Wednesday, May 27

Read'n reviewed: "Aces " 4 is now high over the Med...

The latest "Aces High" magazine from the AK Interactive publishing house is out. We got to read it today and though it would make a good review as these are popular with modellers of not just aircraft and figures too. Let’s have a look inside to see across the sea..

Read’n Reviewed:
Aces High #4: “The Mediterranean Theatre of Operations”
English /Spanish versions available
66 pages A4 Portrait format
Price: 9 Euro
This magazine is available through Aces High’s distributors..

AK Interactive new(ish) now magazine “Aces High” is now not so new as it is in its fourth edition, with the editor Daniel Zamarbide settling on a graphic design and layout style that seems to work pretty well. We have liked these magazines in the past so we decided to look at this new issue which centres itself squarely in “Mare Nostrum” – the Mediterranean conflict during WWII.

Aces high is a newer style of magazine and a format that I seem to enjoy as a modeller – the business model being a higher door price but fewer pages wasted with adverts (5.5 here and thoughtfully placed) so a more in depth experience of modelling each of the kits. These magazines are harder to locate than your regular newsagent type but on the whole I find this new crop a lot more rewarding and better value for your buck. You can get these directly from AK or their Distributors or subscribe. I would tend to let them come to you via a distributor if you think the postage will matter. Subscription though will get you this book as fast as we get our review copy.
The real good thing this magazine does is that they have cut the dual monologue in the articles. A short introduction and then just a picture and caption to each part of the build. This suits the authors of each article who’s first language probably isn’t English and allows more shot of the model being made.  Anyone can look up Wikipedia for history on each of these aircraft and we want to see how the models are made, not hyperbole about the box. I like their approach to the format of the magazine.

So - 66 pages with not many advertisements, some good photography with a lot of the article explained in a step by step (SBS) method and overall some nice models inside. It all looks good on a “First Look” basis but we read the books we review so let’s go chapter by chapter to show you what is really inside.

Fernando del Pino is the first modeller off the block with his first model for the magazine. The night fighter scheme of the 1/72nd scale Hasegawa Bristol Beaufighter. His build sequence is a large series of photos in regular blocks, numbered and the text to describe them below. Sometimes a bit hard to follow going from up to down to read the text but the build is very well done. He has improved this kit with aftermarket and scratch built details and a LOT of riveting. He even shows us what to do when you stuff it up.

The hard to replicate black undersides and desert camo top colours are thoroughly chipped and worn as they might have been in the western desert, and several pictures of the completed model at the end show the skill of these layered processes Fernando has applied here.

Next we see a very nicely detailed 1/48th scale Hasegawa Bf 109F-4 modelled by Javier López de Anca. His impressive looking Friedrich F-4 trop is modelled on one of Hans-Joachim Marseille’s famous aircraft, the ‘Yellow 14’. For me there is a little too much contrast in this model – but each man unto their own and some might like the darkness of panel lines shown here.

The rest of the model though is first class, and the text to describe the build here is spot on and in the right layout. A picture/description underneath it. This is how SBS should be done and the ease of reading it off like this make this article more enjoyable to read. The pictures of Hans-Joachim Marseille himself are a nice addition to the article and connect the model with the subject. The little supplements to update the kit are a good choice as was the riveting work he has done all over the surface. The painting is really skilfully done but just that last wash tip it over the edge for me. Still it’s a great insight into very good modelling technique.

The yarn of the “Libyan Eisenseiten” is next, It is the story of a Eduard Bf 110E in 1/48th scale which in this case is modelled very nicely here by Tomás de la Fuente. Tomás returns to model again in issue no 4 of Aces High with this kit showing just how he moves forward sequence by sequence very smartly and it is a great help to the modeller. Page 30 is shown below and it details just how to incrementally better the cockpit in easy to follow steps. This is why we read these magazines, to increase our own skill by osmosis. Some sunk in here as I was reading these articles I can say.

The twin engined aircraft is also a little dark in it’s finished state but not at all something I could not live with. The skillful painting job done here is shaded panel by panel by the modeller to give the dual coloured model a lot of tonal variance and so creating interest in the kit. I like this finish quite a lot. 

There is of course a lovely poster in the middle pages, “inspiration”? 

Next we see the top Allied fighter ace in the MTO and his aircraft is modelled by as Tomek Wajnkaim who builds the famous shark mouthed kite of Neville Duke from the Hasegawa 1/32 Kittyhawk Mk.I kit. This aircraft “GAV” is well known in artwork and the spectacular sharkmouth is always a popular and great looking additive to models. Especially the Kittyhawk/ Warhawk /Tomahawk for which it became synonymous. 

The build of the larger Hasegawa kit is fairly modern, and only some new wheel wells, custom riveting and the decals from Barracuda were needed to add to the kit to make it really top shelf. Again we see a lot of modulation and panel variance in this model but not too much. The text is at the best ratio to pictures in the whole magazine – a solid article.

“Maltese Warrior” is a build where Manuel Gil García uses the 72nd scale Tamiya kit Spitfire Mk.Vb Trop to represent a spit that served in a unique unit that was based in Malta. Even in this tiny scale the modeller chose to scratch-build certain elements in the cockpit and his skill in miniatures is unquestioned.
The end result of all the scratch building and tiny detail leave you looking at this kit like it is in a larger scale. So much has been done to the kit it’s a credit to the model maker.
The next two sections of the magazine traditionally cover the figures and diorama elements of modelling. Something to complement the aircraft you make. Firstly we have a figure modelled by Roberto Ramirez who   models a 1/18th scale vignette including a rather scary faced looking sculpt of Hans-Joachim Marseille. The process of detailing the vignette is seen again in step by step processes. If figures are not your strong suit this can only help.
 Next we look at the modelling of a 1/35th scale ICM Maultier Half-Track. The modeller does a very good job of the kit in a style this is easy to follow and not too far away from the skill-sets already shown. It is a good choice as the tracked vehicle and the difference in the wood and steel of the vehicle open up different techniques to aircraft models. I like this and the figure section as they take up only a little room in the magazine and only add to the theme. 

Well I like this. The editor is a smart guy and has listened to modellers and given them largely what they want. For the main part it is well laid out and the models are very high in finish and skill shown. Some could do with toning down but that is just my taste. I’m not even half as skilled as these guys so for me I learned a lot. And that is what these magazines are for isn’t it?

The next issued takes us deep in to John Foggerty with a Vietnam issue on the horizon. We are looking forward to seeing it…

Adam Norenberg

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