Sunday, June 8

Review: Aces high takes to the skies with Issue #1: Night Fighters of the Luftwaffe..

We like the "new breed" of model magazines with fresh good ideas, not too many adverts, good writing and layout with large format images and most of all great models built in a way that shows you how to emulate them. Will this new magazine – called Aces High and Edited by TMN favourite Daniel Zamarbide be a contender? Let’s have a look in our review.

Aces High #1 “Night Fighters of the Luftwaffe”
Colour pictures
English /Spanish versions available
82 pages A4 Portrait format
Price: 9 Euro
This magazine is available through Aces High’s distributors..

Aces high – a new magazine backed by AK Interactive and Edited – pulled together by Daniel Zamarbide from the works of several modellers around the world. This mag is specialized on the one general topic of aircraft modelling. It is further chopped into a certain timescale or genre of aircraft modelling each volume. This first edition hits the modelling zeitgeist of a popular subject - the German night fighters of the Luftwaffe in WWII (next issue is the aircraft of World War One).
This book takes the subject and sticks with it throughout. Deviating about as far as a night bomber from it’s “fighter” focus. It really does remind me of the very good book we reviewed the other day “ Scale Aircraft – The Greatest Guide” which is high praise, and I'll tell you why i think so.

The magazine comes in at eighty-two pages with a glossy cover and pages. Like our favourite book of the moment on this genre each of the pages is formatted in my favourite way – model step-by-steps with captions for each.  This doesn’t divert your attention from the action and it makes a certain technique easier to pinpoint as well. There is no text to read through that then is duplicated with block text – what a waste of time! This is just an intro of block text and then then off we go with the step-by step (S.B.S. - I just realized what that stands for), IT reads more like a book than a magazine which is a great achievement for something in it’s first edition.
Then again you have the editor who wrote two books last year for another publisher on how to model the Mustang and the He-219 Uhu. I did think we might see that build turned out here as something of a shortcut - but much to my pleasure this wasn't the case…and I was pleasantly surprised at the fresh efforts taken to show new builds here.

This is the other real winner in this book. Artists and their creations, like Aitor Azkue – who builds the ZM 1/32nd scale He-219 with an impressive (and familiar for him) super diorama of the hanger and pilots to accompany it.
The editor, with his Hasegawa/Owl models combo of a 32nd scale Fw-190A6/RII that looks like a hedgehog with all the antennae coming from it (not to mention the impressive build he does on it). The very well painted He-177 A5 “Greif” with air to surface rocket on board.
Dragon’s 1/48th scale Me-262 sees some impressive chipping and subtle weathering by builder Jose L Etxaide and how was I to know ( as it didn’t say in the article but it did in the contents) that Manuel Gil’s Bf-110 G-4 nightfighter was in 72nd scale from the Eduard Kit? I thought for all money it was a 48th scale bird. Well done! The difficult all over black scheme on a Bf-109 E-4 is nailed by Thomas De La Fuente ( he gets shading and panel lines just about right I reckon) before we go into almost a supplementary section, and this last part of the magazine is something we ALL need help on.
Pilots and airfield vehicles. They are the earth that sets the tone and they are often left out of aircraft modeller’s repiorte. AFV guys seem to just do a better job at this side of the hobby – because they get more PRACTICE. Aircraft modellers need more figure and vehicles to match their creations and that is slowly happening, so the last two sections – an SBS to painting both a German fighter pilot figure and a German fuel truck are very welcome and not too out of the scope of the single focus this magazine is trying to fix on. German Night fighters need pilots to place in and around their cockpits and the vehicles that sit and stand beside them. These two sections show you HOW to get the better results we all think we are capable of. Like Mike Rinaldi’s work in including figures in his “TankArt” series, this isn’t out of place and a good little bonus to those not expecting it.
There are one or two things that made me feel this was done to a deadline. Some of the text lacks a little cohesion, and some of the text is a little too far away from the action and some of the pictures are a little small for me. Some squares in the book have no colour in them – these have two or three bits of text in them next to the closest side to the aircraft picture it is describing. These builds are a little harder to follow than the others in the mag that have one picture and a caption within it. The reliance on AK Interactive products is pretty extensive here and maybe this could be broadened in the future to show other less familiar brands.
The thing I really dislike in magazines is the (seemingly) excess greed of some publishers that pack advertisements in like sardines belittling the actual content you want to look at. Now I'm glad that adverts are not really prominent thru this book as the nine Euro cost somewhat subsidizes need for too many. However sometimes their placement layout needs to be looked at. Occasionally Aces High has half a page of adverts in the finished aircraft gallery. Then continues on with the next gallery page after this. It breaks up the flow of the beautiful work on display. The bonus the Girly poster in the middle is great - but the adverts should go on the reverse side of this so pulling it out to stick on your wall wont take away the text of the article. These layout issues will improve with coming issues I am sure.
These few (picky) issues aside I think that this is a well-conceived and put together magazine. IT aims for and strikes the centre of a lot of people’s interests (dark dappled German WWII fighters) and it runs with the theme pretty much throughout. If a book on German nightfighters with all of the latest in modelling techniques was what you were looking for maybe what you are really after is a magazine that does all of that instead?

I am very positive about this magazine and it’s future. The editor has done something good here in a short amount of time and it is a helpful title with lots of promise for the future. 

Bring on World War One again! (in Issue #2) 

Adam Norenberg

Thanks to Aces High for sending us their new magazine to read and review.