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Tiger331

The Parlous State of the UK Modelling Magazine market

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Tiger331    749

 

A recent visit to my favourite model shop in Munich, during a business trip, prompts me to return to one of my current 'hobby horses' - the parlous state of the UK modelling magazine market. A quick rummage through the proprietors 'bargain box' of magazines was very telling indeed. Large quantities of unsold copies of Scale Aviation Modeller International and Model Airplane International and not one copy of the more popular European titles. Now before anyone shouts "not surprising since these are English language magazines being sold in a German shop" you need to know that the proprietor confirmed that both of these magazines (and other English language titles) were previously very popular in Germany in spite of the text language. Similarly, French and Italian titles sell very well and seldom find their way into the bargain box. The sad fact is that the fastidious German reader is no longer prepared to pay out 9.50 Euros for a below par magazine, filled with pages of 'catalogue style' content, poorly assembled models and pretty shallow reviews that provide no real objectivity about the accuracy or ease of assembly of any given model. Those Continental modellers that do have a very good command of the English language (and there are many) would add to the list a long litany of spelling and grammatical errors and the wholesale lifting of online reference material (such as that found on Wikipedia) which is often inaccurate and subject to grammatical/spelling errors.

 

I was 'persuaded' to buy two copies of the former title, at a heavily discounted price (2.50) simply to while away the time on my next train journey. I will often retain articles/items of interest from old magazines for future reference after I have finished reading - on this occasion I did not keep one page from either edition, such was the paucity of quality, both of the written word and the standard of kit building. I would suggest that the Editors need to do their jobs (i.e. actually edit their respective titles). They could, at the same time, also have the decency to check such things as Wikipedia entries and have the courtesy to acknowledge these references - something else that I have picked up. Perhaps if they spent a little less time building kits and actually doing their jobs as Editors, we could start to enjoy a better quality of product. I get that the Editor really ought to have a knowledge of the subject and should have the opportunity to demonstrate their acknowledged skills in the field but until they match these qualities with those of being an Editor, first and foremost, I will continue to invest my money in quality French and German publications, even if I only get the gist of the text. 

 

There are, of course, exceptions. I am very pleased to see Airfix Magazine go from strength to strength under the guidance of a very skilled editor and his team. Despite the fact that a large percentage of the content is outside my mainstream interests, this is the only UK publication that I regularly purchase and my German acquaintance confirmed that he is rarely left with any copies to dispose of in his 'bargain box'. 

 

I'll be interested to hear others views                  

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Panzer Vor!!!    3,587

Totally agree most articles are one paragraph of build if that then  the rest is  a lengthy lecture on painting /weathering  with the latest paints /weathering products

Which you must have to build accurate models !!

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Tony C    421

I subscribe to SAM, SAMI and MAI and have several complaints with all of them!

 

The following effects all three of the above publications...

 

Whilst I have no knowledge of the ages of the readership to these magazines, I would guess that most of the readers, will be people over 40 with many needing glasses to read and model so my first and biggest gripe, is the size of the pictures used in build articles.

 

To use a image that is around 2 inches square and then use words along the lines of "look at the detail shown"!

Editors, honestly, nothing can be seen and are totally pointless. I accept that space can be at a premium and space IS needed for advertising but from my perspective, no image should be smaller than 3½ by 2½, to be of any visual use!

The next gripe that again effects all 3 publications, is the lack of spellchecking.

One or two mistakes I can understand but when the whole issue is often littered with poor spelling and/or grammar mistakes (*), is unacceptable!

 

(*) I accept that I may use poor grammar and possibly bad spelling but then again, I not being paid for my writing skills!

 

The last of my gripes only effects MAI and that is the quality of the paper used and the frequent use of text colours that simply merge into the background, making the article unreadable!

 

Why?

 

I like all 3 publications as all provide me with subject matter that I like however, I am unlikely to renew my subscription to MAI, purely due to the issue mentioned above.

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Antoine    1,250
40 minutes ago, Tiger331 said:

Those Continental modellers that do have a very good command of the English language (and there are many) would add to the list a long litany of spelling and grammatical errors and the wholesale lifting of online reference material (such as that found on Wikipedia) which is often inaccurate and subject to grammatical/spelling errors.

If you do think this is specific to Brit mags, I can tell that's also true as far as French mags are concerned.

Usually, the builds are of top notch quality, but spelling and grammar errors are often to be found everywhere.

Historical accuracy and good references are also very often an issue.

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Jure Miljevic    307

Hello

I have no insight into situation in UK, but I have some idea how things work around here. The easiest way for editors to economise is to cut fees and most of them are quick to resort to this short sighted policy. As a result some of magazine's writers leave and new ones, willing to work for lesser fees, step in. Exodus continues as those who back their articles with time consuming research, drawings and photos are unwilling to work for the same amount of money as tamyigawa authors, shall we call them, who ˝shake and  bake˝ their kits and write articles over the weekend. To ensure money flow product placing and advertising is stepped up and, quite naturally, quality declines even further. When editor yet again cuts fees the circle is complete and downward spiral becomes even steeper. Of course, all this is hardly news to anyone. Cheers

Jure

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JeffreyK    345

When I was over in Germany last month I was browsing through some modelling magazines with the actual intention of picking up Modell Fan or some other magazine. I stopped when I saw the current prices of €7.00 for Modell Fan and something like €8.50 for another German publication I hadn't seen before (edit: I looked it up, it's called Wingmaster, much thinner than Modell Fan).

So I don't think price is a valid factor here.

Jeffrey

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Sabrejet    518

I very much agree about the (often pointless) obsession with weathering and what's "the latest way". I recently noted one magazine where obviously colour modulation was not far enough down the fad route and so had an article talking about weathering with the colour wheel. I had to check the cover to make sure it wasn't the April issue.

 

I thus put modelling magazines into four categories: 1 - expensive, with few pages/articles, 2 - blatant advertising tools (T*miya and M*ng spring to mind), 3 - high page count, many adverts/reviews/releases but few decent articles and 4 - Airfix magazine. In general, category 1, 2 and 3 look as though they rarely get an editor near them, with lots of spelling and grammatical mistakes, and most also have the daft trend in model builds (as mentioned above) of doing a paragraph on the interesting bit and then three pages showing how the model reached perfection at paint Stage 3 and then suffered another 15 stages of 'weathering' that gradually spoiled and obscured all the good work done up to Stage 3. And made it look less realistic.

 

Airfix magazine (I have no links, other than buying it) is for me a bright spot: high page count, good articles, good balance, and despite being the AIRFIX magazine, it manages to avoid the embarrassing fawning and daft superlatives which plague the magazines in Category 2.

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rayprit    278

I stopped buying magazines many years ago when I noticed that they were becoming catalogues,....... pages and pages of advertising.......as somebody mentioned earlier, they seem to think most modellers are into preshading, weathering and pin washes...........if I want to do any of that there are plenty of videos on youtube to show me hands on how to do it......I also note periodically, they will split the builds into 2-3 part works, hoping that you will buy the next 2-3 magazines to get the complete view of the build.  Another annoying feature, is how the page font is getting smaller and smaller making it difficult to read.........I suppose this way, they can increase the page count and offer those extra pages to advertisers

 

If I do buy any modelling mag, its always Airfix modelling

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camper1    1,359

I stopped the regular purchase of magazines some years ago because of the criticisms above, they just were not worth what was being asked price wise.

The obsessions with certain aircraft types bugged the hell out of me and the same type would appear in most of them over a 3 month or so period.

Even my old favourite Aeroplane Monthly is heading down the route of Spitfires this month Hurricanes next month then Spitfires again,how much more can be written about these aircraft.

I know they sell to 'Joe Public' but in years gone they would have interesting histories and stories of all manner of types which were not published elsewhere.

Thats the whinge for the week over.

 

Ian

 

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Graham Boak    2,410

I tried Airfix mag but gave up after a few issues.  I told myself that I'd buy issues with specific interest but have found few interesting enough.  I may have missed some, of course.  However, after a few years with no modelling magazines, I've recently subscribed to Scale Aircraft Modelling, which appears to be much closer to a good balance of reference and news.  Small print, though.

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Seahawk    1,177
13 minutes ago, Graham Boak said:

I tried Airfix mag but gave up after a few issues.  I told myself that I'd buy issues with specific interest but have found few interesting enough.  I may have missed some, of course.  However, after a few years with no modelling magazines, I've recently subscribed to Scale Aircraft Modelling, which appears to be much closer to a good balance of reference and news.  Small print, though.

Pretty much where I am.  I almost invariably buy (never subscribe!) SAM because there's usually just enough (an article or a couple of reviews) to tip me over into buying it, but I find the boundary between it and the Hannants catalogue difficult to discern at times.  Airfix Modelworld is always worth a look but, having a reasonable reference library, I find its historical articles on the shallow shade and its build articles inclined to gloss over faults in Airfix kits.  Exceptionally I bought a copy of SAMI a few months back and found it distressingly (and gratingly) illiterate.  One magazine I've recently taken to is Model Military International, because it fairly regularly has good photo reference articles by Bruce Culver (eg April 2017 US Halftrack SPGs, Aug 2017 Valentine part 1): they're about 8 pages long which counts as "in depth" nowadays.  Same usually goes for Military Modelling if there's a Steven Zaloga article on a subject of interest to me.  

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Rob G    2,828

Like most here, I've stopped buying magazines almost entirely (and I used to get 5 every month). The only regular exception is an Australian production that I quite like. I haven't gone digital, I'm just no longer willing to shell out my hard-earned for dross. As an example I looked at the new Meng Air glossy today - $18.95 for a few pages of pretty pictures with minimal text. The latest SAM had twice the pages and was only $11.95, but... it didn't inspire me. It stayed on the shelf. :/

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tomprobert    3,526

The only magazine I subscribe to is Air Modeller. It's expensive but is released bi-monthly which spreads the cost nicely. 

 

The main reason buy it is due to the quality of the modelling. Most articles are well written and photographed, and although the weathering can be a bit OTT on some builds, they're generally excellent. 

 

And, shock horror, there's a good deal of scratchbuilding that goes on, rather than reaching for the latest after-market resin accessory that you'd need to sell your house to afford. There's even some articles on vacforms and resin models which make for a refreshing change, rather than the latest shake and bake Tamiya/Hasegawa (snore) releases that dominate most other magazines. 

 

A bit of old school modelling that makes for a jolly good read - and plenty each month to inspire you, too!

 

For me, Model Airplane International comes a close second - Spencer Pollard's fantastic 1/24th Harrier T4 conversion was epic!

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junglierating    340
Posted (edited)

What an interesting drip session and.....I have to concur with most points.

I rarely buy magazines anymore but I will agree that the airfix mag is the one which seems to be more balanced in favour of modellers of different skill be it beginner or 'master craftsman'.Which is a savvy move since I imagine most young modellers start with airfix kits and ohhh what do you know a magazine with the same name.I know that when I was say 13 or so I was getting Airfix mag back then and only progressed to SAM later.

I still have my 1978-1980 airfix and they are great likewise for Sam from 81-to around 84.....aftere that had other things to do.

Call me old fashioned but too much jazzy (in context people) pictures aren't my thing maybe it works for others .Adverts well even the old mags had them .....some of them were distinctly non pc SS support groups and the like????.

I imagine the the cost to produce ain't cheap so if the content isn't up to much then I can see some go by the wayside.As for the ones that are stuffed with adverts I am sure they get plenty of money for those but give little thought to the potential reader....I.e it's purely for profit and continue until it's no longer worth it....sadly a microcosm of UK society today.....just saying!:swear:

 

Edited by junglierating
spechlin

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armored76    17

Living in Germany, the selection of modelling magazines is rather scarce if you are not living in a large city. Model Fan is about the only one you can get everywhere but I stopped buying it after a couple of issues. The articles are mostly useless as they are so short. I guess, you are a lot luckier in GB :)

 

Looking at it from "the other side", I contributed articles to four publications over the past few years. It started with a well known US magazine. I sent in my article in, I think October to have it published next year in December (yes, over one year later). Useless to say, I stopped sending any material to them. Then I sent in a couple of article to a UK magazine which in the beginning seemed OK, with about 2-3 months to publication but then I had to nag them for the payment which I got tired of so that collaboration stopped, as well. I'm still contributing to another two UK publications and I really like them but the professionalism at Airfix Model World is really unbeatable!

 

What I'm trying to say - apart from bragging - is that some editors are trying hard to scare off contributors and this is what I think is showing through the pages. Wouldn't it be easier for them to get back to people in time, pay them in time and at least let them know in case publication of an article is delayed beyond normal? Simple things with a large effect. At the same time, I'm sure they are under a lot of pressure themselves so I'm not trying to be too hard with the, We all know how stressful a job can be (we need modelling to "cut back", after all, right!?).

 

From my point of view, one major missing feature of most publications is a readers forum. What easier and cheaper way can there be to get feedback but also pick up some good builds that would make for an article?

 

I'm happy this discussion has been opened and I can only hope some of the editors will read this...

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Darby    5,118

I haven't bought modelling mags for many of the reasons above. In a similar vein but different subject I used to buy Sea Angler many years ago but now its just 'Catch early cod/know your cod rigs/catch bigger cod/ know your cod baits/catch winter cod/catch late cod. For the other 6mnths of the year substitute the word cod for bass.

Codswallop! Or should that be Basswallop seeing as it's August.

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junglierating    340
33 minutes ago, Darby said:

I haven't bought modelling mags for many of the reasons above. In a similar vein but different subject I used to buy Sea Angler many years ago but now its just 'Catch early cod/know your cod rigs/catch bigger cod/ know your cod baits/catch winter cod/catch late cod. For the other 6mnths of the year substitute the word cod for bass.

Codswallop! Or should that be Basswallop seeing as it's August.

Talk about opening yourself up......typical fish'ead always carping on .....sorry couldn't resist that....:rofl:

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Darby    5,118
29 minutes ago, junglierating said:

Talk about opening yourself up......typical fish'ead always carping on .....sorry couldn't resist that....:rofl:

I was WAFU for 23 yrs until 2011 then went GS. Just changed the branch badge and went on higher pay scale for doing the same job. Still got my old badges on my 8's though. Sadly not worn nowadays.

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Patrick Martin    139

Stop reviewing kits that only have new decals.  The dreaded re-issue.

Stop reviewing kits that are re-boxed again by a different manufactures – i.e. Twin Otter by Revell.

Stop giving us ‘build’ articles that only show the completed work (i.e. like American magazines do – which is why I do not buy them!) A review – yes – but not a full article with seven views of the same built kit.

Stop the class ‘BS’ one content for subscribers – different content for store bought.

Think twice about content scale – if I build 1/72, do I really want 75% 1/48 content?  Or the other way round?

Content should be index-able, vague ramblings about working on 20 kits does not do much for me.  So called articles on the life of an editor belong in a blog – not in print.  The only regular column that was every worth following was Mike McEvoy

 

The reader / buyer has a lot more to pick from now than thirty years ago.  Vote with your wallet, leave the rest on the shelf.

 

 

 

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junglierating    340
12 minutes ago, Darby said:

I was WAFU for 23 yrs until 2011 then went GS. Just changed the branch badge and went on higher pay scale for doing the same job. Still got my old badges on my 8's though. Sadly not worn nowadays.

NFW! your one of those.....don't recognise the name so Cornish air station?

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Darby    5,118
Posted (edited)
2 minutes ago, junglierating said:

NFW! your one of those.....don't recognise the name so Cornish air station?

Yep, unfortunately down there for the first time since '89. More used to grey things or bunkers.

Edited by Darby
Pterodactyl attack

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junglierating    340
13 minutes ago, Patrick Martin said:

Stop reviewing kits that only have new decals.  The dreaded re-issue.

Stop reviewing kits that are re-boxed again by a different manufactures – i.e. Twin Otter by Revell.

Stop giving us ‘build’ articles that only show the completed work (i.e. like American magazines do – which is why I do not buy them!) A review – yes – but not a full article with seven views of the same built kit.

Stop the class ‘BS’ one content for subscribers – different content for store bought.

Think twice about content scale – if I build 1/72, do I really want 75% 1/48 content?  Or the other way round?

Content should be index-able, vague ramblings about working on 20 kits does not do much for me.  So called articles on the life of an editor belong in a blog – not in print.  The only regular column that was every worth following was Mike McEvoy

 

The reader / buyer has a lot more to pick from now than thirty years ago.  Vote with your wallet, leave the rest on the shelf.

 

 

 

Ah Mike McEvoy .....I wonder if is son ever continued modelling.where n't his articles called tailpiece

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junglierating    340
1 minute ago, Darby said:

bunkers.

As in golf.....  not Gulf....ignore us gents and the few ladies :blink:....it helps me get through my OU end of course assignment :deadhorse:

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czechnavy    53

Junglierating - Mike McEvoy

 

I see him each year at SMW Telford and last chatted to him at the Cosford show this Spring.  He is still modelling away and still a fund of interesting views and depth of modelling and aviation knowledge as well as being a true gentleman!  

 

Whenever I get an issue of SAM out of the boxfiles I always end up reading his Tailpiece as well as the article I was looking for - and still smiling at his wry comments!

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Sabrejet    518
31 minutes ago, Patrick Martin said:

Stop reviewing kits that only have new decals.  The dreaded re-issue.

Stop reviewing kits that are re-boxed again by a different manufactures – i.e. Twin Otter by Revell.

Stop giving us ‘build’ articles that only show the completed work (i.e. like American magazines do – which is why I do not buy them!) A review – yes – but not a full article with seven views of the same built kit.

Yes, yes and yes! Makes me realise how bad some of them are.

 

On the subject of fees for authors, I do find that strange. For WW1 enthusiasts there is a small society - Cross and Cockade - which produces a quarterly magazine whose production quality would be the envy of most magazines you'd ever see on a newsstand. C&C's journal is globally respected for its well-researched and authoritative (and interesting!) articles. Photographic reproduction is market-leading despite the obvious fact that most of the photographs are 100+ years old. None are published across two pages and most are deliberately published as large as possible so that they convey the maximum of information. And all done on very impressive-quality paper and with a lot of colour content (side-views etc) too.

 

But I think the crux with C&C's magazine is that all articles as provided gratis by their authors (I have had two published and felt honoured to think that they were worthy of publication), and thus it attracts only authors whose main aim is to broadcast the products of their research and passion for WW1 aviation.

 

So I'd suggest that were a modelling magazine to pursue a similar line (i.e. no payment for articles other than the satisfaction of seeing your work made available to a wider audience), we might just find that only enthusiasts would submit, and thereby you'd likely have a magazine for enthusiasts rather than just funding those seeking the easiest way to a quick buck. Added to that, you'd save money on fees which could instead go into higher production values, page count etc.

 

And I bet you'd be hard-pressed to find many authors submitting yet more articles on Spitfire/Bf.109/F-18 etc.

 

Just an idea. 

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