You know, when one cares about every minute detail of modeling, I don't think there's a single aspect that isn't extremely complicated and time consuming, you know that? 

     These puppies are not your average stickers.  In the image above you'll see the Enterprise D model painted with the primary hull color I intend for the Voyager (though it's going to be a drop of Duck Egg Blue brighter, yesterday's recipe modified accordingly), and some of the decals in their proper locations (again, another strike against Ertyl - they don't accommodate for decal placement in their drawing of lines on the hull - this'd be great if those lines were there on the prototype ship, but they're just there to look "cool" / complicated.  This model's shit, dude).

     The Model Master guidebook I purchased was very helpful here, though I had to improvise on their placement methods / recommendations to suit what I like best.  I've tried their way on some of the decals and my way on others, and made stuff up on yet more.  Setting solution is great stuff, I need to mess with Decal Solvent Solution next; the latter is stronger than the former, actually partially dissolving the decal so as to ensure it conforms to every aspect of the plastic.  I can only advise use of this stuff, it makes the decals look much better.

     After I play with Decal Solvent Solution I need to get some more fibre for the fibre optics, and I think I'll be ready to start on the Voyager herself.

     For what it's worth, here is my advice regarding decals.

Anybody who's dealt with disposable contact lenses will have a much better time handling these things!

Mandatory tools and their uses:

  • two fine, small paintbrushes

    • The paintbrushes are the primary application tool - one for basic motion / setting of the decal, and the other for the application of the setting solution / solvent.

  • latex surgical gloves

    • You'll be handling the model a lot, getting it in the right position to allow for perfected placement of the decals, thereby getting fingerprint oil on it.  Since you're applying decals to the gloss coat (you are, right?) you'll actually feel your fingers sticking to the model.

  • dental tools

    • These things are awesome!  The point helps remove obstinate cardboard backing, the bends help align and smooth (though a brush might work best, it's a tool when appropriate).  If you've had or seen LASIK surgery you'll understand this one - with a good pool of water all around the decal, carefully slip the point and shank of the tool beneath the decal, and with surgeon's hands pull the tool beneath and along the decal to straighten it out - perfect trick for the long stripes.

  • decal setting / solvent solution

    • I prefer to use this after the decal is set and mostly dried.  The Model Master book recommends you paint the surface with this stuff, then slide the decal in place over the pool of this material.  I found this put way too much of it on the surface and actually marred the paint a little.  So far, if you paint the set decal with it, it works mighty fine.  Don't be afraid to apply multiple coats.

  • paper towel / fine cotton pads

    • Use for wicking up excess water or setting / solvent solution, cleaning your tools (which will get a thin layer of adhesive buildup while you work), or touching the decal directly to get the water up.

  • fine tweezers

    • Use to handle the paper backing of the decal, but not the decal itself as it could crush it into the paper backing - use the brush to move the decal, and the tweezers to move the backing away.

  • perfectly sharp X-Acto knife (or scalpel would be best)

    • These decals are extremely thin layers of colored film, and some of them are too close together on any given decal sheet.  You'll be doing some precise cutting - according to the Model Master book, if you're applying decals to light paint you'll even need to trim the 1/16" transparent part around the colored part!  You could be making cuts with 1/16" precision - use a perfect tool, it's hard enough as it is.

  • small, rectangular tub of water

    • Basic, yes, but don't forget it's going to be your best friend for a while - use a clear bowl / tupperware thing, probably in a rectangular shape and flat.

  • slip of cardboard

    • Used in cutting the decals from the sheet, such that you don't leave Star-Trek insignia engraved in the dining room table.


          Have a cup of tea handy and be listening to comfortable tunes - you're gonna be workin' this a while!