Monday, September 9

Review: Ampersand's MMiR 58 - these just keep getting better

Ampersand Publishing’s own magazine – the much loved Model Miniatures in review - almost did not materialize this month, a lot seemed to have stood in the way of the mag even coming out – but come out it has and we have the latest issue in our hands and thought that we should share what’s inside in our review..

“Military Miniatures in Review #58”
Ampersand Publishing
Full colour A4 Portrait softcover magazine
Get yours from Ampersand Publishing. US$9.95 + P&P and can be subscribed in the states and around the world at a better rate directly from their website

I have to confess – I am bit jaded by a lot of magazines on the market at the moment. The internet – the be-all and end all of knowledge nowadays has eclipsed a lot of print media in my search for knowledge – especially non specialized content. It seems to succeed in magazines now you have to offer something that is exclusive and maybe go about your business in ever more appealing ways to keep your readers buying magazines.

Indeed as I read the forward from the editor you realized how precarious the print magazine industry has become. The struggles to just get this magazine to print is was in itself interesting reading and an insight into the business guessed at but not afforded often to the lay-man. In this frank and open style this magazine starts as it means to go on – with a slightly different take on what is going on in modelling right now.

Now a bug bear of mine is magazines full of adverts – this mag is an 80 page bi-monthly periodical, all of the adverts are pretty much at the start and the rear mag and so you have the rest of the magazine to read unhindered by notices about some shop offering 5% off already reduced prices. They have dealt with their ads in a responsible way. There isn’t too much blind championing of certain products in this mag here which is also a pet hate of mine. I like to learn new things and non bias comment in my model mags, not just the same techniques with the same products, and we have this here.
We go straight into the industry news – written in an informative and sometimes exhausting- to-keep –up-with fashion as some of the model makers have been quite busy. There is little room to keep us informed but it all fits into these small coloured boxes – I thought I was well informed but there was stuff here I didn't know about. A good variety here for even seasoned news hounds. There are a also bunch of book reviews – I like that they are short but full of stuff you want to know about the books – or concise if I was being concise!

The structure of the magazine then goes into serous builds;

There is a very nicely modified and updated Merkava from MENG which uses mostly resin add-ons from Blast Models. I like the workaround the author used to try and find a solution making a no-slip surface for the deck of the Merkava. He isn’t afraid to say what he thought about the kit either which is nice ;-)
 The Old Italeri kit of the much loved Dodge WC54 ambulance is treated to a much needed upgrade in the next part of the mag. It’s interesting how easily this kit can be made to look a little more like his modern cousins with a bit of work on the grills,  some Eduard’s and Archer’s gear – we never knew it could look this good.
In the next build Tom Jett kitbashes an AFV club cannon (sorry loose cannon - I did laugh) with the dragon 35th scale Bison II kit into an Afrika Korps “funny”.  Like in all the other builds here the author describes his build in normal long form and also in little boxes with numbered text to describe what is going on.
A Japanese king tiger in all but size is how you would best describe the next kit –the FineMolds Type 5 “Chi-Ri” simple but effective build of a lovely little tank that though simple came out pretty impressive. Not all of the builds here are for people who want to “watch the (plastic) world burn”!
Roberto Reale next uses some of his own products – many of which were not yet in production - to create an impressive diorama of an Ardennes backdrop for the M10 tank destroyer and her crew and accompanying infantry. The title blurb of this suggests that Roberto is channelling Francois Verlinden and Shep Paine and I cannot say that I would disagree. The degree of detail here not only in the general parts lying around, but the groundwork and detail of painting and finishing really makes for a lovely dio. A good lesson indeed.
The next part “Patrol in the Debris Field” sees an extraordinary diorama that is lit up and sits all atop what was once a bowling trophy stand! This space wreckage and two mech suits all sits on one base and tower of modelling which is just astounding to take in when you consider getting everything to remain in place but still look like it is floating around – Weathering in space is something I never considered until now.
There are several pages of built up figures in mini-reviews. The publishers took the time to both construct and give a low down of where the figure comes from and what he/she may suit.
I love the little annotations the authors have with some of the figures who look to be in funny positions – I cannot say I haven’t thought the same myself sometimes when you see a kit built to fit a certain part r vehicle who is moulded in a funny position.

The M17 US half track build is the last small chapter in MMiR 58 – The dragon kit is shown as a lend lease “meat chopper” AA gun – some lovely chipping and construction is on show in this article
What is common to all of these articles is the non-standard approach to subjects, the fact that the modellers never place themselves above the model they are making – though they do mention the pitfalls when necessary, and lastly the very real and un-cliché’d way the stories here are all put forward. I enjoyed reading them for that down to earth approach.

This isn't just a regular magazine on modelling like far too many on the market –There is enough here to mark it out as something out of the norm which you really need to do to survive right now. I put it into the same category as the “supermodels” series from Kagero. It is a great bunch of mini build articles told in an engaging fashion that isn't just a five minute read. Having read all the articles right through I can say it is in my top two mags of the moment.

Adam Norenberg

My thanks to the publishers for sending this mag to read and review – check out  Ampersand’s website for this and their back issues of MMiR, other titles in their range and special offers.