21 May 2010

[REVIEW] Water Slide Decal; Shops, Quality and Insights

It's only natural when you are into Gunpla, you would want to make your kits look professional. Apart from the usual panel lining, painting and others, one of the method is to apply decals. In this case, I am talking about wet transfer decal and it does not come cheap and the only source is via e-shops.

As mentioned in an earlier post, the 3 e-shops that I source my decals from are:-

1. Samuel Decal [HK]
2. Tatsu Hobby [US]
3. V2 Hobby World [SG]

You would have seen my kits before and after decal was done. It's just awesome. Those who have not, please look at the pictures below:-

HGUC Unicorn

HGUC Char's Zaku II

 HGUC Psycho Gundam 


Let's start by talking about my buying experience. Notice the location of the shops. There are from all over the place; HK, SG and US so bear this in mind when getting the decals.


V2 Hobby World which is less well known in fact provides the easiest way for purchasing decals. All you need to do is look up the decals you want, add to cart, input your shipping address and you will be billed via PayPal. Note that SG buyers get free delivery or can meet up in person for collection.

Tatsu Hobby has a similar system like V2 Hobby World. Easy to navigate and purchase. Shipping is free (May not be always good). Shall discuss in later sections. Pay via PayPal.

Samuel Decal does not have the usual sales system. You will need to look up the decals you want, copy and paste the information and send them an email. Samuel will then invoice you with all the important information like shipping address, cost and etc. Pay via PayPal. 

Pole:     1. V2 Hobby World     2. Tatsu Hobby     3. Samuel Decal


Please refer to the following table. It shows the decals that I have bought and the price with shipping to Brunei from it's respective countries. Notice that at time of writing, I have yet to receive my decals from Tatsu !!!

There is nothing much to the price. It is almost similar and frankly speaking, its difficult to compare the prices unless you are getting identical decals (which I am not doing).

Pole:     1. V2 Hobby World, Samuel Decal, Tatsu Hobby     2. --    3. --


V2 Hobby World is the fastest since they are situated in SG. My order from them was last but their decals came first.

Samuel Decal's decal came second but the order of arrival does not match purchase. Example, I bought HG Hi-Nu decal then HG Exia decal but HG Exia's decal came first. Not sure whether its something to do with the postal service in Brunei or not.

Tatsu Hobby's decal DID NOT ARRIVE at time of writing. In fact, I placed order with them first. I have contacted them and they told me it was already shipped. I can't complain much since the shipping is FREE and it is coming from the US. Not sure whether it will ever arrive or not.

See Table in previous section.
Pole:     1. V2 Hobby World    2. Samuel Decal    3. Tatsu Hobby [NOT ARRIVED YET]


Samuel Decal undoubtly has the largest selection of decals. Designs are available for ALL Gundam series and most of them are customised design. They do have Bandai based design as well. In addition, you can also cook-up your own design and request a print from them.

V2 Hobby World only sells original Bandai decals. Nothing out of ordinary; just plain Bandai stuffs.

Tatsu Hobby is selling some pretty awesome decals not available at the two other shops. I saw some of these decals were use in decaling garage kits of G-System etc. However, the decals are limited.

Pole:     1. Samuel Decal    2. V2 Hobby World    3. Tatsu Hobby


V2 Hobby World's decal need no review. They are Bandai. Who else could have produced better decals ? Well, what I can do is to share my experience using their decals. A couple of plus points for Bandai's decal is the strength and etched out print. Once soaked in water (for at least 40secs), the decal can be slide easily on smooth surface with predefined etched out decals. And it does not get "bend" easily and hence it does not get "stuck" together that often. Even so, it can be easily "un-bend" and "un-stuck" with more water. 

Samuel Decal's decal. Well, I actually used Samuel's decal prior to Bandai's decal. Verdict is that Bandai's print is much better. Sam's has abundant designs and all but you will need a fair bit of skill to use them. Plus the prints are easily smudge when you hold the decal too tight while you are trying to cut a piece of decal out. Speaking of which, Sam's decal is not etched so whatever the shape you cut it out with, it comes with it so be aware while using Sam's decal. Sam's decal is fragile and "bends" easily hence getting "stuck" together more often. This is destroy that piece of decal if it was to happend.

Tatsu Hobby ? I have no comments as I have yet to receive anything from them. What a pity...
Pole:     1. V2 Hobby World    2. Samuel Decal    3. Tatsu Hobby [NOT ARRIVED YET]


Getting the decals from either V2HW or Samuel is green light. I am putting my hands down for Tatsu because I have yet to receive anything after 2.5 months of purchasing. Really, the only definining factor is the design, even if Samuel's decal is more difficult to use, you will most definitely get it since they are not available with Bandai. I strongly suggest beginners to start off with Bandai decals so that you won't be put down by multiple fails and wasting money on spoiled decals. Price-wise, again won't be much of a difference considering the fact that your aim is to make your kit look much much better. Anyways, just refer to the table in above sections.

Thanks for reading this review and hopefully those who decide to purchase based on my review can share their experience too especially with Tatsu. However, I am sure they did sent the decals out but just tad too slow to reach Brunei.

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