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Callie Graphics Decal Set for the Dynam F6F Hellcat Review

Some high-quality, American-made decals from THE definitive source for model graphics put some beautiful ba-zing on an ordinary ARF/RTF.

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Introduction

Material:Diecut 3M .002" fuelproof vinyl
Manufacturer/Available From:Callie Graphics, Post Office Box 1541, Magdalena, New Mexico 87825 USA
RTF Model Available From:Nitroplanes.com
Price (USD):$23.00 plus shipping and tax where applicable

Of all the names of all the companies I see either here on RCGroups or in print, one tends to pop up quite often: Callie Graphics of Magdalena, New Mexico USA.

Founded in 2002 by Callie Soden while employed at her father's local hobby shop, the company began when her dad bought a used vinyl cutter. The idea was to offer simple custom graphics and custom lettering.

That is, until Callie got a hold of the machine and recognized its potential.

The rest, as they say, is history.

Today, Callie Graphics ships their hundreds - if not thousands - of beautiful scale decal schemes for R/C aircraft and boats all over the world.

I've often read of the universal praise that other modelers have for the company and as such, I looked forward to an opportunity to give a set of their highly touted decals a try. The opportunity came in the form of a generous thank-you gift from my friends at Nitroplanes in the form of a beautiful 1270mm Dynam F6F Hellcat all-EPO electric warbird. As I've pointed out in several reviews of Dynam products, they're affordable, look great and fly even greater. The only consistently weak spot was in the decals, often a hodgepodge of too-shiny pressure sensitive scale decals mixed with nearly useless non-scale decals.

This beautiful Hellcat deserved the best and it was a no-brainer for me to email the company on a Saturday. The email was answered Monday morning by no less than Callie herself and if that email was any indication, she is one of the nicest, most cheerful people on the face of this poor old planet.

I don't blame her; I love New Mexico.

She was thrilled to arrange to have a set of decals mailed to me. The scheme wasn't on their webpage, but Callie Graphics has a lot of schemes which are not listed. It's a simple matter of emailing the company with one's requirements.

Dynam chose a terrific subject, that of "White 19" or Gadget, the F6F-3 assigned to the USS Intrepid and flown by US Navy ace Alex Vraciu. At war's end, Vraciu was the Navy's fourth most successful ace with a total of 19 kills, with six in a single battle.

Missing from the Dynam decal sheet were the name of the plane and all of the artwork, including the famous bomb-carrying Felix the Cat mascot of the Navy's elite Strike Fighter Squadron 31, a mascot adopted in 1935 and used to this day. Not only did Callie have the scheme in stock and in the proper scale, she knew exactly which plane I was trying to duplicate.

Time to make our subject look as great as the original.

Contents

Since this was a full set of decals, it came with the following:

  • Stars and bars insignia for the fuselage and wings
  • Multi-piece kill markings
  • Multi-piece "19" logos for the fuselage, horizontal stabilizer and landing gear strut panels
  • Multi-piece "Gadget" signature
  • "Snorting Bull" and "Felix the Cat" mascots

Needed to apply the decals:

  • Scissors to cut apart the decals as necessary before application
  • New #11 X-Acto hobby knife or equivalent for slicing the decals at the battery hatch

For ease of application on traditionally built and covered models, Callie Graphics suggests the use of a spray bottle filled with a solution of water and liquid dish soap so that the decals can be removed and repositioned if necessary. I tried that with the first big stars and bars insignia and I quickly discovered that it was unnecessary with my foam model, a fact which Callie later confirmed.

Applying the Decals

I wanted to approach this review from a standpoint of simplicity, e.g., simply applying the decals to an otherwise box stock model without any additional painted detail.

Naturally, the Hellcat needed its final assembly before I could begin. The only factory decal used was the slightly bizarre representation of the instrument panel with its highly stylized and contemporary-looking collection of, um, instruments. The only reasons I used it in the first place were because Callie Graphics doesn't offer instrument panels at this time and because I felt that doing up a more accurate instrument panel would have been a bit beyond the scope of the review.

That's not to say that I'm discouraging anyone from creating their own panel. In retrospect, I should have done so myself after seeing the beautiful finished product.

Once the model was assembled, one thing was certain: The Hellcat was a bruiser of an aircraft. It lacks the sleek lines of the P-51 or P-40, looking instead like the Navy's version of the P-47.

Fact is, I like the P-47 and I immediately liked the F6F.

As I've pointed out, I began with one of the big stars and bars on the fuselage, making the slight error of wetting the model ahead of time. This resulted in the decal trying to lift off of the surface as I removed the cover sheet, but once the sheet was off and the decal burnished down...wow.

The .002" 3M vinyl does a superb job of covering the panel lines and rivets common to molded foam models. Once the decal was finally burnished down, it almost looked as if it had been painted.

Speaking of paint, I admit to being worried about the backing sheet or cover sheet sticking to the Hellcat and lifting the paint. No such problem.

From there, it was simply a matter of cutting each decal apart where necessary and applying them per a combination of the Dynam's assembly manual and online photos showing the mascots. Aligning each decal was as easy as could be thanks to the cover sheets. I was able to properly line up each decal without having to try and deal with a typical pressure sensitive factory decal trying its best to fold onto itself.

Each of those applications resulted in a genuine "oh, wow" moment. The colors were sharp, crisp and clear and each and every example not only stuck to the model without a hint of lifting off, removing each cover sheet didn't threaten to stretch, wrinkle or tear the decal. Good thing, too. The decals are firmly attached to the sheets, so careful and patient removal is a must.

What blew me away were the multi-piece decals.

For example, the underlined tail numbers consist of four individual pieces, unlike the one-piece factory decal. Each kill marking was an individual piece and even the tiny "Gadget" signature consisted of no fewer than six individual pieces, one for each letter.

The big stenciled "White 19" fuselage stickers and black "19" stencils on the landing gear struts were three pieces each. At first, I thought the latter weren't supplied with the set, so they aren't in the photos. A more thorough check found them hiding in the clasp envelope they were shipped in.

Once applied, they looked truly amaxing:

I'd wished that cutting these magnificent decals hadn't been necessary, but it was indeed so for the big "19" stencils, the snorting bull mascot and the stars and bars beneath the wing. The sharp #11 X-Acto made clean and neat work of the job and after about an hour's worth of peeling and sticking, the Hellcat was complete.

What I saw was breathtaking.

Here was an otherwise stock Dynam model with graphics which made it look as if it were ready for a scale contest. All I could do was to stare at it in near disbelief.

I had a feeling that it would turn out well, but I never imagined it would be this well!

Since I was confident that others at the field would ask about the decals at some point, I added this hidden detail to the underside of the canopy so that they would know where to order their own sets:

I am, after all, a big believer in networking.

Flying

As always, the maiden flight would occur at the Coachella Valley Radio Control Club east of Palm Springs.

The Hellcat's stunning livery drew quite a few admirers and compliments; seeing the model taxi out to the runway for the first time was equally impressive. It just looked terrific.

The takeoff showed the Hellcat to be tail heavy, but once I landed it, shifted the battery all the way foward and did some adjustments to the elevator, I was ready to enjoy the next flights.

It's a nice flyer without a lot of speed in typical Dynam warbird fashion, but what I wanted to see were some low passes.

The model didn't disappoint and neither did the graphics. They looked great!

Is This For a Beginner?

Absolutely, positively yes. Callie Graphics decals are easy to apply and will impart a fantastic, true-to-scale look to any model plane or boat. For example, if a beginner wanted to make his or her trainer look more like a real Cessna, Callie Graphics can provide any livery imaginable including custom work.

I can think of no reason not to order up a set.

Photo Gallery

Conclusion

After seeing how beautifully this project turned out, I plan on using Callie Graphics decals of a lot of future models. In fact, I hope to use them on future review subjects in lieu of factory decals and they did exactly what I set out to have them do, this is, to take an otherwise ordinary model and add some visual punch with little effort. They're affordable, easy to apply, adhere perfectly and make an otherwise run-of-the-mill model look utterly gorgeous. They're also perfect for redoing or even completely changing an existing scheme after repainting or recovering.

Two thumbs up as high as I can raise them. These products deserve no less.

A ton of thanks goes to the delightful Callie Soden of Callie Graphics for providing these review samples. Callie is one of the nicest people I've ever had the privilege of working with on behalf of RCGroups.com and I hope to do so again before long. Special, heartfelt and very public thanks go to Bobby Guarisco and the entire Nitroplanes.com team for their generous gift of the Dynam F6F Hellcat; I am beyond happy that the decals made this terrific model really stand out and I look forward to enjoying it for years to come.

RCGroups.com administrator Angela Haglund preps each and every review for publication on behalf of each and every one of you, the members of our worldwide audience of R/C hobbyists.

Is a new plane, helicopter or boat in your future, dear readers? Make it special with a set of its own Callie Graphics decals!

Pluses and Minuses

The pluses are many, to put it mildly:

  • Affordably priced
  • Easy to apply
  • Incredibly high quality printing and material
  • World-class customer service
  • Adds class, value and fantastic good looks to any model
  • If one can imagine it, Callie can make it real
  • The standard in R/C model graphics

No minuses were noted.

Last edited by DismayingObservation; Nov 24, 2013 at 08:19 PM..

Discussion

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Old Nov 26, 2013, 06:08 PM
Rusty Fingers
NoobAgain's Avatar
United States, NM, Albuquerque
Joined Jun 2010
429 Posts
Callie makes fantastic graphics, and they last forever. I met Callie when she worked at her father's shop and really appreciate what she was willing to do to create the graphics I needed. I just bought a set for my Spacewalker and she was fantastic to deal with. Definitely an awesome resource for modelers.
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Old Nov 27, 2013, 10:12 AM
Registered User
Joined May 2007
26 Posts
There was no cost mentioned in the review. What is the cost of the decal set you received?
Will the Callie decals lift paint from a foam model if they have to be repositioned after the adhesive has been in contact with the paint?
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Old Nov 27, 2013, 12:07 PM
Transmogrified.
DismayingObservation's Avatar
Southern California
Joined Feb 2006
2,855 Posts
Quote:
Originally Posted by frovello View Post
There was no cost mentioned in the review. What is the cost of the decal set you received?
Will the Callie decals lift paint from a foam model if they have to be repositioned after the adhesive has been in contact with the paint?
Hello!

I mentioned the price inside of the spec sheet at the top of the page. The cost of this particular set is $23.00.

If these or any decals are applied without first spraying the surface of the model with water, they will indeed lift the paint. The first decal I applied was one of the big stars and bars on the fuselage and I was able to safely lift it off of the model without the paint coming with it. They're very easy to align thanks to the cover sheet, so you should be able to get them aligned perfectly with very little effort.
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Old Nov 27, 2013, 03:07 PM
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Joined May 2007
26 Posts
Thanks. My bad missing the price in the Spec sheet.
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Old Nov 27, 2013, 04:35 PM
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United States, MD, Elkton
Joined Oct 2011
8,594 Posts
I've bought from Callie for the first time earlier this year, for a 1/3 scale model I built.
..
I had given her a wrong dimension on one item, and of course it wouldn't fit.
I emailed her with an adjustment, and she was only too happy to help me get it right.

She puts the special decal sets under the buyer's name, and if you need more, it's as easy as emailing a new order, and stating which airplane

5 stars for the graphics and her personality..No excuses here.
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Old Nov 28, 2013, 06:56 AM
Registered User
Michigan's Upper Peninsula
Joined Sep 2007
705 Posts
A very high quality resource for our community.

I realize I haven't even scratched the surface of her talents with my requests, but each of them perfect with high quality materials.

Excellent customer service from someone who understands our hobby.

Dave
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Old Nov 28, 2013, 09:07 AM
Registered User
United States, CA, Oakland
Joined Oct 2013
50 Posts
Dressing up the truck by Callie

Callie supplied art work for my planes & boats leading me to a special request. The truck (RC hauler big&small) needed something special. I sent Callie a 3 view line drawing of a F4U asking her to delete all but the outlines. No problem. What could be better than a bent-wing silhouette for our RC hauler's window?! Just sayin' thanks, Callie, for the good work delivered with exceptional customer support services.
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Old Nov 30, 2013, 10:25 PM
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Joker 53150's Avatar
United States, WI, Muskego
Joined Sep 2012
834 Posts
+1 on what others have said. I got a completely custom set of graphics made for my Dynam Grand Cruiser, all made to my specifications. She had the dimensions for the plane already and we went back and forth a few times to come up with a design. After placing the order the decals were delivered in a very timely manner. Installation on the plain white (unpainted) foam went very smoothly.

I can't recommend her services highly enough!

Here are the stock "before" and the new "after" pictures.
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Old Dec 01, 2013, 06:37 AM
building building building!
aerophilia's Avatar
Melbourne Australia
Joined Jun 2006
5,087 Posts
Myself and a few friends who live in Melbourne Australia order graphics from Callie semi regularly. Her service and prices are second to none. It is cheaper for us to buy from Callie and have them shipped than it is to get anything near the quality she provides locally.

We will certainly be ordering more from Callie in the future.
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Old Dec 01, 2013, 12:36 PM
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Ireland, County Kerry, Kerry
Joined Dec 2005
6,933 Posts
What is particularly special about Callie is that she communicates so well by email. She always responds quickly and efficiently. If only Eastern European glider manufacturers were so ... Callie is always prepared to go through a whole design process with you, with draft graphics going back and forth by email. Nothing is too much trouble. What a pleasure to deal with. Five stars !

Chris
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Old Dec 02, 2013, 09:34 AM
Hey Guys, Watch This.......
mike2663's Avatar
USA, TX, El Paso
Joined Dec 2003
6,061 Posts
I've been using them for sometime and have not been disappointed. Fast turn around,quality product at rediculiosly low prices. My "go to" for graphics.

Mike
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Old Dec 04, 2013, 05:24 PM
ltc
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United States, MA, Mendon
Joined Mar 2010
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Callie is the best.
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Old Dec 05, 2013, 12:04 AM
DFC~ We Do Flyin' Right
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USA, GA, Atlanta
Joined Nov 2008
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Callie Rocks!
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Old Jan 10, 2014, 09:11 PM
Registered User
United States, KY, Mt Sterling
Joined Feb 2013
13 Posts
Calli graphics

What scale are you using on a Dynam war bird?
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