Tuesday, October 27

We read n’ review Abrams Squad No#12

The Abrams Squad No#12 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
77 Pages
Portrait A4 format
Price: 9€
Purchase: Directly from Pla Editions as a single issue and as a subscription…

We have been closely watching this one… From the start issue when we saw this magazine kind of finding it’s feet and not knowing where it’s audience was, ‘till the last edition we reviewed the mag where it was pretty sharp and quite sure of it’s own direction. The bar is now high on our expectations so we always look forward to seeing if and how this tittle can be polished any further – let’s have a look shall we. 

Physically this is a pretty regular looking magazine from the outside. Thick(ish) glossy softcover in a portrait A4 format. Open this up to find seventy-seven pages of magazine with eight (including the inside covers) total of adverts. These are really pretty unobtrusive and if there in between builds or sections. This is the reason for the slightly higher 9€ price tag than newspaper shop model mags – but those have twice the adverts and so a lot less modelling per buck. I like this approach and it encourages you to concentrate on the modelling rather than “What’s New” ‘cos facebook and forums are the main bearer of news nowdays. What you really buy magazines for now are the model builds.
Abrams Squad promises to be the first and the best in the models and their maker’s work that focuses on modern vehicles and AFV’s. The style is mainly Step by step articles & building/painting/weathering techniques with an introduction and a little of the modeller’s thoughts in block text at the start of the article.

One thing I will say before we look at each part of this magazine is that the photography and the models themselves are very very nice indeed. These guys do make the modelling and capturing of their prizes look easy, and I think that many modellers eyes have been opened to more modern stuff from reading these mags and inspired by the quality on offer. However let’s have a look inside this issue a bit deeper at each article before passing judgement on this issue.

This magazine starts with what in hindsight is a positive message from a a maybe frustrated editor – the message is positive but I know probably from my own exposure how he got there. IT’s nice to read these things and I always check in there. 
The review section of this magazine is called “Commander’s Display Unit” and it has improved a lot from way back when. From before when we used to get a lot of stuff but not much of an in depth look at anything in particular to now when the editor shows us a few select things in a little more detail over just three pages. It is kept simple and it gives more time for the builds in the mag. Again news is now not as important as magazines often cannot keep up with the instant access of social media so I am glad this section has shrunk and become more targeted.
The construction review of this magazine is always something I like to read. Abrams calls it  “Remote Thermal Sight” and it is pretty much a step by step construction build with the model’s author making it all up unpainted. This issues feature is the Meng 2A4 version of the Leopard tank. César González has  built his brand new kit pretty quickly.
The real thing I like about this is the author does not usually hold back in these build reviews which are usually the best way of working out if the kit is REALLY any good. The writer's tend to be more focused on the kit and not so much about what they want to do with it. Also there are often pictures of the real thing at a similar angle to the pictures of the kit so you can compare and contrast yourself. A great way to do it and  César has done a great job here.
Well he started with a blank sheet of paper. My new modelling hero is a man called Martin Rauscher who built the next kit – a 35th scale PATRIOT LKW 15t mil 9l KAT I A1 (8X8) (phew) missile launcher. He built this thing from scratch! This is the cover article and I can see why.
Look it isn't ALL from scratch – a fair few bits were borrowed from other things and add-on sets. But the majority of this complicated fabrication are from plastic sheet. The patience and time this took Martin must be admired and he takes us through step by step in his build which if you are not inspired by you must take your cap off to this man’s attention to detail.
There is also a painting and a comparison to the original truck to judge Martin’s work against. Like I said I just don’t know how he does it – but at least I have an article now showing me where I can TRY to understand. Nice work by the editor as well to make this so prominent – we are making models after all and not just shaking and baking!
Next is a tense scene as two kits are represented in this full sized diorama by Imad Bouantoun, the Bronco Buffalo anti-IED armoured truck and the wrecked soviet BTR-6036 in what looks to be a high altitude mine clearing operation in Afghanistan.
Called “ Silent Tension”, this scene shows the Buffalo in action  with it’s anti mine claw extended and the mine clearing soldier going out into the unexpected to investigate further. Movies like “Hurt Locker” reverberate through this diorama and not only do we see the models being made but the details on the soldiers as well.
We are also shown a really important guide to the diorama base as well. Many modellers are all about how their kit looks on a white piece of paper, but Imad has shown us how to lay a decent rocky base as well. This is also a great effort and article – well done for the first time at bat.
Now for an old “pro” as the editor of the magazine steps up to the plate. The tank he is modelling is the Trumpeter T-10 soviet heavy tank in the time of the uprising in Prague – complete with the white invasion stripes and graffiti’d on slogans of the protesters. I like the premise of this build already.
Pictured at the time of “Operation Danube” in Czechoslovakia  in 1968, this tank is seen in an SBS build with several pages dedicated to the build – almost as much attention as the painting and weathering had which is nice. It’s good to see these first steps as much as the finishing touches and this kit looks pretty simple to build in the article.

It’s good to see that only tracks and figures were added to this kit. All additions are listed in the reference parts at the start of each article.
Modern warfare at it’s most recent – the conflict in the Ukriane is next with “Death comes from above”, a diorama featuring the  35th scale  Panda Hobby BMD-1  from the Ukraine ATO 2014 heavily modified with some very nice looking PE set and several other bits of stowage. The talented Łukasz Orczyc-Musiałek adds a bunch of figures to his diorama which shows the scene of some type of hold up at a check point.
Some very nice groundwork is discussed as well as all of the barriers and items of stowage and gear that populate the scene. A detailed painting and weathering guide show how to transform this ATO tank into something a little more tank like and less toy like.
Last of the main sections features a pictorial walk around and this month we have a look at some Afghan Humvees. Patrick Winnepenninckx shows us his not before seen pictures of various Humvees in service with the Afghan forces. All of them are different and very inspirational and they will probably give you the jump on your mates who have not before seen the myriad of colours and variations of these vehicles. We also have the last page “Turret Basket” section which gives a preview of what is to come on the last page as well.
Well I have already kept you longer than I should. This is another great magazine from Pla Editions. They have really nailed their audience and I am happy the focus has narroed but sharpened over time and issues.

A great mag full of good modelling and inspiration.

Adam Norenberg

You can get your copy of issue #12 of the Abrams Magazine and the BTR special edition that has also just been released Directly from Pla Editions or their distributors worldwide as a single issue and as a subscription…