Before I start I would just like to say that I bought and paid for this painting handle myself (because nobody is silly enough to give me things for free), and Garfy has kindly given me permission to write a review on it.
That said, let’s get on to the review for…
Garfy’s Get A Grip Ultra Painting Handle Miniature Model Holder
(yes, that’s really what it’s called!)
What is a painting handle?
It’s a tool for holding what you’re painting, put simply. It helps us shaky people keep our hands still, reduces the chances of dropping your model or smudging the paint work as you handle it, means the oil from your fingers doesn’t get on your models (oil is a bad surface for paint!) and because you can rest your hands it can reduce strain too.
Garfy’s line of painting handles comes in four flavours – Basic, Pro, Long Pro and Ultra. I’ll provide a link to where you can find them later.
The Basic package contains a short handle (no option for a finger rest) and base shims (you’ll understand later). The Pro and Long Pro contain a short/long handle with a standard finger rest, wine cork and base shims. Lastly the Ultra has a long handle, standard and large finger rest, additional shims to cover more base shapes/sizes, and both a wine & large cork.
Prices start at £4.50 (cheaper than the similar Citadel handle) up to £17.50 (about the same as the grip-less Game Envy Hobby Holder). I opted for the Ultra, because with my spider-like fingers I needed a long handle, and for a couple of quid more I wanted the extra toys that don’t come with the Long Pro.
Garfy does also offer multi-packs for the Basic&Pro, and additional shims for less common base sizes.
How does it work?
Upon opening your parcel you’ll be presented with a bag containing this (or at least the parts that make up your chosen package)
The handle does come unassembled, however to get it working you simply have to put a spring in place, as shown here.
After assembling your painting handle you simply place your model in using the wine cork (these are standard size, so easily replaceable), the large cork, or by placing the shims around the edge of your base to hold it fast. You can then (with Pro/Ultra) snap your finger rest around the handle, which also serves to hold the two halves firmly together.
The shims included with the Ultra handle will cover bases at 25mm, 28mm, 32mm, 40mm, 50mm, and small, medium & large cavalry bases. As a comparison, to fit just the round base sizes in Citadel paint handles you would need both the regular and XL versions. Garfy’s GAG covers everything all at once, and if you find something even bigger you can just mount it on the cork – no problems. (part of me wants to stick a Rhino on there, but I think that might be taking it too far!)
Does it actually work?
Admittedly I haven’t tried using other handles extensively before, having only briefly played with a Citadel handle, so I can’t offer first-hand comparisons. What I can do is tell you that working with this has been much more enjoyable than working without it.
Like I said before I have quite shaky hands, and I’m quite clumsy too – not ideal for painting! Simply being able to rest my hand/fingers on either the handle itself, the gripping ‘pegs’ or the finger rest has made this handle worth every penny! My preferred position for the most part has been to move the finger rest to the back of the handle for my ‘holding hand’, tilting it back by about 45 degrees (see the last photo above for an idea), and using my little finger to brace my painting hand.
It’s probably not ‘right’, and it’s not the only way I use it, but it gets me the results I’m looking for in that my ability to paint neatly and accurately has significantly increased. I’ve also not managed to drop a model while trying to hold just the base (a regular occurrence previously), nor have I smudged wet paint while trying to change my grip (again, regular occurrence!). And because I’m not cramping my hand up gripping something small I can actually paint for longer before having to take a break, too!
I also want to show how well this thing grips – it just doesn’t let go! This is without the finger rest holding things closed, and only a light grip:
(to see an earlier attempt at this video where the cork stuck but the model didn’t, click here!)
Is it perfect?
Well no – it doesn’t come in purple!
Seriously though, the GAG however does come pretty damn close, and the niggly problems that I have certainly wouldn’t have put me off buying one of these – one is a non-issue and two are tiny things that barely even count!
This handle is 3D printed – presumably to help keep it so affordable – which results in the grooves you expect from 3D printing. I actually like this, as the texture probably improves your grip, but those who want their equipment to look sleek and smooth will need to do a little filing. Not an issue for me (or most, I would imagine) but it’s worth noting.
The smaller of the two ‘problems’ I’ve found is that this handle doesn’t give you the option to weight it. I believe that an earlier model had a hollow handle, allowing you to add weights inside to prevent a wobbly table (or a clumsy person managing to knock it regularly!) resulting in it falling over. This version however has a solid handle, and is lightweight enough that it can topple. A little blu-tac easily solved that for me however.
Secondly, the clip for the finger rest doesn’t seem to like to bend much. Good for holding the handle together, and it still moves easily and smoothly when you want it to, but it’s tight enough that getting it off can be a pain. When swapping models (I tend to work on two things at a time) the force required to pull the handle off has made the actual removal quite jerky, and as a qualified Clumsy Person I have nearly dropped the handle doing this. This may also just be because I’m useless, however!
The grip may relax slightly with more usage, but for now I’m just being careful with it.
Would I buy it again?
As it happens I’m actually considering doing so!
Like I said above, I tend to work on two things at once. I’m too slow to properly batch-paint, or I would consider a 4 Basic & 1 Pro bundle, but I think that adding a Long Pro to my tool-set would let me easily work on two models without having to switch them so often.
Final thoughts & “where can I buy a painting handle?”
In short, this handle really is very good, and I’m glad that I didn’t cheap out and just grab a Citadel handle, or pay significantly more for another ‘premium’ handle. It does everything I need it to and didn’t break the bank, and I don’t think you can ask for much more than that!
Thanks for reading, let me know what you think, and happy modelling! 🎨