Thanks in part to Tasca releasing a slew of Sherman tanks, it’s a great time for World War Two Allied armor modelers. After Market companies are adding photo etch and decal variations, and now Archer Transfers has just released a set devoted to the M4A1 (late) variant, specifically the famous “Battling B*tch” that was photographed on August 16th sporting a “Culin/Cullen Rhino” hedgerow cutter. It's intended for the new Tasca kit (reviewed by me here
). Unlike most other Archer sets, this one is intended for a single vehicle with specific markings known to history.
What you get
The set comes in Archer’s usual glassine envelope, and includes:
a 2½” x 2¼” sheet of transfers
A painting/positioning guide that includes instructions for using dry transfers.
The sheet is printed almost entirely in white, and includes:
5 plain stars
1 star in a circle
Shipping stencil & other numbers
Archer Transfers has achieved an enviable reputation as a company that offers high-quality dry transfers that have been meticulously-researched, in this case by John Hale (another Armorama member, Patrick Seletenny, has researched some of Archer’s recent British uniform patch sets). If you have never tried dry transfers, then you have missed one of the most-effective marking tools in 1/35th scale. There are no messy liquids to spill, run onto the rest of the model or ruin the finish. And talk about quick to apply— the results are as close to painted-on as you’ll get without, well, painting it on.
For those of you who have never tried them, Archer has a very useful page on their website that walks you through the process (click here
). The technique means none of the hassle associated with prepping the surface for wet transfers— no need for a glossy finish. The transfers will cling to any surface, and there's no selvage around the edges that can cause "silvering" like with wet decals.
Instead of sliding a messy decal off a piece of transfer paper (with the results occasionally disastrous when the decal folds badly or otherwise gets distorted), you place the dry transfer paper over the location, rub until it comes off, and you've got your painted-on look (note: I often use a piece of tape to hold the transfer paper in-place). Simply cover the results with some kind of sealer, and you're done.
A downside to dry transfers has been their relatively high cost. A standard sheet of Archer Wehrmacht turret numbers, for example, is $12. The sheet has a generous amount of numbers— enough for a whole company of tanks. But the average modeler is probably only going to build one or two similar vehicles (you obsessive-compulsive armor-philes excluded). The research and effort that goes into making the transfers certainly justifies the cost, though.
Still, sensitive to the cost issue, Archer started offering sets for specific units: for example, “Tiger Mix #3” for sPA 501, 503 and 505 (listed at $12) will handle up to three tanks. But that was still a bit of overkill for the average consumer.
My spares box runneth over.
Now Archer is focusing on sets for specific vehicles; for example, in addition to “Battling B*itch,” they have launched one for Sd.Kfz. 250s from both the 6th Panzer Division or Feldernhalle Division. As stated already, this sheet is intended for the Tasca M4A1 (late) kit with hedgerow cutter, though it could be adapted to other variants if you re-arrange the numbers on the sides. At $9, it is both more affordable and targeted to the average builder.
The result is a flawless marking option that is completely devoid of selvage or silvering.
There is a trade-off with dry transfers, however: unlike with water-slide decals that are more forgiving of placement errors, you only get one shot to position dry transfers properly. Consult Archer’s instruction sheet or their website referenced above. In an effort to address placement issues, especially for small items like stenciling and uniform patches, they offer decal paper that allows you to "float" the transfer into its proper position, a great idea for small, fiddly ones.
“Battling B*tch” was a fairly-typical M4A1 in terms of markings: white stars and white stencils with the infamous name in block capital letters. Archer has also included shipping stencils with the set, even though no photographic evidence exists for BB having sported them. Still, shipping stencils were common, so it's nice to have that option.
I have used Archer Transfers for years, and generally find them so far superior to water-slide decals that I will buy a whole sheet of something even if I’m only building one AFV in that configuration. I applaud Archer for this rifle-shot approach, and look forward to other offerings. I will be reviewing some of their other new items soon.
Please remember, when contacting manufacturers and sellers, to mention you saw this item here—on The KitMaker Network.