Saka Light Cavalry

Saka Light Cavalry

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Vallejo Matt Varnish V Army Painter Varnish

When I first came back to painting figures, what 9 months ago? I just nipped to Maelstrom Games and picked up a bunch of paints, a spray can of Primer and Varnish and a few brushes. The problem with Maelstrom is that they do not have prices displayed for ANYTHING. Sure they have a computer you can type in the barcode and get the price or you can ask but that's as far as it goes with them. So I was not aware of the prices of this stuff until I got hoe and checked the receipt. I was in for a shock, both the primer and the varnish notched up at £8.99 per can. It seems whilst paints seem to have stayed static in price the cost of varnish has gone up. Also note that Maelstrom tend to be 10% cheaper than most other shops (same discounts on line). So when I needed to replace them I decided to try out Army Painter which have a more attractive price.

I will start with Army Painter. The can size is the same for both AP and Vallejo (400ml) for varnish and primer which is possibly why both ran out at the same time.

The Primer has a good saving, only £6.75 opposed to the £8.99 and after all it's primer so who needs to be picky right? Well sort of. First up the coverage is grainy. The finished surface is slightly bumpy in looks. It paints fine but I feel not as smoothly as Vallejo. Nothing so bad that I would not use it and in truth if I had bought this first I would not have tried the more expensive Vallejo. It's hard to quantify but I feel that the Vallejo sprayed more figures, but that's a hunch.

The Varnish works fine, again compared with Vallejo it sprays thicker but I have had no issues with clouding or post spray disasters. Price wise it's £7.65 so just over a £1 saving. Again that nagging feeling it failed to cover as many figures but in fact out lasted the primer buy two units. Given the need to go over the figures less than with the Vallejo leaves me thinking I am right about the coverage being lower. This would mean the £1 saving is eaten into with a need to replace the sooner. Another issue but one of taste, the Matt finish is more Satin than true Matt which for some is a plus point but if you want flat matt this is probably not your spray.

Vallejo primer, well when I first used it I forgave the price. The spray was really smooth and coverage good. One issue and it's been proven out with the varnish and that's the spray direction. It's crap, it tends to spray off centre so the first squirt at the figures tends to miss, you reposition and off you go. Whilst this is annoying it's not major but given the price I would expect better. AP by comparison is a straight shooter. Nice white colour and sets up the figures for painting. Also it requires less passes to get the figure fully covered so this may well be where it gets the edge on figures primed.

The Varnish just like the primer has a really fine spray, again this means it is quick to get done and coverage is great. I do find though that it is less forgiving than AP and clouds really quickly. The good news is that every time this has happened it's cleared after 10-15 heart in mouth seconds. I guess the advantage is that it acts as a constant reminder not to push it. Also due to the fine spray it dries quickly allowing several coats if required.

Neither Army Painter or Vallejo are bad products, in fact both do a good job and if money is super tight then AP will serve you very well indeed. But taking in the coverage issue I would not buy AP Varnish over Vallejo, the coverage and results are just to good and I doubt you would save more than pence. However the primer is well worth considering if you need a lot or money is that tight. I think the cost to effect still favours Vallejo but it's not as clear cut. Recently my AP sprays gave out, which did I buy? Vallejo for both tasks but next time it may well have to be AP for the primer and in honesty I can live with that.

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  1. When I got back into painting I started off using Humbrol spray primer. I also tried the matt white and black sprays, but wasn't happy with the results.

    Due to the vagaries of the weather and the fact that my flat is on the 2nd floor, I came to the conclusion that using sprays was fine in the summer, but I'd need an alternative for the rest of the year.

    I tried two brush-on products - Vallejo's polyurethane primer and Liquitex grey gesso. Both work really well and I've decided to abandon spray primer for everything except 6mm. It's also a lot cheaper - a 250ml bottle of grey gesso costing about £8 is half used and has primed something like 400 15mm figures.

    I still use Humbrol matt or satin spray varnish though.

  2. I have to confess that I am always worried about using spray varnishes. I was using the Games Worksop purity seal, but an unfortunate frosting incident put me right off. Currently on the brush on stage which is fine given my slender output!

  3. I use Coat D'arms matt varnish spray and that comes in at £10.00 a can but has never failed me ...yet!

    Hesitant to change but you've given me options!

  4. I've been using Testors Dullcote for about 2 years now and don't plan on changing. It's probably one of the most expensive option out there but it's really good imo.

  5. I've just about given up on spray priming as I seem to spend just as much time going over and covering the gaps. So recently I've been painting on DecoArt Crafters Acrylic which seems to cover pretty well.

    I've always used Vallejo Matt Varnish with no problems. I do spray in doors though. Set it all to go in the attic room. Deep breath. Spray. Exit closing door! :)

    Hasn't failed me yet!


  6. I'm very weary about spray varnish and use it quite sparingly, mainly GW (cough!) But I did buy some AP red primer, this has saved me loads of time painting up my English 7YW and NYW figures. The paint is a little thick, but I just try and spay it thinly??? I'm not rich but I don't mind about the price, if I need it I get it. I would like to try Testors Dullcote though???

  7. Using Vallejo varnishes, sprayed through my airbrush. More control, and use less overall also.

    It is also the case for the primers.. though it takes too long if you have many models to prime up, in which case I revert back to a generic brand of spray primer.

    Once I have started with these, I haven't gone back to others since.

  8. This is what I like about blogging here. It's great to see so many views and here about what others use.

    @Tamsin I found not using spray takes longer so I continue to throw money at it, though I may have to rethink.

    @Michael The dreaded frosting, I would not trust GW with the end of product work, their quality to price on to many items really is wrong, don't hate the company (local to me) but they are more about maximising profit and know the majority of their trade is from a never ending line of kids. Painted on varnish has always worried me, slow and what if I pool it?

    @ Mr Angry I would be the same, you trust one so often you remain loyal till they change the damb formula

    @Dr. Willett looking at your work I am not suprised you use the best

    @Andy I use a tall thin box so I can get below the figure as well, I also spray indoors in the outdoor smallest room!!!!

    @Ray I know, every time I varnish I am a little tense but all these years I have got away with it. Now the time a mate picked up white primer to varnish his 28mm Naps was a day he will remember, he got half way down a line before he realised! The thickness of AP seems to be accross the range

    @Mr Lee Airbrush I like the idea but see little use for one for me as I don't paint models just figures though I would like to do the odd diaroma sometime


  9. I took a while to be convinced of the merits of spray varnish, preferrring to use brush on Humbrol mattcote in the old square bottles for my 15mm figures and vehicles. However, once they went to round bottles the formula changed for the worse and i changed to Moana brand matt varnish in NZ, which was 2/3rds the price of Testors, far more readily available and about 50% more volume can size. Unfortunately Moana is not available in Australia so i've been content to go with testors which i know works. I will probably obtain some Vallejo but I am yet to hear enough to have me change to AP, particularly as the cost of AOP here is pretty much on a par with Testors.