Military markings are a distinct, important and characteristic way of distinguishing branches of service, rank and function within these exceedingly hierarchical organizations.
In other words, how can you know how to tell the Sergeant from the Major, other than just saluting everything except fire plugs? Do you want to peel potatoes for the rest of the war? Then make sure you know who has what rank.
The challenge for modelers in 1/35th scale is rendering these markings clearly in such tiny proportions. Painting them on is entirely impossible, at least for mere mortals. And with most of us accumulating stashes that will last several lifetimes of kitbuilding, why bother? Decals are a nightmare because they're so difficult to get small items like patches cut closely-enough to avoid silvering, or to locate them on the tiny surfaces of 1/35th figures.
Archer Fine Transfers has come to our rescue with their uniform markings series. For the crew of an Elefant build I recently completed, they frankly made the difference between ho-hum and spectacular (the uniforms, not my kit!).
In the case of the Wehrmacht, soldiers wore a combination of shoulder "boards" (really thick fabric loops), collar tabs and various insignia on their cloth caps (helmets had different emblems on their sides). The insignia evolved over the course of the war, and the Waffen SS and Luftwaffe had separate insignia from the Heer
("army"). Archer has both sets of Early War and Late War markings for most branches of Wehrmacht units.
To finish my Elefant crew, I needed both the shoulder boards (reviewed by me here
) and uniform patch sets that include the collar tabs for branch of service, cap cockades and Wehrmacht eagle insignia. Each figure needed a set of shoulder boards, deaths head Panzerwaffe
collar tabs and either the small cockade (a dot, really) or the Reichscockade
with surrounding wreath.
what you get
As with most all of Archer's other transfers, the set is packaged in a glassine envelope that includes:
1 sheet of dry transfers with patches for 9 figures, including sleeve chevrons for NCOs, Luftwaffe eagles and sleeve bands for the "Grossdeutchland" regiment
a guide for the significance of the patches
a small piece of wet transfer paper
Every once in awhile, I have a "come to Jesus" moment in this hobby that makes everything I knew before seem irrelevant, when everything suddenly seems so much easier and difficult problems of realism are solved.
This is one of those moments.
I simply can't find words to say how great these transfers are-- and what a difference they make to my figure building.
The transfers themselves are superbly-printed, as if 1-1 uniform patches were shrunk down to 1/35th scale. The application method with Archer's wet transfer paper makes applying the them easier than water-slide decals. And the results are so realistic, it's almost scary (see my lame photos at right).
Surprisingly, even veteran modelers are nervous about using dry transfers. And with items this tiny, I can understand why. But Archer actually discourages using these uniform patches dry, recommending instead the wet transfer paper (they will even send you a free sheet of WTP to try it).
The application process is ridiculously easy.
I was nervous the first time, but it went so well, I can't imagine ever building another figure without these transfers. You begin by applying the dry transfer to the wet transfer paper. This is accomplished by rubbing the back of the transfer film with a #2 pencil or other dull pointed object. Make sure the transfer film lifts away from the decal before pulling up or you might tear the image.
A step-by-step illustrated tutorial is on Archer's website.
You then cut around the transfer, submerge it in warm water for 5 seconds, finally "floating" in onto the spot where you want it on the figure. A little decal setting solution helps, both in getting it to adhere and then drying it out. The transfer is so thin, it will bond with the surface as though painted-on.
Once the transfer has dried in-place, it's a good idea to overspray with a light coating of clear acrylic (very light if you're using a spirts-based clear like a lacquer).
Those purchasing the shoulder boards set might wonder why there are much fewer uniform patches. I presume it's because this set is much more complex and involved. Still, what else can I say? I'm a believer, praise Archer Fine Transfers.
Thanks to Archer Fine Transfers for providing review samples. Please mention you saw this review on Armorama when purchasing from a vendor or ordering directly from Archer.