Sunday, August 5, 2012

So close yet so far

Last night I sat down to apply decals to my latest build, a 1/72 F-15B (actually a TF-15A, but who cares). As I put the first decal into the bowl of water I started getting nervous. "This is where the whole project can go to shit," I said to myself. Now mind you, I wasn't using those old Microscale decals I've had in my stash for 30 years; I'm using markings from Wolfpack Decals, so I was pretty sure they would go down beautifully and not shatter.

And yet I was full of anxiety. I don't think that's being melodramatic. Think about it. You've put many hours into building the model, making sure the seams are relatively smooth, ensuring everything is aligned, adding detail beyond what's provided in the kit, applying a smooth coat of paint, blah blah blah. In addition to the time investment, you may have easily put over $100 in the model.

Applying decals is that final, yet crucial, step in the process of building the model where you don't really get a second chance. Screw it up now and you may find yourself repainting part or all of the model. Or buying a replacement set of decals (assuming they're not out of production). You should be nervous!

Ironically, a few hours after I applied the decals to the F-15 my life-long friend David called me on the phone. His most recent project, a Hasegawa 1/48 TA-4J in those pretty white and orange training colors met a tragic fate when several of the kit decals refused to adhere to the model and the national insignia refused to settle over those problematic vortex generators on the wings. He's decided to repaint the model in adversary colors, and frankly I can't blame him.

The decals on my F-15 are complete now, so from here it's just a matter of sealing them, weathering the model, and assembling it. Anything could still go wrong, but one more crucial process is behind me. Why must the hobby fill me with so much anxiety?


  1. Decaling remains my favorite part of any build. I find it relaxing...even applying a bunch of stencils. I know what you mean though when you talk about it being a "do or die" step in getting a project done especially if the decals are rare/oop.
    Not too long ago I bought a set of F-101B Voodoo decals for a Maine ANG jet, a rare, hard to find 1/48 scale sheet. I was pretty nervous when it came time to apply the unique tail markings, any other decal on the sheet could be replaced if need be...but not the tail markings. Thank god they went down smoothly!

  2. Well said. I sometimes wonder if it's worth investing in a second sheet just in case the decals on the first break apart!