Review – Vallejo Model Air Paints.

If you are a stalwart of scale modelling, then you have probably already seen and used these paints.

Being a relative novice to all this modelling malarky, I am still discovering a variety of techniques and media that I can use to better effect in my builds, and so after completing my third models using these paints, I though I would write a little opinion on them and sharing my experiences – just in case you haven’t yet had the pleasure.

First up tho – here’s some story;

When I made a return to modelling about three years ago, I initially went back to using brushes and Tamiya acrylic paints, which have been around for many, many years. I remember using them over 20 years ago and even the pots haven’t changed much – but on discovering the joys of airbrushing your paints and the difference it makes in the finish of your models, I changed allegiance to Tamiya lacquer paints.

But lacquer paints are bad for you and smell terrible.

Sure they give a fantastic finish and polish up very well, but they reek and stinking out the whole house, so after a few complaints about stinky paints, I decided to try and find an alternative and stumbled across the Vallejo Model Air.

First experiences were pretty positive – these paints are a water based acrylic, so they are nice and safe to use, but being water based, the appear to be frowned upon for their lack of finish, especially in the construction of scale cars.

Initially, I found that the paints spray very well – of course there was a fair bit of messing about with pressures and also a bit of investment in some appropriate thinners (which is also safe for rubbing on your face, if your so inclined* ) to help the flow of the paint through the airbrush, but these puppies also brush on incredibly well, limiting brush marks and of course, keep everything easy to clean and maintain!

Colours spray on matt, and then you add a varnish over the top to achieve the desired finish, so you don’t have to buy 4 different types of black paint; you just have 3 different types of varnish which can be used over all base coats.

There is an impressive range of metallic colours too, which may not be as good looking at say Alclad Lacquers, but they sure don’t smell as bad, and you can be a little more heavy handed with them.

They’re also very easy to mix up and dispense with minimal waste. Each bottle has a dropper on it which makes adding a few blobs to your pallet or air brush very convenient.

But most of all I have been very impressed with the finish you can achieve, especially after the final varnishing.

On the negative side, like I mentioned before, the paints always seem to need thinners adding after the bottle has been opened for the first time. Like Super glue, they appear to thicken up or go off after first use, making them dry up during airbrushing, but a bit of thinners soon sorts that out.

Also – I have noticed that the finish is very, very delicate until the final varnish is applied. Now ‘m not sure if that is me, but surface painted with colour are incredibly easy to mark or scratch, which you them have to sand back to an even level before you can respray. That is a proper pain.

It’s almost as if the paint doesn’t dry properly. It’s like a rubber film, rather than dry paint. However, as soon as you add that varnish layer and you leave it for a few days to dry…rock Solid.

Saying that, these paints do appear to be impossible to mark with finger prints. Eating greasy chips while building your finest is no longer a problem!

So in a nutshell, my experiences with Vallejo Model air paints so far. Here’s a few examples of my results so far!

B188-herbert-011 DSC3878_sml top_finished

Vallejo Model air pros and cons.


Low cost (about £2 for 17ml).
Safe to use, thin and clean up.
Smooth to spray on.
Quick to dry.
Easy to mix (each bottle has a dropper for dispensing).
Fantastic range of colours.
Resistance to finger prints.
Great finish to varnished surfaces.

Paints appear to go off easily in storage.
Thinner often required for clean spraying.
Very delicate with out varnish coat.
Lighter colours can be tricky to cover.


  • Hi Rich
    Like you I’m trying to get back into scale modelling, albeit I’ve had a 40+ year break.
    I only used the Humbrol tins in the past and found some in an old box – and some still look as though they’d work.
    I bought a Revell F1 Ferrari F2007 at LIDL a few weeks ago, which had the AQUA COLOR with it and wondered if you have you tried this paint.
    By the way, the link on your CONTACT page doesn’t work
    It shows as – [si-contact-form form=’1′]

    • Hey Steve,

      Thanks for the comment and for visiting the site! Hope you like it 🙂

      I have used aquacolour paints, and they aren’t too bad. I would probably thin them a little out of the pot, as I’ve found they can get a little gloopy, but they brush on well, and you can put then through and airbrush at the right consistency.

      Hope that helps.

      I fix the contact form asap:)

  • Hey there. I’m a Humbrol Enamel user for some time (a year maybe), and before that, i’ve used to use Vallejo Model Color’s for both brushing and airbrushing. Thing is, even if the Humbrol’s are quite solid and strong paints with a rich color spectrum, they stink! Despite using a paint cabin with an aspirator, the fumes arent totally sucked out and occur bad smell, and my parents are quite disturbed with this issue. For this very issue, i consider going back to Vallejo Model Air series, but i have big question marks. First (and foremost) they are quite delicate paints, they dry to touch fairly quick, but if i mask some parts to apply different coats, how can i be sure that while removing the tape the paint will not go off as well ? I wonder because i’ve experienced that before, just after that i’ve sold all of my Vallejo’s and converted into Enamels 🙂 Besides, the good old clogging issue. While airbrushing, Vallejo’s tend to dry so fast on the tip of airbrush and get clogged.

    Other than that, the color range is as wide as Humbrol’s, nothing to worry about that.

    What would you suggest ?

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