Thursday, July 29

Read n' reviewed: Issue #9 of Dioramag from Pla Editions

Dioramag #9 landed on our desk this week - packed full of inspirational modeller's works and scenes that most of us can only dream of making. The bar is set high for this series, was this one a worthy addition? Let's have a look in our review...

Read n' reviewed: Dioramag Vol. 9
Pla Editions
96 pages
Softbound, A4 Portrait format 
All texts in English
ISBN: 978-84-122304-8-2
Price: €15
Every few months we revive the latest edition of "Dioramag" from Pla Editions to read and review, and every few months we really do take our time to relax and to sit down with eh magazine, and study it front to back, back to front. As this magazine highlights the best of modelling from around the world, and it always seems to inspire us to the modelling bench to try and emulate these masters works with our own "best attempts" ­čśä.

It goes without saying then, that the standards are very high for this magazine and each edition that comes to us. For those of you who do not know what to expect in the magazine here is the synopsis:
"Dioramag: an entire magazine focused on dioramas and scenes. You will find the best articles of the best modellers and writers in the world. Step by step articles, painting techniques, building techniques, showcases, news, reviews and much more."

Let's look at issue nine and see if the quality stands up to its sister editions...

Diorama Vol #9 in its physical form:
A softcover, bi-monthly magazine, Diorama comes in A4 dimensions with the writing in ours in English. High quality photography inside with some of the best articles you will see in modelling magazines. The asking price is 15 euros, which gives you ninety-six pages (a record for this publication), but unlike magazines, this is non aligned to any paint brand and it is not packed with advertisements throughout, with only a few pages or half pages of adverts. I like it that this is an independent magazine.
Dioramag Vol. 9– Final Fight Contents:
3 “Painting Wooden Doors” by Lechu Villanueva
6 Diorama Classics "Maijnoon (ZSU-57-2 Iran) by Charlie Pritchett
12 News
16 Showcase Dioramag: Axel Friedrich
24 “Final Fight For The Ruhr pocket” by Robert Doepp
38 Showcase Dioramag: Yen Kwie Drenth
46 "Devil Of The Atlantic" by Wouter Vrints
58 Japanese Masters by Toshihiro Kugimiya
68 Showcase Dioramag: Andy Gulden
76 “Get Ready For The Counterattack" by Gary Kwan
82 “Last Stand Off” by Brandon Lum
92 Dioramag Review. "Das Dock" by Uschi van der Rosten
So now we are all familiar with what to expect, so now, let's look inside the covers...

After the editor's comments, which are always a good little read, we see our first opening article, a two-pager from Lechu Villanueva on “Painting Wooden Doors”. A nice little step by step to help you with your own wood, knobs and knockers... 

 One of our favourite modellers is first up in a four-page "Diorama Classics" section, where inspirational works by one modeller are presented in a showcase. Charlie Pritchett's "Maijnoon which presents a ZSU-57-2 from the Iran armed forces. the small but simple diorama with figures, resin water layers, long reeds and a broken anti-aircraft tank is a lovely piece, and Charlie explains the lessons he learned and the steps he took to make it all look so convincing in this short story.
In the regular "News" section the editor provides us with four pages of new products that you can use with your own dioramas and scenes. I do like to see this, and there are just enough pages to not take away from amazing builds!
In the"Showcase Dioramag" section, Axel Friedrich provides us with eight pages to show his really very good (I don't like too many superlatives but amazing is one of them) works. From post-apocalyptical ambushes, a deserted checkpoint in Russia in WWII, a bogged staff car with officer and driver looking helplessly on, a haunted mural of a spider in a creepy building, an armoured car and a Willy's jeep, both in the desert, and most familiar are the massive control panels from the Chernobyl reactor room that many of you may be familiar with. Yes, I suppose I can call his works amazing without it being a superlative...
Now, to another modeller I am also personally very jealous of, Robert Doepp's diorama “Final Fight For The Ruhr pocket” is next. The "cover girl" doesn't need any more attention, but just look at the work behind the scenes in alterations, scratchbuilding and conceptional expertise he imparts to the reader before he starts painting the kit in this step by step article. There are thirteen pages of recommended "how-too" reading for all of us...
The painting, weathering and finishing of the tank is only part of this scene. The base with railroad tracks, the complicated rendering of the suspension on a half-cut-out scene, the figures that add a personal touch are made (mostly) from scratch by Robert. Wow, what a scene and what a great insight to a true master at work.
Another "Showcase" is next, with Yen Kwie Drenth's varied scenes, some you may not be used to seeing in modelling books (which is nice). A scene of a woman, an armoured car and her laundry, of "Nosferatu" in a gothic scene, Russian cavalry on the charge, a nun and a Strumtiger, some Russians and a weird pumpkin of a scarecrow, a two barrelled Tiger meets a goat and two of the coolest uses of Mantis Miniatures German motorcycle and sidecar combos I have seen. Exemplary and inspirational work on show.
We go nautical next with Wouter Vrints step by step article called "Devil Of The Atlantic". It features not only a "how-to" on making a beautifully detailed VIIC U-Boat in 35th scale but also the crashing waves of the Atlantic heaving and smashing against its hull in this dark and broody scene. The installation of delicate photo-etch, the painting, oil washes and 350th scale figures are all seen "in action" on the model before Wouter turns to the base work. The layout design, construction and painting and clear water effects are shown to good effect through his SBS build sequence for a great end result... 
Next, we travel to the Pacific for the next "Japanese Masters" section. This time the featured modeller is Toshihiro Kugimiya. His scene of the aftermath of the invasion of the beach of Roi-Namur Island, and he takes us through his journey of creating the scene from scratch with the help of only two tanks, an M4 Sherman and an LVT that are heavily improved with scratch building. The groundwork, palm trees and the figures are either made from scratch or in the soldier's cases heavily modified to get the right poses and body language that Toshihiro wanted. A great scene and great exposition from the modeller to the reader.
Another Showcase Dioramag is next with Andy Gulden's works. His very lifelike recreations of WWI and WWII stormtroopers in 1/16th scale, soldiers rescuing a warhorse in the WWI mud, an ANZAC patrol in the desert with their armoured car, battles for Peleliu and St Lo and scenes of north European winter at war with the Germans are bookended by another amazing scene on a U-boat conning tower in 1/16th scale. What great works!
“Get Ready For The Counterattack" is the title of Gary Kwan's scene of a Panther and the infantry that travel with them at rest before a counter-attack in Bures, France in 1944.  This is more of a showcase with some steps of the build with block text to support and tell the story. the Ryefield Models Panther is added to with a farmer and his daughter with the many soldiers covering the deck of the tank. A disk camouflage, the building of the ground and the barn and the painting and weathering of them is discussed to a degree for the reader to get an idea of how he made the scene.
Brandon Lum finally grants a lot of our wishes by presenting the build of his excellent scene called the “Last Stand-Off” next. Combining the work of nine months into one article mostly of block text, Brandon really does try and get a lot of his work across to the reader through the text. The building of the base, the Blackhawk and then the figures, rubble and groundwork that is just layered on top of this scene is a lot to take in. In a way, I would like more pictures to go along with the article, but I suppose you could fill a small book with everything on offer in this amazing scene.
In the final section "Dioramag Review" we look at the new 1/72nd scale dry dock from Das Werk. Uschi van der Rosten / Alex Glass is our reviewer here, and he shows and tells his way through the build of the dock and how it is made and the how the printed paper that recreates the scene is applied. 

This is more like a "how-to" or a "product showcase" than a review. I think if you are involved with the creation of the dock as part of a company that actually produces the kit it would be better not to call this a review and just say it's a build guide. Hey, if you want one reviewed, we know a good website you can ask...
Issue #9 of Dioramag show the improvement in the progression of the series. Each magazine (and website) is in constant flux and an arc of progression. I think this series is getting better at telling stories with the step by step builds inside which are a highlight. The showcases are also excellent and very inspirational for the reader and a source of ready reference to arm you on your own diorama journey in the future.

Another great magazine in this already top of the line series..

Adam Norenberg

Thanks to the people at Dioramag for sending this to us to read and review. This issue is already available to order from the Pla Editions website at this link...