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 Post subject: Vallejo Metal Color
PostPosted: Wed 21 Dec 2016 14:10 pm 
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I've acquired a bottle of Vallejo Metal Color Aluminum, and it's time for a brief review. I've said some negative things about Vallejo paint in the past, but I give credit where it's due and praise their putty, even if I find the packaging to be abysmal (it dries out in the bottle or the tube--so I transfer it to an empty Tamiya paint jar). Good stuff, Maynard.

I heard rumors of a new acrylic, non-smelly metal paint so I went to get some as soon as my new workspace was ready. I visited the LMS and my adventure in poor customer service was described elsewhere on this forum. So an order went off to Sprue Bros. and a few days later the package arrived.

I know that this is "formulated for airbrushing" but Vallejo (and most modelers) are airbrush-crazy so I just shrug that off. The only way to know if it brushes is to try it. I found the stuff to be packaged in an almost reasonable plastic bottle--not one of those awful plastic squeezy toys that Vallejo usually packages paint in. I don't believe it's wise to shake acrylic paint, so off came the silly flip cap and I started to stir. When stirring, you can see what's going on with the pigment. It didn't look bad. I tried to find an offensive smell in this stuff and it just doesn't exist. No smell! I took some "left over" bits from the spare parts bin and bushed on a coat. I had a part molded in white and one in "silver" plastic. I compared the result to a part (the Bf-109 wing) that had been "done" using Rub-n-Buff, which is a wax and smells terrible.

These images represent the result after two coats.

Image

Image

Image

Image

It's not perfect--nothing is. But it's a huge step forward. It dries lightning fast, it has no smell (that I can detect) and looks far better than any other acrylic "silver" paint when trying to produce an "aluminum" finish. The paint itself is very thin (this is a good thing for brushing, believe it or not). It will require multiple coats to get a good finish on dark plastic. It MIGHT benefit from the use of an "undercoat" of some kind--we'll see. Some skill with a brush is needed to get the best result. I used a #1 sable brush and it took a bit of skill to avoid runs and not "tear" the surface.

So far it looks as if this will be my "go to" aluminum paint, for now. The brushability is good and the smell is not an issue. But this is not an easy, one coat solution. If you want that, well, I can't suggest anything.

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 Post subject: Re: Vallejo Metal Color
PostPosted: Wed 21 Dec 2016 14:23 pm 
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Nice review Dan, I use this stuff too but airbrush it and it is brilliant :thumb:

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 Post subject: Re: Vallejo Metal Color
PostPosted: Wed 21 Dec 2016 15:44 pm 
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Thanks. Vallejo suggests spraying Metal Color over a black undercoat. This would not be a good idea if brushing it on. To brush just about any kind of paint, you need to throw out the airbrush methods and adopt an entirely different mindset.

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 Post subject: Re: Vallejo Metal Color
PostPosted: Wed 21 Dec 2016 17:03 pm 
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:think: Now I´m going to have to get a couple of These Vallejo metal colours and try them out.
Did you use a base colour or paint straight onto the surface?

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 Post subject: Re: Vallejo Metal Color
PostPosted: Wed 21 Dec 2016 17:19 pm 
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Thanks for this danchor. I almost bought some and now you have convinced me. Did you undercoat or go straight onto the plastic? Does anyone know what the different shades are like?

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 Post subject: Re: Vallejo Metal Color
PostPosted: Wed 21 Dec 2016 18:53 pm 
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I've been experimenting and I have some results to report. No photos right now (sorry). I can't imagine why a "primer" or "base coat" would be helpful, and plenty of risk is involved in that method. I'm going to continue to brush it onto the bare plastic. I did see some "beading up" and it looks streaky after the first coat. But after four coats you have a winner. The first coat of Metal Color should be "scrubbed out" a bit to make sure that you don't actually end up with bare spots, but after that just flow it on.

Keep in mind that I go to great lengths to avoid masking, and I haven't tested the adhesion of the paint (yet). But the result, just painting it on, is very good. I tried painting onto some very dark (almost black) plastic. It looked like my efforts to paint the dark, dark blue Airfix Kingfisher with Tamiya "Chrome Silver (HAH!)" after one coat--but that was just the first coat. It seems that about four coats (maybe five) is a good estimate for "good to excellent" coverage. This isn't paste. It's very thin. So multiple coats do not spell disaster--not at all.

I can't honestly say that good technique is as needed as I originally thought. The stuff has a remarkable "dry brushing" quality. You can really dry-brush it as if it were silver enamel. Amazing. It also "flows" on just fine. I'll be danged if I can see a way to goof it up. The only catch is that you need to apply multiple coats, but it dries so fast even a youngster should be able to do this. So far, I have just brushed it on using the same methods I use for Tamiya Acrylic. I seems to work amazingly well. This product is unlike anything else I have seen. I hope Vallejo sells a million of them.

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 Post subject: Re: Vallejo Metal Color
PostPosted: Wed 21 Dec 2016 19:28 pm 
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Thanks for the review Dancho, I'm glad that you managed to get some good brushed results with the Metal Color. I'm a real fan of it.

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 Post subject: Re: Vallejo Metal Color
PostPosted: Wed 21 Dec 2016 20:06 pm 
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I did an adhesion test using some 3M "Blue" lo-tac masking tape. I can hardly believe the result. The stuff has excellent adhesion for an acrylic--much better than Vallejo Acrylic (although I haven't test Vallejo Air, not that I will or anything...). None of the paint pulled off of the bare plastic. I should mention that I painted some Metal Color over Rub-n-Buff (I know, I know) and the tape just pulled it right up (or course). So now we know that Metal Color won't stick to wax. Duh.

But it does stick to bare plastic just fine. I'm liking this stuff more all the time.

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 Post subject: Re: Vallejo Metal Color
PostPosted: Wed 21 Dec 2016 20:26 pm 
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Just wondering if say there was a base coat of black it would make the end result darker or not.
I´ve seen a Review of the paints where someone applys them (with a Paintbrush) to White plastic spoons, the sort that one gets in canteens. The Chrome Looks very Close to shiny metal, not quite Chrome though.

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 Post subject: Re: Vallejo Metal Color
PostPosted: Wed 21 Dec 2016 21:36 pm 
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All I know is the aluminum. It looks the same whether applied over white or gray or black (after four coats). The whole "undercoat to make it look metallic" thing just doesn't work without an airbrush, unless I'm overlooking some really exotic technique.

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 Post subject: Re: Vallejo Metal Color
PostPosted: Mon 02 Jan 2017 02:31 am 
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Great Review...thanks Dancho...you mentioned it stuck to plastic well so it would seem to be a fairly durable finish...have you applied a clear coat to the finish yet... :think: ...this is one of the gripes I have with painted metal finishes...I like to apply clear as a final coat on my models as a decal sealant and overall protectant...I use spray cans generally and have been unable to find a decent metalic product that wont dull off to grey once the clear is applied ( Cant get "Kleer" down here so dont know if that would solve the problem )...Ive also found the Chrome sprays I have used, while initially looking very good, deteriorate very quickly with handling... :fear: ...
I think you have mentioned else where on this forum that you have done some "foiled" finishes...How would you compare the " Metal Color " finish to a "foiled" finish...

:cheers: and Merry New Year

Dean.

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 Post subject: Re: Vallejo Metal Color
PostPosted: Mon 02 Jan 2017 04:27 am 
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I find it fragile (I have the squeezy bottle), but it's great for brushing. I have Steel, Aluminium and Silver, and I can't tell them apart.

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 Post subject: Re: Vallejo Metal Color
PostPosted: Mon 02 Jan 2017 16:27 pm 
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dean2365 wrote:
Great Review...thanks Dancho...you mentioned it stuck to plastic well so it would seem to be a fairly durable finish...have you applied a clear coat to the finish yet...
I think you have mentioned else where on this forum that you have done some "foiled" finishes...How would you compare the " Metal Color " finish to a "foiled" finish...
I'm not sure that Brews and I are talking about the same stuff, applied the same way. The paint I have (pictured above) bonds to the plastic I used in my tests very well, for an acrylic paint. It can't be scraped off with a fingernail, and it's much more sturdy than Rub n Buff, which doesn't scrape off but tends to rub off if handled too much. If you spray (or brush) a clear flat over it, it will surely become dull and the metallic shine would be compromised. I'm not sure about gloss varnish but I'd avoid it.

Metal foil is the ultimate metal finish for a plastic model, in my humble opinion. But it requires a lot of dedication to do it right. My efforts are pretty poor. I did finally acquire a set of good adjustable dividers, which are essential to doing this job right, but I haven't used them yet. I simply don't have the ambition to fully master the art of foil application, and get good results. Being too lazy for that, I'm now a Vallejo Metal Color believer. To tell the truth, I'm a little sad that one of the last great unclimbed peaks of sprayless modeling has been summited. Now I'm planning on all the silver planes I'm going to build. It's a closed book in my opinion. For non-sprayers like me, Vallejo Metal Color is the answer.

As far as different "panel shades" are concerned, I've had success with masking off panels using post-it notes and using ground pencil (graphite or charcoal) powder applied with a soft brush (NOT a stub brush). I post some "how to's" one of these days. My video recorder is no longer available, so I'll have to wait until a suitable replacement appears to do that. It seems that no matter how much I try to explain what I'm doing, I'm going to be asked if it's really "durable" and how to spray a "protective finish" over it. All I can say if that if you really think that what I'm doing just isn't durable and that's that then.... that's that.

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 Post subject: Re: Vallejo Metal Color
PostPosted: Mon 02 Jan 2017 17:54 pm 
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I did an experiment using my usual Tamiya Flat Base/Klear mixture, and while it does "kill" some of the sheen it could also be used (along with the ground charcoal/pastels/graphite) to enhance "panel variations" on a model. I took some photos but I'm not going to post them right now, they really don't look like the real thing. I don't know if my equipment or my methods are faulty (probably both) but the photos provide no real information on how this paint looks in reality.

I put a coat of plain "Klear" on a part finished with Metal Color and I can't say that it really harmed the appearance. I looks about the same to me, but that tells you nothing. I wish I could get some really good photos but the ones I have just look awful.

I discovered something else about this paint that moves it from "good" to "excellent plus." Incredibly, I put a coat of Polly Scale flat Signal Red on a part finished in Metal Color, and I assumed it would "craze" as it dried (develop cracks, ruining the finish). But no. Nothing. You can take Polly Scale flat acrylic and paint right over it and it doesn't craze, in any way. I'm pretty sure I could apply MM Acryl or Xtracrylix or Revell Acylic and the result would be the same. It's almost magical. No other "silver" paint I have ever used has this property. I've always had to resort to mixing up Tamiya gloss acrylic and then carefully brushing clear flat over it. Small, colorful "patches" are often painted on bare metal aircraft and they always cause a bit of a problem. No longer. Truly, I have never tried a product that works as well for what I do as this stuff. You know, people will say I'm in love!

Good things come along rarely enough. When one performs better than expected it's a good thing. There are sources of complaint, available to airbrush enthusiasts everywhere. There will be the inevitable brush mark here or there. There will be frustration for anyone who can't stand the idea of looking at a really ugly model as multiple coats are applied over time, until finally the last coat dries and magic happens. It's hard to get. Expensive (sort of). Made by Vallejo who are still responsible for many products I can't use. But over-all, this is good stuff.

I am aware, by now, that different modelers use markedly different techniques and have different expectations. Metal Color may not work for you, just because you do things differently. The airbrush is touted as the simple, technological solution that works easily for everyone. This is reinforced over and over again, and seems to be true when you spray your first blast of white paint on some parts and see it apply a "perfect" finish. Ah...I remember the feeling. Painting with a brush is something you should do because you want to do it that way-- not because you are member of a deprived group of disadvantaged people. If you find yourself constantly thinking "if I only had an airbrush, this would be good" then it's probably true, for you. As the old saying goes, whether you think you can or you think you can't, you're right.

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 Post subject: Re: Vallejo Metal Color
PostPosted: Tue 03 Jan 2017 09:53 am 
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Hi Dancho...thanks for the reply...sorry for asking the "eternal " questions regarding durability and Clear coat effects...meant no critique of your methods... :shock: ...just trying to determine if the product's qualities are applicable to my applications...we all go about skinning these cats in our own various ways depending on what we find individually satisfying... :wink:

...I share your opinion regarding foil bare metal finishes, I may never master the art of foil application, but I'm still happier with the foiled finishes I have completed ( only 2 so far ) than any of the painted bare metal finishes I have attempted. Having said that, I can't foil everything, I don't have the blade skills to cut foil from Canopies and glazing for instance, so I'm always looking for quality metal paint options...hence my questions... :)

I get quite excited :yahoo: by the challenges posed by foil application to the point where all I seem to want to build these days are bare metal projects... Similar in a way I guess to your joy at having found a brushable paint to meet your needs, and your desire to do more bare metal projects in your particular way.

P.S...I've just looked through your extensive and very impressive collection...was the P38 a foil or painted finish...either way its Outstanding... :thumb:

:cheers:

Dean.

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 Post subject: Re: Vallejo Metal Color
PostPosted: Sat 07 Jan 2017 21:18 pm 
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Thank you! I'm adding a note here to explain that I've had some trouble with Vallejo Metal Color when actually using it on a model (a Hobbycraft F-86F). I applied the paint on the "test subjects" for this review using "Tamiya Gloss Acrylic" methods because it smelled like Tamiya (like ethanol). This seemed to work but I wasn't sure that it was essential. Now that I've had several days of struggle with the Sabre, I'm no more certain of how to proceed than I was, but I'll share few things that I've learned.

The paint dries very fast, and very hard. You can sand it to a "feather edge" with little trouble. But--and as Peewee says, everybody seems to have a big "but"-- the solvent seems (I'm not sure of this) to dissolve the dried paint with ease (a-la Tamiya paint). This is why many of my friends here do not try to use Tamiya for brush painting. Subsequent coats dissolve earlier ones.

On the Sabre, I took "special care" with the upper wings, in order to make sure they were double plus good. This resulted in a mess, since all my stroking and brushing dissolved the earlier coats (partially) and they remained suspended in the paint as particles, and as it dried they showed up as "grit" and spoiled the finish. At least that's my latest theory. I've "decanted" the paint (to remove sediment) and strained it, and I still get the "pebble" effect. I can now see that each coat pulls up earlier coats--and this seems to cause the pebbling effect. I know that the same thing happens with Tamiya so now I'm going to have build another model and strictly comply with Tamiya paint rules.

But the stuff dries so fast, and so hard that "sediment" and "rim debris" is always going to be a problem. Even for airbrushing. So I'll just have to continue to develop my technique with the new and radically different paint. I'm sure I'll develop an effective way to apply this paint, but I'll have to make a video to demonstrate the method because it will be just about impossible to describe in words.

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 Post subject: Re: Vallejo Metal Color
PostPosted: Sun 08 Jan 2017 03:25 am 
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After several paintings and sandings down I do believe that I've discovered the root of the problem. Vallejo Metal Color (for airbrushing!) has to be applied like Tamiya gloss acrylic. This means that the solvent will almost INSTANTLY dissolve the underlying paint, and that dissolved paint will NOT politely liquify, but will break up, like a calving glacier, into zillions of little clumps. The clumps will not dissolve further, as the new coat of paint will begin to dry almost instantly.

This means that this paint is very difficult to brush--but not impossible. Just difficult. You really, really have to use the "one pass haul behind" out of there method. One pass of the brush, no more, is allowed. Two passes might be possible, but any additional "smoothing" will tear up the underlying coat of paint and leave horrible "specks" or "particles" in the finish. This combination of super soluble, super fast drying paint means that you will need to take a deep breath and apply this in a state of meditation, or at least concentration.

I'm glad I was able to puzzle this out. It's funny that the problem showed up on the wings and not the fuselage, but I was just quickly brushing it on the fuselage and "really getting serious" on the wings and it had the opposite effect. The wings ended up looking awful due to the "extra work." "Work" in this case means vandalism. Since I can't get a "one coat solution" using a brush I have to put on more than one coat, and since each coat tends to dissolve all the earlier coats, you need to be quick quick and spend NO time on it. A relaxed, super careless approach will deliver good results. A careful, slow, gradual application of paint, with careful slow drawing of the brush over the surface, will result in a mess.

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 Post subject: Re: Vallejo Metal Color
PostPosted: Sun 08 Jan 2017 17:13 pm 
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Maybe this is better suited to airbrushing :think:

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 Post subject: Re: Vallejo Metal Color
PostPosted: Sun 08 Jan 2017 17:28 pm 
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Since you are not at all comfortable with brushing Tamiya paints, then Vallejo Metal Color would probably be something you would want to spray. I'm sure that after I've gained a bit more experience with them, I'll be able to get an acceptable natural metal finish using a paintbrush which is one of my "holy grails." The thing is, I just started posting here as soon as I got the stuff and it's apparent that there is a learning curve, and my floundering around is evidence of that. The way the solvent dissolves underlying coats is quite surprising. I'm wondering if denatured alcohol (forgot what it's called in the UK) would just wash it off?

Anyway I'm happy with the way the F-86 is turning out and I'm sure future models will be even better. Isn't that the creed of the modeler? "Next time it'll be PERFECT!"

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 Post subject: Re: Vallejo Metal Color
PostPosted: Mon 09 Jan 2017 00:17 am 
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I want to keep you all informed, because I really like this product, and I'm having a devil of a time explaining how to use it without airbrushing it. I'm sure that airbrushing would be a cinch (buy some now!). But for me, the learning curve is steep, and I'm learning that some things just are not what one would wish them to be. I really hoped that this would be a product that would be easy to use, and maybe it is, for some. It certainly seemed that way when I first tried it. But somehow I botched my first attempt at using it on a model, and not just testing it on some spare parts.

So what went wrong?

I do not know. My theory (above) seems completely wrong, the more I experiment. The danger in publishing your lab notes (which is what I'm doing) is that your audience may determine that you're a nut--jumping from one conclusion to another. But what I've been doing is jumping from one hypothesis to another, which is just part of any trial-and-error method of discovery.

Right now I'm flummoxed. I do not know what went wrong, and it bothers me. I tried to reproduce the mistake and I can't reproduce it. Fascinating, as Spock would say. Here are some real efforts to do it wrong:

Image

Image

Looks great.

Here's attempt to do it right.

Image

Acceptable. I guess. Well, it's obvious I don't know what I'm doing. My theories on what went wrong are all wet. The painting that went "right" was done with maximum brush intervention-- that is, I smoothed it out using the brush. To me, that's almost as bad as stirring paint with a brush (although that turned out not to be the source of the trouble, I think). Anyway, This stuff requires multiple coats but (there's always a big but) I'm not going to try to explain how it's done.

That's right, I'm going to drift off into Obi Wan Kenobi land, and leave you mortals to chew my dust. I shall join the Brotherhood of the Hairy Stick and never reveal the secrets of the guild. Not because I don't want to, but because it's just too darn complicated. You have to see it done. You have to practice. My friends, to get this stuff to work really well requires skill and determination. And luck. And technique. Maybe a video, someday, will help. Right now I'm feeling a bit defeated. Not because I can't use this paint--because I can--but because I know I can't tell you how to do it. Why do we feel that such a thing should be possible? I guess I'm a child of the instant-gratification age. Everything should be easy. Plug it in and it does the work for you.

Well, not this time. I highly recommend Vallejo Metal Color to any brush-painter who wants a better natural metal finish on a plastic model, but only if you're willing to work for it. As for me, I have F-104's to build!! Onward!!!

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