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Miscellaneous Plamo

Tips & Tricks: Spraying Flat Top Coat on Unpainted Models

In the ideal world, I would have the Real Grade RX-78-2 Gundam in my hands, built and ready to be reviewed. In the ideal world, I would also know how to operate my very own fission-powered jetpack. But alas, I do not live in the ideal world, therefore not only do I have to continue to pay eye-gouging high prices for the underdeveloped public transit system of Toronto, I must also patiently wait for the arrival of my RG Gundam kit, which is going to arrive near the end of the month at the earliest. Sure, I can have a crack at reviewing the MG Master Gundam in the meantime like I’m supposed to, but hell, I just don’t feel like it. So instead, I’m going to talk about something that I was very concerned about when I first started to get into the plamo hobby: top coat.

It is common knowledge that like panel-lining, paint improves the appearance of the model tremendously. This is especially true for older models that were not moulded completely in the correct colours. However, with its advantages comes with its own set of drawbacks. Here are some to consider:

  • An airbrush/air compressor kit is very costly
  • You won’t always find the right colours from canned spray paints
  • Mistakes can be hard to correct
  • Demands an environment that can accommodate for the noise/fume/mess

While I encourage everyone with the means to venture into model-painting to do so, I fully understand that all this may very well seem overwhelming to the plamo newcomer who hasn’t even chosen their first kit yet. Even to those who have enjoyed the hobby for quite some time, fully painting a model kit isn’t an option that’s available to everyone. Fortunately, there is an intermediate option between the two extremes: spraying flat/matte top coat directly on an unpainted model.

I came across the idea through an old Danny Choo post about a no-paint gunpla technique that involved top coat and weathering pastels, amongst other things. While this was very informative, I still wasn’t clear on many things. “Does the top coat make a significant difference if you don’t weather the model? How much top coat should I use? What are the risks?” – These were the questions that plagued my mind, and digging through hobby forums for information didn’t always yield the answers I needed. But in the end, I decided to give it a crack anyways, and now 20 kits later, I think I’m at a position where I can say a thing or two about top coat on paint-less models.

What does it do?

Left = naked, right = coated. I’ve masked the chest windows and removed the clear visor for the naked shot, so disregard those particular differences.

The number one purpose of spraying top coat on bare plastic is to get rid of that lousy plastic sheen that gives your model a toy-like feel. For this purpose, you’ll want to give your model a layer of flat top coat in order to achieve a matte feel. A coat of flat will make the model’s surface uneven on a microscopic level; hence light will not bounce off it of the same way as before. When my non-modeler friends see my models for the first time, they assume the models are painted — such is the effect of flat top coat.

Another great thing about top coat is its ability to hide scratches. I’m not just talking about some small markings you leave with a nail file – naw, this also applies to serious scratches made by low-grit sandpaper and rough stuff like light woodworking files. Of course, the rougher the scratch, the more top coat you’ll need. This means you can sand/file away those annoying nip marks without worrying about any scarring to the model.

The last thing great thing about top coat is an obvious one: it seals in the detailing like panel lines paint touch-ups. No more worring about rubbing off your lines by accident or chipping your gundam maker paint – the top coat is going be there to protect your model from minor abuse.

Keep this in mind, however: because top coat makes the surface of your model uneven, it’s much easier for dust to cling onto the surfaces. This doesn’t mean you can’t get rid of dust on your model – you’ll just have to spend more effort getting that stuff off of a top coated model than a naked model. Furthermore, although top coat is capable of protecting the detailing underneath, the coating itself sure as hell isn’t invincible. If you aren’t careful when posing your models after you’ve sprayed, you’ll leave behind a scratch on the surface. The severity of this issue varies on the design of the kit itself, but watches out for restrictive skirt and shoulder armour, as they tend to cause some friction against the legs and chest, respectively.

What to Spray

The three big choices are the Mr. Top Coat (Flat/Matt), Mr. Super Clear (Flat), and the Tamiya Modeller TS-80. I’ve used Mr. Top Coat for most of my models and tried Mr. Super Clear for the MG Gouf above. The Gouf turned out looking more matte-looking than the rest of my models. This is partly because I had to spray a lot to cover up the serious scratches I made on the kit, but I also suspect that Mr. Super Clear also gives off a slightly chalkier finish than Mr. Top coat. I have yet to use my can of TS-80, but the guy who sold it to me said it’s indistinguishable from the other two brands. The dude has a pair of beady little eyes, so I’m not sure how far I should trust his words, but I don’t suspect that there would be a huge difference between the three brands.

Top coat spray cans were really easy to get a couple of years ago, but recently that Japanese retailers ceased to ship pressurized air items due to tightened shipping regulations. This makes getting the cans a little trickier. Try looking for this stuff from domestic retailers like hobby stores – that’s where I buy my cans nowadays.

How to Spray

The short answer would be “push down on the spray nozzle”, but you knew that already, didn’t you? So here’s the long version:

  • Dip your spray can in hot water for a few minutes. I forget where I got this tip from, nor do I remember why this is helpful, but I think this makes the spray mist a little finer due to the heat’s ability to make the particles in the can more excited (did I get that right? It’s been a while since my elementary science classes).
  • Hold your models around 20-30cm away and flick your wrists back and forth while spraying. This is not precision work, so go nuts. If you spray the parts too closely, you risk the chance of producing a milky fog on the surface of your model.
  • Spray continuously for a few seconds at a time, not in short bursts. Shake the can well before each spray to get even results.
  • You don’t have to spray your model piece by piece, but it is a good idea to at least separate the model into several smaller components (e.g. arms, legs, torso, backpack [if large enough]) to avoid excessive obstructions.
  • Let your parts dry before spraying another coat. You don’t want your parts to be dripping. How much you want to spray is completely up to you – just make sure the parts are evenly coated.
  • Make sure to set down the freshly-sprayed parts in a safe manner (i.e. don’t set down a wet part flat against another surface). The coat dries within minutes, so it would be reasonable just to hold onto the part in your hand for a while to have it dry a little.
  • If you are planning to use decals on your model, make sure you apply them before the applying flat top coat. Decals like smooth and even surfaces, and the rough finish that flat top coat leaves would cause major if you need to apply decals on top of that.

Things to watch out for while spraying:

  • Dust, hair and other miscellaneous airborne gunk. Ideally, you don’t want this stuff sealed under your top coat. This is why spraying in your bathroom with the ventilation on would be a good idea – not only do the vents help to disperse the toxic fumes, but bathrooms tend to be less dusty than the other parts of the house. You can remove dust and hair trapped underneath your model with some gentle sweeps with a toothbrush.
  • Cold temperatures. I don’t know about this for certain, but I think that cold temperatures have an adverse effect top coat. I’ve only sprayed outdoors in the winter once, and the finish on those models ended up a few steps short of desirable. I think the spray gets condenses when it’s too cold, causing droplets to form, thus making the coverage to be uneven and spotty. It might also have something to do with my lack of patience, though – trust me, you don’t want to be outside holding your little plastic men in a Canadian winter for too long.
  • Humidity. I’ve never run into this personally, but the instructions on the Tamiya TS-80 cans warn against humidity, and it doesn’t take a genius to figure out why moisture in the air would screw with the spray.
  • Flat top coat will fog up any clear parts. Make sure to remove or mask any exposed clear components like mooneye visors or the green orbs on the MG Gundam Exia, for example.
  • Try not to breathe in the toxic fumes. The best thing to do would be to get a protective mask. Also try to spray the model in a well-ventilated area or outdoors.

…Wow, this filler post sure ran on for far longer than I anticipated. I’ll have a real plamo-related content up soon (probably a RG RX-78-2 review). In the meantime, if you have any questions, feel free to ask via comment, twitter(@Chag_HH) or email and I’ll answer them to the best of my casual modeler abilities. Here’s hoping that this little guide will help out newcomers in the days to come!


109 replies on “Tips & Tricks: Spraying Flat Top Coat on Unpainted Models”

I guess you’re the guy I should turn to if I need to repaint something. :p

BTW, how come the Figma paint job doesn’t wear out with washing?

Let me elaborate more. I’ve been wondering how people would get their Figmas and Nendoroids messy and then clean them up without expecting to affect the chemical properties of the PVC or paint job. But if the paint job is pretty robust, then I guess it’s alright.

Haha, definitely don’t run to me if you have to actually paint things. This is merely a cheap and lazy alternative to actual painting, which, from what I understand, involves all sorts of steps such as priming, mixing, thinning, spraying, detailing, clear coating, and more. If you want to get into painting, I recommend the Hobby Fanatics forum. It’s a great source of knowledge when it comes to these things.

I don’t know jack about the painting process of the figmas and Nendoroids, but I assume Max Factory workers seal in the paint job with a clear coat of their own. This protects the figure from minor abuses like water and play. If the mess is under this protective clear coat, I have no idea how to correct it without making serious renovations, but if the mess is caused by a post-production blunder (like a paint transfer), then a gentle application of rubbing alchohol should be able to break down the residue without killing the rest of the paint underneath. Just dip a q-tip into a bottle of rubbing alchohol and rub at it gently until it’s gone.

Great tips! I have yet spray some of my model kit for matte top coating. Wanted to try that ages ago as I already have the can with me. Maybe will do that soon enough.

BTW Real grade RX78-2 doesn’t really need much paneling IMHO. I assembled mine but yet to put on the decal. It’s quite a hard model kit due to the detail and the size of the parts… maybe because I am getting older. LOL

Hope to see your Real grade RX soon. XD

You’ve never tried it? Oh man, you’ve been missing out =P.

Oh yeah, come to think of it, the parts on the RG Gundam are so finely divided that you don’t really have to mark part divisions anymore, do you? That’s great news for me, because panel lining is my least favourite step in the model-building process. My hands are just too unsteady to do any consistent work with the marker, which means I spend as just much time correcting my screw-ups as actually panel-lining.

Sweet, I’m looking forward to the kit even more now! Between the RG Gundam and ACE:R, these last few days of summer are looking positive, indeed!

You don’t have to mark part divisions at all – the lines that are there to be paneled really just add detail and dimension to the kit, and nothing looks too obvious – it just sort of defines parts more. There is a lot to line if you want to get every nook and cranny – it probably ended up tripling my build time doing the lining, but it was worth it (and you can’t make too many mistakes a q-tip and toothpick won’t fix).

Great article btw! I should go pick some up from the hobby shop – never tried this before!

I’ve been building the kit on and off these past few days, and I have to say: even if I don’t like panel lining all that much, this kit deserves all that time and effort. I haven’t had this much fun building a model in ages!

Thanks Keanerie! I hope you like this method as much as I do. =)

I’ve never used the UV Cut version — does it protect the model from discolouration from the sun? If so, that is really, really nifty! Thanks for bringing it to my attention =).

Oh Boy, I am Salvio from Italy Sanremo (saviourgundam57 on flickr plamo) and I am very interesten by this argument, now I am frightened about top coat on plastic moulded not painted because, perhaps due to not correct spraying (I used an italian glossy spry coat because according to your words in Italy is a trick to find Tamiya products), it resulted on a like-freezing change in colours, if you see my recent RG rx 78 2 gundam it all top coated but I had to repaint the shield.
See us soon
Salvio

Another aspect: the effect of the spray on the articulatig little pieces, I have the suspect that the spray aditives can do a lesive action on this little pieces!
Tell me please.
Salvio/saviourgundam57

I have never used gloss top coat, but judging from your photos on flickr, I would venture to guess that you used the spray too close to the model. Keep a 20-30 cm distance between the spray can and the subject to avoid making the coating too dense.

As for the spray’s effect on joints and other articulated pieces: if applied directly on a joint, the articulation should become slightly tighter due to slight increase in to thickness of the joints. I can’t really think of any possible adverse effects on articulation… Hmmmm, the top coat in the joints will probably get scratched up and worn out over time, but I think that’s about it!

Hope this answers your questions!

Thanks Troy, I’m glad to hear that you liked this method of dressing up models!

I remember when I built my first model. After finishing the assembly and detailing, I almost chose to not to spray the top coat because I thought it looked “good enough” already. Needless to say, I’m glad I took the leap.=D

Man i keep reading stuff like this eveywhere but for me top coating has been nothing but a never ending nightmare. It just keeps frosting as soon as the spray fucking touches the plastic. Its not humid at all, its 20 degrees celcius, Ive tried spraying close, far away, long sprays, short sprays, shaking the can 5 minutes(i litterally shaked the can so much it has bumps on the bottom), putting it in hot water, trying different brands. Ive basically tried everything from every blog from the past 10 years ive been able to find. Nothing fucking works and I keep getting the exact same results. I personally wish id never wasted my time,money and perfectly fine looking out of the box gundams on top coating. Its only made shit look worse for me so Im giving up on it. I wish it would work for me like it seems to do for everybody else… I have no clue why I cant seem to able to do it properly 🙁

Just wanted to post my experience.

Ah good chags I needed something to help me get to sleep… :p

No, but seriously nice little article…does remind me why I stopped doing model kits though…

I never thought about immersing spray cans in hot water since I hardly ever use spray cans, but I guess it makes sense. If I remember right, the ideal gas law is pv=nrt so pressure rises as temperature does, and more pressure ought to result in better spray control (or the explosion of the can, I guess).

I’ve been wondering if people did this topcoating stuff before or after assembling the kits. I’ve done 40k minatures before, but those never involve articulation like Gundam kits do, which I always imagined would be affected by a topcoat. But then, I’ve only built four model kits in my life, so I never bother to actually try researching things.

Does this also help seal on things like stickers and decals, if one elects to use them?

I do my top coating after assembly, because since the coating is transparent, minor flaws in coating distribution are very hard to notice. Besides, it saves on spray, which certainly isn’t getting any cheaper right now, what with the brutal exchange rate these days.Top coat does help to seal in clear stickers and especially waterslide decals, but the mileage varies.Foil stickers are your worst enemy when you top coat your models, because they are very, very shiny. This is fine for small parts like eyes and cameras, but otherwise, the contrast between flat top-coated plastic and shiny foil stickers is just too glaring, because top coat has very little effect on foil stickers. Plus, these things love to peel themselves off, and top coat does very little to curb this tendency, unfortunately.Clear stickers are a lot better than foil stickers, but you’ll still notice an annoying difference between the stickers and the plastic after top coating.Waterslide decals are your best bet. Make sure to apply the decal onto bare plastic before top coating, as the uneven surface created by the spray will have adverse effects on the appearance of the decal. EDIT: Forgot to mention: the top coat definitely protects the waterslides. In fact, I would never use waterslides at if I don’t have top coat to seal it in — that stuff tears if you aren’t gentle with it.

I recently used both Tamiya clear and falt base on an old 1/48 MeBf109e, which was an oldish kit I hadn’t sealed, so I’ve been going round trying to use my new-found skills on older models.
Brushing wreaked havoc on the waterslided decals, they almost disintergrated.
I then went back to spraying, which didn’t wreck the decals, nor seal them in, which is what I thought the last step was for.
In Australia it’s very frustrating as we keep hearing about future/klear, and there is no alternative.
I’m starting to tire of the the ever-expanding technicality of something that’s supposed to be fun and enjoyable, Not devastating when you spend three months on a project and all your cash only to wreck a model because of one moment in time with one product?
ARGH!

I am not aware of any tendencies for top coat to heal paint chips. Top coat is able to cover scratches on plastic partly because there is no colour difference between scratched and unscratched surfaces. However, this is not the case with a paint chip.

Great guide for my unassembled Gundams.

I wonder if you can do this to PVC figures. ie. shiney plastic looking legs + matte topcoat = condensed milk on legs?!?!?!?!

I wonder about this as well. Wouldn’t it be great if top coat can fix the sheen on the Kotobukiya Senjougahara’s skin? Still, I’m too afraid to try this out on any of my figures ^^;

Nice tips and tricks. Very useful when time and budget are very limited 😀 This will also come in really handy, especially for an RG kits. They already have color separation and a flat top coat is all that we need to do 😀

Holla,

I wonder – can I use Gundam Markers to panel-line before applying the topcoat? I wonder if the Marker Paint starts running again…
I am talking about GM01 – Gm03 btw to use for my real grade kit…

any other tips for the real grade btw.?

thanks for posting all these tips so far, I think I am going to clear coat my RG…

Yes, as I mentioned, one of top coat’s functions is its ability to seal in detailing, including panel lines. Panel lining should be done before applying the top coat.

I’ve been waiting my my waterslide decals for the RG kit to arrive, so I’ve only built the inner frame, legs and feet. But judging from what I’ve seen, you will need a better panel line marker than the GM01-03. The tips of those markers are too thick for the thin lines found on the model, which will result in a messy look, especially up close. I recommend the Copic Modeller 0.02mm gray and black markers. These markers are easy to wipe off, and they are thin enough to give the panel lines a subtle look rather than big thick scribbles.

I’m glad you find this little guide useful! If you have any other questions, feel free to ask!

Chag, I am wowed not only by your article, but by your speedy reply too, haha!

Thanks for the hint – I will try to pick up what you suggested for the RG (Copic Modeller .2mm) , but I am in Japan right now and got the RG as a gift from a Co-worker. I need to build here (I stay another 4 weeks) because I cannot fit the box in my suitcase (or anywhere else to transport).

So you just use black and grey – no brown for the red parts?

regarding the waterslide decals – I read about the issue with stickers before and I had a look around at hobbytown when I picked up the gundam markers and some other stuff – I only found waterslide decals for certain MG Modells (1:100) but nothing for the 1:144.

Granted – Nagasaki is different size than Tokio, so that may be the reason why… where did you order your decals from?

oh – btw: do you do your lining while the parts are still fixed in the “model-grid” (correct term missing in my head right now)?

Hehe, I get email notifications whenever a new comment pops up, so it’s only natural. =)

Ah, if you’re short on time, then you can just straight assemble the kit and leave the detailing for later — in fact, I recommend it. I would feel more at ease carrying a naked model in my luggage than a detailed one, since unless parts outright break during transport, a layer of top coat should be sufficent to cover up any scratches. Nicked-up top coat and decals, on the other hand, are a lot trickier to fix…

I don’t think the Copic modeler pens come in brown. Admittedly, I have never used brown for panel lining, so I’m not too familiar with the exact nature of its advantages over black. But between the THICK tip of the GM03 and the 0.02mm tip of the Copic, I’d take the Copic, even if the colour may not be the greatest (though it’s more than enough to suffice in my books).

I bought my decals from Amiami. The decals are available at most online retailers that carry models, like Hobby Search, HLJ, Rainbowten, HWJapan, etc.

And to answer your last question: I panel line after I assemble everything. This is because I find that segregating the building and detailing process is more time efficient and enjoyable for me. I would highly recommend against panel lining the parts while they are on the runners, if that’s what you meant. Not only is it very clumsy to fumble with the whole tree to get at the panel lines, there’s also the fact that your hands will be all over the parts during construction, which leaves your hard work susceptible to being accidentally wiped off by your fingers.

Nice tips !
I’m using mr Top Coat too, but I’m not too sure about the way I’m spraying. I often end up with only flat particles with the shiny plastic still visible, and not a constant flat surface, unless I spray a LOT, but these cans are soooo small 🙁
Btw I’m spraying on my balcony on 6th story so there’s some wind. I do my best but I think this is messing up the process a bit :/

Thanks gressmon! =)

Hmm, it’s hard to narrow down the cause based on that description, but avoiding wind would most likely help the consistency of the results. Also, make sure you shake the can regularly and warm up the can with hot water before spraying. Flicking your wrists back and forth while spraying may also help.

That’s a good question. I looked into it on Google and it seems gloss top coat should not cause fogging on clear part when applied correctly. I’d still recommend testing it out on the sprue first, though!

Hey Chag, I got a question, I accidentally snapped some parts on my Strike Noir MG 2 years ago

Will the topcoat also be able to hide the “crack” made from the snapping of the plastic?

A break in the piece is not the same as scrapes and scratches. Whereas the latter two can be fixed by replacing the damaged surface finish with a uniform matte finish, a crack in the piece is going to remain a crack no matter what finish you give it, especially if there are stress marks on the plastic. If you have the means to, I would recommend mending the piece with putty, sanding it, and covering it up with paint. But if that isn’t an option, top coat might help you marginally, because the crack would probably be less conspicuous in a flat finish than a semi-glossy one. Still, it’s not going to make much of a difference.

Hope this helps!

Hey there Chag, love the post you made on the Top coat sprays. I actually tried the Super Clear spray on a Stand I (1/144 white base stand given free by Degenki Hobby) recently painted up and the differences between a painted but non sprayed and a painted but sprayed kit are quite obvious.

I actually painted my stand ‘bright silver’ to try and give it a steel looking theme and the results were abit far from what I wanted…. however after spraying the flat top over it, the matte coating made the shiny colour abit less bright causing it to look like ‘faded steel’.
Which was what I was originally after.

Sadly I didn’t find your post before trying out the spray (thank God it ddn’t turn out bad). But after trying the spray I wanted to know alittle more about its real capabilities and like you I went online and looked up the HobbyFanatics forums….

Although its great for getting info on certain things, its abit of a drag to follow sometimes. (takes a while to get the answer you want…)

So I was wondering if theres a way I could speak to you directly via email rather than just posting back and forth on your blog to ask questions (which are abit long winded probably).

Very useful n helpful article!
i jz started to topcoat my gundam n the results were disastrous, mostly have milky white surface…
after reading this then i managed to do it properly, thx alot man!!!

 was thinking, is the topcoat done on the outer frames of the gundam or inner form (skeleton of the gundam)?

That’s completely up to you, but since I don’t display my models with the armour parts off, I did not go of my way to top coat the inner frame. It is a good idea to top coat the joint areas twice, though — once when the joint is fully bent and once when it’s straight. This way, you won’t miss any parts that might otherwise show on the outside.

hi chag, is it safe to apply top coat to gundams which have been completely built with the stickers on? or will the top coat peel off the stickers? thanks dude!

Super great tips bro’, I am newby in this hobby so need to learn a lot.
Can I ask you few questions? Before I read your tips, I end up spraying top coat too much
And result have this milky residue and uneven ‘water mark’ on some areas. Quite obvious, especially on dark surface.
Do you know how to get rid of this thing? I afraid to damage the paint.

Do you prefer (usually) to paint over your plastic Gundam first before use Top Coat or you just spray directly onto the plastic (similar trick you explain above) ?

And need last advise from you 🙂
I have PG Strike Freedom Gundam. Do you think it’s better to use paint spay on it or just use Top Coat only on the model?
It will be more trouble and money – time consuming if I spray paint it first.
If you think the end result won’t much different.

Thanks for your help in advance.

Hmmm, I have no idea how to strip top coat without damaging the paint underneath. I’ve never done it before, but from what I hear you’ll need thinner to do the job. I suggest asking other plamo community sites like hobbyfanatics for help on this. Be sure to tell them what type of paint and top coat you used. Let me know what you find!

Due to budget and logistical constraints, I never paint my kits fully. I touch up on the details when I need to, but other than that, it’s just top coat on bare plastic for me.

About the PG Strike Freedom…gee, that’s a tough one. Because it’s such an expensive kit, I’m inclined to tell to you go the full nine yards with the painting, with the shading and everything. But since you are a newbie to the hobby, I’m going to assume that you don’t have much experience with that kind of stuff, so here are my two suggestions:
1) If you weren’t planning to get fancy with the painting (i.e. just prime and spray standard colours without the flashy stuff), then I say just go with top coat. A painted model will look a bit better, but I don’t think i’d be worth the trouble, since you’re going to have to spray the parts individually, which is VERY time consuming.

2) Alternatively, set the model aside and learn more about airbrushing. Practice on some HG kits. When you feel comfortable with the process, dust off the PG put your new-found skills to use!

I hope this helps, Kenza, and good luck on the build!

Hello, would you know what i should do if small spots keep forming when i spray the topcoat?..Ive been doing it directly under the sun, with a nice little breeze and it still keeps forming >_<. Thanks.

Hmmm, small spot? I might be able to help if you give me a picture. If the spots are bubbles, you might be holding your model a little too close to the spray can. If it’s just small specks that’s only noticeable up close, then it’s normal for a flat coating. Spraying more might give the surface a slightly more even look, but other than that, don’t worry about it.

Hello,wow, thanks for replying ^_^ I find out the problem..and yeah..i was holding the model too close..i just ended up setting them down on a chair and sprayed my topcoat from about a foot away and seems to turn out great 🙂 except for the a few parts that i didnt notice to have a few dirt specs..and the specs got trapped under the topcoat XD

Hey Chag, really liked how your models turned out! 😀 quick question how many coats do you spray on your model kits?
I tried top coating my gundam for the first time and it turned out alright (Sprayed two coats), but i was expecting more of a flater finish like how yours turned out because you can really tell the difference. (using Krylon’s Matte finish ) I was wondering if it was the way i sprayed it or weather ( a bit windy/ sunny), or just the brand.
Thanks in advance.

Thanks, Silverdragon! To answer your question: I usually only do one or two coat on my models, but for the model shown in these photos I had to use more coats because how rough I was with the sanding, so I think it was 3-4 coats. I don’t know if it’s the brand of just the number of coats that made the difference in your case, but I’d try spray another coat or two to test it out — use the sprues if you have to. I hope this helps!

awesome read, very informative. kudos! i have a couple of questions though. How many normal top coat spray cans would you use for an MG RX78-2? and won’t the joints stick together if you spray them with top coat? also, can I spray top coat on a bare Sinanju MG ver. Ka with the gold shiny stickers on it? looking forward to your reply. thank you.

Thanks James! I’ll get right to your questions:

1) Depends on how thorough you are, but I’d guess half a can at most.
2) The joints might get slightly tight in some cases, but the difference should never be anything beyond minor. I’ve never had a probably with it, so don’t worry about it.
3) You can certainly spray over foil stickers, but personally I don’t like the effect. The shiny look of the stickers really clashes with the flat finish on the rest of the model. I don’t mind it if it’s a few localized areas like the eyes, but when it’s so prominent like the gold lining on the Sinanju, I’m not a big fan =/

I hope that helps!

If you decide to paint some parts and then leave other parts (for example im going to paint all of the blue, white and grey on 1/144 HG 00 Quanta with the Full Saber add on kit) Will the red and yellow that is left have a different texture to the painted parts? If so should i just buy some red and yellow paints? I’m just trying to keep my 00Q project as uniform as possible. Also props to the guide it was very handy. TS-80 has saved me a LOT of hassle. 

Yeah, the painted parts are going to have a slightly different finish from the unpainted parts, though the degree of the difference will probably vary depending what kind of paint you use. Applying top-coat drastically tones down the difference between the unpainted and painted parts, but you will notice if you look really close. It seems that you’re pretty keen on making the best out of your 00 Quanta, so I would suggest just getting the red and yellow paints to avoid any potential regret. Besides, red and yellow are very common colours, so I’m sure you’ll find use for them in your future builds! =)

Hehe thanks, I’m glad the guide’s still helping people a year after I posted it!

Any experience with Krylon topcoats?  Just got some (matte finish) and its my first time topcoating, what weather do I need to do this?  I live in the NW part of the USA, planning to test on a NG I bought for this very purpose

Nah, I’ve never used Krylon before, though I am curious as to how they perform since they’re a lot cheaper than the Japanese stuff. Let me know how it looks when you’re done! As for the weather, I’d try to spray the model on a dry and warm day to avoid the mist from condensing. Other than that, just watch out for strong winds and you’ll be fine.

Yeah Ill report what I find once i get the chance to topcoat…..probably in a few months lol the weather is freezing up here right now.  Anyways I got krylon cuz my local hobby store had it and also prime92 and vegeta8259 uses it and it seems to work really good, not to mention its cheaper and last longer

Great job! This was exactly the kind of infos that I was looking for.
Thanks a lot and best regards!

@chag, but i have heard from my friend that somehow the top coat (mr topcoat) had ‘ liquid-fied ‘ the gundam markers he had used on his gundams. making him repaint it again.. is it true?

Hi Adrian, sounds like your friend might have held the can too close to the model. When there’s not enough distance between the nozzle and the surface, the spray is going to end up runny and liquid-ish, which may very well cause that problem. Keep in mind that low temperature or high humidity might also play a part too!

chag please help me 🙁 what do you think of this procedure?

1. spray clear coat (acrylic).
2. paint panel lines (enamel with enamel thinner).
3. add stickers.
4. spray flat coat (acrylic).

will this do? and one more thing, if i spray a flat coat on a shinny sticker, will its shinnyness still show?

Hey Chang, I’ve recently just got into gunpla and I just finished reading this post. I’d like to ask, did you sand just the nub mark or did you sand to whole part/kit to attain that finish on your MG Gouf? 🙂

I only filed down the nub marks for this kit. I’ve seen some top-coat only techniques which involve fully sanding the kit, but I have far too little patience for that ^^;

Thanks for replying! I can’t seem to find out what I’m doing wrong then, seeing as I did the exact same thing but it seems that I’m not able to attain that Matt look like yours 😐 I guess I should experiment some more.. Thanks again! 🙂

Hello! This might be a dumb question but how do you hold the arms, legs, etc. when top coating? Do you use your hand or do you have some kind of holder?

HELP!!!

I read this tip and trick after I already did it. I have the decal on, I’m only doing the chest part of my MG Sword Impulse Gundam.

So like I said top coated my part with Mr. Super Clear Flat, I made sure that I applied it evenly and sprayed from a distance of like 10-12 inches. When the coating dried it had a white filmy look to it, it looked terrible! I spent hours taking it off; first scratching it off then I got smart and used my wife’s finger nail polish remover.

I then read your post about this subject, I reapplied one even coat over it. It still has that milky look over it but it is no as bad as I first did it. From looking about a distance of 5 feet, it looks some-what acceptable.

What am I doing wrong? Please, if you can email me back.

Thanks!

hi chag, Im having the same problem. I use a krylon fusion spray for plastic. after spraying the Mr.Super clear flat on my model..it became milky white like a freezing effect.

Hope you can help out.

Thanks.

Just rub very softly the surface with a tissue and a small amount of alcool, it worked on mine, i had the same problem when i sprayed my model airplane. I had a heart attack when i saw this freezing effect lol!

This is a really great and helpful article. Thanks! Unfortunately I can’t get myself any top coat so i’m trying to find an alternative solution.

I’m new at doing all this! I have myself a revoltech Jehuty from the Zone of The Enders franchise. The parts are all coloured but I’d love to give it a better looking finish. If you could advise me on what I could use then I would be most grateful.

Question: can you spray tamiya spray paints over a kit that has been spray with Mr. Super Clear Flat?

Great article. It has helped me out a lot.
Although I just had a quick question.

If I have an unpainted kit am I right in thinking I can apply the decals, stickers and panel lines then leave the top coat for last? Without any other paint? Thanks for reading.

That’s correct — the top coat goes on top of everything. With that said, I find foil stickers (which have a naturally shiny appearance) to visually clash with a flat finish. If your kit ha really large foil stickers, I recommend doing some minor painting instead.

Hi! Thanks for bringing this topic up! I have a question for you on the subject. I’ve recently gotten back into modeling gundam kits, and have been trying to work with a top coat to seal them. Unfortunately the one thing I keep running into is the top coat reactivating the ink in my panel lines, making them bleed. I’m using gundam panel line pens, and the top coats I’ve tried are Mr, Super Clean (Lacquer), and Krylon UV Clear Coat (Acrylic).
Any tips or tricks you can suggest to help my models would be appreciated.
Thank you!

Hmmm, that is unfortunate. You might be spraying too close to the model, causing the mist to clump up into liquid droplets, causing the lines to bleed.

Amazing advice! I tried spraying my unpainted LBX Dot Phaser with matte top coat and he turned out great!

I want to come back to him when I’m better at painting tho, like giving it weathering etc. I was wondering if you need to remove the previous top coat before applying paint or can I just paint atop it anyway?

Thanks!

Hi Chag. Thanks for the article on clear flat topcoats–not only informative but funny and cleverly written. I don’t build the type of subjects as you, but rather car and airplane models. However the information applies to all forms of modeling involving painting with topcoats, and I thank you.

Hey, Is there any products I can put into an airbrush to get a flat top coat? If so, how would I clean the airbrush afterwards?

Thanks!

ok, so I’ve tried Tamiya TS-13 on my Strike Freedom’s runner and it is Clear Gloss. I live in the Phil and its PHP 250. Anyone here that knows where I can buy mr. hobby top matte flat coat? Preferably in makati area

i never use Mr Hobby Flat spray…just want to know, how many Mr Hobby Flat spray needed for the whole PG 00 raiser?? tq

Hi.

I’m planning to use a Vallejo wash for a weathering/contrast effect on my Gundam. What is the correct process?

I was thinking:

1. Apply stickers/decal
2. Semi-gloss/Clear Topcoat
3. Apply wash
4. Matte Topcoat

Is this correct? Or is there another way to do it?

Hi Chag

thanks for writing this article. It is very helpful to me since I am a beginner. I just have one question for you though. I can only find semi-gloss or full gloss Mr. Top Coat at my local hobby store. What are the differences between these two and the flat/matt you suggested in the article? Thank you again

I built my first MG. Sazabi Ver Ka. Spending a huge amount of time on decals. It’s built but I didn’t get the legs quite perfect. I may disassemble the legs to rebuild. Although I’m afraid I wont get him back together since I’m new to this.
Is it okay to clear coat it. Then if I decide to take it apart will the clear coat hamper a rebuild of the legs.

Don’t clear coat it until you’re done with any assembly and disassembly. Prying parts apart is an easy to way scratch the coating.

Good day , bro . I recently finished my first assembly gunpla “RG Gundam Mk.II A.E.U.G.”. Since this is the first model , I am very worried to not make a mistake . How to Apply top coat on my model to frame and parts which are not visible when unbent joints but visible when folded , too, was covered with a top coat? I also worry about the glittering ( shining ) decals. Please answer me by email so I can continue to contact you ( I still have a lot of questions 🙂 ) .

P.S. Sorry, my English is poor because I come from Ukraine .

Man, I founded this post more than 6 years later but I really want to thank you. I’m freshly new to the gunpla building(only build 2 SD models, but already ordered 2 HG kits) so don’t have the skills and the tools to painting, but always thought that the “toy look” from “out of the box” gunpla was awful. Watching to guys painting the kits on youtube, I started to question if I a could spray top coating on a non-painted kit and, if so, what would be the difference! So, thank you so much for the text and even more for the photos, so a could see what is the difference!!

P.s.: I’m Brazilian, so sorry for the English!! 😀

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