Friday, December 7, 2012

Paint Sets: Are They Worth It?

I was approached the other day with a question:

"If money wasn't a factor, would you buy the Citadel Ultimate Paint Set?"

I actually had to sit there and think about it for a moment or two before I answered with a solid, "Nope, not worth it. In fact, I'm not sure any Paint Set, Ultimate, Mega, Small or Mighty is worth it."

"But Tim, I said not to take into account the money…"

And I didn't. So why isn't it worth it, you ask?

Well, my friend and I had a fairly lengthy discussion on the topic as he actually has the chance to get one of the gargantuan paint sets from GW. I started by breaking it down to a list of Pros and Cons.


Every Paint at Your Fingertips

Think about it, you would literally have every paint in that brand's range at your fingertips. Instead of having to theorize color combinations based on printed charts, or online color swatches, you could physically test colors next to each other in order to work out a model's color scheme. No more, "Crap, I forgot to buy color 'x', time to run back to the store", or "I wonder what this would look like with just a touch of 'x' mixed in", or any number of possibilities like that. It could even open your eyes to using colors you'd never have bought had they not been a part of the paint set. The possibilities are endless when it comes to this advantage of having an entire set!

Right…Unfortunately, that's where the Pros end for me. One single, solitary advantage to owning a full range of one brand's paints. One really is the loneliest number that I've even seen.

If you didn't get that song reference, then I really feel old. On to the Cons!


Every Paint at Your Fingertips

Yes, the only real advantage I found to owning an entire paint range is double-edged sword. I am up against enough indecision when it comes to finalizing color schemes for my armies, i don't need a seemingly endless color palette to help that any.

Unused Paints

See, I bought not one, but two of the Foundation Paint Sets when they first came out. I still have two pots of many of the colors that I've never used, and how long ago was that set released? What would happen if I owned a 144 paint set? Heck, even with the smaller sets in the P3 range, I would lay money on some color or two getting wasted.

One Color, One Pot

So what happens when you're out of black? The paint set only came with one! Time to go spend more money and replace that paint pot when it's out. Maybe this wouldn't be such a problem if you don't paint entire armies…but I paint entire armies. For my Centurions, I mixed the base coat in large batches, eating up pots of Black, Brown and Boltgun Metal like they were candy as the ratio was 1:1:3, respectively.

The Money

The realist in me just can't ignore the sheer cost of a mega paint set. Combine this with the previous two points, and there is a whole metric-ton of wasted cash that my wife and my own common sense both would have words with me about. Heck, you aren't even saving that much per paint pot considering GW's Ultimate Paint Set is $450!! Divide that by 144, and each pot is costing you $3.13 each. That's only a savings of 57 cents per pot. If figure in all the wasted paints and duplicate pots you'll have to buy of the most used colors, and you've eaten that meager savings up quickly!

In the end, I just can't justify owning a full paint range. Even if I take the cost out of the equation (which I just can't), there are still too many Cons to owning one. I don't care if the paint set is 6, 12, 72 or 144 paints, I would rather buy a core set of colors and then build out from there.

Thoughts? Has anyone actually taken the plunge and owned a full range of paints from any of the manufacturers out there?

- Tim



  1. Yes you are old for making that song reference. But what does that say about me for getting it?

    It is also to note that the paint may dry up before you get to even use it. That is what I have found with many of the GW paints, they just dry up in the pot.

  2. I got he whole citadel set but I have a serious paint addiction that is quickly expanding into ranges like vallejo and many others. Now, I have used every color in the set BUT - BIG BUT 0_o I have been working on a ton of different models lately and many are outside my usual style/prefernce so it worked out. I agree that if you paint one or two armies a year what is the point?

  3. Not sure I quite agree with your point that you need to buy more single pots after you run out. I mean, wouldn't you have to do that anyway? You wouldn't be buying any more boltgun metal than if you were buying single pots.

  4. I would love to have some complete sets but I think a lot of the colours would not get used and that a lot of the paints would dry out before I used them up. That being said, I think the new citadel range looks to be much more complete than previous versions, which would make buying this set a better idea than the previous one which has large gaps in some colours.

  5. Honestly, I feel this was less of an issue with the old GW paints. There are several lines in the new paint lineup that I just will never use.

    Take the dry paints for example. They are great if you plan to drybrush. I don't use that method of painting, thus there is an entire paint line that will go to waste.

  6. IF money's no object then why worry about the unused ones? I know personally going back to the store for that one you forgot can be extremely frustrating.

    On the flip side for me part of the enjoyment of painting is sitting down with the model and putting together my plan of attack. My limited pallet makes me have to get creative with colors and mixes. Maybe not having everything at our fingertips makes us all better painters?

    1. That is very true. Even with the whole citadel range I am constantly mixing in order to get the colors and shades I want. GW seems to have a very harsh set of colors that jump quite a bit in tone and saturation, but I guess that fits their style of exaggerated highlights and whatnot.

  7. Hi Tim
    I will have to agree about wasted paint, But i have never bought a GW set, i have how ever bought 5-6 of the Vallejo sets the smaller 8 paint sets and they really have been great. Even today i got their extra opaque set having tried one pot and liked the rest. I still have the odd pot i haven't used yet but when i do this i tend to find a reason to use it. Even if it doesn't quite fit the scheme im doing. Example: im currently painting the Dark Vengance set in the "The Pyre" Chaos Marine warband scheme which is orange and black,Im doing my cultists and i found a purple i haven't really used before so all the models with hair now have purple hair.

    But i suppose it depends on your painting style and frequency as to if they would be wasted, if it comes down to it i suppose un-used paints could be donated to charity or FLGS.

  8. To me even if cost wasn't an object I still wouldn't do it. Far too many colors I wouldn't get around to using before they became dried out little plugs - It's not the money, it's the waste.

    Having all the colors at your fingertips may make it more likely to try new color combinations I suppose, but honestly if I want to try some new color scheme I'll just go buy the ones I need. I tend to cross companies too, liking the GW metallics and washes, but the Vallejo colors. So I'd be tempted to buy just a set of GW washes, or all the GW metallics for example, but the mega set? No chance.

  9. Wow.. all extremely great sides from alot of different points of view!! And yes, you've all given me much to think about.

    Of course, I've since been asked by my friend, if I didn't want to buy paint sets, yet I mention a "Core set of paints", what would those be?

    Guess what I'll post next ;)