had to send it back to Badger for service. Badger is in the USA and offers a lifetime warranty so a quick email exchange later, I had instructions on how to send it in. A couple weeks later, it was back, repaired free of charge by Jesus at Badger. Flash forward mid-March. I was having one of those days with my Harder-Steenbeck. It is a stunning piece of machining and screams quality all over. However, I often am frustrated with it when spraying acrylics. I find it extremely fussy about paints and pressure and there are some days that no matter what I do, I just can’t seem to coax it to do what I want. So, I put it away and reached for my Old Faithful the Krome. Hooked it up, pushed the trigger, and … nothing. Nuts. It was behaving exactly like it did when the lower unit shifted so I assumed it needed to go back in again. I sent an email to Badger, and shortly heard back again from Jesus, the same tech who had fixed my brush several years ago. I feel that kind of personnel consistency speaks a lot about a company. I explained my situation and again was directed to send it back in. They turned around the repair extremely quickly and I just got it back yesterday. Here’s where the customer service comes in. As it turns out, my assessment of what was wrong with the brush was incorrect. There was not a mechanical failure in the brush, but instead, my cleaning protocol (especially when spraying lacquer for my scale models) had damaged several seals and seriously gummed up the works. So, it was all on me. Clearly nothing to do with the brush or covered by warrantee.

Badger would have been completely in their rights to send it back or at least charge me for the time to clean and replace the parts that I had damaged with my own actions. Instead, Jesus rebuilt and cleaned the whole unit. He replaced and overhauled parts and took the time to write lengthy instructions on what to avoid and not do when dealing with lacquers and heavy solvents with the brush. Amazing. Further, the Krome is not a particularly top-end brush pricewise from Badger. They can be found online for a little over $100 which given their performance is a steal. They did all of this serving on my airbrush for free – nothing – and they did this for a customer with a 6-year old, mid-range airbrush, that I had damaged myself. Once again, I unequivocally recommend Badger for performance, price, and most importantly astonishingly good customer service. I know now I seriously need to look into their higher end airbrushes for my collection if this is the quality of service I can expect. So, if you are looking for an airbrush, look long and hard at Badger and their competitors and then ask yourself, what will happen when something goes wrong? Badger will have your back, will the others?

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Do You Need a Series 7 Kolinsky Brush? Yes, Yes You Do!

If you want the best brush possible for your painting, you want a Winsor & Newton Series 7 Kolinsky sable brush. Period. I’ve painted with these since the 1980s and it’s the only brush I use any more. There are other good brushes out there to be sure, but the Series 7 is the best. It’s the only sable brush we carry for a reason.

So, what’s the catch and why wouldn’t you want one? Mainly, cost. They aren’t cheap. While I think they are an affordable luxury and well cared for you can expect them to last you for years, it is undeniable that you can buy several cheaper brushes for the price of one Series 7. My advice though, is don’t do it. Buy a Series 7 – at least one to treat yourself with. A good place to start is with a round 1 or a round 0. Save the miniature line of brushes for after you’ve tried the long bristles of the round.

The Series 7 was developed in 1866 when Queen Victoria ordered Winsor & Newton to create for her the finest watercolor brushes possible in her favorite size – 7. Thus the series was born. Each brush is handmade by expert brush makers who have over 10 years of experience before they can work on the Series 7 line.

Sable has several advantages over cheaper nylon brushes. First, nylon brushes suffer from tip curl. Over a short time of usage, the nylon distorts and you end up with a curled tip. Nylon brushes are mass manufactured and are not set to hold a particularly sharp point. Part of this is in the manufacture of the brush but also in the material. Nylon simply will not stay set in a shape the way sable can. Lastly and perhaps most importantly, nylon does not absorb paint. This means that the brush does not “load” well with paint. The bristles do more than provide a point for you to apply paint. The bristles hold paint and the more paint it can hold, the longer you can paint without re-dipping and the better you can flow lines and fine detail. For those like us using acrylic paints for miniatures, the fast dry time on the brush is a problem so loading is a definite benefit for your painting.

Sable is a vastly superior material for brushes in these regards. Win
sor & Newton sum this up nicely. “Each brush comes to a crisp point and snaps back into shape during use, with the right degree of spring to allow superior control between the brush and surface. The colour flows evenly and consistently from the point, with enough colour carrying capacity in the belly of the brush to allow flowing gestural strokes.” This spring and flow of a sable brush is key to controlling paint and laying down detail and subtle shading.

The Series 7 come in two variations, an “art round” and a “miniature” variety. The sizes are the same 1, 0, 00, and 000 but the barrels are different. The art round has longer bristles and loads considerably better than the miniature brush. The miniature brush while loading less well, has a very springy and sharp point so it is perfect for ultra precision. Ultimately, which style is best for you depends on your painting style and needs. Myself, I prefer the standard rounds as the points are still extremely sharp and the loading capacity is more important to me for shading and solid base coating. I do reach for the miniature brush when I’m dotting in eyes etc. but for me, the round #1 is 90% of my painting. Try one out and see for yourself!