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Built Review
135
Heer Uniform Patches- Panzer
Heer Uniform Patches for Panzer Crews
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by: Bill Cross [ BILL_C ]

introduction

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

the review

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).

conclusion

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.
SUMMARY
Highs: Excellent production, clear & crisp registration, accurate colors.
Lows: Some might complain about the cost, but the time savings alone is worth it, not to mention the accuracy.
Verdict: Absolutely the best solution to rendering uniform insignia accurately - and surprisingly easily.
Percentage Rating
96%
  Scale: 1:35
  Mfg. ID: FG35045A
  Suggested Retail: $9.95
  PUBLISHED: Apr 01, 2011
  NATIONALITY: Germany
NETWORK-WIDE AVERAGE RATINGS
  THIS REVIEWER: 90.08%
  MAKER/PUBLISHER: 91.53%

Our Thanks to Archer Fine Transfers!
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 Bill Cross (bill_c)
FROM: NEW JERSEY, UNITED STATES

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

Copyright 2019 text by Bill Cross [ BILL_C ]. All rights reserved.



Comments

I'm waiting for delivery of my transfers. I'm wondering if I should shave off raised detail on the figure before applying the transfers. Thanks, Mike
APR 03, 2011 - 03:03 AM
That depends. On the Mini Art figures in the photos, I left them as is - with one exception: the figure with the large Reichscockade cap emblem had too much "fold" on the front of the crown, so I removed a slight amount of it so the decal would "sit" better. These transfers are microscopically thin, so if you remove the shoulder boards or collar tabs, they won't look 3-D. Figures that have the Wehrmacht eagle on the cap, for example, will need to be smoothed down. HTH
APR 03, 2011 - 04:00 AM
Thank Bill, Any hints or tips on transferring SS cuff unit insignia. Thanks Again, Mike
APR 04, 2011 - 03:29 AM
Bill, I used a this Archer set not long ago and I found on a couple of Verlinden figs that the decals sat just fine on the raised detail (a couple of eagle patches on cap and arm plus a triangular rank patch) without having to shave it off. I just used some decal setting solution and it went down just fine. However, you also reviewed the shoulder board decals and they were trickier. On some figures I did the decal was too long and had to be cut to size and the shoulder board raised detail on the figure did need to be smoothed down. I found the decals pretty good- they really finish off Panzer figures nicely. But they are very small and very fiddly so my advice to anyone is to go slow!!
APR 04, 2011 - 04:03 AM
My preferred method of application is to scrape off the transfer from the reverse side of the carrier (using a curved blade and a bit of care, the entire transfer will come off in one piece) and fixing it in place with a small dab of thinned white glue, then flat coating the figure after. On Archer's shoulder board set they give you enough rank patches to outfit a small army, but on the sheet with the collar tabs they only give you enough for about 7 figs which gets to be a little expensive if you are doing the "small army". I wish they would even it out and print enough collar and shoulder patches on one sheet to make the same number of figs.
APR 04, 2011 - 07:27 AM
Mike, this set includes cuff bands for Grossdeutschland, but there's no easy way to align them other than looking at period photos or perhaps Osprey's "Men at Arms" Series. Karl, I, too, found the shoulder "boards" occasionally too long, but that's easy to remedy with a quick trim from a sharp hobby knife, or else gently scrape off any excess after drying. I'm sure Archer gives you the extra length because of the variability of figure sizes. They ARE fiddly, but the wet transfer paper makes them surprisingly easy to work with. Biggles, I feel your pain. Archer is understandably sensitive about the cost issue. They're a small operation, not a big company making tons of money. And perfection (which is what they're trying for) comes at a cost. The collar tabs are relatively easy to mass-produce, while the patches require: 1.) a Wehrmacht eagle 2.) a Reichscockade, either the "dot" or the complex version 3.) rank insignia 4.) Luftwaffe eagles 5.) collar tabs Matching the sets would make the uniform patches sheet enormous and even more-expensive than they already are. Yes, it would be nice if the two sets matched, however I'm personally grateful there's someone like Woody Vondracek doing this sort of arcane thing. I simply can't imagine doing figures without these sets now. I had been procrastinating on finishing the figure sets I have in my stash because I didn't want to face the BS associated with uniform markings or trying to paint them. That's all changed now.
APR 05, 2011 - 03:55 AM
   

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