A couple months back, I gave a bit of a signal boost the the new Kickstarter by Games & Gears who partnered with Ichiban Studios to create a pro line of red sable brushes. I backed the project (which was largely funded by the wife as a Birthday gift) and was lucky enough to get an 'Early Bird' spot. Well, for those Early Birds, they began shipping a couple of weeks ago and, I knew that they had hit Canada last Friday. I figured I'd have a small package waiting for me and, I was right.
It's a rainy day in Montreal today so I wasn't out BBQing supper. I fixed up a quick little meal and set myself to examine and test out the brushes.
In short, these are very good brushes albeit, by looking at them, you would think they might take a bit of getting used to in terms of handling the brush while painting. First off, these are shorter, a bit heavier, and a bit thicker than what I'm accustomed to using.
My usual brushes are a set of three 'Eavy Metal branded brushes from Games Workshop and while some people will cry out in despair and wonder what possessed me to spend overly much on something that was likely overpriced to begin with, I suspect this was one of those things that was less overpriced than the typical product they push on their fanbase. I use these brushes (sized 'Large', 'Standard', and 'Detail') because they are Kolinsky Sable brushes and there was some discussion a while back that these were likely Windsor and Newton series 7 Kolinsky Sable brushes. All I can say is that I've been using these brushes for well over a year and they have never let me down. They're great and having used and gone through other brushes, these still are in decent shape.
Brushes don't last forever, no matter how well you care for them but treat them right, and they'll serve you a long time. However, this Kickstarter presented an interesting option to get other sable brushes and, with the way you can help protect the tips, it seemed like a good opportunity.
Having tried out all the brushes, I have to say that it was really easy to get comfortable in using the brushes. Because they are so 'penlike', I found myself holding the brush closer to the tip on the ferrule that I did with the other brushes but this wasn't a problem for me. Depending on the angle of course, there were times I had to re-adjust my grip in order to get to a tighter spot on the model I was painting on but that's the same for any brush given what you may be trying to paint.
The bristles hold paint really well in part because the body of the bristles are nice and thick compared to what I normally work with. However, application of the paint was nice and smooth. Most importantly, they seem to keep a tip when wet and they also have some 'spring' to them. Both very important things when precision is required when working on some details.
While these brushed will be entering regular use, my 'Eavy Metal brushes have not been replaced. The smallest of the brushes, the 00 size would be very hard pressed to replace my Detail brush. Since the bristles are shorter on the 00, and given the 'spring' and the tendency to keep a point, I will have to play around with it a bit more to be sure. Eyes and facial features on 25 - 30mm is a tricky thing. Then again, I've had difficulties with the Fine Detail brush as well. I have heard Games & Gears were working on a pro-line 000 size and, given the quality of these brushes, I'd be happy to pay for one of these.
Games & Games had another KS a while back and there were a lot of quality control issues and the general consensus was that those 'samurai brushes' were pretty sub-par. On the flip side, the customer service and communication seemed to be good. This time around, they seem to make damned sure that the QA issues were well in hand for this release and I have no problems recommending these brushes for the model painter.
Unfortunately, these brushes may not be available in retail till early next year. Games & Gears still has a way to go to fulfill all their backer commitments -- regular backers as well as extras and add-ons all ship in September. I would suggest keeping an eye on their homepage HERE but it you can't wait and want a brush now *and* you are going to GenCon this year, you can get a limited edition size 0 brush which can be ordered HERE. To be honest, if it wasn't for the fact that I have two sets of these brushes, I'd be tempted myself. ;)