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A6M Zero

Stencil Data
Dry Transfers


available in 1/72, 1/48 & 1/32 scales


Hobby Decal



S u m m a r y

Catalogue Number and Description:

Hobby Decal # STXX011 - A6M Zero Stencil Data Dry Transfers

Scale: available in 1/72, 1/48 & 1/32 scales
Contents and Media: Dry Transfer markings plus instructions and notes
Price: USD$13.00 each
Review Type: FirstLook
Advantages: Perfect finish without visible film or silvering is possible with this media; extensive range; excellent reproduction of colors; first-rate printing and production
Disadvantages: More delicate under rough handling; initial positioning critical; may be difficult to apply on compound curves
Recommendation: Highly Recommended

Reviewed by
Rodger Kelly


HyperScale is proudly sponsored by Squadron



Hobbydecal is a relative newcomer to the already well populated decal world.  Located in Seoul, Korea, they first commenced producing decal sheets in 2003.  If you could append a name to them, it would have to be prolific as they have released a virtual flood of sheets to date. 

By far the vast majority of their products to date have been confined to stencil data in all the popular scales but I do note that they have dipped a tentative toe into the markings world with the release of sheets for the F/A-18F Hornets of VF-103. 

You need to be aware that, whilst the word 'decal' is in their name, they do not produce the 'dip into a bowl of warm water' waterslide type decals that most people are familiar with.  Hobbydecal produce what is termed 'dry transfers' or 'rub down' type decals. 

What does 'dry transfer' and 'rub down' mean and how do you use their product?  Well, full instructions for their use are included on a stiff cardboard header card in each of the products.  The process of applying them is broken down into eight stages, and to quote Hobbydecal, here is how you do it: 

Step 1 

Cut transfers to shape.  When trimming using a ruler on a hard surface, take care not to press the ruler too firmly against other markings. Unlike water slide decals, do not cut too close to the edge of the markings but leave a comfortable margin, allowing easier rubbing. The size of this margin will depend on the area of application. 

Step 2 

Select transfer location and position carefully, as repositioning will be impossible once rubbing begins. One recommended method is to secure the transfer to the surface with masking tape once it has been properly positioned. Certain areas may preclude the use of masking tape. In the case of small markings, it may be easier to forego the use of tape. 

Step 3 

Apply the transfer using a burnisher available at any good art shop, or any similar tool with a hard, rounded tip. Perform tests to find the optimum rubbing pressure on the logo or product title portions of the transfer sheet. Start at one end and work across, maintaining uniform rubbing strokes and pressure. Make sure that you are not applying too much pressure, as damage to the backing film may result. 

Step 4 

Carefully lift the edge to check that everything has transferred, but be careful not to move the backing film. If the transfer isn't complete, lay the film back down and rub over the items that have not yet been transferred. Continue checking until the marking has been completely transferred onto the model. 

Step 5 

Place the smooth side of the backing paper over the transfer and burnish with appropriate pressure in order to set the adhesive. Pay particular attention to empty spaces such as panel lines, as the ink may only have been separated from the backing paper and did not set on to the surface. To set such areas, use a moistened cotton swap to lightly push the transfer down on to the surface. 

Step 6 

A mist coat of clear lacquer can be applied to seal and protect the transfer, but a heavy, wet coat of lacquer can cause certain colours to bleed. Apply a light initial coat, then apply 1 or 2 more to completely seal the transfer. Any water-based acrylic clear can be used without fear of colour bleed. 

Step 7 

This is the process of layering markings over previously transferred markings. In most cases this can be done without any problems, but there can be instances where the lower layer marking breaks away from the surface. To prevent this, a light coat of clear lacquer, allowed to thoroughly dry should be applied before transferring the second marker layer. 

Step 8 

In areas of complex panel lining, small portions of the marking may not have completely transferred. In this case, use small amounts of flat or semi-gloss paint of identical colours to fill in the gaps. Unlike water slide decals, these markings can be touched up with enamel paints and sable brushes.


Advantages and disadvantages? 

Ah, the age old debate!  Rub down decals have been around for many years.  They were primarily used in the drafting and drawing world and were produced (still are I think) by many companies.  Lettraset comes to mind and I can recall using their letters and numerals sets to apply aircraft codes and serial numbers on many occasions. 

The advantages of rub down decals as Hobbydecal sees them are as follows: 

  • It is an easier and faster method than decals in transferring and finishing.
  • There is no silvering effect after transferring.
  • In most finishing cases, you do not need to try to spray and spray with top coats to hide decal film on your work..
  • You do not need to use other decal solutions or solvents.
  • The surface of marking after transferring can be polished flatter than decals.
  • Missing transfer dots or fragments can be easily fixed with modelling enamels or paints of the same colour.
  • Effective long-term preservation (Well preserved Dry Transfers over 10 years old have been successfully applied without failure).

The disadvantages of rub down decals, again as seen by Hobbydecal are as follows:

  • You need to be more careful not to scratch or crack the transferred marking with rough handling.
  • It is impossible to change location after transferring.
  • It is harder to transferring on the surface of irregularly curved, sharply bent or tightly cornered areas.
  • You need to be more careful in multi transferring than multi decaling (other colour markings over the first transferred marking).
  • Printing requires a more difficult process, resulting in higher prices.

So there you have it.  To be truthful, they do have some definite advantages if you are modelling natural metal aircraft and I suspect that most modellers will use a mixture of both waterslide and rub down decals to effect their latest masterpiece. 

A6M Zero Stencils – Version 1 

On to their latest release for the A6M Zero Stencils – Version 1 

This sheet is offered in 1/72 scale (ST72011), 1/48 scale (ST48011), 1/32 scale (ST32011), and 1/24 scale (ST24011).  Very complete!  That’s how you could describe this sheet  Hobbydecal advises that not all of the supplied stencils are applicable to the every sub-type of the Zero so you need to refer to your references before you launch into applying them all on a single model. 

The placement guide is first rate too.  It consists of an A-4 sized double-sided sheet with illustrations of both left and right sides of the fuselage as well as top and bottom plan views.   Hobbydecal helps you out here as it keys each decal with a number and shows the number of the decal as well as a large and readable reproduction of the decal itself and indicates where it is to be applied. 

Click the thumbnails below to view larger images:

The decals are packed in a clear plastic zip-loc bag along with a stiff cardboard header and the placement guide. 

Hobbydecal have provided a well produced, packaged and presented product. It's your choice if you want try them.  For my money, they have their place but will not replace the waterslide decal entirely. 



If you want to see the full range of decals offered as well as placement guides that you can download, head on over the Hobbydecal's website at http://www.hobbydecal.com/


Review Copyright © 2006 by Rodger Kelly
This Page Created on 16 August, 2006
Last updated 15 August, 2006

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