Review: Alternatives to Games Workshop Paints

Vallejo Game Colours I’ll be blunt: this post is about finding alternatives to Games Workshop’s line of hobby paints. I’ve already discussed replacing their primer and varnish spray products, and now I’m going to talk about cheaper and frankly better alternatives to their paint line.

Don’t get me wrong, this is not a knee jerk reaction: I still have a large collection of Games Workshop paints and have painted with them for at least 15 years, but I’ve also endured 15 years of increasing prices, meaningless package and colour range changes and have regularly discarded dried out, useless paints. I feel it’s probably time for a change. Unfortunately I live in New Zealand, so my options from local retailers have been limited to the Flames of War military range of Vallejo Colours. These are excellent paints of course, but are unsuitable for painting Fantasy or Sci-fi figures because of the small range of drab military colours.

Vallejo Game Colours

Maelstrom Games UK have an online webstore I’ve used several times in the past for figure purchases. They also carry a wide range of hobby products including the full Vallejo Game Colour paint line. Recently they had a hobby promotion on the site, so I picked up a Vallejo 16 Colour ‘Advanced Game Colour’ set, with an extra bronze metal paint. As Maelstrom have free delivery, this set cost me a total of $46nzd (excluding the additional bronze metal). That’s $2.80nzd per 17ml dropper bottle of acrylic paint. Compare that to the $7nzd locally for a 12ml pottle of Games Workshop paint from a local hobby store. That’s less than half price for more paint.

This set arrived earlier this week and I have to say Vallejo paints are just as good as everybody says they are. The pigment depth is astounding (I already knew that from the FOW lines) and the Game Colour range is absolutely chock full of vibrant, rich colours for Fantasy and Sci-Fi figure painting. For the first time in several years I find myself wanting to paint figures because it’s a joy to simply put a few drops of paint on a scrap of plastic and paint with lovely solid colours. Using Games Workshop paints in comparison is an exercise in frustration. The paints have very poor coverage in several colours (many of the yellows and several of the reds) and the pottles are awful to use, as well as being very prone to drying out. I tidied up my paint station when the Vallejo colours arrived and threw out no less than nineteen dried out GW paint pottles, most of which were over half full. That’s $133nzd of paint wasted thanks to awful packaging, or let’s say $66nzd since they were half full. I’m confident my Vallejo Game Colour dropper bottles will last for years, particularly since I already have a set of Vallejo military colours that have been on my paint station for years already.

I will never purchase Games Workshop paints again, instead I will concentrate on replacing old GW colours as I run out (or the bloody things dry up) with new Vallejo Game Colour paints. If you’re using GW paints today you are basically wasting your money unless you rapidly consume whole pottles of colour.

Army Painter Warpaints

Another option which has popped up locally is Army Painter Warpaints. Slave To Painting sell the Army Painter Starter kits locally in New Zealand. I haven’t tried this paint line, but read a very interesting Warpaint review from the “Tale of Painters” blog recently, which recommends them as a good paints as well. I believe the gentleman that runs Slave to Painting has plans to extend the range and types of paint he sells, so it’ll be worth keeping an eye on the site in the future.

In summary, if you’re still using Games Workshop paints for your Fantasy or Sci-Fi figures, do yourself a favour and try something else! Save yourself some money, and remember how much fun painting figures used to be…

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