Monday, May 31, 2010

Paint vs. Plastic

Mostly bodies and craft supplies at the flea market yesterday, with a few odds and ends thrown in the mix. I left a few good models behind - I’ve done well enough over the past two weeks that I could engage in a little "catch and release." (If that Alabaster Old Timer is there next time, he might be coming home with me - he still had his hat!)

One of the things I did find was a not-bad Chalky Palomino Rearing Stallion. Two Chalkies in the space of a month - excellent! I was just going to toss him into my sales stash, but when I gave him his standard dunk-and-scrub job, I noticed that he was a "White Plastic" Chalky, not a "Basecoat" Chalky. White Plastic Chalkies are considerably scarcer than their Basecoat cousins; out of the twenty plus Chalkies I have in my collection, I only have two White Plastics. I wouldn’t mind have a few more.

At first glance, White Plastics and Basecoats look virtually identical. Both have that slightly glossy, opaque "dipped in white housepaint" look. Basecoat Chalkies were actually painted with a rather thick coat of white paint, probably the same stuff they used to overpaint the white markings on Woodgrains. It was used to cover the less-than-white nature of the molded plastic, which was either colored, or extensively contaminated with nonwhite regrind. White Plastic Chalkies, on the other hand, were models that were molded out of opaque white plastic instead of the standard, slightly translucent stuff.

There are several subtle visual clues that help distinguish the two. The simplest and most obvious method: look at the bottom of the hooves. A Basecoat Chalky usually has a rough finish and puddling, as seen here on my othewise spiffy Black Morgan:

A White Plastic Chalky, on the other hand, has neat, clean hoof bottoms, as observed on the flea market-fresh Rearing Stallion:

The problem with this technique is that it’s not 100% foolproof. I’ve seen examples Basecoat Chalkies where the hoof bottoms were either very clean, or were apparently so rough and puddled that they cleaned or ground down at the factory before the final detailing.

Another clue: checking the transitional areas of the paint job, at the edges of airbrushed bald faces and stockings. On White Plastic Chalkies, the paint comes off in tiny flakes, and gives the paint job a scrubbed or patchy look. If the paint flakes off of a Basecoat Chalky, it’ll flake off anywhere, will come off in bigger flakes or chunks, and often reveals the funky color of the plastic beneath.

Mold detail is another: the thick white paint on Basecoat Chalkies fills in some of the finer details of the mold. On White Plastic Chalkies, those finer details are retained. The best, quickest test for mold detail is to flip and check the copyright horseshoe: the crisper and sharper the detail there, the more likely it’s a White Plastic version. If the lettering is blurry or infilled, it’s probably a Basecoat.

For some models, it’s hard to tell one way or another. The Clydesdale Foal I found a couple of weeks ago is a mystery: she has virtually no condition issues that would clue me in to her true nature. Her hooves are really clean and her mold detail is pretty sharp, so I’m leaning towards White Plastic. For most hobbyists, however, it’s a moot point: they’re all good!


Carrie said...

Oog, I saw that Old Timer and wanted his hat!

Congrats on another nice chalky, looks pretty sweet from that, uh, angle.

Sara said...

Great post! I've got just over 60 chalkies in my collection at the moment and for me it's about 50/50 basecoat to plastic. It might be because of the way I shop for them on eBay. I think basecoats are easier to spot, so I tend to get outbid on those. I'm still bummed about missing a basecoat bay running stallion this weekend!

Anonymous said...

Must have been a weekend for finding chalkies I found a near mint Palo FAM at the local flea market.