Today we’ll review Mr. Mark Setter and Softer NEO from Japanese scale modelling brand Mr. Hobby, a two-product solution for perfectly conformed decals with a “painted on” look. Can these products affix a chapter icon to a curved shoulder pad with no wrinkles or bubbles? And how will they compare to Microsol from Microscale? Find out more in this review.
Mr. Mark Softer and Setter NEO by Mr. Hobby are decal setting solutions designed to be used with miniature decals (also called transfers). They’ll improve the adhesion and soften the carrier film to make decals conform to irregular surfaces and remove visible edges, resulting in a “painted on” look. Each 40 ml bottle usually goes for 7 to 8 Euro (or your local equivalency) and is available from specialised scale modelling shops or from Amazon.com / Amazon UK / ebay.com / ebay UK / ebay Germany (please note these are affiliate links, by using them you will be able to support Tale of Painters with a little commission). Mr. Hobby is a brand from Japanese “Gunpla” company Gunze. Gunpla stands for Gundam Play, the hobby of assembling and modelling plastic Gundam model kits.
Please note that Mr Hobby also offers a version of their setting solution without the NEO designation. I couldn’t find out what the difference was, but at least in Germany, I was only able to find the NEO versions.
The first thing to notice when you open the product is the mild chemical smell, similar to plastic glue. The screw-tops have a brush attached for easier appliance, which I found to be useful for the Softer, but for the Setter the brush felt too big and I always applied than I’d prefer.
The first thing I recommend to do before using these products is applying a coat of gloss varnish to protect the model’s paint job and to create a perfectly smooth surface for the transfer to adhere to. Once dry, you can then apply a thin coat of Mr. Mark Setter NEO, which is an adhesive that will increase the bonding, and will also help to keep the decal in place even on irregular or curved parts of the model. Once the decal and the Setter solution have dried, you will then need to apply several coats of Mr. Mark Softer NEO, letting each coat dry before applying the next. Each coat will soften the carrying film of the transfer more and more until the decal has perfectly conformed to the model’s surface without any wrinkles or bubbles, and the carrier film’s edges are no longer visible. Finally, you should seal your model with matte varnish, which will remove the slightly glossy finish the setting solution leaves.
I heard good things about the Mr. Mark products, so here is a comparison between Mr. Mark and Microsol from Microset. As you can see, Mr. Mark Setter and Softer NEO did a decent job. The result is much better than using just pure water, and also better than the Vallejo decal softener I used to have (not pictured). However, the edges of the decal are still slightly noticeable and it failed to remove a small bubble in the upper left, even after applying six coats of Mr. Mark Softer.
I have to say, Microsol did the job better Mr Mark Softer Neo in my opinion. Maybe the Neo formula is weaker than the original formula, but with Microsol, I only needed three coats, and the decal has blended in much better. Please note I didn’t use a setting solution for the Microsol example, I just used plain old water to attach the transfer and then applied three coats of Microsol for softening. Microscale also offers their own setting solution, Microset, which I don’t have yet. I might keep the Mr. Mark Setter as it’s a nice upgrade over just using water, but for softening, I’ll definitely recommend Microsol.
With about 7 to 8 Euro per 40 ml bottle, the price of Mr. Mark Setter and Softer NEO is on par with similar decal setting products like Microsol, which is about 6 to 7 Euro for a 29.6 ml bottle. As there isn’t much of a difference in price, I honestly don’t see much value in getting the Mr. Markover Microset and Microsol, especially as Mr. Hobby products are very hard to find in most countries.
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