Tuesday, November 26

Abrams Squad’s third edition is here - we read it and show you what’s inside.

With all of these modern AFV’s on the market recently we never realized there was not a magazine out there that focused solely on modern armour and military – But apparently there is - Abrams Squad: The Modern Modelling Magazine is published by PLA Editions and purports to be the FIRST magazine in the world devoted to Modern Warfare modelling – but how does it compare to other magazines in the market?

Abrams Squad 03
English version (also available in Castellano)
Pla Editions
November 2013
68 pages Portrait A4
Reference:  AS03ENG
Price: 9,00 €

Abrams Squad is a new magazine from PLA Editions that focuses on the best of new armour kits – builds and techniques with a few other bits thrown in. We supposed that it would be an interesting read by the contents on show so we have looked at it in a pleasant afternoon’s read..

Physically the magazine is a thick glossy page affair in a portrait A4 style of a total of 68 pages. We have the English version here and I see it is in Castellano as well, but It’s been a while since I went to Barcelona so I settled on the English version.

Until recently Modern armour (in my books anything post WWII) has been a niche subject – long the focus of only low volume but expensive boutique model shops and their long suffering customers. Of late we have had an explosion of modern armour kits entering the conscious and modeller’s stashes. Several companies looking for new markets have seen an opening and it is to everyone’s betterment they have. Will this be a short lived thing until everyone switches to WWI subjects?

Let’s hope there is room for all in this market. It is the Modern AFV/military modellers this book is aimed at – along with people wanting to improve their modelling skills in general. There are several well-known and skilled modellers contributing to this mag, and I like the style it is presented in. Simple and mostly to the point - which comes from the fact that most of the contributors do not speak English as a fist language. I find the style direct but never grandiose or “above” the subject at hand, the models here are the main focus and not the modeller’s whimsies.

I have seen some buzz about this magazine and to be honest been impressed by what is on offer on the cover. I have heard that it is hard to get though. Taking a look on their website I see that you can get the magazine directly. There are several shops worldwide who stock the mag as well and the number is growing as the mag is becoming better known.

Because this is a relatively new magazine and I want to show off as much as possible I’ll take you thru the contents of the mag and reflect my thoughts on each bit – I will leave the title of each with a description and page number so you can see a bit more of the structure:

Page 4 – Commander’s Display Unit: A regular section devoted to news and reviews of model kits, aftermarkets, books and much more:
…A good idea but not enough space to really get into each subject enough – these two pages show off some new kits but not enough to get you into them. A shame because the thought behind it is noble. I would forego this for a “news” section – but hey – that’s just me…

Page 6 – Remote Thermal Sight: The third model reviewed in this regular section is the new Dragon’s M48A3. César will show a deep review compared with real pictures.
Now THIS is more like it! The best review is a built up kit review – and this Dragon kit is built up in pretty straightforward manner – the modeller gets straight into it and really talks about the kit issues. He doesn’t put himself above the product but just analyses it very well. He makes the kit up – and there are several pictures of the real thing to compare and contrast with the kit he has built.

Page 12 – T-80, THE RUSSIAN PREDATOR - A new kit from a new producer falls into the hands of a great modeller. Lukasz Orczyc-Musialek hits the score with this article.
This is a great kit and it is made even better with the author’s work displayed in these pages. The additions made here are well thought out – who would have imagined mustard seeds as a modelling medium? It is this type of creative thinking that makes these modellers good at what they do. Sometimes there are a little too many products on display and too little model shown, but it doesn't feel like a product placement–a-thon too much.

Again it was good to see some reference pictures of nearly the exact same tank here in these pages as well.

Page 22 – PANDA’S NEW OBJECT 279 - One of the oddest vehicles created in the former USSR is now produced by Panda. Zack Sex builds and paints it and Adam Wilder gives us some pictures of the only unit produced.
I was wondering why this just said “Zach Sex”… but then realised it’s the model maker’s name! made me “larf”-  any way Zach does a great built of the great Panda Hobby kit of the Object 279 here with mine destroying rollers and a NBC suited driver in a “What if” cold war invasion scene which I really loved. The same thoughts were going through my head about the scheme I was going to paint mine in. this really gave me a lot of helpful ideas to progress down my own path.

The double page of reference pictures from Adam Wilder are amongst the best I have seen of this vehicle as well. Very helpful.

Page 32 – JGSDF TYPE 10 MBT - Tamiya’s last jewel. The brand new MBT from JGSDF is wonderfully finished by the master Luciano Rodriguez and the help of some fantastic pics from Toshinobu Yamada.
This is a large kit I hadn’t seen too many variations of before now. But seeing it made up here and particularly well weathered it has now hit my radar in a big way. The streaking is very well done and falls to the realistic side of modelling – not the “artistic “side which I feel is becoming all the rage.

Again the use of judicious pictures in this article really show off the skill of the modeller and give you a sense of the presence of the real thing.

Page 44 – T-90A LETHAL METAL - The most popular subject at the moment, the Russian T-90A, is reviewed, built and painted by the editor. The pictures of Vitaly Kuzmin are a great add to the article!
This kit of the moment has a good compare and contrast with the Zveza kit in a very helpful build which exposes the good and bad of both. These two kits are dissected honestly and i fell with nothing held back.

Painting of the Meng kit is talked about and we are provided with a helpful “map” of what parts of the tank are made from which material. These help a great deal when weathering and chipping – I wish all model makers did this! Again we are treated to real photos of the T-90 in action and in detail including the turret machine gun which is a fiddly construction.

Page 58 – 20’ CONTAINER -Seb Viale received this kit directly from the Italeri’s factory.  He made the review and Michel Pérez did a stunning painting job
Who would have thought that a box would be an interesting article subject? Well in this detailed featurette we see just how to build and weather this kit to make this all purveying icon of the 20th century into something real and commonplace as it is in real life.

Page 62 – OPERATION SERVAL - Our friend Piwi from “Maquette Garden Website” send us an article directly from Africa! Fantastic inspiring pictures of French armor in action.
This section of the mag at the end is direct from the front lines. Submitted by French soldiers it shows many of the armoured vehicles in the republic of Mali in “Operation Serval” There are several wheeled AFV’s of French origin which will give you a good lesson in real weathering.

Page 68 – Turret Basket: at the end of every issue you’ll find the kits that we’ll find in the market soon and some teasers of the next Abrams Squad Magazine.

This is a bit of a teaser to show you what is in store maybe in their next mag (new editions every 2 months)

 I think the editor is pretty humble in his assessment of this magazine because I liked it a LOT. It has all the good points of the new school of model magazines – good pictures in high resolution in in obvious detail of the kits being built painted and weathered. Whilst it has little of the bad things that haunt better known magazines nowadays - it does not have many advertisements to break up the magazine's flow and no agendas or blatant bias in products or brands, and no sucking up to the model companies which is a blight on the industry at times.

 I think any modeller – but especially the armour guys – will like it a lot as well. Thank god for the new guard of modelling magazines - and this one is at the forefront.

Adam Norenberg

Thanks to the guys at Abrams Squad for sending their magazine for us to read and review..