Wednesday, November 19

War is a dirty business - and this is Modern warfare at its dirtiest – We review Abram’s Squad #8

We are avid readers of the modern warfare magazine from Pla Editions“Abrams Squad.” It has been something we have followed with interest, and now issue no#8 is up for review we thought we would show you what it’s like.

Abrams Squad 08
Available in: English& Castellano
Reference:  AS08ENG
Price: 9€ directly from Pla Editions or by subscribing

I am a keen follower of magazines. Some continuously never fail to disappoint, and keep on throwing out a layout that skims the surface – are packed with advertisements and “reviews for the boys” championing products they have something to do with etc. These magazines are in my opinion hastening the end of scale modelling in print.

There is light at the end of the tunnel however – a bunch of magazines recognizes the pull of the internet and a way of layout that makes magazines still appealing. They have less advertisements and more in-depth content that shows you something other than a pretty workbench. Pla Editions “Abrams Squad” has been one of these new breed which grasp the future and hopefully have forged a way forward.

We are eight issues into this magazine now. I have seen it evolve to become more and more focussed on the topic at hand. Displaying and talking about modern warfare (A.D.1945+) scale models Pla Editions have sensibly dropped a few features that were distracting from the real meat of the sandwich and concentrated on trying to make the good stuff better.  Let’s sample #8 to see if this edition is tasty or no… 
A regular template of portrait format with a soft glossy cover and nicely thick enough page stock. There are five major features in this magazine and four of those are model builds. One a walk around and another smaller preface of new model kits and parts on the market. There is only five single pages of one-page adverts here – this is an improvement on past issues and these ads are inconspicuous and out of the way of the builds.

The magazine always starts off with a review section – this is called “Commander’s Display Unit”. It is a regular section devoted to news and reviews of model kits and the aftermarket sets that are in new release and even books and things you may not have even knew existed in our hobby.
I have seen this section transform over the eight issues. From a quick picture and paragraph to each object to the three double pages it is now – each of the objects gets it’s day in the sun and the pictures showing them off are very nice in focus and well lit to show you everything you want to see. I had mixed feelings about this section before but it continues to get better.

“Remote Thermal Sight” involves a build of a new (usually topical) kit on the market which is put together without paint and compared with reference colours showing the completed kit  at usually the same angle so you can see any differences for yourself. The best review is a build review so I always say and this is a good part of the mag to me.
The Kinetic Maxx-Pro is built here by Ralph Zwilling, and the out of the box build of this kit poses him some problems. I am not actually sure whether he likes the kit or thinks it suffers from the modern curse of too many fiddly parts for modelling enjoyment. A few errors are picked out (sensitively) and I applaud him for being honest.

One of the coolest port WWII Soviet tanks is the T-62 model 1972. To me I like the square and rounded surfaces and general ruggedness is shown in many a step by Thomas Birzer's build of a vehicle tied up in the middle of the current Syrian conflict.
Although sometimes a bit general in describing what he did and materials he used Thomas’ build is really spectacular and if you are a modeller of normal to advanced skill you can  easily apply this to your own build in the hope of emulating this heavily beaten up tank. It is a beauty and I liked the build a lot.

A little of the Spanish school now with Hugo Luyten's Panda Hobby kit of the Oshkosh M-ATV in his lovely build article. Using an upgrade set from Pro Art Models that he must have been waiting to apply to this kit for a while he really has done a great job on this kit which also I like a lot. The angular shapes are very well painted and pre-shaded and the inside detail really sets the model up for something above and beyond when completed.
The model is finished off with an abundance of wiring, coiled cables, stowage and the like to a detail not many would think of achieving. It is a very nice expression of what you can do to a pretty basic kit with a good add-on set and artistic skill. There is also a helpful gallery of modern M-ATV’s for reference as well.

Nest build is a Magach 6 (M60A1 Blazer) built by Jose Antonio Velázquez for the operation “Peace for Galilee” in the invasion of Lebanon in 1982. Jose wants to show us how these M60’s became dusted, dirtied and chipped by the elements.
From a fairly non-specific start the article goes into a few nice shots with commentary for each showing the elements of weathering on the engine, vents, smoke dischargers, machine guns and tracks to name a few. A nice bit of diorama and figures are highlighted here as well.

The T-72 M1 is next, modelled by Chris Jerret with a cold war camouflage representing a Czech machine in green and brown and black. This Tamiya kit in 1/35th scale is shown in the pre painting phase which is good because it isn’t all about the chipping and weathering - the build is also important. Painting fans can still have something to like – this vehicle is heavily muddied up and scratched and beaten - just what we all like to see.
A photo feature in the end of this mag is the in theatre shots of a U.N. LE Clerc Main Battle tank in the mud and dirt in Lebanon. The plethora of pictures of this very white vehicle with mud all around the undersides. This is a good study of the French vehicles over there on duty with walkaround pics from all angles.

As a preview of what is to come the page “Turret Basket” is always at the end of the mg and a look at what is maybe going to be in a next issue or on the market by the time you get this issue.
Well I think the gradual tweaking by the editor is paying off. There is again more of the builds and less filler here and I would say that this magazine is for serious modellers who want to learn something.

I look forward to #9 if this improvement continues…

Adam Norenberg

Thanks to the peeps at Pla Editions for sending this for us to read and review.