Lion Roar has recently released a series of etched-metal stencils, for both German and U.S. vehicles. In an age where almost every conceivable accessory is already available, aftermarket companies need to get quite innovative and this little stencil could prove to another useful addition to the modellers’ toolbox of supplies. This review describes set LT0050 - WWII German AFV National Insignia & Unit badges.
Although this idea may be innovative, it is not entirely new. When checking Lucky Model’s homepage for price details, the very first item on the Lion Roar list is set LR AM001 (Listing date Oct 2005) which is almost identical in details but has a slightly different layout. The stencil set comes in Lion Roar’s distinctive transparent envelope with the small fret (6cm x 8cm) clearly visible in front of the insert heading-card and the instructions folded neatly behind it.
The fret contains stencils to make 6 different sizes of the black and white Balkenkreuz insignia. Each Balkenkreuz is made up from two individual stencils … one labelled “white” and the other “black”. Each pair are also identified with the vehicles they are most suited for .. 1) Pz. III/IV, 2) Tiger, 3) Stug III, 4) KingTiger, 5) Panther and 6) S.Pz.Abt.502.
Three different DAK ”palm tree and swasitika” stencils make up the right-side column. The first two are a pair that make up the larger DAK symbol and the two smaller versions also commonly seen. The set also includes “K” and “G” stencils as often seen on vehicles on the Eastern Front that indicate respectively Kleist´s and Guderian´s armour groups. I could not find any reference for the symbol in the top right-hand corner. The final stencil is a frame, where a block of colour can be added underneath any of these insignia and as often seen when camo-coats are applied over the original colour.
The instructions are disappointing as the text is almost entirely in Chinese. The images provide enough information to use the stencils but it's poor marketing on behalf of Lion Roar to not have at least an English version of the information as well.
The stencils themselves are very easy to use. Care must be taken when removing them from the fret though. There are no attachment points but there are layers of very adhesive tape on both sides. Any force could bend the fragile stencils and allow bleeding to occur. Using some masking tape, the “white” stencil was used first and, when dry, the second “black” stencil was aligned on top. Alignment was straightforward since enough of the previous white cross can be seen through the etched details. Care should be taken when using the airbrush to shoot perpendicularly and not have paint that is too thin. Several light passes are all that’s needed.
I made these tests on cardboard from the inside of a cereal box and had no notable problems but could imagine that this is not so easy when working in a tight area and practically impossible if there are any protruding details. Some of the outer-stencil could easily be cut away if needed to fit and the thin metal will have no problems on a slightly curved surface. Although the set is probably designed with the later Balkenkreuz in mind, the “white” stencil on its own could be used for early war vehicles as seen on the Western front and, after taping off the outer etched details on the “black” stencils, they could be sprayed with solid white or yellow as also seen in the very early days.
Tamiya paints were used for these tests and I set all the used stencils in some alcohol when finished. The paint ran off easily and I placed them back in the fret with some tape for using again. This has to be one of the biggest advantages of this set over the normal sticky paper stencils, the fact that with proper care, they are a one-time purchase and reusable.
I can’t see these stencils replacing the water-slide or dry decals, but they are a handy reserve when some extra markings are needed, or if the kit-supplied decal is unsuitable or destroyed. Some may even prefer the realistic result with stencils, where a slight bleeding can be more realistic than the perfect decal, or if one has a problem with silvering.
Highs: Easy to use and also clean afterwards, meaning its a one-time purchase. Realistic results.Lows: Fragile and possibly awkward to use in tight or detailed areas. Verdict: Very useful as an additional tool or for those who prefer the true painted-on look vs. decals.