I’ve been trying some new stuff recently. Maybe you’ve been looking at some of this and are wondering if it’s worth your hard earned bucks. This is my consumer review based on my experiences, but sometimes it just helps to have another perspective, just in case.
Vallejo Air Colors—I bought a set of these last year for my Cuban Missile Crisis game. The Modern USAF set of colors. Eight bottles for about $25. I ordered from Amazon, and actually I ordered the Navy colors, but these worked out fine. Having had success I went on to order the WWII German colors 1942-45, and the German tropical and Mediterranean set, the British tropical and Mediterranean set, and the U.S. in Burma, China and SE. Asia.
First, the cost is about what you’d pay for individual bottles of Vallejo paint, so no big difference there. I also appreciate that the colors are accurate. The alternative would be to go to Testor’s Enamels, and I’d do almost anything not to do that.
There is a downside, and that is that these pigments are very fine ground and intended for air brush use. While I have an air brush, I’d never use it on 1/300 scale planes. The colors generally will require multiple thin coats. So, I counsel patience. Good stuff but a trade-off.
Vallejo Paint Rack—This was a Christmas gift from my wife. I’d suggested it on my massive list of Christmas choices. Also available through Amazon for about $20, it is made of laser-cut plywood. It had fairly mixed reviews by users, so I was a little concerned about the quality of materials and breakage.
I assembled mine last night with little difficulty in about 15 minutes. Mine is the center rack, ie rectangle shaped. I could also add corner racks, but that seems unlikely. It holds 60 bottles of the dropper style paints—so Vallejo, Reaper, and other paints in this style-as well as space for eight larger bottles—I keep a few Ceramcoats and the Vallejo washes in them. There is also a rack for paint brushes, but I’m not currently using that. Paint storage was really getting to be a problem for me, so this seems to offer a solution.
The downside is the size of the rack. I have a pretty sizable craft desk space, so it should work for me, for others who don’t I can see it being a problem. As with all organizing solutions, the effectiveness is often determined by whether or not I use it, so that remains to be seen. But for twenty bucks, it’s worth the gamble to find out.
Tiny Wargames UK Battle Mats—I’ve never purchased a game mat before, but I’ve looked at the Cigar Box mats and others with interest. One day the Aerial Wargaming Facebook group featured a mat by the British maker Tiny Wargames Battle UK Mats, and I got a bit more interested. They offered a 20% off Black Friday deal, and I asked Lorri about Christmas, and she went for it. I was very interested in the 6’ X 4’ mat with a screen print of Valetta, Malta harbor. I sent in my order on November 29th, and it arrived within a couple of weeks.
You can judge for yourself by the photo of the harbor, but I think it’s spectacular. So the product is great and so was the service. Not quite sure what material it is printed on, but it feels similar to a table cloth. If there is a downside, it is the cost. Even with the savings, including shipping it was about 90 bucks. To me, it was worth it, you’d have to make your own decision. You can get them with or without a superimposed hex grid.
Tiny Wargames offers mats screenprinted for Pearl Harbor and Taranto Harbor as well as a lot of really interesting, but more generic terrain. They also offer sizes from 3′ X 3′ to as large as 10′ X 5′. The bigger the mat the lighter your wallet.
Army Painter brushes-The past couple of years I’ve been in a brush crisis. I’ve written many times about my fondness for Blick Master Kolinsky brushes. But after the Kolinsky sable ban of a few years ago, their availability has just fallen off the table, and the cost of Kolinsky brushes has skyrocketed. I keep thinking I should just buy some Windsor and Newton Series 7’s (if I can find them) and shut up about it all. But they are really expensive.
So I’ve resorted to using some of the white-handled Army Painter brushes. I gotta say I’ve been pleasantly surprised. The two things most important to me in a brush is they hold a point, and they hold paint. Generally speaking I find these brushes do that. A third factor I appreciate is longevity—do I get plenty of use out of them?—and for the most part I do. So, big enough to hold effective quantities of paint, they hold a point, and they don’t lose their points or start falling apart quickly.
I can buy these at my local bricks and mortar stores for five bucksish, or order them in sets for about fifteen dollars. They are made of sable hair and some include some synthetics too. I generally down like synthetics because they lose their shape, and usually quite quickly. But that doesn’t seem to be a problem with these brushes. The only downside, and this is for the picky-me, is they aren’t categorized by size in a standard way, they are instead, cutesy-named as Regiment, or Insane Detail, when all I’m really looking for is 0, or 1. If you can set this aside, I’ve found these to be solid brushes and a good value.