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In-Box Review
135
US ARMY ACUPAT Decals
US ARMY ACUPAT Camouflage Decal set
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by: Mario Krajinovic [ MARIO_HR ]

Introduction

With the year 2003/2004 the US Army adopted a new type of uniform and a new camouflage pattern. The Army Combat Uniform (ACU) is the current combat uniform worn by the US Army. It replaced the old Battle Dress Uniform (BDU) and Desert Camouflage Uniform (DCU) and it consists of a jacket, trousers, t-shirt and tan combat boots. ACU features number of design changes as well as a different camouflage pattern from its predecessors. The design changes included:

- Mandarin collar (can be worn up or down),
- Rank insignia above right chest pocket
- Velcro for wearing unit patch, skill tabs and recognition devices
- Zippered front closure
- Elbow pouch for internal elbow pad inserts
- Knee pouch for internal knee pad inserts
- Elastic leg cuff
- Tilted chest pockets with Velcro closure
- Three-slot pen pocket on bottom of sleeve
- Velcro sleeve cuff closure
- Shoulder pockets with Velcro
- Forward tilted cargo pockets
- Integrated blouse bellows for increased upper body mobility
- Integrated Friend or Foe ID Square on both shoulder pocket flaps
- Bellowed calf storage pocket on left and right leg
- Moisture wicking desert tan t-shirt
- Patrol Cap with double thick bill and internal pocket
- Improved hot-weather desert boot or temperate-weather desert boot

The pattern
The pattern used on this type of uniform is the Universal Camouflage Pattern (UCP), also referred to as ACUPAT (Army Combat Uniform PATtern) and some refer to it as Digital Camouflage (Digicam). The pattern was chosen after several laboratory and field tests that occurred from 2003 to 2004. Its digital pattern is a modification of the USMC MARPAT.

The colors
The color scheme of the Army Combat Uniform is composed of the colors gray (officially named Urban Gray 501 in the pattern or Urban Gray 505 solid shade fabric), tan (Desert Sand 500 in the pattern or Sand 503 solid shade fabric) and sage green (Foliage Green 502 in the pattern or Foliage Green 504 solid shade fabric) in a digital pixel pattern. The pattern is noticeable for its elimination of the color black. Justification for the omission of black was that black is a color not commonly found in nature. Pure black, when viewed through night vision goggles, appears excessively dark and creates an undesirable high-contrast image. The pattern was designed to be effective in all environments, however, soldiers in the field have complained about the ineffectiveness of the new pattern since it was first issued.

Painting figures in this type of modern camouflage requires a decent brush, steady hand, knowing how your paint works, some references and a bit of luck for most of us. Unless you’re Calvin Tan or few other modelers that can paint modern US camouflage patterns then hard work is in front of you.

Now there is another way. Alliance Modelworks provides an alternative solution by using decals. Yup, that’s right – decals. It may sound kind of strange to use large parts of decals and cover entire figures with it instead of using traditional painting techniques, but with the advent of the pixelated pattern camouflage this seems like a viable solution to the average modeler.

The review

Alliance Modelworks camouflage decals are printed on a 5.5x2.5 inch sheet and according to the information on the manufacturer’s web-page are accurately scaled to 1:35 scale, enough for 5 figures. When positioned, the decals should have a matte finish and after the application, the figure should be sealed in matte clear (acrylic or lacquer) coat before subsequent detailing. Unfortunately any kind of tangible instructions are not included with the decal sheet, but as I was provided with an early release sample, this may have been already rectified.
The decals feature unrepeated pattern form, meaning you shouldn’t be able to see the same shape pattern twice. This is especially hard to do when dealing with the minute size of the pixel forms.

Now for the bad part. Finding figures in ACU is now pretty easy and I have just the figures for this review. I bought Alpine Miniatures set of 2 figures in ACU and they are one of the best out there. The detail is amazing and probably everyone saw Calvin Tan's superb paint job on these guys.
The figures were cleaned up and degreased in soap water, thoroughly dried and awaited the decals. I started with a small piece. I cut a rectangular piece to see if a small piece of decal could conform to a pretty flat armor piece on the back. With just water the decal didn't do anything. I thought maybe it's because I didn't paint it or coated it. So Gunze's acrylic gloss cote went on the figure. A nice smooth coat was applied but even that didn't help.

Next up was the same procedure but this time using solvents. I figured that perhaps the decals needed some coercing into position so I chose a leg piece that has nicely molded creases and pockets to try this. I used Micoset and Microsol to no effect. A nice layer was applied but there seemed to be no reaction to the decals what so ever. I think of my modeling skills to be average and I've placed a fair share of decals and saw what solvents can do to them so this was a surprise. After a while I tried something with more bite - Gunze's Mr. Mark Softer. This thing when not paying attention can eat up your decals. Unfortunately the pictures I provided with the review tell that minimum conforming occured during 3 hours of testing. Even with pressure from Q-tips and toothpicks there is almost no reaction. Eventually I tried using a hair dryer which didn't help at all.

I figured I somehow made a mistake, so I asked a friend who's a great figure modeler (Mario Matijasic) to give it a try and he got the same results.

Conclusion

The decals appear to be very in-flexible. They don't conform to creases by using solvents and with pressure tend to break. They don't appear to be very thick, but are also not as thin as I've seen decals can be. What went wrong I honestly can't tell but my sample doesn't work. The minute details on the figure would surely be obscured (especially the pouches and clothing seams) even if the decals conformed. The pattern is great, the colors work on the figure but it seems that the paper itself is flawed. My grade therefore is only low due to the fact I couldn't get the decals to do what they are supposed to.
SUMMARY
Highs: Great pattern, perfect color register, price
Lows: Decals don't conform to Gunze and Microscale solvents, in-flexible, prone to cracking, no instructions.
Verdict: I don't recommend these. Perhaps it's a faulty sample but as far as this sample goes it's probably easier to paint the ACUPAT camouflage than use these decals. Somebody could probably get decent results, but average modeler like myself can not.
Percentage Rating
55%
  Scale: 1:35
  Mfg. ID: LW35069
  Suggested Retail: $12.00
  Related Link: Manufacturers product link
  PUBLISHED: Oct 12, 2011
  NATIONALITY: United States
NETWORK-WIDE AVERAGE RATINGS
  THIS REVIEWER: 90.76%
  MAKER/PUBLISHER: 89.57%

Our Thanks to Alliance Modelworks!
This item was provided by them for the purpose of having it reviewed on this KitMaker Network site. If you would like your kit, book, or product reviewed, please contact us.

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About Mario Krajinovic (Mario_HR)
FROM: CROATIA HRVATSKA

Copyright ©2019 text by Mario Krajinovic [ MARIO_HR ]. All rights reserved.



Comments

Thanks but no thanks. What you think of me is really of no importance to me and certainly I have nothing to prove to you. You do what you like, I stand behind what I said as do you.
OCT 24, 2011 - 01:00 AM
You got beaten up a lot while growing up didn't you? As far as I'm considered, this "discussion" is over and I will not waste more time on a person like yourself.
OCT 24, 2011 - 01:26 AM
Brian, first of all, learn some manners and stop with the name calling. You are just showing people who you really are rather than proving your point. As for the 95% average of your products... well, after all the bullying on the forums (and this discussion is the best case of bullying I have seen so far from you), there are a few people who would dare to review your products and be completely honest with them. It is just not worth the trouble. It would be best if you yourself wrote the reviews... That way you would get your 95% and be happy. No. What people are going to see is a frustrated manufacturer who sends his products and then whines if it doesn't get the stellar review he wanted, arrogant and rude with absolutely no manners. Mario
OCT 24, 2011 - 02:35 AM
Time out from ALL sides please...
OCT 24, 2011 - 02:47 AM
I have to get to work so I'll keep this short, trivial playground bullying aside... 1-Personally, I'm not impressed with Rob Mathews results...a delicately sculpted figure with most of the details covered up. This review by Mario hit the nail on the head in terms of performance of the product. 2-I may have missed it, but I haven't seen any stipulation on AMW website or Ebay that states that these should only be used by (and sold to) highly experienced modelers. 3-Use this review to further improve your product...other manufacturers worth their salt do. Constructive criticism can be a good thing for a company.
OCT 24, 2011 - 03:05 AM
Brian, Mario was assigned the task of reviewing this set of decals by me, as I am not even an amateur when it comes to modern camo. I sent a second set to another reviewer, but he hasn't submitted his review. I stand 100% behind my reviewers and do all I can to protect the integrity of their reviews. Armorama does not pressure reviewers to give high or low scores. The fact that Mario is a staff member has nothing to do with my support for him. Nothing. If anything over the several years I've been an editor, I have had to encourage reviewers not to give overly generous scores. No product deserves 100%, but you'd be surprised how many first-time reviews I get giving 95% scores despite a long list of problems with the product. Percentage scores reflect the opinion of the reviewer, and are not scientific calculations. Personal insults to reviewers undermine the credibility of AMW and their products. Let your products speak for themselves, even if occasionally the reviews are not positive. You can't expect every product to be a winner. The high scores AMW have gotten here are no accident, but apparently these decals have some issues. Attacking the reviewer as a know-nothing does not address the issue here: the decals are extremely difficult to "set." Your choice, as James says, is either to take the criticism and improve the product, or accept the fact that the product is less-than-perfect. Trashing a review and insulting the reviewer makes you look bad personally, and reflects badly on AMW. It would make me as a potential customer wonder if AMW products are really as good as you've claimed. Let's face it, modern digital camo is a challenge in this scale. Few of us have the skills to paint it on. Your decals may or may not be up to that challenge-- perhaps no decals are. But to bash the reviewer for stating an opinion unfortunately looks like a smokescreen to hide an unflattering truth.
OCT 24, 2011 - 03:20 AM
Profanity and name calling? Sorry but nobody harasses my staffers like that. Brian is banned until such time that he publicly apologizes via another popular forum (that he is not banned on) in a manner that makes me believe he is truly reformed and will not continue on his past path of bullying others and acting the 'ego' god of modeling. As Alliance is an advertiser here I fully expect this action will cause them to cancel their ad. Luckily for us there are 3 people waiting for that space as it is. Jim
OCT 24, 2011 - 05:26 AM
Good review. I was wondering having purchased the Live Resin LRM35001 1/35 Modern US Soldier if you Good Folk or any of your Members could recommend a Camouflage decal set that would work with this figurine.
DEC 19, 2014 - 09:21 PM
Necro-post!! Anyway, go CrossDelta. I've used four or five of theirs, though granted not the ACU or other digital patterns. Cut into thin strips 1/16-1/8 inch wide, length as needed. They just need some Micro-Set and two minutes of soaking. Use a cotton bid and small soft brush to push into small details. Its like they are closer to some kind of latex than normal decal film. Like the stuff they use to coat rifles.
DEC 19, 2014 - 11:28 PM
   

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