September 23, 2015

Trench Runner Review: Justin Skrakowski checks in with a look at AK's new Tanker Magazine

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Editor in Chief – Kristof Pulinckx
Produced & Distributed by – AK Interactive
You know that most famous of scenes in Roman Polanski’s Chinatown where Faye Dunaway admits her incestuous relationship with her father to Jack Nicholson and Jack tries to knock her back into making sense during her babbling? “She’s my daughter!” SMACK “She’s my sister!” SMACK “Daughter!” SMACK “Sister!” SMACK… well that’s what I was like when I got the first issue of TANKER yesterday. “It’s a book!” SMACK “It’s a magazine!” SMACK “Book!” SMACK “Magazine” SMACK (my fiancée had the dubious task of slapping me back to sense), but nonetheless, “This,” I thought, “Now this is how to put out a magazine for modelers!” You bind it the same way that most of the new modeling books are bound, but sell it cheap, and put issues out just as often as magazines! To put a magazine in such a great format is nothing shy of brilliant forward-thinking on the part of AK Interactive and Editor-in-Chief Kristof Pulinckx.

I mean, as modelers, and as I’ve said before, I think that about 75% of our obsession is as collectors. We love our built models, and we love our models that are waiting to be built. We love our paints that we’ve accumulated, and our favorite tools. And one of the things that we love and pride most (at least, I certainly do) is our reference libraries that we’ve amassed over the years. But there’s just something so unattractive about having your regular, run-of-the-mill, folded & stapled magazines on the same shelves as say, a gorgeous, hardbound, 14 x 10 inch encyclopedia of WWII German armor: it is just not aesthetically pleasing.

But honestly, when I was first seeing TANKER in the new releases sections of my favorite modeling sites, my initial thoughts were, “Really?! Another whole magazine on rust?” This didn’t mean that I still didn’t have to have it, but it did seem that the market was getting pretty oversaturated with the same types of magazines over and over, and this once again by AK Interactive, whom already have plenty of “rust” themed books/magazines under their belt, seemed gratuitous at best…

But there I was up until 4 in the a.m., reading this magazine from cover to cover in one sitting, and even re-reading many articles many times. I can’t decide whether it is an entirely new approach to theme magazines or if maybe it’s the fact that now that this “New School” of modelers has gained SO much traction in our world, that they don’t have as much explaining to do of “why” they are doing what they are doing (as with any new branch of any hobby/art when they are first coming out with new techniques that are turning old ideas on their heads), which has left them free to just emphasize (and mainly enjoy) what they are doing and have created, rather than having to constantly be on the defensive about their reasons for doing these ground-breaking things.

And I think that’s what grabbed me instantly right from the masthead, was that there was no longer this sort of apologetic/defensive tone for what they have been doing to the modeling world, and instead this great liberty to just say, “This is how you have fun with these great new ideas that we have been perfecting (and standing up for) for the past decade or so”… and it’s incredibly refreshing.

And if you are a fan of, say, Weathering Magazine, then TANKER is just really going to knock your socks off. Instead of adding to the seeming glut of magazines all about the same topics; this magazine is all of those ideas and themes, along with the great format, and wonderful page layouts, along with killer pictures and easy-to-follow step-by-step instructions, that have honed the model-theme magazine construct to an edge sharp enough to cut down any competitors.

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Another thing they’ve done that I have yet to see, is that in some articles they’ve added these really great graphics with information bubbles tied to very specific areas of each build highlighted in the book. For example, one of the greatest builds in the book is the one you can see on the cover of the rusted out van with the broken glass in anarticle entitled “Cargo Van: XTREME OXIDATION,” and in the final part of this article they have great resolution pics of the build from many angles, with circles around, say, the window, or a particular deep rust dent, and then the corresponding line and text shows how to do this one piece of the build, so that you don’t necessarily have to follow the step-by-step guide if you just want to get to the one part of the build you are looking to replicate. It’s a great way for those who are already more advanced in their modeling practice to not have to wade through all of the information presented if all they are looking for is the how-to of just one part of the whole article… a very cool way to give both novices (like me) and professionals alike a reason to pick up this magazine.

Hell! There’s even a “Rust Reference” section near the back of the magazine, that gives great pictures of different kinds of rust in different kinds of environments. OH! And I also forgot to mention that every article is based on a certain type of rust, and within these intros they go into why this type of rust occurs from these types of environments/reactions, even down to the chemical level. Maybe this seems like overkill just hearing about it, but trust me, knowing why the effect you are wanting to create is the way it is, can only add to you being able to make more realistic effects with your models, and to make more informed decisions of why you are using the techniques you will ultimately be using.

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My one and only complaint, just as with my last review of MIG’s Encyclopedia of Aircraft Modelling Techniques 2: Interiors and Assembly, is that they really need someone to go over the damn English in the book! Now, I am not near a grammar-Nazi, I don’t even know what a subjects and predicates are (thanks Texas public schools!), but some of the instructions can be hard to follow because they are missing words, or they are obviously translated by Google Translate, which is a far better way to come up with some formless poetry (if that’s your thing *>:P phbbbbt), but it’s not really helpful in making a clear and easy to follow working methodology. But other than this (and this honestly doesn’t happen near as much in this AK Interactive production as in some others), but it can still be quite distracting…

But overall, an absolutely stunning magazine that shows that this is not just another piece of scrap to be employed as tinder to get your coals going for your next barbecue. This is a magazine that—as the format of it being bound like a book suggests–belongs on your shelves right next to your most prized reference materials. A truly new experience in model magazine publishing, and if you have any interest in these subjects whatsoever I’ll go as far to say that TANKER is a must-have for any self-proclaimed Tanker! I eagerly await future volumes… Awesome!

1 comment:

  1. I can't wait to get my copy #1 Left to Rust/ Extreme Rust edition. This is what I do for customers and myself of course, so I soak up every technique I can find and experiment with it to see if I can add the techniques to my arsenal. I would like to send pictures but I'm not exactly sure how.