In the mid-1990s, a product appeard on the hobby shop shelved that revolutionized bare metal modeling. This product, called Alclad, made itself known at the 1995 IPMS/USA convention, with an AMT/ERTL 1/72 XB-49 Flying Wing painted in different shades of Alclad. What made Alclad different from other products on the market:
It came in a variety of 'shades' of alumimum, as well as steel, titanium, etc.
It could be applied over other paints.
It could be masked and sprayed over.
It could be handled without fear of fingerprints!
Alas, as fast as Alclad appeared, it went out of production in the US. It forced many of us to hoard our remaining supplies of Alclad and otherwise shelve any new bare metal projects until something new came along. That time has come!
Enter Alclad II
Alclad II was released in the UK about a year ago. I first became aware of this new product on the Hannants website and tried it out. It is love all over again!
Since that time, the makers of Alclad II have released more shades of the product, with still more in the works. The lineup includes:
A - Aluminium (Aluminum if you prefer)
B - Duraluminium
C - Dark Aluminium
D - Pale Burnt Metal
E - Polished Aluminium
F - White Aluminium
G - Chrome
H - Pale Gold
J - Copper
K - Magnesium
L - Steel
M - Jet Exhaust
One of the first major differences between the original Alclad and Alclad II is that Alclad II should be applied over a coat of acrylic primer. The lacquer will evidently craze softer plastics. I tried the Alclad II straight onto the nozzle of a Hasegawa F-16 and had no reaction without primer. When all else fails, however, follow the instructions.
The Highly Polished Aluminium (Shade E) must be applied over a gloss black acrylic to be effective, while Chrome (Shade G) must be applied over a gloss black enamel. These are currently the only two shades requiring special attention.
As you can see in this photo, the colors and shades are subtlely different (except for the burnt metal and jet exhaust on the ends). Combined with the other colors in the Alclad II line, any of those bare metal projects that you've been wanting to do are within reach again.
According to the owner of Alclad II: "For the regular shades of Alclad grey, auto primer is fine. Tamiya does a spray primer and there's also Gunze Sanyo Mr. Surfacer. There is no hidden trick to using Alclad, just simple things:
a) give the primer a quick rub over with 1000/1200 wet&dry (to make sure its nice and smooth)
b) spray at a low pressure 12-15 psi-use the airbrush like a paint brush-stroke the paint onto the model.
The finish dries almost immediately-you can mask over it in about 10 minutes. Any paint can be sprayed over Alclad. You don't need to varnish it before (or after) doing the decals-you can use setting solutions on all shades except Chrome and Highly Polished Aluminium.
The shelf life of Alclad will be about 4-5 years - the bottles all have air tight seals. You can polish the finish with Micromesh or Blue Magic cream - as long as the surface prep is good, you don't need to enhance the finish - don't do this to Chrome.
I also do a range of Alclad Prismatic coatings-these modify a base colour and reflect different colours as you move the object or move around it-one coating usually gives out three distinct colours."
As with any lacquer finish, you'll need to have ample ventilation and a good breathing mask/filter to protect your lungs.
Alclad II is available in the US from Roll Models, Avia Imports, Great Western Hobbies, and North American Hobbies.
My sincere thanks to Alclad II for these review samples. I have an Academy 1/72 KC-97L that will be getting the Alclad II treatment!