Estes Water-slide Decals Are Horrible!

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Well-Known Member
Jun 26, 2016
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I just finished putting on the decals for my Airborne Surveillance Missile (new issue), and I'm very disappointed in the quality of the water-slide decals being included in their kits, though I do prefer them over stickers. I also recently finished a Goblin with similar frustrations.

The decals are very thin, and in the plastic model world who use water-slide decals almost exclusively, that is often preferred, but it comes with a trade off. Thin decals curl into themselves and adhere to themselves much easier. They also stretch and tear much, much more easily. Any experienced modeler is well aware of this and products are available to give even better results. But even plastic model manufacturers, for the most part, don't include these trickier to apply, higher-end decals in their product. Rather leaving that to the after market suppliers.

Younger, inexperienced modelers shouldn't be faced with such a discouraging product, IMO, if Estes expects to build and maintain a client base for its future success. Give the children the best opportunity to produce a beautiful model, and leave it to the community to mentor then with new/better techniques and skill sets.

ImageUploadedByRocketry Forum1495549865.117967.jpg

You can see here that due to stretching of the longer white stripes, the shorter horizontal stripes no longer align. And another one broke due to stretching. 😒
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Having not done an Estes kit is a while, I remember them being fairly robust & easy to apply. I also haven't done a plastic model in a long long while, but do remember them being easy to apply as well. I do, however have an issue with the 'home printed' kind showing up in some 'small batch' kit companies.

Does your technique need revising?
Do you apply micro film to the decals before applying?
On the E2X models I've done so far, and some Skill level 1s, they have provided stickers for decals. I don't mind the stickers so much considering how horrible I am at waterslide.

Seems like when I was young, the waterslide decals went on easier and straighter. Perhaps they were thicker in the past?
Recently it seems that decals are not only thinner, but opaque as well. I have started coating decals when needed with Krylon Krystal Clear coat ( after testing on a sample section of the decal page). A heavy coat thickens the decals up and the tendency to roll is less. IMO decal quality has gone down over the years from many manufacturers especially Chinese based companies.
I guess my point is/was, that yes, the decals have changed, for the worse as far as application is concerned, IMO. A younger/newer modeler would not have the knowledge to coat decals prior to use, or to use setting solutions to get their decals to lay properly, nor should they. It's a part of growing as a modeler to add those things to the repertoire, but if they can't get good results with what is provided, then they give up too soon and leave our hobby frustrated.

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