I'm talking here about those real metal foil transfers that are typically used for small chrome details and badges. I had no end of trouble with the ones in my Tamiya DBS kit, with them not sticking or lifting paint (on the engine cover). Previously I'd used a sheet of aftermarket Ferrari logos with no issues, but this is how I finally solved the problem of the Tamiya ones - but only on the last one, so I'm posting it up here in the hope that other people can learn from my mistakes!
First of all, there's usually some spare metal transfer - in the Tamiya DBS case, a sort of sheet identifier number on a plaque. Don't ignore it! Just try applying some of this spare transfer to the surface or surfaces you need the real things to go on, and see if it goes on easily. If so, you're set. But if not, you haven't trashed a unique and fragile transfer in finding out (in my case,, "6.0 V12"). This is especially a problem since the elements of these transfers are not actually connected in any way once they are off the backing and cover film.
The transfers are most likely to stick properly to a smooth, shiny surface. In the DBS decal sheet, there are several number plate frames where the clear decal film covers the whole area of the plate, but only the border is printed in colour (eg the Italian plate). I applied the metal transfer to some of the clear decal film. You can rub it down HARD on a flat, level surface and be sure that the thing has firmly stuck down. Then, cut the decal film close to the metal transfer and apply it like a normal decal. The glue on the transfer is not affected by the water. I used Klear as a setting solution, and the underlying decal film is completely invisible. Most kits have some spare decals with extra clear film, and if the specific kit you're building doesn't you've certainly got some in the spares box or stash of other kits that will...
Tip: dealing with difficult metal transfers
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