Vallejo Vs. Tamiya | Which is Better For Miniatures

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If you’re just getting started with tabletop gaming and painting miniatures, finding the best paint to suit your model can be hectic. 

The simple reason is that there are almost too many paints to choose from and paint performance differs with each brand. But, you can cut short your search by choosing either Vallejo or Tamiya acrylic paints.  

Vallejo and Tamiya paints are two of the most common paint brands used by most beginner and advanced miniature and model painters. 

But, while they may be popular, they differ in quality and performance. 

Which is the best paint, Vallejo or Tamiya?

Tie | Vallejo = Tamiya

If you’re looking for the best paint to use on your small figurines, gameplay pieces, and miniatures, Vallejo holds up pretty well. 

But, if you need paint for large-scale models like automobiles, Tamiya acrylics are a great option. 

Vallejo paints are high-quality paints with top-notch pigments. Right out of the bottle, they are very thick, easy to use, vibrant, and stick to anything primed with no issues. 

Half of the fun of using Vallejo paints is picking out the colors. Vallejo offers ample color varieties for any application. 

Vallejo Pros

  • Works for airbrush and brush-on paint techniques
  • Largest color range
  • Acrylic, water-based, and non-toxic
  • Ideal for tabletop games and miniatures

Vallejo Cons

  • Hard to find in stores
  • The Model Color range is prone to chipping

On the other hand, one of the many reasons model painters use Tamiya is their airbrushing quality. Their paints make it easy to airbrush your model even though they are solvent-based acrylic. 

Tamiya paints also flow smoothly, adhere well, and are very durable. 

Tamiya Pros

  • Extensive range of colors
  • Smooth coverage
  • Easy to mix
  • Ideal for scale vehicle model kits

Tamiya Cons

  • Not great for miniatures
  • Water thinners make the paint separate

Coverage – Which is better

Tie | Vallejo = Tamiya

While Vallejo paints have thick opacity and Tamiya paints are thin, both paints have no issues with paint peeling up or refusing to spread evenly across the surface. 

For example, Vallejo’s reds and yellows have notably good coverage. Even the flesh tones, also cover well though they are thin. 

Tamiya paints, even used in one single coat won’t require many touch-ups to cover properly. 

Which is easier to paint?

Winner: Vallejo

An advantage of water-based acrylic paints is they mix well and don’t dry fast when used in a cold climate, giving you enough time to paint the model. 

Vallejo is a water-based acrylic. Hence, this applies to it. However, when it comes to the mixture, you will have to mix them a lot to get the right thinned consistency. 

Tamiya paint is different since its alcohol-based solubility is quite different from other water-soluble acrylic paints. 

When used in a cold climate, they dry faster than water-based acrylics, making it difficult to cover paint properly. Hence, you’ll end up with brush marks. 

Which of these paints will look better?

Winner: Vallejo

You can’t go far wrong with Vallejo, but Tamiya paints may look messy if thinned wrongly.

While Vallejo paints require a lot of shaking (and I mean A LOT) to get them to the correct consistency, they offer an excellent build-up of multiple thin layers of paint on a miniature so that at the end the blended colors create a smooth finish, whether as shade effects, highlights, filtering or washes. 

Tamiya paints offer a smooth finish but with colors that may differ from what they look like in the pot. 

This is part of our industry research:

Vallejo Vs. Citadel | (Part 3 of An Industry Research)
Vallejo VS Army Painter | Which paint is better for you
Tamiya Vs. Citadel | best Paint for models and miniatures

LeisureGuided.com

Which is cheaper?

Tie | Vallejo = Tamiya

Pricewise, Vallejo paint and Tamiya are similar. 

You’ll get a 10ml XF1 – XF90 Tamiya paint between $3.99 to $4.39. On the other hand, Tamiya Models X-1 Mini Acrylic Black paint will range between $7.84 to $10.18.

A Vallejo 17ml paint will also cost as much as $10. But, you’ll find more of their paints with selling prices between $3.30 to $3.69.

Which dries faster?

Winner: Vallejo

Humidity and temperature play significant roles in drying your paints. 

While Tamiya and Vallejo paints are from different brands, their dry time is similar but Vallejo being faster because they are water-based. 

For Tamiya paints, dry time may only take 10 to 15 minutes before they allow touch. However, you want to allow them to cure for at least 2 hours. Tamiya paints may appear dry to touch after 10 or 15 minutes, but the paint is fragile and doesn’t set so easily. 

Vallejo paints only take 10 minutes to dry between coats. 

Which is better for airbrushing?

Winner: Tamiya

Vallejo’s Model Air and Game Air are specially formulated for airbrushing, but Tamiya is superior through an airbrush. 

Vallejo’s other color formulas, like the Game Color, work suitably for hand brushing. But, with Model Air and Premium, you can simply drop the paint into the airbrush after applying a thinner, and they’ll come out great. 

Tamiya paints, on the other hand, already have a thin consistency. So, they flow out of an airbrush smoothly without much need for a thinner, especially the Tamiya yellow and white color palate. 

Do they have a wide range of colors?

Winner: Vallejo

Vallejo has significantly more color selection than Tamiya, with over 700 colors perfectly suited for science fiction kits, figurines, fantasy gaming, model and wargaming. 

Conversely, Tamiya has just under 200 (154) color varieties of paints for scale model kits. This means that while they have a wide color option to choose from, Vallejo surpasses them with over 500 colors.  

Comparison table between Vallejo and Tamiya Paints

FeaturesVallejoTamiya
Size17ml10ml
Price$3 – $10$3.99 to $10.18
Dry Time10 to 30 minutes10 to 30 minutes
Color Range700+150+
DensityThickThin
BasedWaterAlcohol
TechniqueHand brushing/AirbrushAirbrushing
SkillAdvanced Advanced

Can You Use Vallejo and Tamiya Together

Yes, you can if the Vallejo paint is well cured and you paint them with an airbrush. 

But, you should be careful using Tamiya and Vallejo paints together because they are chemically different. 

Tamiya is an alcohol-based acrylic, which means, unlike Vallejo’s water-based solution, their thinners will be hot. 

When you airbrush, the alcohol solvents quickly evaporate. But, if you have excessive thinner in your Tamiya paint, it may cause the colors to separate, resulting in a horrid mess.

Conclusion

Tamiya and Vallejo paints are very high quality and offer exceptional coverage, effects, ease of use, and fast drying time. 

However, the one you choose will depend on where you want to use them. 

If you want to paint your miniatures and small figurines, Vallejo is the way to go. But, for something scale model kits like tanks, boats, airplanes, or cars. Tamiya paints work better.