For those who build (or even 'dabble') in Aviation Modeling, few people can be unaware of Scale Aviation Modeller. This, at least in my opinion, is the best of the many aviation modeling titles out there. Now, following from their success in this area, SAM Publications, have re-vamped, re-worked and began afresh with a title aimed at the military modeling fraternity with what is effectively a completely new monthly magazine.
Around a year ago, I published a highly-opinionated 'overview' of four of the U.K's military-modeling magazines. My conclusions (controversy generated apart) were broadly that some of the publishers could consider a make-over of some of their titles to reflect more the graphically-exciting (?) age we live in. I also felt that more could (and should) be done for the less-experienced modelers in our midst. Has SMMI taken this approach? Read on...
It would perhaps be useful to explain that Scale Military Modeller International is a reworking of a previous title from the publisher - Scale Models International. The new emphasis though, is now VERY clearly on military subjects - particularly armor. The Editor, Andy Evans, in his editorial clearly sets out his stall for the intentions of the magazine with a strong emphasis on build features along with an as in-depth as possible look at the new products which are on the way in models, upgrades and reference material.
The magazine is printed in full color and consists of 82 pages. It contains all the usual departments one would expect - Reviews, Event Reports, Reader competitions etc. However, the area which DOES set itself apart from some of its competitors, is a strong emphasis on News. Also, within the magazine, you'll find both previews and reviews (very similar to our site sections). Quality of printing is good with images clear and crisp.
The magazine is divided into eight separate 'departments', these are News
The first section is pretty self-explanatory with the (rarely-seen) admittance from Editors that they can't compete with the 'net over 'immediacy' of News Items although this one does seem pretty up to date. A huge number of manufacturers are covered in this section along with both AM and full-kit releases. As a separate part of their News section, they've added a nice feature with a 'News Feature' (Spotlight) - in this issue they cover in some detail the future release of a an M915 Guntruck from Minimanfactory.
'Previews' are small, (but pretty nicely done) mini reviews of a wide range of products. This sets the stage for the Review section. The Review section is conventionally-enough done and covers a LOT of subjects - 11 in 1/35th scale, 7 in 1/72nd scale. Depending on the 'importance' of the subject, this appears to be the criteria established. If I have a gripe then it's the apparent lack of coverage in 48th scale although the New upgrade sets from Black Dog ARE covered albeit in a simple photo-report. A separate section covers books (and increasingly important) multi-media.
Six Build-Reports are covered in the next section. These are well-presented with good text, useful 'in-progress' shots and a variety of well-explained techniques. Within this section is the 'Armour Workshop' which in this case covers a simple conversion of the Tamiya Willys Jeep. A more extensive feature takes an overview of the Sd.Kfz 222 in both 48th and 35th scales. A well-known name to Armorama users, will be that of Keith Forsyth, who has published an article on a French LeClerc in Lebanon. An added bonus are some of Chris Hughes' (Toadman1) superb images of a preserved example.
The penultimate section covers both the usual modeling shows (IPMS etc.) along with the 'full-size' shows and rallies such as the Wings and Wheels show. One section, (which I hope will become a regular feature) is titled Ármour Americana' which covers both modeling and armor-related museums on the other side of the 'Pond'- the first report covers the Patton Museum at Fort Knox, Kentucky. The last section provides a calendar of future events along with a some attractive competitions.
I've previously categorized magazines into three (very) broad categories - those which cater to a wide range of modelers of different experience and ability, those which follow a tried and tested formula , and those which cater towards the 'Uber-Modeler'. Scale Military Modeller International fits clearly into the first category with a couple of additional thoughts. I REALLY like the News and Spotlight features - these, to me, are extremely innovative for a print magazine. The Reviews are competent and make the most of the available space (paper vs. cyberspace). Looking at the work of a magazine editor makes me really grateful we have virtually unlimited space for News, Reviews and Features (although I'd like longer deadlines!). The Editor, Andy Evans, has done an impressive job of presenting a lot of information and (sometimes forgotten in the modeling world) ensuring that it's also well-written. Nope it isn't a literary magazine, but good English always gets the information across better than texting...
If I have a niggle, and it might not be entirely fair on the basis of one issue, there should, in future issues, be more for quarter-scale. After a slowish start, 1/48th scale is now featuring more strongly in SMMIs competitor's magazines. It's also become less of a 'novelty' amongst modelers - once again, reflected across the 'web.
It would have been easy to follow the path of least resistance and either produce a very 'high-end' or a very 'basic' magazine. They've avoided these pitfalls. This will go right across the board and offer something for all levels of the hobby. With (to all intents and purposes) this being the FIRST issue of a NEW magazine, the editorial team have hit the ground running with every indication that future issues are going to continue to be innovative. It's also nice to see that on the 'net, we DON'T have a monopoly of ideas and quality publications like this help to keep us sharp!
Highs: Focus on armor, well written and organized, innovative News and Spotlight features. Lows: First issue deals with common scales of 1/35 and 1/72 but 1/48 is scarce, hopefully something to be addressed more in future issues. Verdict: An impressive launch issue that innovative approaches and offering something for all levels of the hobby.
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...