I picked up several of the Vallejo modelling pastes on special to try them out. I ended up receiving Black Lava, Brown Earth, Dark Earth, Desert Sand, Red Oxide Paste and grey Pumace. They come in large 200ml containers and cost about $20 NZ each when not on special. I also tried out the new technical paint from GW.
Red Oxide Paste is fairly similar to the Desert Sand having all the same consistencies. The colour is a very vivid red oxide and does at first appear very bright. A little brown ink would take the edge off this. The colour would be great for simulating a Martian landscape. I plan on using it for my Imperial Fists Legion when the liberated loyalist Mechanicum and equipment from Mars at the outbreak of the Horus Heresy. By the way it is very red. It manages to do something weird with the camera its that red!
Last up is the new Games Workshop technical paint Agrellan Earth. I have heard whispers of bad batches or poor results. Through some experience with using similar products I learnt that to make it work you need to apply it on liberally. As in it should look like PVA glue when applied. I have tried to demonstrate here with applynig thick and thin layers to the same base for different results. The thinner you apply it, the finer the cracking effect (to the point you get none). You can also try drying it with different methods (like sun, or a hair dryer) for different size cracks. I also plan on applying this over a undercoat (but under the base/top coat) of tanks etc to replicate heat effects on paint such as melta blasts or heat from missile launchers.
In my next post I will try using some other materials like fine mesh, rubble and bricks to make a complete base. Hopefully the above gives you an idea on what these ready made products can do. They definitely will speed up the time it takes to base/finish an army.