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.

Vallejo Paints for Minimates

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?

4 Responses

  1. Hellpop says:

    I’ll definitely try them out. I’ve found myself frustrated with Citadel for the reasons you mention: some bottles are great, some are terrible. Since I don’t mix my paints, these sound like they’d be perfect for me. I’m looking to replace my paints right now, so that starter kit you mentioned sounds perfect (and saves me trying to locate a Hobby Lobby).

  2. Lobsterman says:

    They also thin down very evenly for airbrushing!

  3. buckskers says:

    If you have a factory toy and try to scratch off the plastic paint with your fingernail, almost nothing comes off. Even after months of drying Testors still easily scratches off. Which of these two paints gives the best durable coat like that, or is there a better type? Thanks

    • Luke314pi says:

      They will both scratch off, since factory applied paints are very different than hobby paints. But using a sealer will help. I use semi-gloss clear acrylic spray by Tamiya.