by: Mario Krajinovic [ ]
One of the unique challenges of building modern AFVís is properly recreating the effect of modern optics. Most epi/periscopes that allow visual control, identification and target tracking come with different types of coating such as anti laser coating that prevents the crew suffering eye damage when illuminated by a laser beam. This feature is visually very interesting as it presents itself by changing color of the lens depending on the level of light and the angle it is being observed.
So far, modelers have been using a bunch of different techniques to do this, either painting layers of transparent colors on a black or silver base, using confetti and mylar tape, iridescent packaging film, even using dvd back layers glued on the glass parts of the model. These methods all work, but not all of us always think of these when you need to finish the model, so now AFV Club comes with a nice product, stickers that give that visual effect with the least amount of effort.
This review deals with AFV Club sticker set AC35014 for the Merkava IV. Packaging is small enough for this little set of stickers that includes a minute instruction leaflet. The stickers are sized for both the Academy (kit #13213) and the Hobby Boss (kit #82429) as indicated per the instructions.
One thing I havenít been able to determine what happened with the set, is the addition of the CV9040B in the instructions. The Merkava doesnít have any commonality with the fore mentioned AFV but it is mentioned in the instructions and a part of the placing diagram is noted with the CV9040B marking. If this is intentional, I figured it would be mentioned on the back, where it states this set is for the Merkava Mk.IV but also mentions 3 vehicles. Itís a nice addition, even though perhaps not intentional.
Included on the instructions is a tip that should enhance the reflective brightness of the stickers stating you should paint the glass part silver and place the sticker on top. One should also try to see if a decent effect could be achieved by gluing the behind the transparencies. Also given is an image of where the stickers are positioned on the backing paper which is very useful since itís easy to mix them up.
The stickers themselves are very thin, glossy and self-adhesive. The full spectrum of the color pattern is very difficult to photograph but the dominating colors seems to be light blue and a number of pink hues. Depending on where you stand and the lighting, it goes from darker blue, to light green followed by purple and pink shades. I feel it gives a very realistic effect. The stickers are pre-cut, and will take some caution while picking them up from the backing paper since I feel they could get scratched pretty easily. From the diagram, the Academy kit has 13 stickers, the Hobby Boss kit a different arrangement with 23 stickers and the CV9040B 18 stickers.
The difference between the Academy and the Hobby Boss kit seems significant, but since some stickers are marked with GP (General Purpose?) I assume they can be used with both kits. Unfortunately I donít have both kits in my possession so I cannot confirm this. This leads me to the only critique for this set. Some lack of logic is present with this set and I would like to see a placement guide just to be sure of what goes where. One may ask himself is this really necessary since there are not that many transparencies on a tank, but seeing the difference between the stickers for two different kits this would have been nice. This way, you just have to see which sticker goes where for your self.
What this set brings is a simple and easy solution to getting a good visual effect for modern AFV optic devices. In my opinion a definitive must-have.