Chrome spray test: Alclad II vs. Spaz Stix vs. Alsa "Killer Chrome"


ZoomZoomMX-5
10-30-2006, 11:46 AM
Follow along in my album if you want, the pictures are mostly self-explanatory.

http://public.fotki.com/grdeyed/model_cars-1/chrome-test/

Chrome Spray Test – “Killer Chrome” by Alsa vs. Alclad II and Spaz Stix

A few people have raved about Alsa Corp’s “Mirrachrome” paint for replicating chrome. Alsa recently came out with “Killer Chrome”, a less-expensive version of Mirrachrome in a spray can. At $40 per can, it’s still not inexpensive, combined w/a can of Alsa’s “Killer Clear” ($30), the order was nearly $100, as shipping added about $26 to the deal. We sure hoped it would live up to the reputation it was getting.

Alclad II Chrome is a lot less expensive (about $8 per bottle), and available in many hobby shops. Many people have had great success with it, but it takes practice. I must be sprayed over enamel as it won't adhere to lacquer or acrylic water based paint, black is the best base but other colors like white, gray, or dark blue will work.

Spaz Stix Chrome is something I heard about (and the people who tried it also raved about it) and found it at a Hobbytown USA in the R/C department. I got a small bottle of “Mirror Chrome” and it was a bit more expensive than Alclad II at $9, and a bit less volume in the bottle. It's mainly aimed at R/C builders who spray it inside a clear Lexan body, and protect it from behind w/black paint. Google their website for a pretty good picture of an R/C body shot w/their clear.

We took standard disposable white plastic spoons and painted them w/Tamiya TS black lacquer spray, and also airbrushed a few of them in Testors Model Master Classic Black enamel (I'll say it again; the Alclad samples must be shot on enamel for adhesion). The spoons were allowed to dry thoroughly in a dehydrator and the paint was very smooth/glossy on them. The following tests of the various paints were done according to the manufacturer’s recommended instructions to spraying, drying time, and overcoating when applicable.

I didn’t expect such good results w/the Alclad II and the Spaz Stix as my results on actual model parts had been pretty inferior in the past (I hadn't done a good enough job on the base coat, sometimes using the wrong basec coat, etc). After spraying a few very light coats, enough to completely cover the black, in an instant or two right after airbrushing the finish clears up and is very reflective. Not like kit chrome, but like highly-polished aluminum or stainless. Neither Alclad nor Spaz Stix reacted well with a coat of Future, the lowest-volatility clear we could come up with. Funny how these plastic spoons looked like real spoons in their polished metal appearance.

We tried the Killer Chrome last. Their nozzle sprayed the paint on in a very fine mist of mostly air. It took quite a while and numerous passes compared to airbrushing to get the spoon covered. The paint looked like anyone else’s silver. Like Alclad II or Spaz Stix, you buff the surface out w/a clean, soft cloth after a few minutes to wipe away the overspray, which makes the surface as glossy/reflective as possible. We were not impressed w/Killer Chrome at all at this point. I’ve seen cheap “chrome” paint from Krylon/Duplicolor or even Tamiya’s Silver Leaf look brighter and more reflective.

We transferred some Killer Chrome to the same airbrush we used to spray the Alclad and Spaz Stix, a Badger 175 w/a medium tip. Results were much better this time, and it sprayed/built up rapidly just like the others, but the reflectivity still was noticeably inferior to Alclad and Spaz Stix.

Final results from this limited test? Spaz Stix was the winner. It’s the most reflective, slightly better than Alclad, and it’s easier to use as you can spray it over Tamiya’s spray black, saving one step of airbrushing. Alclad II came next, it’s results were also impressive. As much as anything, this test proved that with a glass-smooth base surface to start with, either of these products work quite well. If you expect them to look like kit chrome, you will be disappointed. If you spray them over base paint that's not ultra-smooth and glossy, you may be disappointed.

Killer Chrome, in our opinion, isn’t. It’s extremely expensive, it’s inferior to the airbrushed versions of it’s competitors. Alsa claims it is best if clearcoated w/a low-volatiles clear. We bought theirs called "Killer Clear", a clever 2-stage urethane in a spray can made for overcoating their products, and also used Future. Alsa’s clear was so strong/volatile it etched it’s way down to the base coat. Future made the Killer Chrome cloud up and turn mostly “silver” as it did with the others. Seems nobody has perfected a spray chrome that can take a clearcoat. That fancy can of 2-part Killer Clear with the two chambers and whatnot wasn't worth the $30 plus shipping, as it ate everything it was tried on. Not good! Great in theory, lousy in real-world testing.

I’d love to try the same test with “real” Mirrachrome to see if the “Killer Chrome” was a fluke. At this point we’re highly disappointed with the results of the Alsa products. I would like to see the same kind of spoon painted w/ real mirrachrome and photographed with the ones from this test. I'm working on that. Perhaps for the definitive test we should also try the spray can version of Alclad II chrome. My suspicion is that all of these chromes are much better left for airbrush application. You need the fine control of the airbrush to apply these micro-thin metallics that settle down and look highly reflective.

Moral of the story? Alclad and Spaz Stix will work decently, but you have to spend the bulk of your time making your base coat as absolutely perfect as possible. If it’s not glass-smooth, your chrome will not be nearly as good as it could be. If the base is glass smooth, your results should be good. Airbrushing either product is pretty easy, it goes on in thin coats and builds rapidly, dries quickly too. You'll spend far more time prepping the airbrush and cleaning it afterwards vs. the very short time it takes to spray.

Here are the pictures:

http://images16.fotki.com/v31/photos/1/10258/4212157/LRKillKillABAlcladSpaz-vi.jpg
L-R, worst to best. Killer Chrome from spray can, Killer Chrome airbrushed, Alclad airbrushed, Spaz Stix airbrushed. No clearcoat.

http://images19.fotki.com/v36/photos/1/10258/4212157/SpazKillFutureRaw-vi.jpg
Clearcoated (with Future) L-R; Killer Chrome w/Clear, Killer Chrome raw, Spaz Stix w/Clear, Spaz Stix raw

http://images16.fotki.com/v31/photos/1/10258/4212157/AlcladKillraw-vi.jpg
Alclad ($8) vs. Killer Chrome ($40).

http://images9.fotki.com/v186/photos/1/10258/4212157/SpazKillAirbrushedRaw-vi.jpg
Spaz Stix ($9) vs. Killer Chrome airbrushed ($40).

http://images16.fotki.com/v29/photos/1/10258/4212157/SpazAlcladRaw-vi.jpg
The winners, Alclad and Spaz Stix, raw w/no clearcoat. I'm waiting to see if I can get a sample of Mirrachrome to spray, or if someone can send me a spoon that was prepped like ours and sprayed w/Mirrachrome (not Killer Chrome).

Technoman
10-30-2006, 12:22 PM
Nice, thanks for the info. I will stick with my Alclad I think. The Spaz (what a name!) looks real good though. Is that available in the US?

klutz_100
10-30-2006, 12:41 PM
A really full, in-depth and definitive analysis of the "Chrome Story"
Great job!

I can imagine the time that went into that, so a big thank you!!

astroracer
10-30-2006, 12:50 PM
Really nice article bud. You might consider submitting it to Model Cars Magazine. With a little work it would be a killer how-to article...
http://www.modelcarsmag.com
I know Gregg would be interested in it.
Mark@MAS
www.mas-parts.com

ZoomZoomMX-5
10-30-2006, 12:52 PM
Nice, thanks for the info. I will stick with my Alclad I think. The Spaz (what a name!) looks real good though. Is that available in the US?

Got it at Hobbytown USA, it's an R/C product.

They have a website and it can be ordered online:

http://www.spazstix.com/index.php

This is what I used: Mirror Chrome 1 oz. airbrush paint:
http://www.spazstix.com/xcart/home.php?cat=355

You can buy a gallon of it for $899.99 :eek: :lol:

ZoomZoomMX-5
10-30-2006, 12:58 PM
Really nice article bud. You might consider submitting it to Model Cars Magazine. With a little work it would be a killer how-to article...
http://www.modelcarsmag.com
I know Gregg would be interested in it.
Mark@MAS
www.mas-parts.com

Thanks, I'm considering doing just that, once I get even more information, and I can easily get better photos suitable for print. But it was partially from a discussion of this stuff on Scale Auto's site by Bob Paeth who was waxing poetically about Killer Chrome that I wanted to share the information from our spoon test that I'd sort of forgotten about until the issue popped up. I'm hoping he sends the thread and my album link from SA directly to Alsa reps for them to see for themselves; he's got some sort of "in" with Alsa that we didn't have as mere customers. I'm wanting to get a test sample of Mirrachrome to airbrush for further evaluation.

I'll have to do a completely different how-to for Gregg :wink: I'll figure something out so that I don't get in "trouble" w/either magazine :icon16:

winstona
10-30-2006, 01:19 PM
Thanks for the info! It's nice to be able to see how these things turn out side by side. For me, I will stick with Alclad.

Winston

willimo
10-30-2006, 01:23 PM
Thanks for the right up! It's cool to see all the paints side by side like that, you can get a real idea of how they stack up. The Spaz-Stix and the Alclad II look neck and neck, with the Spaz-Stix being notably but not a whole lot better. It's really disappointing that you spent a ton of money for naught. I'm always a bit suspicious of products claiming to be a miracle and yelling it form the mountaintops - and charging for it too! Seems like the unassuming little bottles are the best, after all.

I saw some Spaz-Stix chrome at my LHS in the can, I'm glad I didn't get it, I'll look for a bottle to use in my airbrush... probably whenever I run out of my Alclad II.

auw12
10-30-2006, 02:52 PM
thank you zoomzoom,really great thread,i've put it in "my favourite" folder.

Cold_Fire
10-30-2006, 04:01 PM
Great review, chrome finish is our eternal battle, I think.

cyberkid
10-30-2006, 05:57 PM
Awsome write up! Have you got access to Gunze's super metalic line? Thier 'super plated silver' (which looks more like chrome than thier 'super chrome')looks pretty good..

bookmarked!
Steve

Some_Kid
10-30-2006, 06:34 PM
The killer chrome looked better than i thought it would. I hope someone can make a good chrome spray soon.

rsxse240
10-30-2006, 07:00 PM
very nice write up!!! I'll have to referr people to this thread when they ask me about chrome.

I did however paint some fishing lures with the alcladII and I used some boyd's high gloss clear and it had NO effect on the alclad. I was VERY cautious about applying clear, so I thinned it as little as possible, used high air pressure, and very low paint volume from an airbrush that is mostly equivelant to your badger used in your write up. I laid 4 very thin mist coats, then one slightly heavier coat, and a final "wet" coat to even it all out, and it was quite impressive, though I fear that they will now "yellow" over time due to the type of clear I used.

I'm wondering why you didn't go with acrylic clear PAINT as opposed to the future floor wax for your clear tests. i have had mixed results with the future eating into some enamel finishes, but never any problems with acrylic, or laquer finishes.

thanks again for the write up, I think it could be a good review in a magazine!!

Plasticmodeler702
10-30-2006, 08:52 PM
Great write up. It helped me out a ton, and those who want to know about spaz stix, I know they sell them at tower

http://www.towerhobbies.com/plastic/listings/airbrush_paint.html

They have a huge variety of them. Thanks again for the write up.

brady_381need72c10
10-31-2006, 10:37 AM
man thanx this shouldnt go in the magizines as a "how-to" but a camparison!:sunglasse

stryfe101
10-31-2006, 11:26 PM
Excellent post! this helped me out a great deal on finding some good chrome paint(spaz stix also has some other cool paints) Great job, I love seeing the paint comparison post like this

Gray

MustangMuscle
12-28-2006, 08:32 AM
Great review here Bob! I did the comparison myself a year ago and came to the conclusion that the main difference between Alclad and Spaz Stix is that the latter is more durable than the former. However I found the Spaz Stix to be more difficult to "gloss up" as it was less responsive to buffing, thus in the end providing inferior results compared to Alclad.

Now, I just found a new chrome paint sold by Hiroboy.com (in the UK), it is a chrome paint sprayed over a catalyzed black, and then overcoated by a catalyzed clear (yes it can be cleared!!). I wonder how it compares to Alclad though, did anybody try it?? It is rather pricey at $43...

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