Metallic paints for scale modeling, Review – Part Three

Although the previous part of this review tried to draw some conclusions, it’s not like this topic can ever be closed. Several new brands of metallic paints were made available since and here I’m taking a look at AK Interactive Xtreme Metal and True Metal ranges. To bring some balance I’m also checking out an old-timer, Humbrol metallics.

As you might remember from the First Part of this review, my main goal in assessing the metallic paints is to figure out which ones can be used for an overall coat of a plane with the most realistic results. So far there were quite a lot of contenders if not indispensable then certainly useful in that context. Let’s see if the AK paints fit the bill.

We know that some of the best metallics should be applied with an airbrush while others really only need a finger. New ranges of AK seeks to challenge both weight classes. And even more, although Xtreme Metal seem to apply best via airbrush, they can be applied with a brush when painting small details. Similarly, True Metal ranges are pretty thick coming from the tubes but can be diluted to any consistency with white spirit. Such flexibility makes one wonder about their family relation to a T-1000.

T-1000

Gotta be careful.

If not mentioned otherwise, all paints here were airbrushed on top of a black base done with 30/70 mix of Mr. Color Gloss Black and Leveling Thinner.

Having said that, I did give a test run to AK471 Black Base only to be disappointed with the results. Similarly to Alclad’s ALC-305 Gloss Black Base, it seems to be enamel-based and thus requires a prolonged drying time. More importantly, the dried finish, although does exhibit a decent glossiness, suffers from a kind of a ripple effect. If you take a look at the surface at an angle, you’d see some waviness going on at a step of about 0.5-1mm. I can’t tell if this effect is to blame but in the end a high gloss paint doesn’t look as good on both of these enamel bases.

I’ve got some more to tell about the base for metallics but we’ll get to it at the end of this part.

Let’s take a look at the Xtreme Metal then, shall we?

AK Xtreme Metal Paints

AK479 Aluminium

AK479 Aluminium

Aluminium is the benchmark metallic color for any manufacturer. This paint, quite sincerely, looks very good. It covers in a thin layer and gives a pretty realistic medium shine of a non-oxidized aluminum. I’d also say it has a bit of a whitish tint to it. It is non-buffable so this level of shine is about the most you can get. This paint can easily find use in depicting aircraft straight from the factory or in the process of being assembled.

45-_MG_6559

AK481 Polished Aluminium

This one is a step toward high gloss albeit is not quite there. When applied in a thick layer it gives more shine and still quite realistic look compared to the previous one. In this fashion it is quite in place for depicting more reflective parts such as side panels on this Lightning.

Ruth Dailey with P-38

Ruth Dailey with her P-38

Still, it feels a bit soft and there is some micro grain if you look closer. It certainly is not a rival to Alclad’s.

When applied in thin layers one can get it quite close to high shine area but at the cost of some black base showing through. I wouldn’t choose it for this purpose.

AK481 Polished Aluminium Thin Layer

AK481 Polished Aluminium in thin layers

The next one is AK477 Chrome which means it aims squarely at the high-shine rank. Indeed, even when applied in a thick layer it is quite shiny. You can readily see your reflection in it. It is not the kind of shine that would put it in the same league as Alclad’s ALC-107 Chrome or Spaz Stix 10000, but it is nice. More so, as it also sports a whitish tinge which makes it look more like a nickel plating than chrome.

AK477 Chrome

AK477 Chrome

When applied in thin layers you can squeeze out a bit more of the shine but again, at the cost of the layer being visibly translucent.

AK477 Chrome Thin Layers

AK477 Chrome in thin layers

I also gave a try to some nonferrous metals in the AK Xtreme Metal range.

This is AK473 Copper.

AK473 Copper

AK473 Copper

As you can see, although the hue is about right, the grain is too coarse. It is not at the scale of Tamiya’s XF-11 but still is very, very apparent. I cannot compare this to Alclad’s ALC-110 Copper as I didn’t test the latter but somehow I wouldn’t bet on AK in such a challenge.

There is still a way to get some useful effects from this paint. If applied without a base on a white surface it gives a nice tender look of a freshly cut copper. Not sure where this might be applicable but the option is there.
AK473 Copper White Base

AK473 Copper White Base

Trying to apply it in thinner layers though gave no useful result, with the black base showing through and graininess not going anywhere.

AK473 Copper thin layers

AK473 Copper in thin layers

I got about the same impression about AK475 Brass. The color is there but the texture isn’t. Too much grain to consider it for any demanding naval application. It does though do a decent job when applied to pilots’ insignia and other smallest details.

AK475 Brass

AK475 Brass

There are more paints in this range but this is where my exploration stops. If I ever purchase more of the AK paints I’ll consider adding them here as well.

Now on to AK True Metal paints.

AK True Metal Paints

These are coming in unusual package, being a paste in a metal tube. But, as we know from the previous part, this is not the first metallic to come this way so let’s see if it’s the best.

AK videos recommend applying these paints with a brush and then give it some buffing. Since I only watched the videos after I tried the other way and failed, my review does not represent the proper use. Sorry. I tried to apply these just like Rub-n-Buff, that is with a finger and a cloth.

AK455 Aluminium

AK455 Aluminium

The result, as you can see, is rather subpar. The look itself is great, coming close to the mentioned Rub-n-Buff (which is in fact a winner in the realistics category). It feels like a real aluminium stuff with a smooth note of shimmer. No, I didn’t drink it.
But, when applied in the ingenious way of finger tapping, it tends to clog and form irregularities on the surface. Buffing then does help to bring some shine but does not affect the unevenness.

AK458 Silver

AK458 Silver

AK455 Aluminium and AK458 Silver differ only with a tone, and then very little. Everything said applies to both.

As mentioned before, these are thinnable paints. One can go as far as to airbrush them, which I did. To do that the paste needs to be diluted in about 10/90 proportion with white spirit. The result is, surprisingly, very nice. The look is similar to AK479 Aluminium but with a little less shine and a tad more rough texture.

AK455 Aluminium Airbrushed

AK455 Aluminium airbrushed

It can also be applied with a brush and has a good coverage and much less of a grain than the straight alternatives which makes it a quick choice. There is a downside to it though. The brushed paint demonstrates quite a bit of shimmer, to the point of being very unrealistically looking. I’m not sure at this point whether buffing helps with the shimmer, but for the time being I’m taking my time when choosing the detailing paint.

That wraps it for the True Metal. Although there are more colors, I guess the general feel is about right based on the given sample. It proves to be a very versatile paint and is clearly able to give realistic results. The proper manner of the application requires some more digging into though. Stay tuned.

Now to the oldies but, hopefully, goldies, Humbrol.

I read in some seasoned comrades’ blogs that this one used to come up as a top choice quite often. Intrigued by the appraisal I couldn’t pass when I saw it online. More so since usually this type of paint is rather hard to find where I live.

Humbrol Metalcote 27001 Aluminium

Humbrol Metalcote 27001 Aluminium

Don’t know what to say. Those comrades might’ve made a joke then, right? The paint feels just like a 2000 grit sandpaper. Wait, make that 1500 grit. That would be a great find, liquid sandpaper, wouldn’t it? Alas, the paint is not that hard, on the contrary, it gets scratched easily. The color is of a very, very oxidized aluminium. It is not buffable either, if only for a tiny amount. Coarseness aside, it could find some way to be used, but as it is, no. Might’ve been a decent choice some time ago but not anymore.

Humbrol Metalcote 27002 Polished Aluminium

Humbrol Metalcote 27001 Aluminium, airbrushed, diluted 50/50 with White Spirit

Suprisingly, this one, when applied thick and buffed does give a barely passable representation of aluminium. The tint and shine are about right, what fails it is again, coarse texture. I didn’t try to rub it with a micromesh but it might be a way to straighten it out a bit. Still, this is a much, much better option than Tamiya’s XF-11. If you are on an uninhabited island with no modeling shops in sight and only have the two, choose Humbrol and you won’t be disappointed.

Trying to dilute it with White Spirit didn’t lead to improvement. In fact the application was runny and uneven and yield no appreciable gain except for just a little more shine.

Humbrol 191 Chrome Silver Metallic

Humbrol 191 Chrome Silver Metallic

That’s quite a bold name for sure. The performance is not on par, the painted layer being grainy and somehow looking covered with a gloss lacquer on top. This two-in-one characteristic certainly saves time but usually I’d think twice before covering a metallic layer with anything. One bonus point to its basket is it being very sturdy. I couldn’t make a scratch on it when trying with reasonable force. It’s a shame the look is nowhere near neither Chrome nor Silver. Maybe it should’ve been called Varnished Mother-of-Pearl as it does have some iridescence to it.

Long story short, Humbrol metallics are not the first choice for any kind of job. In fact they are second to the last.

Now, as promised, a bit of curious information coming from the south-eastern frontiers. A Korean manufacturer, IPP, offers a range of metallic paints. It seems to have been available for quite a while already although it is hardly represented in any online shops.

What’s curious about their offer is the approach they take to high shine chrome. Take a look here.

IPP SUC60 Urethane Base

They offer a three-component urethane base to be used with their SP107 Super Fine Chrome. Now this is hardcore. This is industrial. It’s basically the same as covering a model with a layer of epoxy so that the paint would stick. Presumably, urethane resin dries to a hard, very gloss layer which, by coincidence makes it an ideal base for a high-shine metallic. I’m not sure what happens to any of the fine details that might get in the way of this urethane hardness but it’s certainly worth trying.

At this time though the urethane set is not available. The paints themselves are probably nice as well, although from the look of their test figure I wouldn’t jump to the ceiling yet.

IPP Test Figure

The black base shows through at some spots, and where it doesn’t the shine does not surpass Alclad’s. Regardless, it’s their approach to the base is what’s interesting. Gotta try.

4 Responses to “ Metallic paints for scale modeling, Review – Part Three ”

  1. Awesome review. Thank you, it’s been very educational.

  2. Pinar Erdogan

    Hi

    I have a problem with true metal if you can help me I would be very grateful
    The problem is even I applied a gray base coat true metal is peeled off from the surface
    After 24 hours I applied a small packaging tape to test the paint however the paint came with the tape
    Did I do something wrong with true metal ?
    I applied with airbrush diluted with white spirit

    • Hi Pinar,
      What kind of grey base do you use? If it is enamel-based and haven’t had enough time to cure it could react with the upper layer paint. Though, as you’re using white spirit as thinner I don’t think it’s too likely. I can’t verify at the moment, but I think the reason for the paint being non-resilient is the fact it’s too diluted. To airbrush AK True Metal I had to dilute it with white spirit in about 1:9 ratio. As the strength of the dried paint layer depends on the binder in its formula, and as this kind of extreme dilution inevitably weakens the binder, it’d be reasonable to expect the paint layer not to be very strong.
      If when lifting the tape you can see some paint left on the surface as if the layer was split in the middle of its thickness, it would certainly be due to the lack of binder. In this case the advice would be not to airbrush AK True Metal. If, on the other hand, the metallic layer lifts cleanly from the base that would mean the paint doesn’t have enough dissolving power against the base. One way to try fixing that would be to apply the paint on the base that is not completely dried yet. This would require some experimentation though.

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