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REVIEW
Archer SS Shoulder Boards: Infantry
bill_c
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Posted: Thursday, May 05, 2011 - 11:04 AM UTC
Bill Cross reviews Archer Fine Transfers' German SS Shoulder Boards.



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If you have comments or questions please post them here.

Thanks!
Hohenstaufen
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Posted: Thursday, May 05, 2011 - 11:30 AM UTC
I read this review and the ones for the collar tabs and helmet decals with interest, having struggled for many years painting these insignia on. The only drawback I can see is that using these would relegate all my older figures to the back of the cupboard!
However on a more serious note, these shoulder strap decals are probably the most limited of the three, as they couldn't be used for Das Reich, Wiking or LAH, as they don't have the shoulder strap devices these units wore (e.g.the entwined LAH for the Leibstandarte, and the Gothic DF, G & D for the Der Fuhrer, Germania & Deutschland regiments - in Wiking, the Westland and Nordland regiments also wore a W or N). The other small point to note is that Waffen SS panzergrenadieren didn't wear apple green waffenfarbe, they wore the same white as ordinary infantry, however SS mountain troops (e.g. Nord, Prinz Eugen etc) wore grass green.
bill_c
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Posted: Thursday, May 05, 2011 - 11:46 AM UTC
Steve, thanks for pointing that out. I'm not sure that one can't replicate the embroidery with some squiggles (as always, consult your reference material). I also would be interested in hearing from Archer or Roddy MacDougall to see if the initials were present in all versions of the LAH, etc. I have been chastised in the past by Ron Volstad and others for following too closely the "always" and "never" of reference works like Osprey's The Waffen-SS (1) which I used in this review.
bill_c
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Posted: Friday, May 06, 2011 - 02:57 AM UTC

Quoted Text

What steve said is also correct. Ciphers were used by numerous units of both WH and SS. They are small, however, and not the easiest things to print.


One of the struggles historians have deciding what was PEC (plain, everyday, common) is what photographs REALLY tell us. Looking through my copy of Osprey's "Men at Arms" series The Waffen-SS (1) 1. to 5. Divisions, I came across this photo:



It shows the AH initials as a clip-on, apparently another way the soldiers could show their membership in the 1st SS Division.

But the problem with using this photo-- or any posed in a studio-- is the same one we have in looking at images from the American Civil War, for example (a topic I also focus on). The soldier in this photo is in his dress uniform. There are photos showing boards with no initials, and there are collections of boards showing a variety of styles.

In any case, Archer has emailed me about a set that covers this for both Leibstandarte Adolf Hitler and Grossdeutschland:

http://archertransfers.com/FG35053.html
MrArcher
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Posted: Friday, May 06, 2011 - 04:53 AM UTC
Mr. Domanski,

Where does a green cloth†backing come†from? Nothing we did for the Waffen SS has a green backing. The set shown in the review is the SS infantry set which is black cloth with white piping as it should be. I can't see a set of green boards in this review and in fact we never did any as they would be wrong. Although the green piping is present on two†M42 field blouses that I have seen in a private collection, there is no†Edelweiss on the sleeves so they are†not Gebirgsjaegers uniform, although you could say the set is†incorrectly labeled because it wasn't an SS†regulation for Grenadiers to wear this waffenfarbe. It should be labeled as Gebirgs divisions which consisted ironically enough of infantry companies but the set itself is ok.

Regarding the ciphers,†it's ridiculous to suggest that we†print all of the sets with a dedicated regiment or division cipher. If we did, our product line would grow†into hundreds of†separate shoulder board†sets for SS units which could also†impact a lot of Heer units that had individual unit ciphers.†In fact, LAH and GD cyphers are in our catalog (FG35053) but not all of them because I don't think the market†exists for them as this is the only†"request" I've had in nine years.†The rank pips were kept the same color to reduce the number of colors and cost of the sets.

Apart from the label of the Panzer Grenadier set, which is debatable, I can't see anything of any substance for anyone†to complain about.

Woody Vondracek, owner
ARCHER FINE TRANSFERS
Hohenstaufen
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Posted: Friday, May 06, 2011 - 10:31 AM UTC
Oh dear, what have I started? I did not mean my comments to be a criticism, I was merely pointing out that these shoulder straps are slightly limited - that was not meant to be a criticism, merely an observation. In fact they'd be fine for me, as I model "Hohenstaufen". They'd also be good for "Frundesberg", "Nordland" & "HJ", as well as the ragbag of late war "ByzantineSS". However, most modellers who wish to depict Waffen SS figures tend to prefer the "classic" divisions, especially, LAH, Das Reich, Totenkopf & Wiking. Photographic evidence shows that members of these units continued to wear their identifying graphics throughout the war, despite the fact that they had been ordered to be removed for security reasons as early as 1940. In addition, individuals who were posted to units who were not entitled to these cyphers, continued to wear them - this is also true of cuff titles; it reflects the soldiers pride in having served in one of the "premier" units (cf any photos you like of Wittmann & his crew while serving in the 101st Heavy panzer batallion).
If you look closely at the photo of Erwin Bartmann, you will notice that he is also wearing a borrowed cap with black pionere piping; point taken about what soldiers wear for studio shots. However, since that vast majority of SS soldiers wore some form of camo clothing, there was not the same need to remove the insignia from their service dress jackets.
As to the comments about SS Junker insignia - I would not expect any manufacturer to supply these. Yes they do appear in photos, but are not distinctive (showing NCO rank) apart from the double loop of "tresse" at the shoulder seam, which isn't beyond the ability of the average painter to produce.
SS officer cadet collar patches would be a different story, as they require NCO ranking but with the twisted silver cord officers edging.
Hohenstaufen
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Posted: Friday, May 06, 2011 - 10:49 AM UTC
Further to the comments about green waffenfarbe on SS tunics - the presence or absence of the Edelweiss patch on the right sleeve is not conclusive. Leon Degrelle and other members of "Wallonie" wore this insignia, although they did not belong to a mountain unit; it had been granted as a "battle honour". The Gebirgsjager identifying patch did not come into widespread use until 1942. The reason was the introduction of the Einheitsmutze peaked service cap, which resembled the old Gebirgsjager cap. Before it's introduction, mountain troops were marked out in SD by their distictive caps, so there was no need for the insignia; indeed until the forming of Prinz Eugen , the only mountain unit in the Waffen SS was "Nord", so the tunics could belong to this unit. Just to cloud the waters further, members of SS Police rifle unit also wore green waffenfarbe, but they were not mountain troops, and towards the end of the war became members of the Waffen SS, so no longer wore the distictive Polizei litzen and arm badge.
majorchuck
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Posted: Friday, May 06, 2011 - 03:44 PM UTC
These look great and saves frustration in one way but are difficalt to work with you must use hi quality scotch tape and secure in position then rub comes in handy when your doing a dio of a large gun crew werkin an 88 or large morser
bill_c
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Posted: Saturday, May 07, 2011 - 09:14 AM UTC
In my capacity as editor, I'm going to step in here and say that Brian, you should disclose your role as one manufacturer commenting on the products of another. Woody has answered your criticisms, so I would ask you to stop beating dead horses-- in the case of the shoulder board background color, it is black as Woody has pointed out.

If you have any new critiques, then make them. Otherwise, let's dispense with the back-and-forth tennis match. Your own company's decal set does not include the embroidery, and those who want the Edelweiss patch can find it here.

Steve, your observations don't in any way undermine the quality of the set, or IMO limit their application. LSAH and GD add-ons exist, and perhaps other manufacturers include the embroidery, though I don't know of any sets that do. That's probably a refinement that we will have to wait for, or perhaps enough of y'all will petition Archer to do a set of "classic" SS embroidery.

Whether the majority of modelers prefer one SS unit or another is a matter of speculation (I imagine you're right, but it's just two men's opinion, not even 2 1/2 men, LOL). While this set might not get you all the way there, it's certainly closer than without them.

My review of the set stands. I invite each reader to draw their own conclusion.
MrArcher
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Posted: Monday, May 09, 2011 - 03:49 AM UTC

Quoted Text

in our decal set, not only these things are provided for different locations (different sizes), but also 2 frets of PE were included for the larger and metal badges.



Ohhhh, you're selling something similar and bashing Archer products. How classy is that?

I have more important thing to do than listen to your self aggrandizing and it seems like having the last word is a big deal with you so I'm going to show you what a nice guy I am and let you have your fun.

Go on now, jump.

Woody Vondracek, owner
ARCHER FINE TRANSFERS
MrArcher
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Posted: Monday, May 09, 2011 - 03:53 AM UTC

Quoted Text

These look great and saves frustration in one way but are difficalt to work with you must use hi quality scotch tape and secure in position then rub comes in handy when your doing a dio of a large gun crew werkin an 88 or large morser



All of our uniform patches come with our Wet Medium Paper which allows you to apply them like a waterslide decal without the aggravation of clear or silvering. Instructions for its use can be found on our website HERE.
MrArcher
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Posted: Monday, May 09, 2011 - 03:54 AM UTC
Over and out
AlanL
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Posted: Tuesday, May 10, 2011 - 07:19 AM UTC
Hi Brian,

Archers Transfers can be used wet or dry as Bill points out in the review, the wet medium paper probably being easier for something this small.

Cheers

Al
bill_c
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Posted: Wednesday, May 11, 2011 - 09:44 AM UTC
All right, gents, I think we've established that Archer Transfers and Alliance Model Works won't be sending Christmas cards to one another....

It seems to me there are several issues here. Let's not beat them to death:

1.) decals vs. dry transfers: whatever one thinks of the process of using wet medium paper with dry transfers, it works amazingly well. If you haven't tried it (I have), don't knock it. And the WTP is free with the transfers;

2.) price: Archer's products ARE expensive. But they are researched by some of the more-knowledgeable folks in the hobby (Roddy MacDougall in this case). If you think Alliance Model Works' decals are a better value, then have at it. I haven't been supplied with any review copies and can't comment. I don't particularly want to hear about these decals from one of the company's reps.

3.) knocking your competitor's products: Praising your own company's efforts over a competitor's is, at least in my book, base and unseemly. Put your products up for a comparison by the unbiased, or please be quiet. BTW, I don't review all Archer products, and have several sets out for review by contributors, just in case someone might think I'm biased.

4.) Let's let the reviews or user comments speak for themselves. If you haven't used Archer uniform transfers, then please refrain from speculation. If you have, then let's see some examples. I find them very easy to work with. Do you?

I hope I've made my point?
CMOT
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Posted: Thursday, May 12, 2011 - 04:32 AM UTC
While I have never used any Archer transfers to date I do find the German insignia sets very appealing, and I am considering giving some of these sets a try sometime in the near future. As a complete newbie to dry transfer use and considering that Woody is here and actively participating in these discussions could I suggest/request that he considers sending in a feature on their application methods to get the most from them. I request this as I would hate to buy them and then bugger up their application. I do understand that this is available on Archerís website but I would like to see it on this site as well with links to that feature from the reviews.
AlanL
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Posted: Thursday, May 12, 2011 - 04:51 AM UTC
In reply to Bill's request, I've used Archer Transfers, both the Dry and Wet method. I think they are great, they have one of the most extensive range of decals around and provide many items not touched by others.

Must I always use archer transfers well no, I used whatever is appropraite to the build, but their range is excellent. I'd agree they can be expesive but if you are looking for something unique then it is good that someone does provide such a wide variety. I'd like to see some of their sets have greater quanity but that's only becaue I tend to build a lot of figuers and vehicles from the same unit. A slightly larger sheet of wet medium would be handy.

Keep up the good work guys.

Al