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Hands on Vallejo Metal Colors

Howdy folks!
Hope you all are doing and modelling great. Here’s another interesting topic that I had to work on because frankly, I was really interested in checking out how good and effective in real life the Metal Colors from Acrylicos Vallejo are. To give these colors a real life test, I decided to use some of them on the nice 1/72 Electric Lighting F.2A model kit from Airfix. There were 2 main reasons why I wanted to give a try to this colors: First, could it be possible to pull this finish in a water based formula. Second, are the odors and fumes tolerable?

Our dear friends from Vallejo were kind enough to supply many of their current catalog of Metal Color, Base Primer Vallejo Gloss Black #77.660 & Vallejo Gloss Varnish #77.657. For starters, all the Metal Colors from the line have the consistency of that found on the Model Master Acryl colors. They need to be thinned and I thinned these production samples with Vallejo 71.361 available at my local hobby shop. I like when I have to thin because this means more paint for my money even counting the expense of the thinner.

Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge

Now hands at work:
Airbrushing with the Metal Colors from Vallejo is not that different than painting with other solvent based metalizers. In *my experience* with metal colors, it is good to spray at high pressure on your airbrush for good atomization. I did use 18 to 20 lbs on mine with strokes 8” to 12” (20 to 25 cm) away.

The idea is to spray a thin mist to achieve a delicate finish. What happens when airbrushing solvent based metal colors is that is that the solvent is too ‘hot’ and the solvent ”crisp up” the underlying coat. Although water based paints aren’t ”hot”, it may also happen creating that ”boiling paint bubbles” on corners or round parts of your model.

After testing on a few spoons, I did noticed that Metal Colors from Vallejo is not the exception. So it is not the paint, it is your method of application. Usually thick coats over thick coats that haven’t fully dried yet.

Paint odor and fumes:
This is one of the areas I was interested in testing too. I’m not a chronic asthmatic but I since a kid had to use an inhaler for those wheezing episodes every now and then. With stronger solvents either lacquer or water, there are times when I might have to take a puff or two. Having said that, working with these Metal Colors was like magic. I didn’t have to stink the premises with strong fumes and odors. There is almost zero smell from fumes either while painting or curing when using these paints. This is a great feature for us here at MKR considering also that being in the Planet Hoth Minnesota, many months of our builds are in sub-zero temperature outside. If you have to paint a model with a metallic finish indoors, then choosing Vallejo Metal Colors is a no brainer.

But wait, there’s more!
Like those late night infomercials there is really more. Ever tried or wondered if lacquer based metal finishes can be used with a regular brush? I you wondered, the answer is NO. There is no way you can use other metal finishes with a brush. They are almost 99% solvent and 1% pigment. Welcome to Metal Finish via brush! As you can see on the spoon pictures, the inside of the spoons were painted via regular brush. I did use a cheap brush on purpose because I wanted to know how good these paints would level down using a bad bristled brush. The results have been amazing! Fell free to click on the spoons picture for a larger resolution version. The outside of the spoon is also showing their Chrome 77.707 via airbrush.

The 1/72 Airfix ENGLISH ELECTRIC LIGHTING F.2A featured below was painted using Aluminum # 77.701. A few panels were masked and painted with Dull Aluminum 77.717 and Semi Matte Aluminum 77.716 mixed with a tad of Dark Aluminum 77.703. Back on the engines I used a little bit of paint brushed Burnt Iron 77.721 and airbrushed over slightly with Jet Exhaust 77.713. After all the painting and paneling was done, the entire model had an out-of-the-jar gloss finish. So, on top of that finish all the decals  were placed. Following that a thick coat of Metal Gloss Varnish 77.657. As with the rest of the colors used, it was thinned in the proverbial milk consistency. I have to be honest with you, I have yet to master water based washes. I have a few of them from Vallejo but I don’t seem to get the results I have seen on other model kit builders. Because of that, I use enamel based washes. Let me report that there was no negative reaction between thse water based Metal Colors and the enamel based washes. HOWEVER, the model had a slight ‘tacky’ feel after using AK Interactive washes. It took some 24 hours for that tackiness to disappear so I tried to handle the model as less as possible.


For the moment other than Gloss Varnish there are no Semi-Matte and Matte Clear. I personally believe that they should be eventually added to the line as well as a Transparent Red and Blue hot metal finish. This is me nitpicking based on my personal needs when it comes to metal finish model subjects. There is absolutely no doubt that Metal Colors from Vallejo will make a nice addition to your toolbox. Add the benefit of being able to use them with regular brush and we definitely have a winner product for model builders of many subjects alike. It seemed at least to me that it was going to be hard to achieve metal finishes with a water based formula. Well, the guys from AV pulled it. Kudos!



This product review was brought to you by Acylicos Vallejo.

My sincere thanks to Alex Vallejo and Chema Cabrero for their outstanding and amicable support.


George Collazo
George Collazo

George has been hosting review sites and blogging about toy collectibles, travel, digital photography and Nikon digital imaging since 1998. His first model kit build was a Testors 1/35 DODGE WC-54 in 1984.

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  • Scott Millican

    For the transparent red and blue, could you not just use the transparent colors from the Model Color line? They wouldn’t need much to thin them out, as they are already much thinner than the normal model color paints.

    • Thanks so much for the suggestion Scott. Our local hobby shop do carry Vallejo Colors and I will personally check your suggestion out. Now, the hard part is make them bring the metal Color Line because they are heavily invested in the other brand.

      Have a great one!

      • Scott Millican

        I can understand that. I own the local hobby shop here, and have been on board with Vallejo from the start. Even had one of the Vallejo brothers in my shop and he was flabbergasted that I didn’t carry anything else besides Vallejo (other than some Testors spray cans).

        Mind you with all of the new items they are coming out with, I think they are trying to make be go broke. New Metal Color, Weathering Effects and now another 80 color expansion to the Model Air line.

        • That’s so nice to hear Scott. Where are you actually located?