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 this actually means: “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 (such as weld beads) 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 first set I am reviewing of the Surface Detail Series is set #5 Perfect Weld Beads Set. They are listed as being useable for various scales but to be more specific, there are 4 different widths of weld beads, .015, .025, .030 and .040 inch. Each width of weld bead comes with (5), 4” lengths. The pattern of the weld beads is in a continuous chevron length.
I am not an “expert” on weld beads as I am a desk jockey-paper pusher type and I go so far as to hire out work on my own home, I cannot definitely say these are totally accurate when compared to real weld beads. With that being said, I do feel confident they are accurate and that they “look good to me” (Yep, I’m taking the easy way out) when compared to the weld beads I have seen on real metal and/or model kits.
Quality of Decals/Transfers
The quality of this set is of the typical high quality of other Archer sets. The weld beads are 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. All you need to do to apply them is to cut them close to their edges to eliminate any extra carrier film, and then cut them to the length you need with. That’s it. I put them down onto a sheet of Evergreen plastic and did use decal setting solution just to make sure they set down nicely. They set down without any problem and were totally flat.
In fact, when compared to making your own weld beads with a heat source/hobby knife or putty, these are a no-brainer to use as an alternative. After using these during my review, I can safely say I’ll never use anything else. As time is a very limited commodity in my life, it is well worth paying the extra money to buy this set instead of taking hours to make my own.
Once I applied the set, I experimented with both brush painting and airbrushing. Both methods work fine, but airbrushing works a bit better as the paint normally goes on a bit thinner than via brush. Since the resin is black in color, it takes a bit more effort to cover it using lighter colors. By hand, you’ll usually need to apply more than one coat in thin layers, rather than one thick coat of paint. That strategy is normal for painting any model with a hand brush, but it must be followed more closely due to the fine detail of the resin pieces. If the paint goes on too thick, you’ll lose the detail, so be careful.
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.
This set of weld beads looks outstanding when finished. Without knowing the truth, you’d never know these were decals. They are also quick and easy to use. Although the price is pretty hefty at $15 USD, they are a great value and well worth the money when compared to making your own weld beads. Like I said before in this review, whenever I need to create weld beads for future projects, I’ll never use anything else besides Archer’s decal sets.
Rating = A MUST HAVE!
Thanks to Woody Vondracek and Archer Fine Transfers for the Review Sample.
Highs: Quick, easy and they look great when finished.Lows: Relatively high price.Verdict: This set of weld beads looks outstanding when finished. Without knowing the truth, you’d never know these were decals. Although the price is pretty hefty at $15 USD, they are a great value and well worth the money when compared to making your own weld b
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