by: Scott Lodder [ ]
Show me a sign
This is a full built review of CD's French Commercial Signs #2 (CD 5029). Signs are one of those details that get missed on a lot of dioramas. They suffer a secondary setback in that they appear to be easy to duplicate. All you need is the internet (if you're reading this you have it) and a decent printer. Well read on and you'll think twice. This is a nice upgrade kit for any French based diorama.
You will receive on 4"x5" card stock sheet of commercial signs in a big baggie with a product information header stapled over it. There is also a nice heavy card stock backer piece added for support during shipping. When I received the piece I received it with a number of other kits in a large box. I don't know how VLS would ship just the signs. I have received a number of other products from VLS lines and they have all come in good shape, so I would extend that this would be shipped so it wouldn't bend during shipping.
The artwork is done by Willy Peeters and he has done his homework. The first thing I noticed when I pulled this kit out of the box was the color. There is a wide array of colors, deep greens, browns, reds, even purples.
As you scan through the coors you get a great sense of variety. One thing in the diorama world is that everyone builds a corner cafe. We all have an idea of what the cafe is and that somehow every corner has one. This set of signs can easily break that mindset. This card has cinemas, hat shops, pharmacies, shoe stores, restaruants, hotels, delicatesins, street signs, and building numbers.
The design of these signs is very well done.The colors are varied and right on target.The street sign colors are right on the mark, the colors for other signs are well selected and very representative in tone and shade. The fonts selected and characters used are nicely selected. They are representative of what you see in reality, no crazy fonts that are hard to read or that look out of place or out of the time period. The fonts are clean easy to read.
Hanging the signs
The signs are printed on a heavy card stock paper which can be cut with scissors or a hobby knife. Having cut out a number of the sings I recommend using a sharp new hobby knife to cut these out. A knife provides a bit more control and won't crimp or crease or fold the paper. You get to precicely cut out corners which can get tricky with scissors. When you use a knife I would recommend that you also use a protective guide ruler to keep the cut straight.
There are at least three ways to apply these signs to a diorama. 1 direct application, glue the sign right to a building 2 secondary application, glue the sign to a board to then hang in the diorama or place on a telegraph pole (or something like that, and 3 back to back, where you glue two card stock signs back to back to create a two sided sign.
In my diorama I ended up using methods 1 and 3. The first sign is a delicatesin sign for the main store front. I used a new #11 blade to cut the sign free. I used a small metal ruler to help keep my two main cuts straight. The ends were rounded and I had to free-hand those cuts. I cut across the end at 90 degrees, then at 45 twice, then kept slowly cutting away more and more of the excess material until the end was nicely rounded.
One thing I noticed as soon as the sign was free from the card stock was the bright white edges. The card is about .5mm thick and the edge contrasts greatly with the color on the face of the card. This must be fixed or your sign will look unfinished. Luckily the fix is easy. I opened my box of pastels and matched the face color up with a chalk and colored in the edge.
I just used a touch of white glue to apply the sign to the building front. This sign was best suited to directly apply to the building. Easy and effective.
The second set of signs I used were street signs. I carefully cut out four signs, two of each street name. Again the edge jumped out at me, especially because the color was bright. This application was going to hang from the street lamp to identify streets at an intersection. Since you could see it from both side it was necessary to glue the two pieces back to back. So I used white glue and stuck them together. Once the glue totally dried I trimmed the edges to make a nice even square sign. I then broke out the pastels and colored the edges.
My design was going to have the signs hanging loosley from a frame. The frame would be a triangle attached to the street lamp. I took some very fine wire and inserted two pieces between the signs. I then bend them over and around the frame. I then used a touch of CA to adhere the frame to the post.
As I illuded to in the introduction I am an AM convert for signage. I have tried a number of different ways to make these things myself. None of them have come to the standards that this product brings. And if you buy these they are done, no searching for a sign, no photoshop to create one. This is a time saver. The quality is very good, the variety is great, the creativity is wonderful.
The only bad side is the edges created when you cut these out. The fix is simple enough though.
Comparitivly, we don't think much about dropping $10 on a single resin figure. That one figure goes in one diorama, this product is $10 and will enhance numerous dioramas. There are over 80 signs on one sheet, that's pretty cheap per sign.