Vallejo Game Color Paints Review

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Vallejo Game Colour Paint Range Review - Featured

Looking for a new range of paints to keep the unpainted plastic hordes at bay? A new project on the horizon and you’re considering trying something new? Or perhaps you’ve realised you’re about to run out of some of your favourite colours and need a quick fix for your armies? Then you’re in luck: paints don’t come with a much better pedigree than the legendary Vallejo, and their Game Color range is one of the best available.

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The Best Paints for Miniatures & Models

This article is part of our series looking into the best paints for Miniatures & Models.

Best Paints for Miniatures & Wargames Models - Featured

To see our up-to-date list of the best paints for your miniatures, just click the image above.

Vallejo Game Colour Paints Review – Summary

Looking to spread your wings and fly from the Citadel Colour nest? Wanting to set foot out of your painting comfort zone? Or just looking for something new to try? You can’t go far wrong with Vallejo. An excellent alternative to most game-brand colour ranges and a solid rung up on the painting ladder, Vallejo’s Game Color range will see you right.

Vallejo Game Colour Paints Review – Introduction

Chances are, even if you’re relatively new to the miniature painting hobby, you’ll have heard of Vallejo.

Vallejo is that paint brand people first go to when stepping out of the “Citadel Comfort Zone”. You know, that point in your hobby life where you know the Citadel range inside and out. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with this whatsoever, Citadel make great stuff.

But, if you want to continue to grow as a painter and hobbyist, you’re one day going to have to take the plunge and leap from the Citadel nest. The likelihood is, as you’re plummeting towards the ground, you’ll hit the Vallejo branch at least once, if not several times, on the way down.

The Best Paints for Miniatures & Models

This article is part of our series looking into the best paints for Miniatures & Models.

Best Paints for Miniatures & Wargames Models - Featured

To see our up-to-date list of the best paints for your miniatures, just click the image above.

Vallejo have been making paints since 1965 – originally for cartoons in a time before animation or computers. With approaching 60 years in the business, that’s the kind of name that comes with serious pedigree, and a great deal of experience.

Vallejo Game Color Mega Paint Set Review – Contents

It’s worth noting that the paints we’ll be testing in this review come from the Vallejo 72.172 Game Color Mega Paint Set. Google has informed me you cannot currently buy this particular set as Vallejo (like many companies) are currently suffering from some big supply issues, but all of the colours that were in it are still readily available for you to purchase.

Hopefully the whole set will return in the near-future.

Vallejo Mega Paint Set 2

Here they all are

Game Color Paints:

  • Sun Yellow
  • Gold Yellow
  • Moon Yellow
  • Elf Skintone
  • Orange Fire
  • Dwarf Skin
  • Hot Orange
  • Bloody Red
  • Gory Red
  • Scarlet Red
  • Teracotta
  • Dark Fleshtone
  • Charred Brown
  • Smokey Ink
  • Earth
  • Tan
  • Beastly Brown
  • Leather Brown
  • Bronze Fleshtone
  • Parasite Brown
  • Scrofulous Brown
  • Filthy Brown
  • Plague Brown
  • Pale Flesh
  • Squid Pink
  • Warlord Purple
  • Hexed Lichen
  • Royal Purple
  • Ultramarine Blue
  • Dark Blue
  • Stormy Blue
  • Imperial Blue
  • Night Blue
  • Magic Blue
  • Electric Blue
  • Turquoise
  • Scurvy Green
  • Dark Green
  • Jade Green
  • Foul Green
  • Sick Green
  • Goblin Green
  • Camouflage Green
  • Dead Flesh
  • Escorpena Green
  • Livery Green
  • Khakhi
  • Desert Yellow
  • Black
  • Sombre Grey
  • Cold Grey
  • Stonewall Grey
  • Wolf Grey
  • Ghost Grey
  • Dead White
  • Arctic White
  • Yellow Olive
  • Cayman Green
  • Bonewhite

Game Color Metallic Paints:

  • Polished Gold
  • Glorious Gold
  • Bright Bronze
  • Brassy Brass
  • Hammered Copper
  • Tinny Tin
  • Gunmetal
  • Chainmail Silver
  • Silver

Other:

  • Satin Varnish
  • Glass Varnish
  • Matt Varnish
  • Glaze Medium

There is, theoretically, just about everything you could possibly need in here to jump right into painting miniatures with this set alone.

Vallejo Game Color Paints Review – Testing

Before we get started, there a few things to be aware of with Vallejo’s Game Color range.

The first is making sure you’ve got a little elbow grease spare – the paints require a lot of shaking to get them to mix to the correct consistency. If you decide that Vallejo are the paints for you, you might want to consider buying yourself a vortex mixer to save your arm.

The majority of the paints in the range – excluding the metallic paints – are probably most comparable in consistency to Citadel Layer paints. They are thin, and are designed to be used to build up multiple thin layers of paint on a miniature, or to be blended with other colours in order to create smooth transitions between colours and shades.

Consistency is a little bit of an issue with some of the paints. A couple of colours – Bone White, Orange Fire , and the yellows in the range spring immediately to mind – come out very unevenly and can be a little lumpy. This is most noticeable with the brightest colours. As such, be prepared to take some time and care thinning these down appropriately in order to ensure you can apply an even and consistent coat across your miniatures.

In stark contrast to the regular paints, the Game Color Metallics are incredibly thick and heavy and, whilst you could probably get away with not thinning down the non-metallic colours if you really wanted to, you’d be a fool to try the same thing with their metallic counterparts. Be wary, though: whilst you might suspect you actually need a reasonable amount of water to get these paints to their optimum consistency, you do not.

With all the metallic colours I tested, I needed only the slightest amount of water to get the metallic colours thinned down appropriately. This actually caused me a few issues, as the amount of water you need to thin these down to their optimum consistency still actually varies within the range. For example, at one point during testing, I used the same amount of water to thin down two very similar amounts of Chainmail Silver and Glorious Gold. Chainmail silver drank the water up and thinned down beautifully, but Glorious Gold became a frustrating runny puddle on my wet palette.

This brings things full circle back to the consistency issue. This is the only real, major gripe I have with the Game Color range: some of the paints are lovely and thick, and take to being watered down exceptionally well. Others are not only extremely watery, they separate in their bottles very quickly,

Airbrushing

I am very new to airbrushing (I started using one about a week ago and it made me very cross) and, I will confess, I’m also extremely bad at it.

To begin with, I tested a couple of paints through an airbrush. First, I tried Goblin Green and Escorpena Green on a WePrintMiniatures Leprechaun on Pogo Stick.

Vallejo Game Colour Review Leprechaun Airbrushed 1

The good thing about Vallejo’s Game Color range is that they work fairly well with airbrushes – so much so that even a complete airbrushing novice like me can appreciate them. I noted above that, on the whole, paints in the Game Color range are quite thin. Whilst this makes certain techniques more difficult, a thinner consistency to a paint does make the non-metallic paints ideal for airbrushing.

Vallejo Game Colour Review Leprechaun Airbrushed 2

Note you will need only an extremely small amount of Vallejo’s own airbrush thinner to get the regular paints to pass through an airbrush with very little trouble.

I then had a go with another WePrintMiniatures figure: Salome. This time, I tried a basecoat of Scarlet Red and then a top-down highlight of Bloody Red on her cape (and any other part of her figure that happened to get in the way at the time).

Vallejo Game Colour Review Inquisitor Witch Hunter Airbrushed 2

The red did not go on as well. The reds in the Game OClour range strike me as being exceptionally watery, so getting them a good consistency for airbrushing is difficult. You’ll need to use the smallest amount of thinner you can, and then gradually add small, individual drops of red to get the consistency just right.

I then swapped in a more familiar-looking Games Workshop figure (a Lord-Imperatant from the new AoS 3.0 ranges) to test out some of the metallic paints. I found the metallic paints actually went through the airbrush and onto a figure very well. Given how good Vallejo’s Metal Color Airbrush range is, this shouldn’t really have been a surprise.

Vallejo Game Colour Review Lord-Imperatant Airbrushed 1

The metallic colours in the Game Color range will require a little more thinner than the regular paints, but you’ll be able to master some interesting colour transitions if you stick with it and keep practising.

Overall, it’s a pretty mixed picture: some of the paints are fantastic for airbrushing, others aren’t so good. It’s a case of trial and error across the whole range so you’ll have to put the legwork in testing the correct mixes of paint and thinner for your airbrush, but once you get a knack for them, using the Game Color range through an airbrush will save you heaps of time.

Drybrushing

Because the Vallejo Game Color range are, on the whole, very thin, the non-metallic paints aren’t the best for drybrushing. Sure, you can do it – as evidenced by the images below – but it might just be easier to reach for a less watery paint in the first instance and save yourself some time, and stress.

There are a couple in this range that do take well to drybrushing and arguably with enough practise and time, all can be drybrushed fairly well. They just wouldn’t be my go-to range. Vallejos own Model Color paints fair much better in this area.

Vallejo Game Colour Review Wizard Base Drybrushed 1

Because the consistency of the paint is that much more aqueous, it can be quite difficult to get a decent amount of paint onto the brush for drybrushing. The paint tends towards being too wet and prone to splodging on textures as opposed to leaving a good, crisp highlight.

However, on the other side of this coin, the semi-glossy texture of the medium does allow and encourage a smoother blend if you are aiming for airbrush level transitions. It just takes several more coats.

Vallejo Game Colour Review Wizard Base Drybrushed 2

On the base of the figure above, you can see where the paint has smeared on the base, as opposed to applying properly. As you may suspect, though, there are certain paints within the range that are better at being drybrushed than others.

I applied a fairly fine drybrush of Livery Green to the leprechaun, just to pick out the edges and extremities on his jacket, hat and trousers, and this went on reasonably well in absence of a proper edger highlight. Still, I’d be inclined to go over some parts of this again with a regular paintbrush just to sure-up some of the most prominent highlights.

Basecoating

Basecoating with the non-metallic Game Color paints is an exercise in patience and restraint. Unlike Citadel Colour Base-branded paints, which are designed specifically to be applied as a basecoat, hence their thickness, Vallejo’s Game Color range does not handle basing in quite the same way.

Vallejo Game Colour Review Witch Hunter Based 1 ed

It’s the consistency again. Because the paints are that much thinner, you’ll find yourself having to apply more layers than you might be used to in order to build up a good, solid colour on a figure. Still, this is ultimately a good thing: to avoid swamping your figures with too much paint and losing the detail on their sculpts, you should opt for multiple thin layers of paint instead of a few thicker coats.

Vallejo Game Colour Review Lord-Imperatant Based 1

This is another feather in the Game Color range’s cap. In spite of their relative thinness, you can basecoat with a Game Color paint, you’ll just need to build your colour up in a lot of layers. You can also use the exact same paints for layering, so you’re not limited by the range in any way.

Vallejo Game Colour Review Leprechaun Based 1

As you’d expect, though, some colours base easier than others. The yellows and oranges are absolutely horrific to basecoat with – as they are in other ranges. It took me ages to get a decent level of opacity on the leprechaun’s head and the beak on the Lord-Imperatant’s cloak.

Their black here is a much more blue-black than, say, Citadel’s Abaddon Black as an example. And like with most of this range, It also has a slightly glossy finish to it, which you can make out on the Leprechaun’s hat and boots in the image above.

I was, however, pleasantly surprised by the whites and light greys in the Game Color range. White can be a bit hit and miss, either being too watery or too clumpy. Vallejo’s whites and light greys – Wolf Grey, Ghost Grey, Arctic White and Dead White – are excellent.

Vallejo Game Colour Review Witch Hunter Based 2 ed 3

There are some really lovely browns in the range too, as you can see on the boats, gloves, chest armour and hat on the figure above. The browns seem to have the best consistencies: not only are they good and smooth, but they also react very well to being thinned with water and maintain a good spread of colour when applied to a figure.

Layering

Layering is when the Vallejo Game Color paints really come into their own. They are spectacular layer paints and are ideal for blending. Just make sure you shake them like crazy before trying to use them, and be ready to thin things down with a little water, as you would a normal paint.

Vallejo Game Colour Review Leprechaun Complete 2

The vast majority of the paints in the range go on as smooth as silk and work excellently with water. This makes them perfect for gradually shifting or building colour on the surface of a miniature.

Vallejo Game Colour Review Leprechaun Complete

As you’d expect, though, some colours are better than others. Some of the colours do require a lot more work than others in order to build up a decent effect. Reds, yellows and oranges are, once again, the main culprits.

Vallejo Game Colour Review Witch Hunter Complete 1

In spite of knowing this, in a moment of madness, I decided to have a go at some OSL on one of the figures I was testing with – I couldn’t look at the fireball in her hand and not feel as if there should be some light on her. I seriously struggled to do this, not only due to my inexperience with OSL (this was the first time I’d ever attempted it) but also because I really struggled to get the paints to do what I wanted to on the figure.

No matter how much I blended the shades on my palette, or tried to wet blend them on the surface of the figure, I just couldn’t quite get them to do what I wanted to. As such, the end result was a bit of a mess.

Vallejo Game Colour Review Witch Hunter Complete 2 ed

I’m not saying this is the fault of the paint – it’s probably as much my own inexperience – but it’s worth bearing in mind. I think the lesson here is that if you’re tempted to try some new techniques, do so with paints you’re more familiar with.

Still, those few paints aside, some of the paints are superb – the greens, the browns, the blues and the greys in particular – but others require a bit of patience. Again, this applies double to the reds, oranges and yellows.

The blues and aqua-toned greeny blues were stand-out and were an absolute pleasure to paint with. In fact, across all the colours I tested, the blues were by far my favourites.

Vallejo Game Colour Review Wizard Layered and Complete

Something to note with the range if you are a long-time Citadel user looking to shake things up are that many of the colours are equitable to Citadel paints, so you needn’t worry about having to change from one paint scheme to another mid-army, or some of your figures not quite matching the other.

Vallejo Game Colour Review Lord-Imperatant Complete 1

The Lord-Imperatant you see below has been painted almost entirely with Vallejo paints in this box (some Mechanicus Standard Grey and Dawnstone on the base, some Screamer Pink and Warpfiend Grey on the purple leather of the handles on his weapons, and a dash of Apothecary White on his hair).

Vallejo Game Colour Review Lord-Imperatant Complete 2

You wouldn’t know the difference between those paints on his armour and robes and their Citadel counterparts. Again, the blues – Imperial Blue, Magic Blue and Electric Blue – were excellent, and could go toe-to-toe with their Citadel equivalents.

Vallejo metallics – their golds in particular – are leaps and bounds ahead of Citadel metallics when it comes to layering. Whilst I’d recommend Citadel’s Base metallics to anyone, I’d try to avoid their metallic Layer paints as far as I could. I remember spending fruitless hours battling with Auric Armour Gold and Liberator Gold to almost no avail. Vallejo’s Polished Gold, on the other hand, is excellent and goes on wonderfully.

But yes, in the majority of instances, the colours were great and went onto my miniatures without any trouble whatsoever. You’ve got the consistency of the Vallejo Game Color paints right and they go on beautifully – but that can sometimes be a little more of a battle than you may first assume it will be.

Vallejo Game Color Paints Review- Price and Availability

You’ll be able to grab the Vallejo range from just about any reputable non-Warhammer hobby store. They’re priced very similarly to alternatives, such as Games Workshop’s Citadel Colour range, so you won’t be out of pocket swapping your regular paints out for a few of these.

Just remember if searching for these on your favourite hobby stores, it’s Game Color, not Game Colour. there’s no U. So you’d likely miss them if the search function of your favourite site isn’t too clever.

Vallejo Game Color Paints Review – Final Thoughts

ProsCons
Excellent range of colours
Mix and blend well
Decent through an airbrush
Dropper bottles are a big plus
Wildly varied consistencies
Some paints are vastly better than others
Metallic colours can be a little temperamental

Paint is one of those personal things. Some people love certain paints that others hate and vice-versa. As such, it’s very difficult to try and slap a catch-all conclusion on such a dynamic and varied paint range. As with just about every aspect of this hobby, certain people will love parts of this range, whilst others won’t. I myself love the browns and the blues – and even rather like the greys and whites – in this range, but would quite happily never touch the yellows ever again.

There will be people who disagree with me, who hate the browns and blues, but love the yellows. That’s just how this kind of thing works. Every aspect of this hobby is extremely subjective, so I’ll end this review with this: Vallejo’s Game Color paints are an excellent alternative paint range. If you get the opportunity to try them out, make sure you do so.

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Author

  • Rob has spent most of the last 15 years playing World of Warcraft and writing stories set in made-up worlds. At some point, he also managed to get a Master's degree by writing about Medieval zombies.

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About VoltorRWH 48 Articles
Rob has spent most of the last 15 years playing World of Warcraft and writing stories set in made-up worlds. At some point, he also managed to get a Master's degree by writing about Medieval zombies.

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