Some Thoughts on Vallejo Surface Primer

A lot of people online seem to really hate this stuff. Others report that it works fine. I’m somewhere in between, so just to confuse things, here is my experience with using it, but no real conclusions.

The item in question

Stuff I like:

  • Easy to spray. Put it in a large-nozzle airbrush, crank it up to 20psi, and hose it on. Thinning (with Vallejo Airbrush Thinner) is not needed, but you can dilute it down a bit if you like.
  • Water cleanup (mostly.) A bit of thinner makes it clean up easier.
  • Dries to a very smooth surface.
  • Available in lots of colors. (Skeleton Bone, Ultramarine, 4BO Green, White, etc.)
  • Can be mixed with Vallejo Model Air/Model Color and presumably other acrylics.
  • Can be brushed on with good results.
  • Dries pretty rapidly.
  • Can be lightly dry-sanded to remove runs and goobers.

Stuff I don’t like:

  • Dries on the airbrush needle tip something awful. Adding flow improver doesn’t seem to help much.
  • Tends to pool at inside corners, and pull away from outside corners.
  • Needs a fairly high pressure and large nozzle to spray, which could be an issue if you’re trying to paint detail. (But then, why are you using a primer for that anyway?)
  • Doesn’t adhere very well to bare plastic, even after pre-washing. It sticks great to Tamiya spray can primer, but if it’s already primed. . .
  • Doesn’t like being wet-sanded. Tends to come off in sheets.
  • Hard to clean if left to dry on a paintbrush.

Conclusion:

None, as I stated up top. I’ve been using this most recently because it was the right color. I won’t go so far as to throw it out, and for small spot-fills using a brush it’s pretty good. It’s thinner than the grey Tamiya Liquid Surface Primer in the square bottle, and sometimes that’s the consistency you need. I just haven’t been able to get consistent results using it as a primer for plastic.

It’s possible that the formula may have been updated since I bought this bottle several years ago. And as always, your results may differ from mine.