Aces High Magazine, Issue #1
The name AK Interactive is probably familiar to many of us as a provider of some very useful weathering products. Although their weathering products work with any model, AK has primarily marketed its products to armor modelers. Recently, however, they have started producing some aircraft-specific products, such as the AK Air Series which currently has “Air Paint” sets (just Luftwaffe and RAF, but I believe more are in the pipeline) and “Air Weathering” sets (designed specifically to weather aircraft engines and landing gear). It looks to me like the “Aces High” magazine has been started to specifically showcase the usage of AK products on aircraft. A note on the cover states “Special Issue: 64 + 20 pages free”, so I suppose future issues will have 64 pages, as compared to this volume which has 84.
The magazine itself is produced on nice, heavy gloss stock. It is in the “A4” European size (slightly larger than the US standard format), and has about 82 pages. This first issue is dedicated to night fighters of the Luftwaffe, and contains eight build articles. Five of these are, in fact, about night fighters. The remaining three cover a night bomber, an airfield vehicle, and a Luftwaffe pilot figure. All well within the general theme, but not all night fighters!
Here are the contents:
- Zoukei-Mura 1/32 Heinkel He 219A-0
- Hasegawa 1/32 FW 190 A-6/R11
- MPM 1/48 Heinkel He 177A-5
- Dragon 1/48 Messerschmitt Me 262B-1a/U1
- Eduard 1/72 Messerschmitt Bf 110G-4
- Eduard 1/48 Messerschmitt Bf 109E-4
- Ultracast 1/32 (?) Luftwaffe Pilot
- Italeri 1/35 Kfz 385 Tankwagen
I did find it a little difficult to quickly determine exactly which kit was used in some of the articles. Not all mention the manufacturer, or even the scale, within the text. For many, I had to go back to the table of contents to identify the kit. This is just an editorial nitpick rather than any serious error, but it still caused a little head-scratching on my part.
Each of the articles is about 10 to 12 pages in length, and has very clear, large photographs showing work in progress as well as the finished product. The ratio of pictures to text is very high in favor of the photos. To varying degrees, each article shows build steps in photos, with brief accompanying text. The general idea here is to highlight the usage of AK products, so the emphasis is on weathering techniques rather than construction. All of the models are built to an extremely high quality, and the photos are equally of high caliber.
Although various techniques are covered, I would have liked to have seen a more detailed step-by-step description of these techniques. It is always preferable, in my opinion, to have pictures explaining a process, but accompanying in-depth text would make it even better. Some mention is made of how to achieve the various effects, but I felt some details in the process were lacking. For example, good use of AK’s “Chipping Medium” is made, but the instructions were a bit vague on how exactly it was accomplished. I gather this product is used similar to the hairspray method, and the articles do (sort of) cover this, but I guess just not as in depth as I would have liked. Having the photos is a great visual aid to help follow along, but maybe in the next issues a bit more descriptive text can accompany them. The same holds true for the other AK products that are put to use. This is not to say there are no explanations of the various methods – there are indeed - I just wish they were even more in depth. There is no denying the end result is inspiring and effective, I just want to know even more about how to achieve it! Perhaps I just need my hand held through the process a bit more than others.
In the end, this is a nice magazine to read through. Production quality is quite high, and I will say there are some very nice subjects covered (haven’t seen too many MPM 1/48 He 177s built up!). Even though the magazine is clearly designed to promote the AK products, the articles are not inundating you with “buy AK products” efforts, but just show you how to work with them. I think this is a very positive approach.
One last note – there are two sort of ‘cheesecake’ artwork images of a young lady in brief Nazi attire sweeping Allied symbols (stars n bars and cockades) under a Nazi flag. It’s by no means racy, and I sort of see the connection, but found it totally unnecessary. I can obviously just turn the page, but thought it took away a bit from the rest of the issue.
Overall I would recommend this to any aircraft modeler who likes to see pictures of some well-done Luftwaffe aircraft, and perhaps learn a bit more about some new techniques. I will also look forward to seeing what the next issues will cover (AK has already announced Issue #2 will cover WW1 aircraft).
Thanks to AK Interactive for providing the review sample and to IPMS/USA for allowing me to review it.