David Knights' Weblog

December 1, 2012

Magazine review and comparison: Sept. 2012 issues of Scale Aircraft Modelling and Model Aircraft Magazine

Magazine review and comparison: Sept. 2012 issues of Scale Aircraft Modelling and Model Aircraft Magazine.

Review by D. M. Knights IPMS/USA 17656, IPMS/Canada C6091

One of my favorite modeling topics to endlessly discuss with fellow aircraft modelers is the state of the modeling magazine industry and the best and worst of the current modeling magazines.  In furtherance of that discussion, I’ve decided to compare the September issues of two of the more popular aircraft modeling magazines, Scale Aircraft Modelling (SAM) and Model Aircraft Magazine (MAM).

First, a little history.  SAM is the granddaddy of all aircraft modeling magazines.  Started by Alan Hall in the late 1970s, it was at the time one of the few aircraft only modeling publications.  The magazine was shaped by Mr. Hall’s personality and his intense love of aircraft and their history. SAM was the gold standard by which all other magazines were measured.  Then, over time, SAM came into financial trouble and briefly shut down in the mid-90s before being resurrected.  The magazine has gone thru a number of changes and ups and downs in the quality of its product.

MAM is a much newer title, having been out for approximately 11 years now.  MAM came out of the gate with a bang.  It’s high production values and great mix of history and modeling articles made it, for a time, the modeling magazine to get.  Much of this was due to editor Neil Robinson.  Mr. Robinson is a fixture in the literature of modeling.  Just when MAM was darn near perfect, the owners decided to refocus the magazine and drop the modeling content.  Mr. Robinson left the magazine.  The change was brief and MAM was back to a modeling magazine within a few issues.  However, the damage had been done and the “new” MAM was a mere shadow of its former self.

With the history out of the way, on to the comparison of the September issues of SAM and MAM.

The September issue of SAM (Vol. 34 No. 7) approximately 86 pages and has a number of articles and reviews.  One of the things that I always liked about SAM is that it tended to have a bias toward 72nd scale models.  This was the standard scale for years and my chosen scale, and while 48th and 32nd scale have gained in popularity, SAM always tended to be 72nd heavy in the articles department.  This seems to be changing as the current editor, Jay Laverty, seems to prefer the larger scales and this is starting to be reflected in SAM’s content. This issue has three articles on 72nd aircraft, a Merlin helicopter, a Tarpon (British/Canadian Avenger) and a Me-163A mini diorama.  All are good articles, but all seem to suffer from “Pretty picture” syndrome, with a number of very attractive shots of well-made models, but not much in the way of text other than on a very basic level.  Also, the construction and painting are pretty standard with little in the way of detailing/converting that is of interest to a more experienced modeler.  Jay had, in some issues past been injecting humor into some of the text on the magazine cover, with inside jokes and the like.  However, this issue seems to have reverted to a more conventional style.  When Mr. Laverty took over SAM, the first few issues were plagued with typos and copy problems like photographs with captions that did not match.  It has gotten much better in the last year or so, but the typo problem still hasn’t been eliminated.  From a recent editorial, Mr. Laverty seems to be a little sensitive on the subject. Also, here in the States, SAM retails for $12.95, making it a pretty expensive purchase.

After it’s brief foray into an aviation history only magazine, MAM returned to the formula that had made it a good magazine.  The first few issues after the change back were awful.  They were clearly just thrown together.  The more recent issues are better, but MAM has not approached the level that it had achieved under Mr. Robinson’s leadership.

The September issue shows MAM’s current strength and weaknesses.  The feature article is a nice article on the RAF Buccaneers in Desert Storm along with a build article on the beautiful CMR kit.  Sadly the build accompanying the article just isn’t very good.  This is a consistent weakness of MAM.  I don’t mind there being a variation in the quality of builds in a magazine as that represents the range of skill levels of actual modelers.  However, the models in MAM are of consistently poor quality.  The text of the articles isn’t any better than the models themselves.  The 72nd scale PB4Y-1 is a particular standout as the paint job really looks bad.  The attempt at fading and weathering is inconsistent and unrealistic.  On the plus side, this issue of MAM has plenty of 72nd scale content.  There is an article on the venerable Airfix Jetstream with two builds and a history article on the aircraft.  The builds are the best of a bad lot in this issue and would be acceptable if they weren’t surrounded by so many worse articles. MAM does have a cheaper cover price of $8.95.

All in all, SAM is the current clear choice.  While neither is perfect, and MAM at one time had a winning formula, at present SAM is the better magazine for the aircraft modeler.

May 24, 2010

Magazine review: Military Aircraft Monthly Vol. 8 #12 (Dec. 2009)

Filed under: Modeling — dknights @ 7:41 am
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As we know from Jim Bates, MAM haas stopped including modeling content in the magazine.    Thus, there won’t be too many more review of the magazine like this one.  I am doubtful that I’ll be getting any issues of MAM after the changeover.

This was the Dec. 2009 issue. (Yes, I am behind.)  It has a build review of the Airfix PR.XIX. (Which has been covered ad nauseum in every modeling magazine over the last year.)  THere are also good historical article on the LaGG-3, the early Stuka and the Hurricane year of the defense of Malta.  All in all it is a very good issue, which makes it all the more sad that we won’t be seeing more like it in the future.

December 11, 2009

Magazine review: Military Aircraft Monthly Vol.8 #11

Filed under: Modeling — dknights @ 6:59 am
Tags: , , , , ,

As mentioned previously, this title recently changed its name in an attempt to acquire a larger audience.  I hope it is working as this magazine is one of the best for the aircraft modeler.  It is devoted as much to aviationn history as to modeling.  However, it has many good modeling articles and most of the history features have a modeling tie-in.

In this issue, there is an article on Canadian Lancasters, both during and after WWII, with the appropriate kit build ups in 72nd scale.  There is a historical article on the piston driven aircraft used during the Malayan Emergency.  Also of interest to the 72nd modeler is an article on the Mustang IV in RAF/RCAF/RAAF/SAAF service.  This article has several nice side view drawings, a couple of which have inspired me for future projects. (Just what I need!)  A great value for the money in this issue.

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