DRY TRANSFERS FOR ALL SCALES
Manufacturer: Larry Larsen Graphics, 23401 Schoenborn Street, West Hills, CA 91304. Price: $5.00 to $45.00 depending on color and complexity.
THE LAST PERSON to review Larry Larsen's product line should be a friend. Unfortunately, everybody on the OR staff is Larry's friend so, since I am the editor, the responsibility of an objective review falls upon my frail shoulders.
First, let me answer the question some of you may be asking: My business is publishing; Larry's is graphics. We work together on the magazine but have completely separate businesses and incomes. That means I have nothing whatever to do with Larsen Graphics, philosophically or financially.
Now I will review the product:
Larry Larsen makes very good dry transfers. He currently produces the only large scale sets purporting to be accurate reproductions of Denver & Rio Grande Western, Rio Grande Southern, and Colorado & Southern locomotive and rolling stock decoration. If you supply artwork, research material, or reasonably detailed sketches, Larry will make up custom dry transfers to your specifications. The photo shows a car with artwork I supplied and Larry produced as transfers.
The review must consider two factors-accuracy with respect to a prototype and the physical properties of the transfer itself.
In case you are hazy about the difference between a dry transfer and a decal, I will explain:
A decal is a clear film with lettering on it. When you soak it in water, the film will slide off its backing paper and onto whatever surface you choose. It takes some skill to apply decals correctly.
A dry transfer is similar to a decal, but without the film. When you rub the backing material, the lettering transfers directly to whatever surface you choose without the use of water. As I will be happy to demonstrate, a fool can apply a dry transfer perfectly the first time.
What physical properties make a good dry transfer? The resolution of the graphics and the ease of application. Larry manufactures his transfers from start to finish. He creates artwork on a computer, prints it onto film, and turns the film into pigment and backing material. Many dry transfers come on a paper backing; Larry's are on a clear mylar backing.
His do-it-yourself approach results in lower overhead, so his prices tend to be very reasonable. But the process creates certain limits to the resolution he can obtain. In other words, the openings in his smallest letters and numbers will fill in at slightly larger sizes than with some other processes. In practical terms, most artwork for 1:29 scale and larger will be perfect. The smallest data markings on 1:32 and smaller scale models may show some filled letters and numbers.
The mylar backing also has advantages and disadvantages. On the one hand, it lets you position the graphic more accurately. On the other, you may have a little more trouble transferring the graphic. Usually, warming the sheet with a hair dryer will help.
Now for the accuracy of the artwork. The heralds, dimensional data, numbers, and other graphics appear to be the equal of any decal or transfer on the market. Additionally, Larry has gone to the effort of recreating the distinctive "Railroad Roman" alphabet common to nearly every Colorado narrow gauge line and countless other narrow and standard gauge railroads. The alphabet is almost perfect. The casual observer would never catch the one or two inconsistencies but a perfectionist might. If you fall into the latter category, you may be happy to know Larry is painfully aware of every serif, curve, and quirk both on the original and his reproduction. Believe me, he knows them better than I do.
Altogether, you could do worse but it will be hard to find a better all-around dry transfer than Larsen Graphics'. The combination of reasonable price, high quality, and painstaking accuracy elevate Larry Larsen Dry Transfers above the crowd.
Did I say it right, Larry?-RR