ASdvoce requested: model magazines

My Aunt has offered to buy me a subscription to a monthly journal, and I'm having a devil of a time deciding what to ask for. Would you be kind
enough to provide your comments on the currently available model and railway magazines. Most mags I've browsed recently seem to me to be more promotions of "the trade" and of tourist lines than purveyors of useful information.
Thanks.
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Wolf K. said the following on 31/01/2008 14:23:

Can't comment on railway magazines, but for model railway mags it would have to be either Railway Modeller or MRJ (I have both!). MRJ isn't strictly a monthly mag though. Although I also subscribe to Model Rail, it seems to have lost its way and I keep forgetting to cancel the subscription.
Reasons:
Railway Modeller does actually have some very good articles in there, despite the apparent widespread derision it receives. I also buy Continental Modeller occasionally.
MRJ - well, every railway modeller must surely have that on their compulsory reading list :-)
Model Rail - Perhaps it's just me, but it doesn't seem to have any direction any more. You get half an article, then wonder where the rest went. Did Chris Leigh ever get his "Lion" finished? What's with the half-hearted overseas pull-outs you sometimes get? I hope it doesn't go the way of MRC though.
BRM - anti-P4. Nuff said, for me!
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Paul Boyd
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The latest issue, with the new look, seemed to only last half as long (in terms of time taken to read it) as previous ones. Anyone else notice that, or do I need to get out more?
MBQ
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snipped-for-privacy@hotmail.com said the following on 31/01/2008 15:18:

I didn't count the number of editorial pages (I do get out sometimes!), but I did think it was a bit light. I'm not sure about the new look either - it all seems a bit haphazard, but I don't intend to get used to it ;-)
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Me too - another case of change for change's sake; what happened to 'if it ain't broke, don't fix it?
I index my model magazine in a database and it has become very clear over the past couple of years that the volume of content worth indexing for future reference is becoming minimal in all of the three mainstream mags; (RM, BRM and MR).
Due to lack of storage space I have been plucking up courage, after fifty years of buying the mainstream mags as a matter of course, to stop.
Regretably, Model Rail may be the first to go!! If I never read another cartoon-strip of how to repaint and detail a RTR loco it'll be too soon!!
Why can't we have a few articles on how to model those items of rolling stock which can't be bought off the shelf and touched-up in five minutes.
Perhaps that would require some research and real modelling, though?!?
Regards, John Isherwood.
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cctransuk wrote: [...]

This is a perennial subject on rec.models.railroad, too. The fact is that magazines don't have a stable of modeller-writers, they really depend on plain ordinary folk to write up what they have done. But the modellers have always been a minority, even in the days when a good deal more modelling was done. Back in The Good Old Days, most people scratch-built or kit-built because they wanted to save money, and/or because they wanted something that wasn't otherwise available. Few built models because that's what they were in the hobby for. Most model railroaders then and now want to run trains!
Scratch-building, kitbashing, and kit building are the price you pay for wanting to have a more authentic look. The much greater variety, and much better price/quality ratio available today have largely removed the major motives for model building for many (IMO most) model railroaders. FWIW, I have been asked to build kits for my customers, and they cheerfully pay the rather hefty premium I charge for that service.
So they were an are few model builders as such. And fewer still had and have the urge or inclination to write about their modelling. That reduces the magazines to using their staff to do quick and dirty kitbashing, repaints, etc. They just don't have the resources (ie, time) to do more. (It's significant, IMO, that Model Railroader, which has a long tradition of "project railroads", is drawing on its retired staff to help build these layouts.)
My penny's worth (= 2 cents Canadian.)
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Agree the quality of the model mags is a bit up and down and lately the prototype info has been a bit iffy. MRJ seem an inbred snotty lot - not all their readers are though.
However on the real railway front Backtrack is excellent. Many properly researched articles, some authors (esp Micheal Rutherford) make any topic interesting. Mostly British railways, from year dot to yesterday. Covers every aspect from locomotives to infrastructure and management. Excellent article this month on distribution of goods from station to destination - inc working conditions for horses.
Cheers, Simon
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simon wrote: [...]

Ok, all, thanks for your input and digressions so far. I've corrected the spelling in the subject line, so some of you will find this starts a new thread.
I want a model mag that provides good prototype info pre-BR and early BR (ie 1945-55) at least some of the time. I have taken RM in the past, but got tired of the same How I Built My Railway article appearing in every issue. Since then I buy one or two a year, just for the adverts. I've picked up the occasional MRJ, and agree with Simon's assessment of a common attitude in that august publication - an attitude I can get past if the information content of the articles is high. So if I were to ask for a model mag sub, it would probably be for MRJ. If one of the other mags is roughly equivalent in information content and value, which would it be?
As for railway mags, I haven't clue. I'd like a mag somewhat like Trains: good blend of history and news. It sounds like Backtrack is a good candidate. Comments?
Thanks again.
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I feel the Hornby Mag from Ian Allan Publishing has got off to a good start ( and that's not just they published one of my articles ) and is now monthly for 3.35 at the newsagents.
It has a good blend of articles for the dedicated model maker and for the ones like me who dabble for the sake of our son.
http://www.ianallanpublishing.com/pages.php?pageid=31
The yearly subscription is 40.20 and if you pay by direct debit you also get a 'free' binder.
During my visits to W H Smith I have noticed several specialist mag's for scratch building all types of models including loco's & rolling stock.
Whatever mag you choose expect pages of adverts.
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I quite like the "look and feel" of the Hornby mag but, despite what they may say, there's a definite 00 bias IMHO. One inspirational article I read completely omitted any mention of N suitable guage models (and theer were some).
On the other hand, I've always felt MR had a definite 0 bias in the "cartoon strip" kit building articles.
Looking back at RMs from the 70s there seemed to be a lot more hands on articles and prototype track plans and scale drawings. There were even proper electrical projects from people who knew what they were talking about and could draw a proper circuit diagram. All sorts of techniques and materials were used from papier mache to old bean tins!
I really do need to get out more.
MBQ
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snipped-for-privacy@hotmail.com said the following on 01/02/2008 15:22:

Hornby? OO bias? You don't say :-)
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But the magazine is supposed to be independant and they have had some N gauge coverage. It's just not consistent and si I will not buy it on a regular basis.
MBQ
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Seconded, I just wish Modeller's Backtrack (or whatever it was called) had survivied.
MBQ
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snipped-for-privacy@hotmail.com wrote: [...]

Thanks, I googled and found an index of past issues. Looks very good indeed! Backtrack it will be.
Thank you all. The digressions were as always amusing, instructive, and sometimes both. ;-)
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My favourite was the article (think was in MR) on how a professional did the lettering on PO wagons - so you can do it the same way !
It was by hand with a pen. oh y e can s I do tha t
Cheers, Simon
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The Land Rover world has gone the same way, as have other special intrest areas I excpect. Once there was one mag, written by real enthisiasts who actually owned and used the subject vehicles. That was always interesting. Now there are 4 dedicated LR mags, plus another 5 or 6 general mags that ineveitably cover LR a lot, and the same articles appear over and over, usually writted by run-of-the-mill motoring journalists who often doen't own the marque and only claim an interest to get the job. Many are actually of the "blue brake calipers improve performance" persuasion which clearly shows through in what they write. One mag put brief CV's of their writers on their site - whatamistakatomaka...
I bought a model railway mag over Christmas for the first time in 30 years. It had the same articles in! Sometimes choice is not such a good thing, but equally specialising can be bad too - I joined the Gauge 0 Guild as I thought the mag would be useful, but it was more focused on the Guild itself than modelling!
Time to try MIGO+1!
Cheers Richard
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cctransuk said the following on 31/01/2008 17:45:

LOL! That pretty much sums up what I feel! Surely everyone must know how to fit an etched brass roof fan by now! I know newbies like to see this information so it does need to be included from time to time, but MR almost seem to be writing every issue as if what they're describing is new.

That ended when Darren Sherwood left, I think.
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First I think you need to consider what you want from the magazine. Is your interest in UK railways, Europe or North America because, as far as I can see, the magazines readily available tend to major on one of those 3 geographical subjects. Then, what period are you interested in? Modern or historical? "Real" railways or preserved?
Having recently got interested in modelling, and planning to plan US I read Model Railroader but I also read Hornby because, at least at the moment, it's running some very basic articles that I think I need. I've joined the NMRA and I get both their US and UK magazines, at the moment. As far as full size trains are concerned I read Modern Railways because I feel it provides an authoritative, professional but understandable view of the UK raailway scene. I've read a couple of issues of Trains re the US and I'm considering a sub to that as well.
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