When Is A Red Sable Not A Red Sable?

I'll come right out and admit that for the longest time, I was a Games Workshop fanboy. I grew up when the only Games Days and Golden Demon figure painting competitions were in the UK, as well as the majority of the shops, and I daydreamed about visiting them and participating in them vicariously through issues of White Dwarf in my tender years.

I'm much, much older now. There's no longer a White Dwarf magazine that offers store coupons, publishes D&D rules, or offers quality painting articles for an up-and-coming young wannabe. Oddly, it might be the case again that the only Games Days and Golden Demon painting competitions would be in the UK, but I digress...

For a great number of reasons that I won't go into here, GW has lost its luster for me. It just so happened, however, that for a 2013 Christmas gift I received a GW gift card. It took me more or less until May this year to muster up the tenacity to go into the store an hour's drive away, endure the annoying attempts at camaraderie and salesmanship of the resident sales weasel, pick up a few brushes and a novel (gift card gone!) and make a hasty exit.

Everybody in my little online painting community has been talking about the Red Kolinsky Sable hair brush embargo here in the U.S., reasonable substitutes due to the lack of those quality brushes, what's so good about a Red Kolinsky Sable hair anyhow, etc.

I just thought I would post a few pictures as I tried out my new GW Detail Brush in comparison to my at-least-5-year-old Winsor & Newton Kolinsky Red Sable #0 brush, and leave folks to ponder a little bit. I am!
All things considered, they handled about the same today - a W&N Series 7 #0 Kolinsky Red Sable with thinned Vallejo Model Air paint versus a GW Detail Brush w/ the same paint applied to a figure. Granted the W&N brush is over 5 years old and the GW brush is new. Could it possibly be a Kolinsky Red Stable brush imported from the UK by way of simply moving stock internally in a product shipment, thereby avoiding customs issues? No idea. I gotta say, though, the brush hair appearance and color are a pretty even match, the hairs have the same individual shape, they have the same body so far as maintaining overall brush shape during use, and load the paint about equally. Hrm. Reasonable price, too. I'm fairly impressed!


  1. Hmmm. Interesting point (no pun intended.) I've only used W&Ns7 brushes since I first tried them, and had no idea about the import issues. None of the sable brushes I've bought at art stores have kept a point very well. Checking the GW website, they list the detail brushes as Kolinsky Sable. Maybe I'll have my FLHS order a couple (they're so cheap!) and see how they stand up.

  2. There's currently an import ban in the US on anything with Kolinsky Red Sable fur, so that's kinda put the high-end paintbrush market into the crapper.

    Everybody dogs GW hobby supplies as being overpriced for what you get (myself on occasion, too) so I was surprised to see how much one of my supposed "top end" brushes compared at face value to an off-the-shelf regular GW brush. My thinking is that maybe the brush I bought has been sitting on the shelf since before the import ban, so I actually did get a reasonable quality Kolinsky Sable brush for about $6. (Didn't think to check the GW shopping site.)

    In buying any brush, though, ideally you want to maybe test it at the store wet and actually using it on a piece of paper or something to see how well it holds liquid, how well it keeps its shape after a few brush strokes, etc. I had to order my one W&N 7 from an art store sight-unseen and while it seems okay, it splays a bit after using it for a bit.



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