Friday, March 18

Modern warfare at it’s best (we hope?) as we read n’ review Abrams Squad No#14

The Abrams Squad No#14 from Pla Editions has just arrived on our desk and no doubt in the shops near you. We spent some time reading it today and thought it was only fair to tell you what we thought about this latest edition in today’s review….

English version (also available in Castellano)
Published by: Pla Editions
Bi-monthly publication
72 Pages
Portrait A4 format
Price: 9€
Purchase: Directly from Pla Editions as a single issue and as a subscription…

Abrams Squad magazine is now in it’s  fourteenth edition. Since it’s inception we have watched the subtle evolution of this magazine into what it is today. Arriving every two months we take the time to read and review it because usually it is at the top of the heap of the fast disappearing (we hope not) thing called the modelling magazine.
The Abrams Squad has two particular features we like and straight off the bat they are here in this issue. The fact that the mag (uniquely) concentrates of modern warfare vehicles and scenarios, as well as the fact that the adverts in this publication are limited to only a few pages (9 including the first and last page) make this a very not typical publication. We like something different, and we also like looking at models instead of more adverts.

The 9€ cover price is a factor in the lack of paid adverts but it’s worth that little extra for quality. Because the magazine is story/ article driven it seems more focussed than many magazines and the adverts are often between the stories.
Physically this is a pretty regular looking magazine from the outside. A glossy softcover in a portrait A4 format. Open this up to find seventy-two pages of magazine, so nothing new there. There have been a few editorial changes I must say inside that I have noticed, but I will point them out later. Let’s go page to page and I will walk you thru what’s in this issue.

One thing I don’t like that much in magazines are reviews. Usually they are later than a lot of on line reviews and all too often a little too brief. Abrams used to give reviews 7 or so pages but this mag gives only three pages in it’s review section which they call “Commander’s Display Unit.” This is again brief, but  smartly what is looked at is stuff that I have not really seen reviewed elsewhere. So it’s a win here. 
The next section is always a favorite of mine, and this issue of “Remote Thermal Sight” features a full build of the entire Patriot SAM System in 35th scale. Massive kit with LOTS to cover here, but this is how reviews should be done. With kit, glue and scalpel in hand, they give you what the kit is REALLY like. This build has and SBS (step by step) build of the tractor, launching station and radar as Trumpeter has  (smartly) released this combination in two separate boxings. 
The comparisons with photos taken by the crew are very helpful and the build is written in a smart way which helps you understand just how to simplify your build.
Next we get to spend time with a certain “Armoured British Gentleman” as Simon Antelmi’s first build shows off the Takom 35th scale kit of the Chieftain Mk.11. It is good that we get to see some pictures of this kit before it goes together, especially pictures of the turret and upper deck. Too many magazines and builds breeze straight through to the painting and weathering nowadays – I like this approach.
Although this is a shorter article you do get to see construction, painting and weathering in it so  well done to Simon. The model finished up pretty nicely as well. 
Ignat Pomazkov is next with the very nicely laid out article featuring a very used BM-21 Grad Multiple Rocket Launcher. The composition of this model in the scene make this a very close to favourite of mine in this magazine. The old Soviet era sign in the background and the grizzled soldier in front of it give a perfect for, mid and background to the diorama.
The Trumpeter kit has had a lot of additional material from Voyager and Def model, the additions make this a very grey and shiny brass object before the paint goes on. A lot of work has gone into the construction and you get to see it all here.
The Grad truck painting and weathering is deceptively simple in explanation and the diorama base is pretty simple when explained as well. Not that this is an easy achievement but the way it is all laid out here it gives you a feeling you could do it as well. Top marks for inspiration.

Next we take a look at the ZSU-23 “Shilka” which is nicknamed “Satan’s Chariot.” With not only the Dragon, but the Hong Models and Meng kits all in 1/35th scale the editors take a look at the tracked AA gun itself in some detail and a little on the variants that these three kits can be made into. It’s kinda like a preview article if I could explain it to you.
Next we look at the article by Óscar Alfonso  of the eight wheeled Trumpeter VCR-105 Centauro in 35th scale. This popular kit is seen in Spanish colours and added to with mostly ET Models extras like weighted resin wheels, extra armour and aerials as well as a RB models 105mm gun. Again the kit is heavily transformed from the donor kit but that is great to see this before the paint goes on. I like to see the in progress rather than just the end process! 
The model maker includes the modifications to change this Italian AFV into a Spanish chariot in a break out box which is very helpful. The painting and weathering is about 5 pages and like most of the models in this magazine the modeller uses a lot of different materials to this end. This is NOT looking to me like a sponsored magazine as some others do. We want to see lots of different stuff in these SBS’ and this magazine gives us that.
The photo walk around of this vehicle in service is very nice to have in here for reference also.
A very nice – and very blue BRDM-2 used by the Serbian Police is next. Modeller Andrey Grechkin’s model is very nicely presented with complimentary colours in the pages. Well done to the graphical team of this whole magazine I must say. The author talks about seeing the pictures of this model on the web. This is common to many of these articles, and I would say that adding these pictures if possible would really add to the authenticity of the builds here.
The work of the modeller with oils and the chipping, scratching and pastel pigment work here is of specific note and he has done a very impressive job of making it look just beaten up enough but in a realistic fashion. Tremendous work from the modeller here.
The last part of the magazine is usually a feature pictorial, this section however is a bit of an examination of the M60A2 tank. Excellently titled “M60A2: Starship or Bullshit?” explains the history behind the M60A2 and why maybe it is so revered by modern armour modellers. There are currently four different producers making this kit, and the article provides us with some insight into the Cold War warrior that to me looks so odd. 
Often this is a photo pictorial but I like the change of pace here by the editor and I like how it is related to the model kits.

Lastly a page called “Turret Basket” hints at what is to come in a short page of preview hinting at the next issue of the Abrams Squad Magazine.

But what did I think about this article? As usual I am impressed. The shortening of the reviews and the trimming of everything but builds gives this magazine a premium fell and it is  well worth the asking price as much as your time.

Keep it up Abrams Squad.

Adam Norenberg

You can get your copy of issue #13 of the Abrams Magazine Directly from Pla Editions or their distributors worldwide as a single issue and as a subscription…