Review: Vallejo Paints

I have been using Citadel paints regularly for the last 4 years or so. A few months ago I had a friend recommend Vallejo paints to me. I hadn’t heard of this brand before, so I checked into it, and they have been making hobby paints since the 90′s. You can see their web site here. I picked up a starter set of 12 colors, and I have been using them on all of my recent Minimate customs. The Vallejo paints are a different experience than Citadel, and both paints have their pros and cons.


The first thing I noticed about the Vallejo paints is that the consistency was identical across the board. It didn’t matter which color I picked up – the all flowed the same and worked the same. This is a change from Citadel, where the consistency was all over the map. Don’t get me wrong, I love Citadel, but it was frustrating to open up a brand new bottle of paint (not a wash) and have it be either watery or sludgy for no apparent reason.

The Vallejo paints went on smoothly as I painted the customs. Each coat was thin enough to look good, but thick enough to cover the coat beneath it, with the exception of the red and yellow shades, which are pure evil no matter which brand you use. The paints do have to be shaken well before each use.

You might have seen my Mojo custom that I posted here recently. I painted him with Vallejo paints:


So what are the cons? Well they appear to use a lower quality pigment than the Citadel paints. If you have ever been to an art store and wondered what the difference was between the $3 tube of red oil paint and the $15 tube, it all comes down to the quantity and type of pigment used. Why does this matter? When you mix two colors together you will see very different results. If you mix red and blue together with Citadel paints you will get a beautiful shade of purple. If you mix them with Vallejo paints you will get a very dull, grayish purple. This makes paint matching very difficult. I have run into a few cases where I have had to abandon my new Vallejo paints and go back to my Citadel ones, simply because I wasn’t able to match a bright color on a Minimate.

But if you don’t do a lot of paint mixing, you might want to consider Vallejo paints for Minimates. If you are a decal designer, I would suggest matching the decal color to the paint color, and not vice versa.

One other pro is that the Vallejo paints are cheaper than Citadel. This comes back to the quality issue, but I am definitely going to keep using both.

I am not able to carry Citadel paints in my toy store, since they require a brick and mortar store. But I am able to get Vallejo paints, and I am considering adding them to the store. Would anyone be interested in trying them?

On the Workbench: Solomon Grundy



For some reason I have always been reluctant to post work-in-progress photos. I like waiting until the final product is finished – when everything looks as good as I can make it look. But I realized that I enjoy seeing other people’s work-in-progress pics, and it makes seeing their final product even more fun, so why not do it with mine? I think I am going to make this a regular feature here at the Factory. First up is Solomon Grundy!

I officially “retired” from making commission customs about a year ago. However it was a crazy year, and I am still catching up on orders. So there will be many commission customs posted here. This particular order has about 8 figures in it. One of them is Solomon Grundy. I am more of a Marvel guy, but I have read plenty of Batman comics, so I have spotted the occasional Grundy appearance. I made a 2.5″ custom of him a few years back, but for this one I wanted to switch it up and do a modern bulked-up 2″ Minimate.

As you can probably tell from the picture, I used the Hulk from Best of Marvel Minimates Series 2 as my base figure. I used vinyl adhesive film for his face and chest. Hulk’s torn pants were a perfect fit for Grundy, but his feet needed some shoes. I added them with Fixit Sculpt, and gave him some torn sleeves as well. Now that his chest sticker is in place, I can sculpt on his overcoat. I also need to pick out a hair piece. Then I can start painting!

I am making an extra custom of him to put up on ebay. I will post the details here once he is finished. Thanks for looking!

New Customizing Contest!


2014 has arrived, and with it comes a new customizing contest! This contest is all about the number 14. You can customize any character from movies, television, or comics, as long as that character was created in the past 14 years. Reboots and new costumes don’t count! 

Check out all of the details and awesome prizes over at MMV:


Making Mojo

Has it really been 6 months since my last update?? I knew it had been a while, but I didn’t realize it was that long! I have been getting back into customizing again lately, so I expect to be updating this site more regularly now.
The first time I gave some serious consideration to buying a 3D printer was about two years ago. I made a list of all the things I would like to make, assuming the resolution was high enough. One of the items on that list was parts to make a Mojo Minimate. I grew up reading X-Men comics and watching the animated show, so he has always been on my wanted list. And visually he is one of the most interesting Marvel villains.


Fast forward to early December 2013. I realized that my Birthday Elephant gift had to be mailed in less than a month (Birthday Elephant is a tradition at the Minimate Multiverse that is basically a Secret Santa exchange for people’s birthdays that lasts year round). My recipient made a list of his favorite characters, and Mojo was on the list. I was finally comfortable enough with my Form 1 3D Printer to attempt something as complex as this.

I already had some basic Minimate parts modeled in 3DS Max for use in other projects, so I started with a torso and head. Next was the most important question – how big should I make the belly? His girth changes from artist to artist. Also Minimates are not always proportionally correct – the style is more important. I played around with different sizes until it felt right to me. Then I added a second gut and some lovely man boobs.

I had his body mostly finished, but he still didn’t look right to me. The last thing I added was his two double chins. That gave him that extra bit of obesity that screamed Mojo to me.

The rest of his structure was made from basic shapes. His hair is made from dozens of long cylinders that were bent around the top of his head. His tail is a curved box with lots of little boxes added along the length of it. His legs and tail weapons are made from more cylinders and spheres.


The first print took over 7 hours, and failed, as they usually do the first time. I tried to print him all in one piece to make things easier, but there were too many overhanging pieces, and the legs were too fragile. So I separated the legs and tail from the body, and 7 hours later, I had a working set of parts.



I made a face for him in Illustrator and printed it on vinyl adhesive film. I have him some Minimate arms and I dusted off my paints. His silver parts took 2 coats, while his yellow parts took 5 coats (darn yellow).

I really like how he turned out, and my Birthday Elephant recipient loved him, which made me very happy. I am making a few small changes to the design and then I will be making a 2nd one for myself, and some extra 3D printed parts to sell. I will have more info on those later. Thanks for reading!

Color Plastic Sheets Update!

A few weeks ago I posted about finding a source for a new customizing tool –  color plastic cards. I ordered a full range of colors, and they have arrived!

Opaque Colors


The opaque cards are 30mm PVC, which is about the same thickness as a credit card. They are also the same width and height as a credit card. The gray color above is actually silver, and has a subtle gunmetal texture to it. Despite being opaque, they are all slightly translucent due to their thin size.

Transparent Colors



The sizes of the translucent cards are slightly different. They are all 10mm thick, and only the clear one is the same width and height as a credit card. The blue and green are larger, and the red one is actually intended for luggage tags, so it is longer and has a hole punched at the top. The translucent blue color is the only one that has a texture. It reminds me of television static. Here is a close-up of the texture:


The surface is perfectly smooth – the texture is inside of it. I could see this working well for screens or holographic displays. The red and green ones have no texture.

After having the full spectrum of cards in-hand, I am very excited to start working with these. I have several upcoming customs that will utilize different shades of these cards.

If you would like to try these out, they are only $1 each with low shipping here: Colored Plastic Sheets at Luke’s Toy Store