21 November 2010

Trying out Tamiya Flat Clear varnish

So I've been using Army Painter Matt Varnish for like a good few months and the outcome is pretty much Russian roulette every single time. Will it look dusty/foggy once dry, will it cover the models in grey shit, will all black areas be covered by weird dots or will it actually look proper and good?

I know people say that Testors Dullcote is the best thing out there, talking about Matt Varnish in spray form that will not dissolve thin layers of paints and washes). Sadly stupid restrictions regarding airmail from UK in particular prevent me from getting it, the postage for a can of Testors Dullcote was like £40!! I don't know if that means they will transport it by land on a wheelbarrow or what the hell is up with that insane P&P. So I had to look around in Sweden for a substitute. My buddy Calle found something called "Tamiya Flat Clear" over at ModelCraft in Malmö and after having waited like 2 months the store finally got new cans in stock and he bought 2. I got one of them to try out and see if it was better than the Army Painter shit.

First of all, the can is pathetically small, containing 100ml compared to Army Painter 400ml can! The price is the same 89SEK... Not cheap, actually damn expensive. Looking at the instructions on the side I see that they don't recommend using it below 10celsius - which would mean you can't use it 7 out of 12 months in Sweden. It also contains a warning regarding high humidity, at least that one I can understand.

It is winter now in Sweden, with low temperatures and reasonably high air humidity so there is not much I can do about that, however I felt that the weather today was "OK" for trying out this new Matt Varnish, and what better test subjects than my new French Indian War militia (really stupid but I had nothing else to try it on)..

So here is a picture of the 3 test models before any Matt Varnish, as you can see all black leather areas are glossy with no visible trace of highlights whatsoever.

Two models to the left are painted with Army Painter Matt Varnish, the two to the right are untouched.

And now with some Tamiya Flat Clear applied

And comparing Army Painter (left) to Tamiya (right)

No huge difference, looks pretty much identical - when compared to a good Army Painter result. I'm pretty sure it would look better if painted during warmer and more dry conditions. Of course I cannot judge the contents of the Tamiya Flat Clear by one single test. I will keep using it until the can is empty, and keep counting the amount of models painted to see how long it lasts. If there is no fuckup at all - ever - with this matt varnish then it might be a better investment than Army Painter even though it only contains 1/4th of what a Army Painter can holds. Time will tell.


  1. A great comparison, thank you.

    Please be aware of the miss-haps when using TAMIYA Flat Base X-21 -


  2. Saw your blog entry Tony, sorry about the mini. Something similar happened to me twice with Army Painter matt varnish. It sprayed the models with some grey goo (later it was suspected that the can was OLD....) and I tried to wash it off, ending with a destroyed paintjob....

    And thanks for the warning, that is exactly why I'm not too excited about brush on varnishes either. I've read descriptions of people saying certain brands will smear out your paintjob.

    As for Army Painter making the models foggy/dusty the solution is to paint it over fast as hell with (in my case) Vallejo Matt Varnish. It seems to remove the effect but then you are back to square one with a glossy model.


  3. It's amazing just how often these mishaps occur - and Matt Varnish is a major culprit!



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