Flake King Corroded Metal

I like rust. Always have. I am one of those weird people that will stop at a corroded sign, gate or pole and take a picture. And frankly, with lockdown, I am grateful for such an innocent hobby. Logically I like to see rust effects in my models, and as you know it is not easy to get right. Here is a product – Flake King Corroded Metal FX – that will help matters.

Flake King is a three part solution. Base coast adhesive, real metal texture and activator/catalyst. The catalyst will quickly corrode the metal layer and will keep doing so until you wash it off. The finished result needs a coat of varnish (matt or gloss, not supplied) to seal it all off. The pack provides everything else you need, including a natural sponge to dab on the base coat, but an old brush works too. There are two metal pots – iron and copper – with the same catalyst spray working on both.  

I wanted to make some plasticard rectangles into bare metal sheets and nearby was a hopper wagon that I felt I could experiment with. These are the results following the simple, indeed intuitive, process.

First I just dabbed some of the base coat onto the two surfaces. I then layered on the metal powder into the hopper, but very lightly sprinkled much less onto the sheet. The pot has a shaker dispenser in the lid. I expected the metal powder to dry and then have excess to collect. Not the case. The thick layers of metal seemed to absorb the adhesive and it stayed put. The same was true of the sheet, but I rather expected that. I then sprayed the catalyst onto the hopper wetting it completely, but lightly coated the sheet.

Initially the metal powder goes dark and then gradually shifts lighter as the catalyst does its work. After ten minutes you can see distinct rust colours, and after twenty it was quite intensely orange. The longer you leave it, the more corrosion occurs, but I suspect there will be a natural limit. At the point where you are happy with the colour, you wash the catalyst off with water, disposing of that water carefully.

This is the final outcome. Obviously as a first attempt I am very pleased. It is clearly rust and looks the part. Some interesting textures and depth have developed and I want to try a localized reapplication before sealing. It may also be interesting to partially sand back the texture.

There are products on the market, especially in the US, that will do similar things with variable results. Most of them produce quite a coarse rusted surface. This is fine for large scale models, perhaps even down to 1:48, but anything smaller tends to say ‘overscale’ very loudly. Certainly trying to rust a 1:76 kit part is not going to work. The good news is that Flake King has a very fine grain and as you can see from the images, could work quite well at small scales. I don’t think it fine enough to work for some subjects – exhaust pipes for instance – but it is certainly among the finest I have seen.

At the other end of the scale, this kit is not going to cover much in the way of surface area. I would love to do a 1:1 plastic plant pot in the rusted iron but this would mean buying one of the larger kits which are listed here. For models or small stuff – like light switch covers or perhaps picure frames – there will be enough for many projects.

I need to point out that, in a world of PVA, acrylics and countless allergies, Flake King is a little adrift from ‘safe’. There are some quite stringent warnings on the packaging and even the base adhesive is not neutral. So, as instructed, I treated the test exercise with some caution. I wore long sleeves, latex gloves, a spray mask and eye protection. No harm suffered! I couldn’t smell anything through the mask, and there were no other concerns, but better safe than sorry.

To conclude, I really like the results. I feel there will be more success when I go for full panel rust effects rather than trying to create an irregular edge.  I think the treatment will create its own chaos and that is all I am really after.  The ability to regulate the level of corrosion at a basic timing level should let you choose the colour and effect you are after, while partly neutralizing the catalyst or reapplying should ring the changes. I will post more pictures as I progress with the experiments.

Mike Siggins

Review sample kindly provided by The Airbrush Company