Home  |  What's New  |  Features  |  Gallery  |  Reviews  |  Reference  |  Forum  |  Search

F-16 Dry Transfers


Hobby Decal, 1/32 scale



S u m m a r y

Catalogue Number and Description:

Hobby Decal # ST32022V1 - F-16 Dry Transfers

Scale: 1/48
Contents and Media: Dry Transfer markings plus instructions and notes
Price: USD$13.00
Review Type: FirstLook / FirstUse
Advantages: Perfect finish without visible film or silvering is possible with this media; extensive range; excellent reproduction of colors; first-rate printing and production
Recommendation: Highly Recommended

Reviewed by
Scott Brown

HyperScale is proudly sponsored by Squadron



I have a dream. Not of racial unity, world peace, or harmony with nature. No, my dream is more mundane, and selfish. My dream is to produce a perfect decal finish on a model…just once. No silvering, no visible ridges, no wrinkling, and no nasty decal set.

I thought I was a ways down that road when Eduard produced their paint mask sets for markings, but I have as yet been unable to produce the type of finish I want, and a major drawback as far as I am concerned is the inability to see exactly where you are placing the marking, and having sometimes to paint multiple colors for 1 marking.

I was cruising around the various internet modeling sites one day, as is my routine, and stumbled upon an ad for a company called Hobby Decal, so I clicked the link and was whisked away to a site that beheld the answer to my dream.

Dry transfer decals have been around in modeling almost since its inception, and have been used in various ways from various companies to produce markings, but mostly for armor and model railroading enthusiasts.

Dry transfer is exactly what the name implies. It is a decal that is applied without having to soak it in water. It has an adhesive that is activated when pressure is applied to the decal, and causes the marking to stick to the surface of the model. The wizard part of dry transfers is that they have absolutely no carrier film. The only thing stuck to the model is the marking itself.

This makes them perfect for most any model, by especially so on those pesky natural metal finishes. I have seen many a beautiful natural metal model brought down by visible decal film. In an effort to eliminate it, the modeler is forced to overcoat the model with gloss varnish, and thus altering the look of the original finish, and running the risk of having trash or other niblets in the finish.

I was immediately struck by the extensive collection of subjects so far on Hobby Decal’s website. Their line already includes such stalwarts as spitfires, 109s, mustangs, thunderbolts and F-86s, but also now includes A6Ms, Stukas and some modern jets like the F-16.

I figure the less water-slide decals I put on a model, the less chance I will have of having 1 or 2 behave irrationally and refusing to do what I ask of them, so I ordered 3 different sets, F-86 stencils and codes in 1/48 and stencils and markings for the F-16 in 1/32, resisting the urge to buy the entire line. I’ll cover the F-16 sheet to give you an idea of what the rest of their line is like.

After having played with them all day, I have to say that I am most impressed with the product. The stencil sheet for the F-16, ST32022V1, is totally complete for late paint schemes, and it contains the gray ejection sheet warning triangles, and the late style rescue arrows. Drop tank markings are in both red and gray. The only gripe I have with the F-16 sheet is that it includes only 1 style of paint barn marking, and its not one of the more common ones. Also, some F-16s have light gray serial numbers by the refueling receptacle to aid in identifying the particular aircraft to the crews of tanker aircraft. There are not provided. The set contains markings for 1 aircraft, though there seems to be enough extra to get 2 out of it, including 1 complete set of walkway lines. It contains 3 different styles of refueling markings, so check your references. Hobby Decal also produces an F-16 sheet that covers earlier schemes with the orange ejection seat triangles and early style warning markings. The markings come in both 1.48 and 1/32.

The printing is amazing, and the colors are spot on, but best of all, the markings are printed on clear backing paper so you can see exactly where you are placing the marking. The idea is to burnish it down with the blunt end of something hard until it releases from the backing paper. Any of the marking that doesn’t sit in a recess or panel line can be made to do so by rubbing a wet q-tip over it. I have used regular setting solution on dry transfers before, and I don’t imagine these would react any differently to them, but you have to keep it in small amounts. You can seal them with any type of sealer you want, though the instructions warn against heavy coats, as it could cause colors to run.

The placement instructions are large, comprehensive and easy to understand.

It is possible to do an F-16 devoid of waterslide markings save for the tail and any mission markings or crew names. To my way of thinking, this eliminates the need for at least one clear coat, and if your weathering technique skips gloss coats, you shoot 1 coat of flat and move on down the road.

This product is as close to revolutionary as I have seen in modeling. Not necessarily in its form, as dry transfer decals are not new, but rather in its substance, as no other dry transfer company has provided such a wide array of subjects and scales. My hope is that they continue to expand and begin to include regular markings as well as stencils and service markings. I am as close to my dream as I am ever likely to get.

One note about their customer service. I placed my order in the last week of November, and after 5 or 6 weeks they had not shown up yet. I inquired via e-mail about the customary length of shipping time from Japan, and was instead told that a new order would be dispatched immediately, which arrived 8 days later. I was floored that they immediately offered to just replace them.

Their website also makes mention that they take orders for custom work, which is unusual for a “mainstream” decal company, and also ask for customer suggestions for future projects.

The pricing is a bit steep at first glance. The F-16 sheet was $13 US, and most of their 1/48 line is between $12 and $15. I have to tell you, the quality and the look of your finished product is well worth the few extra dollars. Imagine marking a silver P-47 or F-86 and having it really look like it has painted-on stencils? What is that worth to you?

I’m waiting patiently for F-18 and F-104 sets.

Highly recommended.


Review Copyright © 2005 by Scott Brown
This Page Created on 25 January, 2005
Last updated 25 January, 2005

Back to HyperScale Main Page

Back to Reviews Page