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.
DON'T FORGET THE GIVE AWAY, click HERE and enter your choice for the item /s you want. Only 6 days to go.