Monday, June 23, 2014

Review: Games and Gears Pro Series 7

Image property of Games and Gears
Two reviews in a row, this is madness! Or maybe just convenient timing. This time I will be reviewing the Pro Series 7S set of brushes from Games and Gears, for those of you unfamiliar with this company they are the same people behind the recent and highly successful studio ichiban line of brushes that launched on kick starter a few months back. I’ll provide a link at the end of the article so you can check out their full range of products if you’re interested (they make other stuff as well) Please keep in mind I have only had these brushes for a week, so I am writing the article on a daily basis and recording my impressions as I go along to try to provide a more accurate review.

This experience was not optimal, now this is not to say I had any issues with the quality of the product, but when I opened the shipping bag and unwrapped the bubble sheet that the brushes came in I noticed that a number of the protective plastic tubes that cap the ends of the brushes had been bent. Again I will state that this is not a reflection on G&G’s product, I am well aware the horrors of shipping things and sometimes even the most carefully packed items suffer battle damage in transit, but I did find it a little surprising that they did not pack the brushes in a small box to prevent this sort of thing from happening. As you can see below, the tubing bent a little and forced the brush tip at an angle during its long trip across the pond, my heart almost stopped when I saw this but after a little TLC I managed to coax the bristles back into line, but there is still a little slant. After the initial shock passed everything set up nicely, and assembling the stand (yes you will need a screw driver) was a snap, and I didn’t find any cracks or blemishes on any of the brushes, so no complaints there.
The most obvious thing to note about these brushes is that they are sable air (read Chinese mink) awesome mustelidae hairs aside, there were some quirks. Right off the bat I had a kinked hair in one of the larger brushes, sadly I think this was related to the bending in the plastic tubing that occurred during shipping, after a rather tense moment with a pair of surgical shears the problem was resolved, I did not see any other brushes in the set with this defect thankfully, now back to the brush heads. As I mentioned above these are sable hair brushes, they performed exactly as one would expect a good sable brush to preform, I was able to consistently draw a nice fine point each time I loaded the brush and there is a good “snap" to the bristles and no foxing in any of the tips. Time will be the real test here though and I am no slouch when it comes to brush maintenance, so I do plan on a follow up review after a few months of use. No complaints about quality at this point though
The feel of these brushes in hand cannot be understated. That being said the weight and balance on the brushes (even the larger ones) feels just right, they have a nice light core, probably cedar or maybe pine or another non hardwood that provides a light center. The focus of the weight of each brush is split pretty evenly at both ends and doesn't feel like either side is setting the other off balance. The subtle bulge that runs through the middle of each handle has been tooled evenly between each ferule and even on the smallest brush the PSST1 it does not feel stunted or off center. However, if there were one concern I had about the design it would have to be those dual brush ends, I have to admit I have yet to try to do the dual blending technique, or for that matter taken the plastic cap off of the other end for fear of accidentally smacking, stabbing, fwapping or otherwise damaging the opposite tip in some absent minded manner, this may not be a major concern for everyone, my painting method tends to combine the best elements of flair bartending and miniature painting, my brushes tend to find themselves partially airborne now and then (or just get away from me after a long painting binge) For now the back ends stay capped unless I am doing any blending work. For normal people though I don’t see this being an issue so 10/10 on build quality and feel.

Flow & Control:
 Flow control is something I rarely see talked about in brush reviews when it comes to miniature painting, which is a little odd, but hey, I figure I might as well include it in mine. Ok so what is flow control, easy, it’s the way a brush absorbs and distributes paint, some brushes are over absorbent and some are less so or not very good at wicking paint at all. My experience has been above average to excellent so far. The larger brushes (I used the 3XL in this case) held a decent amount of paint per load and I found myself going to the pallet a lot less than I do with my other generic brushes of similar size. The smaller brushes were a little trickier, I had to clear and thin a couple of times with the GW paints to keep them from getting over saturated, the Vallejo’s were a little more forgiving though. Moral of the story if you’re not already thinning down your paints you might want to hold off investing in high end brushes. Over all they performed quite well, nice even coats and keeping a nice fine tip in between clearing and loading, I actually got a bit adventurous with the 3XL brush and tried some highlighting with my Ork boy which you can see above, the results were pretty promising, almost no run overs on the edges and it didn’t take much pressure to get the paint where it needed to be in some of the tighter areas on the arms, this is in contrast to using the GW or generic brushes that I have used that tend to have a rather below average endurance when it comes to holding a point, I have also noticed that the cheaper brushes tend to be a little to absorbent and you have to pay more attention when loading and clearing them. This is not the case with G&G’s pro series, the bristles are tightly bound and they wick at a nice even rate and I never felt like I was fighting with the brush to get the paint where it needed to go, easily a 10/10 experience.  
starting on the first highlight layer on a irk boy.
For this these brushes worked fantastically.

Wait that’s not on the list, but I know you probably want to know how this stacks up to the Newton’s and Raphael’s on the market. The pro series set that I got would set you back $85 USD (not counting shipping) You get 16 brushes in the set (two for each brush) which breaks down to about $5.50 per brush which is about $2 cheaper than the cheapest GW brush if you are talking msrp. How does that compare to the big dogs? Well your most basic set of Windsor Newton’s will set you back roughly $100 for six brushes that would offer you the same range as the G&G’s, that’s an average cost of $16 per brush for one third the amount of brush’s, now the tradeoff here is that those series 7’s are practically guaranteed to last you for life if you treat them right, I can’t say yet weather that is true of G&G’s, but I don’t see why these wouldn’t last me a good while with proper care. Bottom line you are getting plenty of bang for your buck with G&G.
Final Thoughts:
What's good:
-High quality.
-Double the amount of brushes for the price.
-Good feel in hand and in use.
-Unique design.
-Comes with awesome stand (seriously I love the sword rack style)
The less good:
-Not that portable out of the box
I didn't touch on this in the article, but that dual end design and a slight tendency for the plastic caps to slip off some of the smaller brushes makes it a tad nerve wracking to put in my hobby kit, this set of brushes really begs for a nice custom clip in hard case to transport them safely.
-Shipping packaging.
Not totally their fault, but worth noting.
My final impression after a week or so with these brushes is a positive one, I can see myself using these brushes well into the future and would recommend them to anyone who is looking to upgrade to Kolinsky on a budget, they have some minor but ultimately forgivable quirks, but over all they performed solidly. Over all score 9.5/10.
Go Check out Games and Gears full line up.
Wait, there's more! How about some finished pics of those Orks I kept showing up top, naturally painted using G&G brushes :)

BH Senior WaaaaGGGHH


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