How do you choose?
Both have pros and cons and in the end your unique build needs and available funds will guide you to choose your finish.
Hands down, if you are a serious Cylon Builder (and you have plenty of extra money to spend) - plate, plate, plate. You'll get the same mirror reflections that screen used Centurions dazzled audiences with. When you troop your armor will be a show stopper and you'll have to stop about every two steps to pose for photos with lowly humans.
Note a local shop to do the plate may not be possible. Most chrome shops deal only with metal - not plastics. When you contact shops to get price quotes on plate - before you say anything else ask if they can chrome PLASTIC. Be aware that plate will add several (!) hundreds of dollars more to your build cost.
All that being said about plate, if you are building a Centurion on a budget then the quickest way to control cost is to paint. There are many "plate-like" paint systems commonly used for costumes such as Cylon Centurions, C-3PO or Terminator endoskeleton displays.
There are high, mid and low-cost paint alternatives to plate. The high-end paint systems can give quite an impressive finish for a fraction of the cost of plate. Below is a small listing of some of the more popular paint options. Be sure to search for other options as well - this list is NOT comprehensive by any means.
NOTE: The Cylon Empire is not affiliated with the makers of these products. There are no referral earnings from the links below. The list is just intended to help fellow costume makers.
It was created out the out of the kindness of our evil, cold, unfeeling, genocidal, robotic hearts.
Killer Chrome by Alsa Corporation
A several step aerosol solution. Black basecoat followed with the clear coat then Killer Chrome with a final clear coat.
-High end multi-step paint system
Mirror Chrome by Spaz Stix
A single aerosol solution -OR- air bush ready paint system with pre-prep and top coat products.
-Mid range paint system
Brilliant Metal by Valspar
A single aerosol solution.
-Low end, typical spray paint
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