Decals and the marketplace

The icing on the cake of the particular model you want to make, is the decals that you place onto it once finished. Do you fit the decals that came with the kit, or do you delve into the world of aftermarket options?

Now, there’s nothing wrong with sticking with kit decals. Within my particular interest, the Tornado F3, you can choose the Revell option of DH764 with the 11 Sqn Black Fin of the late 1980s, or with Airfix you can model either an early 5 Sqn version or a 111 Sqn Anniversary design in the Club Edition. All of these will make acceptable and models that stand out.

But there’s still that urge to find something a little more different, am I right?

For these occasions there are quite a few places you can go. Firstly there is that big mega-auction site – eBay, where you will find a modest selection of Tornado decals, mainly Xtradecal and Model Alliance ones. These can put a little bit of exclusiveness into your model that the kits won’t just provide.

Then there are the online stores, such as Hannants and ED Models who sell decals in quantities to support a healthy market for the modeller. I should point out that I’m not mentioning any brands in this blog for any particular reason. There are plenty of options to take your online money, and though particularly Hannants is a popular place, there are other ways to get your hands on the decals you want.

But there is a problem that runs through the decal market – that of market forces. You may have noticed that there are lots of Spitfire, Lancaster and other WWII aircraft decals, but on the subject of Tornados, relatively few. This means that if you’re keen to build models from all units across time, then there will be gaps.

One particular gap in the current available decal market, are the Tornado F3s of 41(R) Sqn RAF and those of 1435 Flight RAF, based in the Falkland Islands. There are sheets with these markings on at 1:72nd scale (Model Alliance 72137, Xtradecal X72-050) but they’re not being printed anymore – there isn’t the demand in the marketplace to justify a minimum-print run costing £’000s to the company taking the risk.

This led to an incredible auction of a solitary Xtradecal X72-050 sheet. My interest was the three options of 1435 Flight RAF Tornados, and the fact that there was a lot of interest. Following a 7 day period, the auction came to an end on a Wednesday evening and the winning bid was for £38.00. Perhaps I’m going to need deeper pockets to finance this hobby..

But I have enough decals at the moment to be getting on with. There’s been little progress this week due to my day job syphoning off my time very effectively, but a purchase has been made an a decision completed. I’ve bought an airbrush from a Facebook Group that I’m a member of, despite being wedded to the paintbrush up until now.

I still have to take delivery, and to kit it up with compressors, jars and thinners, but I shall let you know how it all goes.


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