Arriving in a cardboard sleeved protective plastic case, bundled with instructions and extended 10 year warranty from airbrushes.com, the Iwata HP-C impressed me from the moment I cracked open the packaging.
Out of the Box
The Iwata HP-C feels very solidly machined, and it's exterior was flawless with the triple plated finish almost reflective enough to shave in. From the moment I handled the brush, it's quality construction was evident and it felt truly luxurious compared to the budget offering I was used to. The action on the handle was decisive and there was no slack to contend with before the needle responded, which was further enhanced by the addition of a very fancy assembly at the rear known as the preset handle, which limits the travel of the needle allowing you to control and maintain continuous paint flow. Travelling with the airbrush is a tight fitting snap-lid for the large 9ml paint hopper which is integral to the body of the brush, and the customary wrench for disassembly of the brush. Also tucked into the inside of the packaging was a small slip of paper with a squiggle of paint, showing that the airbrush had been tested by hand before it left the factory. A quick glimpse at the page was enough to reassure me that I had made the correct choice.
The instructions come dual language, with English and Japanese directions for use. There appeared to be some diagrams in the Japanese half that were missing from the English counterpart, but certainly nothing that would prevent you from being able to confidently use and maintain the brush. Along with instructions for use and cleaning there is also a handy troubleshooting guide which gives examples of common problems and diagnoses the reasons behind them.
Using the Airbrush
Described as being "the professional's workhorse" I was curious to the ability of the HP-C. It's price put it mid-range for the Iwata brushes, behind the more fancy models such as the Custom Microns and Hi-Lines, but it's nozzle size of 0.3mm provides the ability to produce fine lines as witnessed on the test paper that came with the brush. I made the mistake of buying an air hose with twin 1/8 bsp end connectors, and so was faced with the frustration of waiting for another hose when I found out that my compressor set up needed a 1/4bsp fitting and noone nearby sold a suitable adaptor. Thanks to airbrushes.com and their almost miraculously fast dispatch the hose was there next day and I fired up the compressor.
Loading the paint hopper first with Tamiya acrylic, thinned according with Tamiya thinners, needless to say I was delighted with the initial results. Before you run, you have to walk, and before you walk - you crawl. I forgot everything I knew from airbrushing with the Clarke and went at the Iwata by adjusting the airpressure until the brush gave me splatter free spray I needed. Having fiddled with my air pressure I began spraying using the preset handle to limit the needle's travel, effortlessly producing a continuous line about as thick as normal felt tip pen across my test page - this was something my old brush just couldn't do and I was immediately aware of the fact that a lot of painting opportunities (particularly with axis models) had just been made possible. Opening the preset handle up a bit to let the needle move the airbrush really began to chuck out a lovely spray, atomising the paint into a fine mist giving excellent covering potential for basecoating.
The most immediate thing I noticed was that for every 1/4 of a hopper of paint I was using, I could cover about twice as much surface area as I could with my old Clarke's hopper half full of fully thinned paint. I decided that enough was enough messing with acrylics, and I had some modelling to get on with. It was time to switch to White Ensign Enamels thinned with white spirit and give a Sherman that required repainting a fresh basecoat of OD from the colourcoats range.
Loading the hopper with enamel thinned roughly 1:3, I again achieved twice the covering power thanks to better atomisation of paint. It was positively sipping from the hopper rather than guzzling the paint through and hurling it at the model as I had to contend with previously. The thin, controlled coats recovered my previous job effortlessly and within 2 minutes the paint was drying on a fresh OD paintjob. For areas where previously applied white decals were showing through, the preset handle again came in handy and, setting my spray to a maximum 5mm or so wide, concentrated a coat on these areas and lost the white totally in just a couple of passes of the brush.
Being used to a siphon feed airbrush with massive, mass produced tolerances in parts, cleaning time on my old airbrush was always a full strip job with cotton buds in every opening of the brush body and lots of noxious cleaners stripping paint out of all the crannies. I was absolutely delighted that the Iwata cleaned up so effortlessly in comparison.
The large paint hopper was easy to wipe clean with normal tissue, and with just a quick rinse of white spirt and a bit of back-washing, the brush was spraying clear again and I popped it neatly back into it's case.
Having given the airbrush its first use, I was thrilled to have already achieved a good result. It's ease of use, fantastic performance and convenient cleanup made using it much less of a chore and I got to leave the highly toxic cleaners on the shelf for a change. I used only cotton bud and that was to clean the tip of the brush! The large paint hopper should hold enough even for big jobs, though it's integral nature does remove the option for changing to a large bottle. The result on the Sherman put the Iwata immediately into my good books, and it is obvious this marvelous, well made tool will stand me in good stead for many years...
...but should it not, airbrushes.com offer TEN years of warranty against defective workmanship or materials in the airbrush. Obviously, if you dont take care of the brush they won't cover you for incorrectly assembled or cleaned models, but for everything manufacture related you are covered for a full decade. This, on top of the good price and the fast delivery, made me a very happy customer of both Iwata AND airbrushes.com
Highs: Incredibly well made and performance to match, a really potent tool with bags of potential.Lows: Integral paint hopper is a limiting factor, but its a large hopper and as such - no big deal.Verdict: Fantastic tool, well worth the money and a real investment.