Archer Fine Transfers has been a player in the aftermarket armor markings game for a long time now. They mostly produce 1/35 dry transfers for armored vehicles, but they do produce many other things including armor sets in other scales, aircraft sets, and generic collections like flags and such. However, Archer has developed a ‘new’ product series which looks to be unique and VERY useful. When I say these are “new”, in this case they are re-engineered and considered version 2.0 products and improved from Archer’s first attempt.
This series is called “Surface Details”. So as to not re-invent the wheel, I’ll quote Archer as to what these buggers are. “Surface Details are fine resin parts such as rivet heads, fastener heads, weld beads, treadplate… (which are) cast directly onto clear decal film. (They) are applied under the paint just like conventional waterslide decals, using the same setting solutions and methods used to apply regular decals… and they can be stacked for even greater depth”. What does this mean? Well, if you want to add some nice details to your kit, you apply the surface detail set of your choice and then once dry you can paint over them and weather them along with the rest of your model. As they are cast directly onto the carrier film, you can simply cut out the shape of your choice and apply it easily to your model.
The set I am reviewing of the Surface Detail Series this time around is set #11 Weathered Wood Grain Texture. This comes in a 2 ½” X 4” sheet of usable wood texture and is listed for use with models/projects of 1/32, 1/35, 1/25 and similar scales.
As there are many different types of woods, finishes and environmental factors affecting exposed or painted wood, this product doesn’t represent any particular wood finish besides it being “weathered” as it states in the product description. I think this set properly replicates weathered wood quite effectively. The raised resin wood grain lines are very similar to wood that has been exposed to the elements, whether it is painted or bare.
Quality of Decals/Transfers
The quality of this set is of the typical high quality of other Archer sets. The wood grain pattern is noticeably textured and high, even when groping them through the packaging. Hey, this is perfectly fine as Archer has invited me to do so by providing a sticker with pointing hand and saying “Touch It”. Well, I took them up on their offer!! When handling them for use, they were very sturdy, yet came on thin decal film. I was able to move them around without fear of ripping them.
Ease of Use
These were VERY SIMPLE to use just like “normal” water slide decals. I did NOT have to take any special steps to use them when compared to regular decals. I applied them to Evergreen sheet plastic and this time around I did NOT use decal setting solution. They set down without any problem and were totally flat.
Once I applied the set I used a brush to apply the paint. Although airbrushing will work as well (as shown by my previous reviews of Archer Surface Detail sets) I thought it best to use a brush as I was trying to replicate a worn and weathered surface. Since the resin is black in color, it takes a bit more effort to cover the texture when using lighter colors. But in this case, it’s best to let a bit of the black show through to simulate weathering.
It is very easy to cut the wood grain texture off the carrier film before applying it to your working surface. I’ve not had any problems in the instances I’ve used the Archer surface detail sets. However, the one difficulty I found when using this set was when I cut the decals AFTER I set them on the plastic card. If you attempt to cut them in the middle of the grain (in any direction) the resin has a tendency to flake and come off. Trimming the edges of your wood grain isn’t as difficult or as risky to your project.
Although a little bit of this flaking doesn’t hurt the weathered wood effect, the flaking tends to occur more frequently and intensely the more you cut. It works best if you plan ahead as to what you want to do (to minimize cutting strokes), take your time, don’t push down too hard on the working surface, and use a sharp hobby knife. Believe me, I found out the hard way when I laid down the wood grain and then tried to cut wood fence slats. Also, for love of all that is good in the world, don’t paint over the texture and then cut the decals. That works even worse.
As I’ve said in all my past reviews of Archer’s Surface details sets, this set is easy to use and offers a very good end result. However with this set, I cannot state that this option is a much better alternative than other ways of simulating wood grain (particularly hand etching plastic card), in terms of price, ease and speed of use. To me the value is just not there.
The instructions Archer provides for this set are perfectly fine. They stress that using these surface details are no different than normal decals. They are more than sufficient and are easy to follow.
The weathered wood effect looks realistic when finished and the set is quick and easy to use. However, the price is fairly high and does not provide as good a value as other Archer surface detail sets, especially when compared to other methods of simulating wood grain texture.
Rating = Highly Recommended.
Thanks to Woody Vondracek and Archer Fine Transfers for the Review Sample
Highs: Quick, easy and they look realistic when finishedLows: Relatively high priceVerdict: The weathered wood effect looks realistic when finished and the set is quick and easy to use. However, the price is fairly high and does not provide as good a value as other Archer surface detail sets, especially when compared to other methods of simulat
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