Review: AK Interactive Wargame Techniques Magazine, First Issue
AK Interactive recently published a Wargame Techniques Magazine designed to build modelling skills for wargamers. The first issue is promising. It answers some of our FAQ like: How do I make MDF buildings and terrain look more realistic? The editor has obviously done their wargaming homework as 40K, Gaslands, and Infinity are addressed directly while the perennial terrain projects of trees and hills are given a fresh approach.
In the currently saturated gaming magazine market is “AKtion Magazine” worth buying?
There’s a lot to like about the presentation of the magazine. It’s a premium glossy product filled with bright colours and excellent photos showing step-by-step instructions for each tutorial. Even the product reviews and ads seem carefully chosen to extend the high production values. I’d say the companies who have bought ad space in this issue produce some of the nicest figures and terrain on the market. The content too is well curated. AKtion provides a diverse but focused range of subject matter but it’s the seven tutorials that are the best part of the magazine. With so much free stuff available on the web AKtion puts forward a strong case for continuing to buy a paper magazine. For the most part, it’s a joy to look at and thumb through.
The tutorials are certainly worth the price of admission. There are some basics for beginners that will still teach old dogs a new trick or two. By the time a new comer finishes the Scratch Built tree and Hill Tutorial they’ll be introduced to wargame terrain staples such as: foam board, bark, wire, modelling putty, spray glue, poly fiber, the craft knife, and flock. Note I’ve just provided a sample of the pages. In total, the tree and hill tutorials are 18 pages long.
Next the tutorials focus on weathering, a staple of the AK Interactive product line. From build to final verdigris, Weathering a Metallic Statue is a fantastic summary of how to turn those spare models into historical, fantasy, or sci-fi statues. I recently bought a generic horse and rider from the Deep Cuts HD Minis collection just so I can give this a try. It looks like a lot of fun. This article is four pages.
With Gaslands and other pre and post-apocalyptic driving games firmly in mind, AKtion does a full build and weathering tutorial on both a plastic model kit and a ready-made die-cast car in 1/43 scale. The advice and step-by-step instructions on how to rust a plastic model are excellent as is the wire brush and rust treatment given to the die-cast model. Gamer favourites – from the soon to be released GW Speed Freeks to Gaslands to the strictly historical – will be greatly improved by this tutorial. I’ve got a couple of die cast
victims cars ready for my Dremel loaded with a wire brush. This article is exhaustive at fourteen pages – well worth the read.
There are two separate articles on improving a flat MDF house and building an Infinity Cargo Container. Personally, I’m not a fan of the recent wave of MDF flat pack scenery that’s flooded the market. Everybody with a laser cutter is churning out featureless boxes that need a lot of work to turn into decent 3D scenery. For me, the time needed to augment MDF is not worth the minimal savings to be had over buying hard plastic kits or scratch building. However, the articles on sprucing up MDF go a long way towards a quick and effective method of bringing MDF to life. Should I venture into the MDF scenery market I’ll be using these articles extensively to take some of the pain out of the building and painting process.
An AK Interactive publication wouldn’t be complete without an Armour Weathering Tutorial. This time it’s a Games Workshop tank that gets the treatment. Unlike the other tutorials this one is a detailed master class in airbrushing and weathering. The trick here for even experienced modelers is to try one or two of the techniques at a time to slowly build up your skill level. At six pages the fantastic looking GW tank tutorial can be revisited again and again if you’re looking for a new technique to try. If you’re into historical models fear not, the techniques are equally applicable to real world subjects. Great stuff here!
Despite being an AK Interactive publication it’s worth noting the magazine isn’t an eighty-six page sales pitch for AK products. While some AK products are highlighted you can achieve the same effects with any range of hobby paint and products. AK products feature in some pictures but never to the detriment of the tutorial or subject matter.
Then there’s the rest of the magazine…
The new product review section is well done highlighting novel and usable products from a wide variety of figure and model product manufacturers. I suspect that experienced scale model builders, however, will find some featured products and reviews very basic. Not much here for modelers who are already well aware of which end of the airbrush to point.
The Games and Rules Over the Mat section is not up to scratch. Generally, the translation to English throughout the rest of the magazine is passable but the eight-page exposition on a Bolt Action, WFB, and Napoleonic naval and land battle really suffer. The English badly needs consistent editing and the photos fall far short of the high standards set by rest of the magazine. The text is tiny, making it a real slog to read and the battle reports are novice in conception, execution, and explanation. These eight pages would have been much better used for an extra tutorial or two. It’s clear that AK is out of its depth here.
The show report for Australia’s Cancon 2018 is better off for having a native English speaker write the piece, or at least edit it, and it has some quality photographs of games and figures. This was relegated to a two page spread.
Straight out of left field – although looking at the cover I should have been forewarned – is the Cosplay Market photo shoot of attractive young females sporting cosplay outfits. There’s nothing in the magazine about making, say, cosplay accessories using modelling skills yet the magazine cover shows an anime cartoon character that could well be a stylized plastic model. I’m left with the conclusion that AK is showing attractive women for the sake of showing attractive women. Not surprising perhaps in a publication aimed at a primarily male audience but more than a bit out of touch with the current reality. To be fair, some space is dedicated to a Q and A with a couple of the cosplayers but I struggled to connect the tagline – “Wargame Techniques Magazine” – with the cover art and four pages dedicated to the female cosplayer form.
To conclude, the tutorials are excellent but there are many pages dedicated to poorly written, entry-level gaming reports and topics from out of left field. I’m still glad I bought the magazine and given the promised subjects in the next issue will certainly have a look at issue #2 when it hits the shelves. I’m hoping that with experience the editors will tighten up the focus and play to their strengths as there’s a lot of potential here.