Magic Wash Redux – Johnson’s Klear RenamedMar 2nd, 2010 | By Garry | Category: Painting and Basing
Some people, including wargamers and even “Pro-painters” may never have heard of Johnson’s Klear, or even of Magic Wash, but to hundreds of thousands of figure painters worldwide, it’s been a godsend that has allowed them to significantly improve their finished painting quality.
Here in Thailand, I’ve been trying to get my hands on some for at least five years, without success, and my search has taken me into some far-flung locations, such has been my dedication to the quest. I’ve hunted for it under all its known guises, including both Johnson’s and Pledge Future Polish – the US names for it.
Today, I spent a fruitless two hours with the non-English-speaking staff of our Tesco-Lotus superstore’s Customer Service and Household Goods departments, trying to communicate exactly what SC Johnson’s Klear is. Want to know the annoying bit? They have all the “partner” products for cleaning things prior to applying the finishing coat using Klear, but no Klear itself.
For those not in the know, Johnson’s Klear is/was a water-based, soluble acrylic varnish / polish, which could be mixed with a partial content of either acrylic paint or inks, to “wash” over a flatly-painted figure. The wash-solution would flow into all the nooks and crannies of detail, running off and away from high points, to leave a gradiated shadowing into the recesses. A three-year-old could block paint a figure, then dip it into a magic wash (often called a magic dip) and leave it to dry, getting moderately good “basic wargames standard” finish on the figures.
“Wow, great, that’s for me” I hear you say. Sadly, in their ultimate corporate wisdom, SC Johnson decided some time ago to retire the Klear product, and I’ve read a number of reports, ranging from one to three years old, that it could not be obtained any more. However, a “throwaway” comment on a railway modelling forum that I found just an hour ago, has re-opened hope. And not just because it seems it was only in the last months of 2008 that Klear was retired, implying there may still be stocks cached away on dusty shelves in back-street hardware shops.
Given the clue in the forum, I jumped onto the SC Johnson’s website and tracked down Klear in it’s new guise as Pledge Multi-Surface Wax. Now given that it’s a water-soluble acrylic varnish, there’s no way I would have even contemplated searching for it, on or off line, as a polishing wax. However, the company that makes it, insists this new product is the rebranded magic wash/dip base “formerly known as Klear” – yes, it actually uses that phrase on the product page.
That’ll explain why I’ve not been able to find anything called Klear in the shops.
I’ve been able to catch a few notices that the new Multi Surface Wax performs just as well as the old Klear for model and wargames painters, but sometimes leaves a slightly uneven surface – this won’t hurt most wargames models, but large scale aero modellers might not be so impressed with mole-hills appearing on their wing surfaces? Rail Modellers are swearing by it as a cheap method of glueing ballast to the track layouts. If I can find some and get to test it out, I’ll let you see photos, and read about my results with it.
So now, armed with the new name for it, I have to begin the shop-to-shop treks all over again, and learn a whole new bunch of Thai-language versions of product names and to identify logofied brand names … sigh !!!
Still, at least this time around I have a picture of the (UK) packaging for it, which should make things a lot easier … perhaps … maybe … if they haven’t ….
UPDATE – 3 March 2010
I’ve spent a lot of the last 24 hours looking both on and offline for the new product, without success for here in Thailand. I’ve also been put in touch with SC Johnson’s Thai sales manager (I’m waiting for his reply).
But I’ve also dug up a lot of online test results for the new Pledge Multi-Surface Wax from within the aero and railway modelling fraternities, and the results are not good.
It seems the UK replacement (the multi-surface wax) product is most certainly a different formula to the old Klear branded solution – it contains both a cleaner and a scent, and has increased portions of wax. Cumulatively, these changes mean it no longer has the scratch hiding, and levelling properties of the old formula. It also apparently yellows over white paint, and fogs in the vicinity of cyano-acrylate super glue. None of which the old Klear was causing.
The US rebranding of Future Floor Finish, to Pledge with Future Shine, apparently has been a genuine re-branding only, with no formula change, and the renamed product performs exactly as the old named product did, which was an identical product to Klear. It has also retained both the clear, colourless bottle type, and the water-clear liquid of the product, as opposed to the UK’s new formula, which is a milky liquid in a white opaque bottle.
Therefore, I am now in the process of trying to locate the renamed USA version, rather than the UK version, here in Thailand – wish me luck.
I’ve found several online retailers selling the new Pledge Future product, with prices averaging around the US $8.50 mark. I’ve also found online resellers claiming to have the older Future Floor Finish in stock at prices around the US $ 6.50 mark – but NONE of them are willing to ship outside of the US’s 48 mainland states.
I also found one UK online store advertising the old Johnson’s Klear – both in the product title and in the photo, but reading the description revealed it was actually the new Multi-Surface Wax – shall we talk about false advertising?
Several sellers on Amazon seem to be trying to cash in on the demand for this stuff from the modelling world, but again, none of them are willing to ship outside of Amazon’s core three countries (US, UK, & DE).
I can see this is going to be a right royal tilt at the windmill trying to get my hands on some of this stuff.