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11
The Great Magazine Head to Head

A brief disclaimer...

As they always say (as a form of legal shark-repellent), the opinions expressed here are mine. They aren't policy statements of Kitmaker Network. They are the personal opinions I hold on a number of popular magazines - any connections with people living or dead is entirely coincidental...

The Magazines

At the beginning, it's worth pointing something out. I may have boxed myself into a slight editorial corner as the four magazines under the spotlight are all U.K. publications. All of theme are available through specialist outlets in the U.S. and Europe though.

The four magazines are - AFV Modeller, Military Modelling, Model Military International and Military in Scale. I could theoretically do a Review of each one, but it's easier to do a comparison piece. It's not easy to establish a fair or simple criteria for evaluating each one but I'll try and do it in the following ways:

1) Quality of AFV-related articles.

2) The 'completeness' of the Review section

3)) Format

4) Overall opinion - originality, presentation, is it interesting for the reader etc.

All the editions of the magazines are those of August 2007 (apart from AFV Modeller, which is the July/August edition).

Model Military International

This is issue 16 of the magazine which is published by ADH Publishing who also produce Tamiya Model Magazine. The format is broadly similar although the emphasis is very clearly on AFVs. In this issue, apart from the usual 'departments' (News, Reviews etc.) the magazine contains a total of 12 articles. Five of these are titled 'Previews' which although not giving a detailed build of a new kit, do give a pretty detailed assessment of the subject.

1) Quality of AFV-Related Articles. in a word, superlative. However, saying that, although there are a lot, perhaps cutting out one or two and expanding the coverage of the rest would give more detail?

2) 'Completeness' of Reviews: There is only FULL Review (not counting the pretty complete previews). This a FULL-BUILD of DML's Tiger I Initial Production which is extremely informative, very detailed and serves as a very good guide to building and finishing the vehicle.

3) Format: The format of the magazine is logical, bright and very completely illustrated by excellent quality color photos. The titles of the articles are pretty 'snappy' and while not being any way 'gimmicky', do give a more modern feel to the magazine.

4) Final Thoughts: This is a magazine which I buy on a pretty regular basis. I find it informative, very well edited and with a superb graphic layout. On the debit side, it's NOT in my opinion a magazine which is particularly 'user-friendly' for less-experienced modellers. The pitch of the build articles is at least intermediate with a tendency to go for more advanced level builds. This isn't to say that a 'novice' wouldn't find techniques presented of value - they would, but the magazine doesn't have a lot to cater to the many 'entry-level' modellers who are out there. The first-look Review section (titled 'Incoming') is very good with four pages of short reviews which are very informative. The adverts, which are amongst most people's reasons for buying a magazine, cover a wide variety of companies and products. Overall, an excellent magazine - Personal Rating 8.5/10

Military Modelling

This is Volume 37, No. 9 of Military Modelling which, in fairness is NOT a 100% AFV magazine. However, on the basis that the majority of its articles ARE related to armour-modelling and due to it being one of the few surviving 'originals' it really deserves to be here.

1) Quality of AFV-Related Articles: Considering some of the names who regularly write for MM, Steve Zaloga being the best-known and Peter Brown for his extraordinary work on the Historical side along with people such as Jay Laverty, the quality of the build articles is excellent. Mil Mod is particularly good for articles on Allied AFVs, not perhaps the best source for the Axis modeller?

2) Completeness of Reviews: Personally, I feel that this is one of the weakest parts of the magazine. Not due to the quality of the reviews but rather to the format - a lot of text, little in the way of photos. Once again, Peter Brown's reviews are, in my opinion, far superior to the rest, others seem to suffer from a lack of direction - format again?

3) Format: I suppose, on and off, I've been buying MM since the 1970s. There may be a lot to be said for the old adage 'If it ain't broke, don't fix it' but, in my opinion, it's a format which looks pretty tired. Certainly they've taken advantage of the new technologies, there's more color in it than ever before but it really doesn't look very adventurous. The cover of the magazine HAS undergone a make-over looking a lot more exciting than previously internally, the basic 'look' doesn't seem much different from before.

4) Final Thoughts: There are some truly great AFV-related articles in this edition. Graphically, I don't find it very interesting - too many of the photos used are too small and, frequently, pretty dark. The letters page seems to have changed little from several decades ago with everything nicely uncontroversial. MM suffers from the 'time-lag' common to every print magazine - they simply can't get the immediacy of the 'net. Reviews, Show-Reports, News Items etc. are weeks behind although, in fairness, it's a moot point if that is REALLY important. In conclusion, it's a solid, sensible magazine with some great content which is let down by a elderly format and a need to modernise. I don't like 'brash', but I do like lively and sadly, many will be put off by it's pretty 'Stolid' image... Personal Rating - 7.5/10

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About the Author

About Jim Rae (jimbrae)
FROM: PROVINCIA DE LUGO, SPAIN / ESPAñA

Self-employed English teacher living in NW Spain. Been modelling off and on since the sixties. Came back into the hobby around ten years ago. First love is Soviet Armor with German subjects running a close second. Currently exploring ways of getting cloned to allow time for modelling, working and wr...


Comments

I wouldn't disagree with you about MMiR, it's a great mag with good content. Unfortunately when it's only released once a year the rating goes way down for me. I know I'm beating on a dead horse here but I think it's just plain ridiculous that they can't keep a regular schedule. It's a good thing for them that some modelers are so forgiving that they continue to support the mag (also a testament to the quality). Mike
SEP 02, 2007 - 02:51 AM
well you might be glad to hear that I spotted a special Miitary modelling mag/book? (issue?) which features Steve Zaloga builds! Saw it an a local book store and it looks great but I cant seem to find anything about it on the web. It has quite a lot in it, including the DD sherman, 1/72 staghound(?) and a whole bunch of stuff that escapes me at the moment.
SEP 02, 2007 - 03:57 AM
Damn! I must be slipping - monday already and not one legal summons from a single Magazine editor...
SEP 03, 2007 - 05:19 AM
SEP 03, 2007 - 05:29 AM
To be perfectly honest, I enjoyed the comparison but I rarely pick up any of those on a regular basis, one I wouldn't read even if it was given to me. But then again I'm still boycotting EXXON and Major League Baseball! I do pick up MMiR whenever I see it, but have reached the point of not really caring if and when it appears any more. Nothing personal against Pat, or any of the guys that write for it as I think their work and articles are top notch, but sorry, I would never subscribe to any magazines of his, I don't believe in being the front money for what appears to be an hit or miss publication, with an attitude of when I get it out is good enough, like it or not. Has anyone ever seen Issue 2 of Extreme yet? Maybe next year, maybe the following? Maybe I'll wake up pregnant tomorrow! I do pick up MMI on a fair regular basis, OH not the one you are thinking of, That was another bad investment, pay dues to join a site- get a year subscription, and the guy disappears..... and only received 1/2 years' worth of magazines. Nice routine, and another lesson learned, another person to never do business with. Pretty simple isn't it? I do pick up Military Modelcraft International, again not on a regular basis, more on what articles are in it, nice part I can thumb through it without problems at the local B&N before I buy it. To be really cheap, I could sit there and read it and not buy it, but since I'm normally on the way to work, I part with the cash. I pick up Military Machines International, another MMI (all these MMI's sure can be confusing!), and enjoy this one, and I pick up Military Vehicles Magazine MVM, each month, as I enjoy the David Doyle and Steve Turchet columns. Not model- glue part A to part B magazines but dealing with real vehicles and restoring them. The Olive Drab War (ODW) has already been fought and decided there. On things a little larger and more expensive than a Tamyia or Dragon kit. But what would they know!
SEP 03, 2007 - 09:10 AM
I enjoyed your overview of the these magazines, and look forward to your similar treatment of the U.S.-based magazines should you decide to do one. I have a part-time job working in a hobby store, so I don't feel the need to subscribe to the magazine unless it is consistantly interesting and has information I want to keep in my personal library.
SEP 06, 2007 - 04:46 AM
Jim, What an interesting piece. It's a nice change of pace from the product & book reveiws and build articles we normally see. I've only recently begun modeling again after a 20 year hiatus. And I have to admit that it was my 10 year old son who helped lure me back into it. I live in the Midwest of the United State and happen to get all the mags you covered except MM. I also get Fine Scale Modeling as well. I have to agree with most of the comments given about the quality and "niche" (novice, intermediate, etc) the given magazines serve, but I do deviate from them on a couple of points. I like having a magazine to read. Don't get me wrong, I like using the web (this note is a case in point). In fact, the net is a great resource for background and reference material. But it doesn't replace the "intimacy" that a magazine has. For one, I can read a magazine where I want: on a plane, late at night in bed, or on the loo, where I do my best thinking. If I want to be on line, i've got to go to my computer and sit in front of the flat screen. As nice as that is, it's not as comfy as the bed, or an armchair. I also like the magazine becasue of the ads. If a website tries to use a pop-up ad it drives me nuts. And to be honest, I rarely look at the ads on the tops, sides or bottoms of a website. I may see them, but I am not "looking." I couldn't tell you the content or text two minutes from now. When I have a magazine, I enjoy reading the ads. It's my opportunity to look at the "eye candy" at my own pace and in my own way. I suspect that it is these ads that are keeping the magazine industry alive. Having said all that I do think the writing in them could be vastly improved (please keep in mind I have never seen MM, but am familiar with a number of the authors you mentioned). While the overall magazine content seems to well thought out, the writing in the articles themselves seems to be lacking. To be fair, it doesn't always happen. But in the magazine industry I would think that any kind of inconsistency would be an anathama. It seems like any given article suffers from either not enough build detail, or not enough focus on build techniques, or a lack of history behind either the prototype or the model itself (the company, the molds, the production techniques), or sometimes it's just poorly written - AFV, which I truly love, has done more to mame the english language than my two 10 year olds combined. On many an occassion, it's obvious that the text accomanying a build has been edited down to fit, but If I can tell I'm sure anyone can tell. Don't get me wrong, I will still buy the magazines, but I do think there is room for improvement in the writing. Lastly, just one question. I thought AFV was the english language version of Panzer Aces which I thought was written in Spain. Am I wrong here?? Thanks again for the though provoking piece.
SEP 21, 2007 - 07:10 AM
Scott, thanks for your comments. I also have a 'difficulty' with the style of some of the magazines. One good example of this is another of the British (print) magazines (which I didn't overview) is written in a style which I personally detest. Every article is puctuated by comments from the Editor (usually with exclamation marks) and usually along the lines of 'Great Tip!'. In fact, being honest, there is a lack of style across much of the 'Net as well. Exclamation marks can sometimes be used to good effect, when they're used in reports, reviews or features - when they appear every second sentence... I also like advertising in magazines - as the Managing Editor (News) for this Network, I find that a lot of smaller companies' Websites carry a lot of useful information and do lead to a lot of News Reports that get printed here... The reality of course is commercial. unless you have a large number of subscribers your magazine won't survive. The same is equally true on the 'Web - Kitmaker, PMMS or Missing Lynx probably wouldn't exist if it were not for the loyalty of the advertisers. They aren't simply just a 'necessary evil' either - a lot of modelers do gain a great deal from the adverts whether it be product information or simply looking for a kit, they are VERY useful...
SEP 21, 2007 - 10:53 PM
I only know AFV Modeller and Military Modelling to any extent. I like AFV Modeller a lot, MM I like as well. However some of the articles in MM are pretty uimpressive. Fe the build up article of the new Italeri LVT-2 doesn't even mention the size problems as mentioned on Terry Ashley's PMMS, it's just about building the kit... The fact that it also covers medieval figures from time to time, is a plus for me, btw.
SEP 30, 2007 - 07:47 AM
Scott, AFV is not the english version of Panzer Aces, as far as I know they are not related in any way. Mike
SEP 30, 2007 - 08:28 AM