Since the news of the transfer of ownership of the Simpsons brand over to Vulfix, many have speculated about what the newly produced Simpsons brushes would look like and whether or not the quality would be the same as before. I have been collecting various models of Simpsons brushes for the past two years, and I use these brushes regularly and really enjoy the characteristics of Simpsons that makes them unique from other traditional shaving brushes. Having several Vulfix brand brushes as well, I was hoping that the new owners of the brand would be able to produce a new brush by the same standards that would be worthy of carrying the Simpsons label on it. Last week I received one of the new brushes from Lee Cantor (leesrazors.com) in one of his first shipments to arrive.
As expected, there are some obvious cosmetic differences in the new Simpsons from the old ones. The traditional gold water transfer decal remains as before with the exception of some very minor font changes. Nothing in the decal change is drastic; it is still very recognizable. The stamping on the brush is no longer done in the traditional lamp black ink. The new stamping appears to be scribed in to the handle and filled with and ink to give it contrast. In my opinion the new stamping technique -- although different -- is still very tasteful and does not take too much away from the traditional appearance. The handle material has the same size, color, and feel of the prior Simpsons. This aspect was very well preserved.
The brush I purchased is a best badger grade, not having the more disctive color separations that the super badger brushes tend to have. Aside from the appearance differences, I've always found the Best grade brushes to be the more cost effective buy with Simpsons brushes, having a density and lathering capability very comparable to the Super for a lower cost. Looking at the top of the brush, you can see that knot is loaded extremely dense with hair, traditional characteristic of Simpsons brushes.
The Chubby 3 model is well known for being densely packed with a very solid backbone to the bristles. As you can see in this photo the brush stands inverted by itself with absolutely no splaying of the hair at all. The knot has a very well made solid feel to it as it should.
To test the brushes performance, I have been shaving with this brush exclusively since I received it. I use a variety of different products in my rotation so I am working on testing each type with this brush to see how it performs. I have always made the argument that no brush works with every type of shaving, be it traditional soaps, creams, or Method. While I still find that to be true, you can see that this particular brush, while not ideal, still performs very well in every test.
The first test is using Truefitt & Hill's West Indian Limes, a traditional potted shaving cream. This is where I think this brush excels the most in its performance capability. The brush produced a very rich, well-peaked cream in a matter of seconds with very little effort. As you can see below, the density kept the loft of the brush tight and compact, keeping most of the cream in the brush hydrated where it should be, and not all over the bowl I lathered in or falling out of the knot and onto the handle like some poorly constructed brushes do. The brush does not lose its shape and holds the water content in the knot beautifully, rather than dumping lather all over the bowl.
The second test was to see how the brush would perform with a traditional hard-milled shaving soap. I chose Truefitt & Hill's Luxury Shave Soap as this is one of the hardest milled soaps available. I usually find that the best brushes for soaps are those with short and dense knots, such as the smaller Chubby 1 or Duke model brushes.
The Chubby 3 is overall too large for ideal use with soaps, but the density and stiffness of the knot does allow it to build a very nice lather from the soap bowl very easily. Most large knot brushes do very poorly with these soaps; however, this one performed quite well.
As a final test to really gauge the effectiveness of this brush, I created a Hydrolast wet mix. During the early years of Method Shaving, the Chubby 3 was one of the few brushes that was found to be really suitable to be able to properly combine and cube primer and paste components of Hydrolast. This brush loaded off the Cube very quickly with a bit of Activator and produced a very nice suitable wet mix using a 2 Tiered White/Pink Hydrolast paste. While I would not try this with any of the higher velocity pastes such as the #3 Red, this brush held up better than I expected producing a very usable wet mix. Method Shaving is typically very intense on the brush. While this one is not ideal for this application, it is certainly better than most.
After three consecutive tests, you can see that the brush holds together very well. The loft maintains a tight compact shape and there is very little "bloom" effect that most brushes have.
Overall, I am very pleased with the construction quality that Vulfix has shown with the new Simpsons brushes. While it remains to be seen if the brush will perform consistently over the coming months and years, the new Chubby 3 Best Badger Shaving Brush is highly recommended, especially to those who enjoy the use of traditional shaving creams.