Thursday, March 23

Read n' Reviewed: Abrams Squad Vol #40 from Pla Editions

Today we review Abrams Squad issue #40 - is it still THE modern military scale modelling magazine? We have read it, see what we think about it in our review...

Read n' Reviewed: Abrams Squad Vol 40 
From Pla Editions
Softbound A4 portrait format
96 Pages
Available in English & Spanish languages
Price: 15€
Product Link on the Abram's Squad Website
Time passes so fast...
It seems like only yesterday we reviewed the first Abrams Squad Magazine. Well, more time has passed than we can imagine since then, and we are already at issue no# 40! Pla Editions publish a new edition every few months, and they promise us to continue to bring the best in modern (post WWII) modelling in scenes and dioramas.

We will hold them to it - So what does issue #40 look, read and feel like?

In physical form:
The magazine is a glossy softcover with thick pages (ninety-six this issue) inside. Sold in both English and Spanish language versions, this version has all of the regular segments we are used to in previous editions. Ten separate sections with six model builds. Only fie ingle pages of advertisements throughout. this does not feel like most of the magazines for modelling out there who bombard you with ads and links. It has a premium look in its graphical style and in the feel in the materials used. 
Contents of this issue:
4.- Commander's Display Unit (news and reviews)
8.- RTS: M.1278 JLTV-GP (I Love Kit)
20.- Irpin 2022 (BMD-4M Trumpeter) by Sungjong Kim.
32.- JLTV OF 1ST ABCT “RAIDER“ DIVISION (References) by Walter Böhm.
38.- “MEXAS Walking in the Desert”, (Meng) by Masaya “Miyabi” Yamashiro.
50.- "Russian Battle Taxi MT-LB" (Trumpeter) by Thomas Birzer.
60.- “The Mekong Surfers” (Academy M113) Gallery by Víctor Tomás.
68.- "Children of War" Ukraine 2014 (BTR-80 Trumpeter) by Takehisa Shimotani.
78.- “Lift Truck Kalmar 240" (Four Star Miniatures), by Vincenzo Lanna.
90.- “Armored News" (References) by Abrams Squad.
96.- Turret Basket

Well, what does it read like? I will take you through the pages and stories now...

We always start in these issues with a note from the editor. I like reading these, as there is often some insight into what is coming, and the state of the business right now. Topics include the war in Ukraine and the tendencies of modelling companies to copy the same subjects with ever more complicated (and expensive) kits...
A regular feature is the news section called "Commander's Display Unit". Over four pages we are given not only new aftermarket, but new kit reviews, although brief on images and text, enough is there to give you a good impression of what the end product is.
A current theme on many modeller's wishlists, the M.1278 JLTV-GP from I Love Kit is featured in the build section called "RTS". Often, but not as much this issue it seems, in direct comparisons with the real thing. The model is built and displayed step-by-step to show the readers the finer points of the kit.
A place brought to our attention for some horrific deed of recent times, The subject of this diorama (also seen on the cover) is in the title: "Irpin 2022" features Trumpeter's 1/35th scale BMD-4M kit with lots of accessories of the modern battlefield. The pieces that we see every day strewn on the urban fields of battle. Sungjong Kim's diorama goes some way to showing us what it could look and feel like.
What really impressed me was his use of everyday objects in the form of a plethora of modelling accessories, many of these from MiniArt's excellent range of kits. Strewn to the side, battered and broken everyday objects really does resound with this reader in many of the photos of the Ukrainian battlefields and tows, plundered and carelessly tossed aside once finished their use or broken.
To help the modeller further their knowledge on this JLTV, the first of this issue's "references" section features the "JLTV OF 1ST ABCT "Raider" Division. Currently deployed to Europe, Walter Böhm gives us a photo essay and roundup of the men and their JLTV on deployment in this section..
The Canadian MBT of the desert war, the “MEXAS Walking in the Desert”, features the Meng kit in 1/35th scale. Masaya “Miyabi” Yamashiro has picked the variant with the dozer blade on front for his diorama scene.
The obvious challenge of making an all-green vehicle interesting and realistic is explained in the painting and weathering of the kit. The step by step assembly, painint, weathering, using home made pigmetns to add colour and authenticity to the kit (not to mention the bottles on the aerials and that excellent dozer blade). It looks great.
The star of this diorama is a well-known APC, the "Russian Battle Taxi MT-LB". Made from the Trumpeter kit in 1/35th scale by Thomas Birzer. The addition of figures from Evolution Miniatures of Russian soldiers add relatability to the scene. We see how he does it in his story. The article is well balanced, with equal parts divided in construction, painting , weathering and finishing.
Back to the "Nam" next with Víctor Tomás' gallery of “The Mekong Surfers”. His build of the Academy M113 kit in 35th scale. The diorama shows the carrier churning up the river, piled with soldiers atop and in an evocative setting that straight away resonates the Vietnam War. Some of these guys look suspiciously like the soldiers in "Platoon" I think...
The well known setting for most of us nowadays, unfortunately. The battle in Ukraine goes on, and "Children of War" reminds us that this fight for their country started in 2014. Using Paracel Miniatures kits of these resin figures and Trumpeter's BTR-80 Trumpeter. We see an immersive scene from Takehisa Shimotani.
The figures top this build off, with all of the soldiers on the BT and those two excellent figures of the boy and girl from Paracel Miniatures, which really tell the story from the picture.
Vincenzo Lanna is next, with his story “Lift Truck Kalmar 240" in which he makes this crane from Four Star Miniatures in 1/35th scale. You can see the sale of the diorama by the size of the man on the guard of the lift truck - a large and impressive diorama.
Not only the lifting truck, but the load and the surroundings are described in a detailed step by step process. I like the colour variation chosen by the modeller, and the way that it was sewn together with the layout and the graphics of the title (each title page is well done actually).
The second of the reference section is called “Armored News" and covers a broad range of armoured vehicles in all-new photos from the Abrams Squad team.
The Turret Basket section always previews the next volume of Abrams Squad and the newer kits are on the way...

That is all that they could fit in issue #40. I judge these magazines against each other, and I do thaink that there is an ever-improving trajectory in quality, wiritng and the models inside. The contens are relevent, with new models and hot topics of th enow inside. 

Well put together, credit to all invloved.

Adam Norenberg

This new great edition is now available from the Pla Editions Website...