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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 Jim Rae (jimbrae)

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...