Applying Waterslide Decals with a Modeling Tray


Welcome to Gunpla 201, a new column written by Ashe Blitzen. An award-winning Gunpla modeler, Ashe touches on advanced tools and techniques for experienced building. 

In her inaugural column, Ashe shares a technique for applying waterslide decals, also known as “wet transfer decals,” which look more professional than the easier-to-apply dry transfer decals or stickers. Since they are more difficult, they rarely come included with Gunpla kits, but you can buy them separately from Bandai. 

Waterslide decals make our Gunpla look like a dream, but can be a nightmare to apply for even the most seasoned modeler. Everyone who’s worked with them knows the terror of losing a small decal, the agony of fishing around in a shallow dish of water, the pain of being unable to apply them to the right area before they dry out and tear. Fear not, my friends, there is a solution! I recently found a wonderful tool for applying waterslides.

I was skeptical at first, but I’m a believer now. The Trumpeter Decal Modeling Tray has made working with waterslides so much easier and more efficient.


The key detail here is the water reservoir with a partitioned tray above, which allows the decal to absorb the water below and separate from the paper backing without you having to fish around in a bowl of water for it. You can use the guidelines on the top tray to arrange your decals and keep them organized (and from getting stuck to each other.)

The tray comes with a little ‘scoop comb’ that you use to lift the decals out of the tray and gently slide into the desired position on your model kit. While the ‘comb’ does take a bit of practice to use effectively, it’s extremely useful for tiny decals and longer decals that tend to curl up when you try to apply them. I find that using a flat makeup q-tip (moistened so you don’t tear your decal) is the best for sliding and repositioning your decals from the ‘comb’ to your model.


Always remember to use decal softener before and after you apply to avoid creasing and get a nice, smooth decal that looks natural.

Ganbatte, friends. Build on!

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