Thursday, 21 November 2013

Product Test: Tamiya Weathering Stick Vs. AK Dust Effects

Weathering is one of many ways to make 40k models look more realistic. I’m always looking for new techniques and products, and today I’m doing just that with a product head-to-head challenge. 

In the red corner is my most used method: The Tamiya Weathering Stick. In the blue corner is the newcomer to my painting table: a bottle of AK Interactive Africa Dust Effects. Today I’ll be comparing both products under several sets of criteria.


Here the weathering stick gets the first punch in. The stick cost me around £2, whereas the AK wash was a hefty £4.60  for 35ml (not counting the cost of the paint thinner you will need). If you’re only doing a small amount of weathering the stick is the better choice. However, I imagine that the AK stuff will last a long time, so perhaps you get a lot for your money.

Ease of use:

Size comparison with 28mm figure

The Tamiya product is probably the easiest for beginners. All you really need to do with it is “draw” on the effect, wait a very short time for it to dry (this really won’t take long) then blend and soften it with a bit of water. It does take a while to get a half-decent effect going though. The main issue is it is a very chunky tool: it’s not the best thing for small objects or very textured ones, like tracks. The tool is too wide to fit into the crevasses of tracks and small parts, so you’ll have to do a ton of water work to get it to flow in.

AK’s product won’t work with water, you’ll need to buy some paint thinner to be able to work with it and clean your brushes. One thing it has over the stick is that it flows a lot better (being a liquid helps). It will get into the places that the stick cannot. Bear in mind that it also takes a lifetime to dry. Drying times can be compared to washes, perhaps even longer. Like the Tamiya stick, you can play around with it and smooth it out once dry, but again you’ll need the paint thinner. It is quite forgiving actually. You won’t be accidentally wiping it all off with too much thinner any time soon.  This allows for some very soft dust layering.

Effect quality:

AK                                                 Tamiya 

This category is where I think the AK product really shines. With the stick it’s taken me a while to figure out an effective way to make real looking dust build up, and to a well trained eye it still looks slightly blotchy. With the AK stuff I’ve practically got it in one go. Above is a comparison of the two products. Personally I think the AK Interactive dust looks a lot more like ‘dust’ in a realistic sense. That’s not saying the Tamiya product is bad by any means, it’s just from a realism point of view, AK’s wash does  far better job.


It’s hard to say really, it all depends on what you want. If you’re new to the whole weathering process, then I’d suggest the Tamiya stick. It’s easy to use and very cheap. However, if you’re after the best effect, then the AK product wins hands down. To me, it gives a far better representation of sandy build-up than the Tamiya product. It is certainly a product for non-beginners though, so if you’re up for a challenge, the AK wash is the way to go.

1 comment:

  1. I've got some AK dust (their rust material) sitting on a shelf, I haven't yet gotten a model to a point where I was ready to use it (although I've got a batch of 20 plague bearers to work on this weekend, so I'll be throwing it on their weapons and any other metal bits). I'm definitely going to compare it to the new GW technical paints.