by: Andy Brazier [ ]
A new product arrived from the postman from a Mal Mayfield, who has started producing a range of paint masks for markings on aircraft.
A quick review and an even quicker test of these masks sets that are about to hit the market.
At the moment only RAF markings are available, but these are in three scales, 1/48th, 1/32nd and 1/24th.
The RAF roundels, numbers, fin flashes, standard and alternative codes are all packed and sold separately, but each set has at least six (this may change, depending on size) of the same type of markings on each sheet. The numbers and code sheets have about three full alphabets in place.
The samples I received are of three different roundels, a sheet of fin flashes and a set of Alternative codes in 1/48th scale.
Each sheet is made of a thin translucent blue plastic material which is about 80 microns thick. The mask material reminds me of Parafilm M in texture. The masks are pre cut and just require lifting off the backing sheet to use.
With each set you get an instruction sheet of how to use the masks and as a nice surprise a sheet with colour codes in B.S and F.S numbers for the roundels and codes.
Using the masks
When first looking sat the instruction sheet it does look a little complicated, but with closer inspection it is a great step by step guide.
This is the instructions for the four colour roundel, but each type is very similar in application.
The first step is preparing your model for the application of the masks. Once the camo scheme is done you then Future (Klear) the aircraft ready for the masks. The reason for Futureing the aircraft is that the masks will adhere better and if you mess up it is easier to remove the masks without attacking the main camo scheme.
Now to get the correct alignment when removing parts of the mask for painting and replacing them again, you will need to draw two diagonal lines from corner to corner and one line from the center to the top edge. The reason for this is to align and orientate the masks when replacing them.
The next step is to transfer the masks to the aircraft. Now this easier then it looks as Mal has thought this through and included "transfer tape" at the bottom of each sheet. The transfer tape is placed across the the top and bottom of the mask. Once pressed down, removing the mask as one piece is very easy. When the mask has been placed in the correct position the transfer tape can be removed.
The center section of the mask can be discarded (where the red dot goes). The inner white ring portion is removed, and can be placed on the backing sheet for safe keeping and the exposed part can be sprayed white. The white mask ring is replaced once the paint is dry. This is the most difficult part of the procedure but with a little practice, patience and with the help of the lines to align it you can center it.
Once the white ring is in place the red middle section can be sprayed. Once dry a out-sized red center mask found on the sheet can be used to cover it.
Remove the blue colour section of the mask ans spray blue. Replace the blue section and lift off the outer yellow ring. This part of the mask can be discarded.
Once the yellow has been sprayed, the whole mask can be removed and hopefully you will have a perfect roundel painted.
The codes are even easier to use as once they are placed onto the model, the center parts is removed and discarded. For letters such as A, O, D etc the center portions are pre cut and are left on the model to get the "hole". The great thing about the codes is that when the masks are placed edge to edge it is the correct distance from each other for RAF spacings.
The tail fins are basically masked and sprayed the same but instead of a line being drawn from the center to the top edge, you replace it with two horizontal lines unevenly spaced The reason for the uneven spacing is so you know what way up the mask goes when replacing it.
Are they a miracle, as far as I am concerned they are very nearly, my attempts at creating my own codes and markings normally leaves a lot to be desired, but with the Miracle Paint Masks I'll never have that trouble again.
With a bit of practice they become quite easy to do (the pics in this review are my first attempts at using them, and I rushed it a bit lol).
The other great thing about the masks instead of conventional decals is that you can weather the markings accordingly to your tastes.
The masks can technically be reused a couple of times each as I managed to position each mask quite a few times with out any real lose of stickiness.
Now the price of these little miracles vary with each type of roundel, code and fin flashes, but they are inexpensive. For example the 4 colour roundel set I used is priced at £1.72p and you get eight roundels on the sheet, the upper wing roundel set is £1.65p and again eight roundels per sheet. The codes are £3.39. Tail fin flashes are £1.44. For the two larger scales the price increases about 50p per type, per sheet.
You will also be able to buy complete sets of masks, which you should be able to paint markings for several aircraft.
Mal Mayfield should be launching these masks at the IPMS Scale Model world show in Telford, England on the 10th and 11th of November, 2007.