Friday, 21 November 2008

Product Review: GW Spray Gun


As I'm sure you all know, one of Games Workshop's most recent releases is its Spray Gun. Designed to allow you to spray your models with GW Foundation Paint, the spray gun is supposed to give you greater flexibility in your undercoating, and cut down on painting time (something that everybody can get behind!). After an initial release and recall in mid summer, the product has been fixed and has been on sale for a while. Yours truly picked one up last week. What follows is a fairly simple review/tutorial, designed to give you all some basic impressions of this piece of kit.

Now some of you may remember many years back when GW had a wide range of colour primers, not just today's Black and White. This cut down on painting time dramatically, but also led to a number of armies that were just primed in the relevant colour and left. I can remember doing this myself with an IG armoured company (the shame of it!). Indeed I was told by one GW Red Shirt that this was part of the reason why the other colours were discontinued. Whatever the reason, I was annoyed to find the cans were gone when I got back into 40k. Is the new spray gun the solution? 

I've never used any form of spray gun before, which is part of the reason I paid the £23 for the GW version (£18 for the Gun & £5 for a can of propellant).  I've read that there are better & more cost effective models out there, but I figured that the GW version would be more 'noobie' friendly. I realise its far from rocket science, but I find that if I can get something wrong, I often do! 


So what do you actually get for you money?

Well, its all fairly straightforwardly packaged and comes with the following:

1. Spray Gun. Yes its shaped like a flamer. Do I really care? No I don't. 
2. Propellant Valve Pin (as well as an adaptor for the Propellant Can).
3. Paint Container.
4. Air Hose.
5. Propellant Can. Just to stress that this comes separately from the rest of the kit.

As I had hoped there is also a fairly in depth instruction manual that breaks the process down nicely. You should also check out GW's own 'How To' for the spray gun. Well worth a look. 

GW's Instruction Booklet


One of the main quires I had with the GW Spray Gun was over using normal paints. All the promotion material talks about using the new Foundation Paints and Washes, but mentions nothing about using normal paint. Almost to stress the point, the paint container has a set of guides to show what mixtures of foundation paint and water are required for good results. There is no info on normal paint. 

Guide for foundation paint:  Fill the container with foundation paint up to one of the marks on the left. Then top up with water until the next highest mark on the right. 

After some internet research I read that it would be fine to use normal paint in the spray gun, and that only a few drops of water were needed to top it up. So I duly whipped out my Dark Angels green and gave it a go. Be sure to give the paint a good mixing with a matchstick or similar. 

Below we see the spray kit mostly put together. It is as simple as it looks. Screw the adapter on to the can (leaving the valve out, unless you want propellant everywhere) and then attach the air hose. Attach the other end to the 'gun' itself and your almost ready to go!

When in your spraying area you can pop in the valve, by simply screwing it into its hole atop the adaptor. Make sure the hose is securely attached at both ends first. 

You should hear the gas as its released from the can. Do make sure the adaptor is screwed on tight, or you will spend ten minutes wondering why the spray gun wasn't working, like I did!

Below you can see the paint pot in its position on the spray gun. It is a good idea to test out your paint mixture first. If its comes on too thick, go back and add some water. If its too thin then add more paint. Simple! You can also adjust the flow of paint by turning the spray gun's Paint Cap.

My spray gun's first victim was to be my Dark Angels Rhino, hence the need to use DA Green as opposed to foundation paint. When using normal paint, it is important that you still prime the model first, either with a normal spray or foundation paints. This helps the following paints to stick to the model's surface. 

So, following GW's advice and using short sweeping motions, I sprayed away. And uttered some pretty horrible words straight after. It would my appear my mixture was all wrong, and the paint came on a bit thick...

This mistake can however be put down to my inexperience, as opposed to any fault with the Spray Gun. And, as it turns out, once I left the model to dry properly the result was not that bad. 

The coat is patchy in a few places but on the whole it is smooth and will give me a good basis to work from, which was the aim! 

We have also proved that you can happily use normal paints in the GW spray gun. With some trial and error...


The only major advice I can offer is to ensure that the paint is of the right consistency before you commit it to a model. This means testing, testing and testing! Don't allow your self to rush it like I did! I was lucky with the Rhino, but I easily could have ended up making the eventual paint job harder or even ruining the model.

I would also draw your attention to the Propellant can. Try to keep this as warm as possible, within reason (Remember its a compressed can and will react explosively to extreme heat!). As the can is used it will loose pressure and draw in the cold from its surroundings. This will eventually stop the flow of propellant. If this happens, place it somewhere warm and try again later.


On reflection I do like the GW spray gun. 

Admittedly its not cheap, but it is cheerful and straightforward to use, especially if like me you have no prior experience. The kit seems robust and is easy enough to clean. The paint pot with its markings for foundation paint is also a neat idea. The less guess work involved the better! I will be testing these markings out soon, and will report back to you if they are no good.

My only real criticism is the propellant. I can already hear mine running out after just the Rhino which, at £5 a pop, is not great. I am unsure if the adaptor would be suitable for other makes of propellant but its something I intend to look into. If I can find a cheaper alternative then that would be a major plus for the spray gun.

At the end of the day if you want a simple way to quickly base coat your troops or tanks then I can recommend the spray gun. Its robust, simple and does exactly what it says on the tin.

Rating: 4/5

As usual I hope some of you out there found this a useful/interesting read! Does anybody have their own experience to add?


Siph_Horridus said...

Got it, used it and found that the guide on the pot side was off for normal paint. I added paint and water to the marks but should really of added a few drops more paint i think.
On another spray note - be careful when using the spray varnish 'purity seal' from GW. If you spray to little or too much it frosts and ruins the piece. Again, as you said - practice first on spare sprue pieces.

Admiral Drax said...

Thanks for the review - I was wondering about getting one...

I'm with Siph on the varnish front - I use it on all my models and you really do have to be careful to get it just right.

As for the cost of propellant? If you can afford it, get a mini electric-powered compressor. A year ago a mate lent me his with his airbrush, and it was an absolute gem. Here's why:

(1) Once you've got it, spraying is cheap-as-free;
(2) You can also use it guilt-free to get the airbrush/tubes etc. clean by blowing water/cleaning fluid through;
(3) You can clean other things with it, such as computer keyboards, dusty old models, hard-to-reach nooks and crannies etc;
(4) It's fun to play with!
(5) Although it wasn't loud and made a very pleasant pop-popping sound, it was still mechanical enough for my dog to want to eat it!

I've no idea how much they are, but they're really sturdy so it's gotta be a good long-term investment.

Just a thought...

- Drax

Lord Elakim said...

You could thin the paint with Valejo Thinner, it gives a smooth consistent and makes the paint flow better without being to runny.

Another great tip is retarder for acrylics; they also help prevent clogging of the color.

Thinking of buying the “gun” as a complement to my air-brush, what width does the gun cover in one sweep?

Vredesbyrd said...

Thanks for this review, its been rather helpful. I'm thinking of asking for one for Christmas and its always handy to know what real people think of it - i.e. those not working for The Company.

sovietspace said...

Siph: Thanks for that note on the varnish. I have never really used any varnish and I was considering looking at it soon, so I'll keep what you said in mind.

Drax: It was all this talk of compressors that made me move towards the GW model in the first place, as I would have no idea how to use one! However, now I'm a bit more confident with the brush itself, its something I may look into.

Elakim: I'm unsure what you mean by 'one sweep' to be honest. This my just be my lack of knowledge shinning through, but the brush will spray for as long as it has propellant supplied to it. But I'm sure I've missed the meaning of your question...?

Vredesbyrd: Always happy to a be a help mate!

Admiral Drax said...

PAH! Before my mate lent me his I'd never so much as seen an airbrush: he lent me a bog-standard utility airbrush and the compressor...and it was easy as 1-2-3!

The compressor was no bigger than about 9" in any dimension, and although it weighed a fair amount it was simplicity itself to use: plug it in; turn it on. It had a pressure guage on it, but no twiddly bits at all: just an on/off switch.

A constant supply of air to the brush but with no drop in pressure, and no weirdness about temperature or atmospheric conditions either like you get with the aerosol cans.

I'm not on commission or anything, but I was really impressed by it! I want one.

No idea how much they are, but hey, even if they're 50 quid for a second-hand one, that's a damned sight better than buying ten disposable cans...

- Drax.

22gbloodangel said...

Great blog item, found it off google since I just got the gun and wanted some 'insider info' before I ruined a few Hammerheads and Fire Prisms, and it's forearmed me a treat. Cheers mate, thanks for taking the time to write it up... :)

sovietspace said...

Drax: I think you should look for some commission mate, you're bloody good at the selling them...

Cheers for those points though, I'll keep my eye out a compressor. Does your mate's compressor attach into the air hose or is there an adaptor or something? Just thinking about compatibility with the GW gun.

22gbloodangel: Glad you found it helpful, thats what I was going for :) Do let us know how you get in with yours...

Herb said...

I really don't know why anyone would buy a GW spray gun.

You can get a real airbrush for the same money, and use a regular compressor, and the price of a few cans of compressed rip-off air, have a lifetime set-up.

Nina Athena said...

Thank you for sharing the knowledge of spray gun! It is very helpful and informative as this can give some insights for spray gun lovers out there. Would love to see more.

Spray Gun


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