Excelsior Aztec Decals

Published: May 18th, 2017     
Product Image
Decal Sheets
Reviewed by: 
Gino Dykstra, IPMS# 11198
Scale: 1/1000
Company: Round 2 Models
Price: $37.95
Product / Stock #: MKA017

Round 2 Models has released a large 3-sheet decal set to accompany their newly revised and released U.S.S. Excelsior kit from the Star Trek series. Printed by Cartograf, these decals are commendably thin and for the most part, feature little to no carrier film to deal with. They respond quite well to MicroSol, which I used to help them conform to some of the compound curves found on the model.

These sheets actually perform two functions rather than one; first, they provide decals for virtually all of the elaborate paint scheme for this model, eliminating an incredible amount of extremely tedious masking and painting. Second, they provide surface texture in the form of tiny panels. Let me deal with these two aspects separately.

For the paint scheme the sheets actually provide two different versions - the pale blue (and slightly green) early version and the darker blue later version - as well as no less than four bridge surrounds with slight variations. These all include extremely fine piping and other finicky details that are almost impossible to mask otherwise. A nice bonus is that almost a full set of markings is included in both schemes so that you really have enough for two complete models rather than just the one. They also include markings for several other ships in the series, so you've got an immense number of choices here.

The surface texture decals are not, technically, "Aztec" markings at all, but tiny multi-colored panels which cover the majority of the kit. This is one point at which I find myself somewhat at issue with what is provided. I've extensively studied pictures of the actual model used in the movies, and although a surface texture is there, it really is a great deal more subtle than what these decals provide. In addition, the use of both greys and blues for these panels seems a bit like overkill. That being said, it's not that hard to lightly overspray a little white on the panels to tone them down to a somewhat more realistic level.

Before any decal application, though, it might be wise to inspect the kit parts and remove surface detail that could get in the way. I removed the phaser cannons, raised surface detail on the engine struts as well as the curious ribbing on the underside of the engines themselves. All of this simplified the decaling process.

During application, I only ran into two small glitches that were not strictly my own fault. When doing the bridge area, I got complacent about the lack of film and tried to fit the surround for the fins behind the bridge only to discover that these particular decals did, in fact, have film. Already wet and released, I had to delicately cut a slit in each to permit them to fit around the fins rather than over them. The second place where I encountered some problems was with the indented areas under the secondary hull. The decals were (I assume) deliberately oversized and presumably were expected to curve up the side walls of this indent. For me, it didn't quite work out that way, but . . . otherwise I had no real major fit issues with any of the decals provided. Just take plenty of time. Putting all of these decals on is most definitely not a one-evening job.

Ultimately, I found myself somewhat dissatisfied with the Aztec-style decals, both for their comparative garishness and the difficulty I had fitting them around the compound curves of the model. Despite lavish applications of both MicroSol and MicroSet, I still wound up with some wrinkles along their edges which simply would not go away. I had far better luck with the markings portion of the decal sheets which generally snuggled up to the surface without a fuss. Interestingly, when applying the kit-supplied decals I discovered dramatic differences between the two manufacturers, as the kit decals refused to respond to any solvents whatsoever.

Is the additional expense worth it? Realistically, despite my reservations I would have to say a resounding yes, if just for the markings portion of the sheets. There really is no other way for the average modeler to accurately reproduce all the fine piping, and they really do look wonderful on the finished model. I can heartily recommend them for that alone. My thanks to Round 2 for the decals and to IPMS/USA for a chance to try them out.

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