In-Box Review
LAH & GD Shoulder Bd Cyphers
LAH and GD Shoulder Board Cyphers
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by: Bill Cross [ BILL_C ]


The SS or Schutzstaffel (“protection battalion”) were perhaps Germany's most ferocious and vicious fighters during World War Two. Charged with a variety of nasty tasks, including running the concentration camps, the SS is most studied by modelers for its military arm, the Waffen-SS. Growing finally to nearly 40 divisions, the Waffen-SS inspire our curiosity because they had the best materiel, the worst reputation for cruelty and atrocities and the most-colorful uniforms. Long before the average German soldier was still wearing a field gray tunic, SS troops had camouflaged smocks that were rotated according to the seasons (as early as 1940).

Modeling Wehrmacht vehicles and figures without including the Waffen-SS is difficult, so I have endeavored to review Archer Fine Transfers' entire line of Waffen-SS uniform markings, including:

A full line of patches (reviewed here)
Shoulder boards (reviewed here, here, here, here, and here)
And SS helmet markings (reviewed here)

One big complication when modeling Waffen-SS figures is that each division had distinctive "cyphers" and cuff bands (Ärmelstreifen). Cuff bands are relatively self-explanatory, and bore the name of the unit. While a ribbon with the unit name on it might seem silly to some, the Nazis often took pageantry and symbolism to absurd lengths: after the failure of his final offensive "Operation Spring Awakening" (Frühlingserwachen), Hitler pitched a hissy fit and ordered the LAH to remove their coveted "Adolf Hitler" cuff bands in punishment. While their commander, Sepp Dietrich, ignored the order, most of the bands had been removed for camouflage purposes or to prevent being identified as SS if captured.

Cyphers were ornate runic letters sewn onto the shoulder boards, once again proclaiming the uniqueness of each major SS division (at least the ones with names). It would be crazy (and prohibitively expensive) to release sets for all the major SS units, but Archer has released a set of cyphers for the Leibstandarte Adolf Hitler (the LAH or 1st SS) and the Großdeutschland motorized regiment (later Panzergrenadier division). While not part of the SS, the GD was an elite unit with its own cypher and cuff band.

what you get

In a smallish Archer Fine Transfers glassine envelope with paper label is

a sheet of transfers
one small sheet of Wet Transfer Paper
a sheet of instructions

the review

Archer does not recommend applying these transfers directly onto the figure as with their vehicle markings and other dry transfers. Instead they insist on the use of their Wet Transfer Paper: a modeler applies the image to the WTP the same as if applying it directly to the model's surface, then cuts out the image and dips it in water. The image slides into place, and is usually kept there with a bit of drying agent like Mr. Mark Setter or MicroSet.

According to Archer,

Wet Media paper is simply a water-soluble release agent. The solvent-based adhesive is unaffected by the water, and is what adheres the transfer to the model. It is never necessary, or suggested, to use a gloss coat under dry transfers regardless how they are applied, wet or dry.

The dry transfer sheet has 15 cuff bands (10 LAH and 5 GD),
and 58 cyphers for application onto shoulder boards. There are enough transfers to handle upwards of 50 figures. Additionally, 10 tank destruction badges are thrown in. The research for the set was by master modeler Roddy MacDougall.


For those who demand the utmost in accuracy, this set is essential. While the shoulder boards of 1/35th figures might seem too small to show the detail of cyphers, the lighter background shoulder boards clearly cry out for this type of detail. I only wish there was enough profit to justify adding the other major SS divisions like Das Reich or the Early War versions of Germania.

Review sample provided by Archer Fine Transfers. Be sure to say you saw it reviewed here on Armorama when ordering.
Highs: Archer's usual superb detailing and accuracy. Enough markings for a small company of figures.
Lows: Pricy, but perfection isn't cheap.
Verdict: Highly-recommended for anyone modeling Leibstandarte Adolf Hitler (1st SS Panzer Division) and Großdeutschland figures.
Percentage Rating
  Scale: 1:35
  Mfg. ID: FG35053
  Suggested Retail: $5.95
  PUBLISHED: Nov 29, 2011

About Bill Cross (bill_c)

Self-proclaimed rivet counter who gleefully builds tanks, planes and has three subs in the stash.

Copyright ©2021 text by Bill Cross [ BILL_C ]. All rights reserved.


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