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First Look Review
British 50th Infantry Decals
Archer's New Release: British 50th (Northumbrian) Infantry Division uniform decals
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by: Patrick Selitrenny [ JLPICARD ]


It has been ages ever since we have seen decent British uniform decals available on the market, and in many cases, they were always representing mostly Armored Division patches, Paratroopers or Special Units. For those of you craving a British Infantry Division represented in the fields of Normandy, now come a new set of decals of the 50th (Northumbrian) Infantry Division from Archer Decals. It was Dragon’s set of British Normandy figures a few years ago, which had patches prominently painted on the box art (but not provided in the kit) that gave me the inspiration for this set.

The career of the 50th Infantry Division starts almost immediately after the start of World War II at the Battle of Arras in Belgium, from which it had to retreat to the shores of Dunkirk. In 1941 it was fighting in North Africa during the Battle of Gazala, and again in 1942 at El Alamein. In 1943, it helped retake Tobruk in Tunisia, and later that year, the division would have a secondary role in Operation Husky during the invasion of Sicily. Its more prominent role came during the landings in Normandy on June 6th, 1944. It landed on Gold Beach, while its companion unit, the 3rd Infantry Division (Archer sheet #FG35021) landed on Gold Beach, and was tasked (along with the Royal Marine Commandos) in linking up with U.S. troops landing at Omaha in order to form a sort of pocket behind enemy lines and cut the Germans off from resupply. The invasion was both its greatest moment of glory, and revenge for what the 50th had endured in 1940.

The next day (June 7th), the 50th participated in Operation Perch, which was the Allied plan to encircle and seize the City of Caen, in the North-Eastern part of Normandy, which was still fully occupied by the Germans. Alas due to various reasons, such as a strong German resistance and uncertainties at command level in the Allied camp, this particular initial offensive failed. If it had succeeded, the doors through North-Western Europe would have stood open for an early penetration of the Netherlands by the Allies. Later that year in September, it took part in Operation Market-Garden, the two-pronged plan of Allied invasion of the Netherlands, by Air and on Land involving the taking of the bridges at Nijmegen and Arnhem on the Rhine river, which would have opened a breach through German lines and allowed a faster penetration on German soil. Again, because of fierce German resistance and faulty Allied intelligence, the division never reached its goal and suffered heavy casualties. For the later part of World War Two, the 50th, having lost many of its men, was withdrawn back to England and only a few detachments remained to fight in the Battle of the Bulge and the final crossing of the Rhine. Despite the heavy losses suffered, the 50th distinguished itself in every battle it fought and became one of the most honored British units during the war.

Archer's owner, Woody Vondracek (with a tiny help of yours truly), has produced the first decal sheet fully dedicated to the 50th (Northumbrian) Infantry Division. Unfortunately, it is not a totally comprehensive sheet of all units that made up this important division, mostly due to the costs, which would have risen sky high if the sheet had included multiple colors like green, blue or black patches with various shoulder titles in other colors. Still, it still represents the principal groups that participated in major campaigns, both in Africa, as well as in Northwestern Europe (especially on D-Day and in Normandy in general). There are enough variations to apply on figures produced by Dragon or Tamiya, as well as for many Resin figures out there.

the set

The patches included are:

69th Infantry Brigade
5th Battalion (East Yorkshire Regiment)
6th Battalion (The Green Howards)
7th Battalion (The Green Howards)
151st Infantry Brigade
6th Battalion (The Durham Light Infantry)
8th Battalion (The Durham Light Infantry)
9th Battalion (The Durham Light Infantry)
231st Infantry Brigade
1st Battalion (The Hampshire Regiment)
1st Battalion (The Dorsetshire Regiment)
2nd Battalion (The Devonshire Regiment)
1st/7th Battalion, The Queen's Own (Royal West Surrey Regiment)

the review

The sheet comes with the typical TT emblem patches (for Tyne and Tees - the rivers from which the division takes the name), along with the senior - second senior - junior Brigade stripes.

Many units were left out, and I must apologize for their omission, but Mr. Vondracek and I had to make some hard choices and decided (mostly to contain the production costs) to include the more representative ones, as well as those that were more largely spotted throughout the conflict. Should demand arise for those we omitted, there might be a chance to produce a separate sheet, which may include R.E.M.E., Royal Artillery, and other patches.

The quality of these decals is excellent and I am not exaggerating just because I had a part in studying them, they are truly well-printed. Only containing three basic colors (mostly red with white lettering on the shoulder titles and black for the divisional patches background), they have been kept as simple as possible. The color registration is sharp, and there is no color bleeding I could spot. Since these are meant for soldier figures in 1/35 scale, they are very tiny and delicate, and therefore require very delicate handling on your part. Yet these are not so difficult to apply as one may generally assume. Painting the patches by hand would be far harder, unless of course you went to a Japanese school of fine brushing or penciling.

It just takes patience and a firm hand, but not that of a wrestler…

These are dry transfers: you take the sheet, apply the decal of your choice, and then rub it down with a piece of paper and a pencil or another stiff, pointed object. And there you have it: a dry transfer without the use of water. Of course, we are talking about figures, which makes the entire operation a bit difficult because of their tiny size in 1/35th scale.

But said that, with a firm hand and a pair of good eyes (if possible also a good magnifying lens) you may obtain excellent results. Take great care, because figures can break easily. Just apply as much pressure as necessary without really forcing things. Best results are obtained by rubbing the transfers with a Q-tip/cotton swab; at least that’s what I do.

To insure a perpetual hold on the model itself, first apply some gloss varnish or sealant, then let it dry thoroughly before applying the decal. Afterwards apply two coats of flat/matte varnish to eliminate the refraction and the sheen. No need to apply at lot, just brush these coats on slightly and gently, if possible with a soft, tiny brush. There is no need of quantity here. Remember, less is more…

But for those still uncertain or fearful of the method, Archer also includes a small sheet of decal paper to apply the patches as wet decal. In that case, rub the transfers onto the decal sheet, cut the part you want to apply, let it soak slightly in lukewarm water, then apply it as you would any waterslide decal, gently onto the part you want decaled. Press out the excess water with a Q-tip/cotton swab or a soft tissue and you’re done.

With the liquid technique, once the decal is fully applied and in place, brush on some Microscale “Micro Set” setting solution in order to fully conform the decal onto the part in question. There is no need for its counterpart, “Micro Sol”, since this only applies to decals that are either old (hence brittle and might break during application), or which come on a transferring material that is too thick to handle normally.

The finishing is practically the same as above. Once completely dry, apply one coat of gloss varnish, let it dry, then two coats (or more, only if needed) of Flat varnish. Again, and I cannot emphasize this enough, stay away from overdoing it. Use a new, tiny and soft brush and just apply enough varnish to cover the decal, without drowning it. The pigments of the painted figure beneath it will soften up enough to allow a thorough adhesion of the decal. If too much varnish (or worse, lacquer) is applied, the decals will soften up too much, and the result could be disastrous, causing, for instance, the paint color to bleed.


In my humble opinion although I am far from being humble myself (just kidding) I can only highly recommend these. For mainly two reasons: one being that I personally am lazy and hate to have to always paint these darned tiny things by hand, causing it to become a ghastly mess, instead of a work of art (it may still be fine if you only paint one figure, but if you have to paint a dozen or more, the matter may become unsustainable); second reason being that these already offer enough variations to cover at least 35 different figures altogether.

As I stated before, Archer’s quality in printing and definition is so well known by now, that one can trust this brand as being one of the true leaders in the decaling field these days.

The sheet of the 50th (Northumbrian) Infantry Division is unique, also because it is the only one, together with Archer’s previous release, the 3rd Infantry Division, that actually covers British infantry units in WWII, together with their Armored Divisional patches and the British Airborne forces.

I hope though, that those of you, passionate enough for the subject, may find something useful in this particular new decal sheet. My plan is to collaborate with Mr. Vondracek in the near future on the creation of further two decal sheets:

The 53rd (Welsh) Infantry Division
The 51st (Highland) Infantry Division, which is more difficult overall

This latter will probably be a two-sheet issue, since it involves Tartan patches worn on the soldiers’ sleeves.

Click here for additional images for this review.

Highs: Archer's usual high reproduction quality. A brand-new subject concerned exclusively with the British 50th (Northumbrian) Infantry Division.
Lows: A few prominent omissions (like R.E.M.E., Royal Artillery, Medical Corps or Royal Signal Corps) due to the high cost of multiple contrasting colors applied on a single sheet.
Verdict: For the money, you receive a highly representative, if not complete sheet of decals for about 35 figures.
Percentage Rating
  Scale: 1:35
  Mfg. ID: AR99061
  Suggested Retail: 9.95
  Related Link: British 50th Infantry Division Uniform Patches
  PUBLISHED: Nov 03, 2010
  NATIONALITY: Switzerland

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About Patrick Selitrenny (jlpicard)

I am a stage actor / director / producer and now, also writer. I have been involved in this business for over thirty years now and my passion has remained firm as the day I started. I am also a history scholar and website designer. I have a very creative mind, with a vivid and broad imagination. ...

Copyright ©2021 text by Patrick Selitrenny [ JLPICARD ]. All rights reserved.


Hi Martyn I understand that but I still think it odd that someone so closely involved in the research of the product would be allowed publish a review of it on Armorama. In effect he's reviewing his own research. NB. I reiterate that I'm not questioning the content of the review itself.
NOV 05, 2010 - 04:30 AM
I agree with Pat: I don't believe that someone so closely related to the project/product can be truly objective in the reviewing thereof - nothing personal to the writer, it's a general comment meant for all reviewers. On the review though, for a "First Look" review I find there to be way too much text and not enough photos of the actual product. Between the historical background and the long "how to apply decals", I struggled to find those sections relevant to the actual product. The balance of just enough text can be a difficult median to find. A first look review should typically be more photo heavy, but photos of the actual product is what this review desperately needs, and is the strength of any online review (picture - 1000 words and all that). I might also suggest that one quotes their references regarding the historical sections, and notes the source of the reference photos (e.g. author's own). Presumably one has permission to "reprint" the reference photos if not the author's own? I do realise I'm coming across as over-critical of the review, however it's not meant personally, but is hopefully constructive criticism. Rudi
NOV 05, 2010 - 07:59 AM
First of all, Pat, anyone can submit a review on Armorama, and in fact we encourage a multitude of "takes" on any item. To my knowledge, there are no rules that say otherwise. Second, Patrick supplied the set for the review from ones sent to him by Archer (his only payment as far as I know). We didn't solicit the review, but I only mention that as background. Third, it's a small world in the hobby, and this is hardly the first time that someone who has been involved in the development of an item writes about it. Rowan Baylis, for example, is an editor at our sister site Aeroscale (which I invite you to visit, it's a very good site indeed). He worked with DML on their new BF100 D/E nightfighter, and mentions that fact in his review. I helped DOA paints develop their recent Reichswehr/pre-war German camo, and reviewed same. It was very small help indeed, and I received nothing in return from DOA other than a set of the paints. Does that mean my review is unbiased? I will let the review speak for itself. The key to this is to identify any potential conflict clearly in the body of the review, which Patrick does. Does that make him in any way unqualified to review the decals? I don't think so. The purpose of Armorama reviews (at least the ones I edit) is to inform the hobbyist about the product, describe its features, mention any limitations, and come to a conclusion that lets the consumer make an intelligent buying decision. Very few of our reviewers are qualified to make an expert's evaluation of a product, but this isn't a super-technical or historical site. It's a hobby site. I presume that Archer was satisfied with the level of scholarship Patrick brought to the project or they wouldn't have put out the set. I know they've used other individuals to do the research on some past projects. The results aren't always great, but that's the nature of commercial enterprises done on a small scale: we should be thankful that Archer exists at all, LOL! As to the review, I worked with Patrick on it and consider him one of my better reviewers. Any mistakes or shortcomings should be ascribed to me as the editor. I don't mean this as a challenge, but as a request: if someone feels they can do a better review or write it less-biased, then by all means feel free to step forward. It's pretty easy to get reviewers to write about free kits (though occasionally we give out a kit and never get a review back). It's much harder to find folks who are qualified to write about something as esoteric as badges and patches for the 50th Division. I am satisfied that Patrick has sufficient knowledge to tell us about the set, including its limitations due to the need to keep the number of colors manageable. That a company would put out a sheet of decals for a single British division is a cause for celebration in my opinion. It defies commercial logic, so in that respect, we're lucky to have these at all. As to your question, Rudi, about the supporting photos, my understanding from Patrick is that they belong to him and were used in the development of the decals. As a matter of site policy, we never knowingly use photos the author or Armorama doesn't have permission for using. If that turns out not to be the case, please PM and I'll remove them.
NOV 08, 2010 - 08:55 AM
Glad to see another set of British Uniform badges on the market. I like Archers dry transfers, but I have never mastered or got to work the wet method they outline, despite several failed attempts. Al
NOV 08, 2010 - 09:51 AM
Bill, Thanks for clarifying that point. Perhaps a watermark on the photos or note in the text in future will prevent such questions? Just a suggestion for future reviews. Rudi
NOV 08, 2010 - 09:56 AM
Normally we watermark photos provided to us by book publishers, for example, but in the case of Patricks' review of the Bronco 17-pounder, the photos of real guns do not belong to Armorama nor Patrick. He did, however, secure permission to republish them, so applying a watermark would seem to me to risk annoying the photos' owners. I will check with management and see if they agree or disagree.
NOV 08, 2010 - 10:09 AM
Hi Bill, Firstly thanks for considering the suggestion and taking it to management. To clarify the watermark comment: I don't mean a Kitmaker watermark, but rather a "Author's Own", or publishers name watermark. Rudi
NOV 08, 2010 - 10:59 AM
Thanks for clarifying that. I think you can count on the fact that Armorama will not knowingly publish pictures we don't have permission to use. James Bella, my direct boss, is very scrupulous about that sort of thing.
NOV 09, 2010 - 04:47 AM
Hi fellas My review of this set is now on Track-Link LINK I welcome your comments as always. I have corresponded with Patrick on other subjects I’m sure the intention was just to inform fellow modellers. The researchers who help Archers produce these products get samples only I think, so he doesn’t benefit from ‘advertising’ them. I think it only becomes less objective if any interest isn’t announced…which it was. IMO just a review; pure and simple. That’s all. As to photos; well my opinion is the more the better of the product. But this is a small set of transfers…there’s only so much you can do. Probably three-four of the product maximum? Ref competency; the amount of work put into researching this subject is enormous and a real minefield and to quote from my review (which was written and uploaded to TL before Patricks was posted here) ‘The research by Patrick Selitrenny is spot on and production is excellent’. Just my thoughts. It’s a great product made possible by the researchers work for a few quid’s worth of transfers? Thanks Patrick. Martyn
NOV 17, 2010 - 02:19 AM

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