by: Bill Cross [ ]
After years of whinging and scraping about, fans of UK & Commonwealth AFVs and softskins are in a veritable Golden Age now of new kit offerings. Whether it's new versions of classics like the Universal Carrier, all manner of tanks, or even a fleet of trucks like the Matador and Bedford, an expanding motor pool of kits is prompting AM companies like Archer Fine Transfers to issue supporting markings that should please most builders.
While known for its superb dry transfers, Archer has been quietly expanding its line of waterslide decals to include a wide variety of marking sets. Having already released D-Day stencils, it is complementing the Normandy and post-D-Day choices with a bevy of unit placards in five new sets.
This review will focus on:
AR77026 UK Armoured Division Unit Signs (Summer 1943-Spring 1945)
AR77028 UK Infantry Division Signs (Summer 1943-Spring 1945)
AR77030 Royal Artillery Tactical Markings (Summer 1943-Spring 1945)
AR77031 UK & Commonwealth AOS Signs (Summer 1943-Spring 1945) white on black
AR77037 UK & Commonwealth AOS Signs (Summer 1943-Spring 1945) white on red
While Archer Fine Transfers have done just about everything possible to make their superb dry transfers user-friendly, a surprising number of modelers still resist adopting them. Perhaps in the spirit of "if you can't lick 'em, join 'em," the company is now releasing a growing selection of their transfers as waterslide decals, along with sets like these unit placards that make more sense as decals than transfers, both for their location on the vehicle (usually a mud flap or fender) and the wide number of units in the UK & Commonwealth armies.
The printing is by Cartograf, which should put anyone uncertain about these at immediate ease. And the printing job is, of course, immaculate, the registration perfect and the colors vibrant enough to jump out at 1/35th scale. Too many kit decals are so dull and lacking in contrast that they fade into the background once pigments and washes are applied. These will remain strong visually, which contemporary photos prove is a must.
These sets pretty much cover the territory: armored divisions, infantry divisions, and the Royal Artillery (we just need a broader selection of kits beyond AT guns to catch up with the decals). You can have both divisional markings and the Arm of Service (AOS) signs. Each set comes with a brief documentation explaining usage, too. For example, 40 was for HQ troops, while 79 was the Provost Company.
I can't see any reason why UK and Commonwealth modelers wouldn't be thrilled with the release of these sets. Not only are they comprehensive, but they are great value for money.
Thanks to Archer Fine Transfers for providing these review samples. Please be sure to mention you saw them reviewed on Armorama when ordering.