Continuing my notes about model railway magazines I have been reading lately, I want to look at three British magazines aimed at the average railway modeller. Perhaps another time for the finescale Model Railway Journal. My main interests in these magazines are the layout articles and track plans, and any new ideas and thinking pieces. I am not a British prototype modeller so I am sure other aspects of the magazines have much broader interest.
Of the generalist British railway magazines, British Railway Modelling (BRM) is by far the best. In the April issue there were three very good layout articles (the OO gauge Alloa and Stamford East, and Gifford Street in O scale) with some nice photography and informative, yet pretty standard, layout descriptions. I also particularly liked the article on building a control panel (I have a fascination with control panels, I'm afraid, even though I might struggle to wire one up). A good serve of news and reviews makes this an easy magazine to read. April must be the month for annual awards because BRM features a set of awards for contributors based on several categories - annual awards like this are something I am personally not interested in and will explain why-so in another post.
Awards also featured in the April issue of Model Rail, this time "model of the year 2008". Winners included Bachmann as manufacturer of the year and Hattons for retailer of the year, among several other award categories. The featured layout, Dewsbury Midland, was superb and had some excellent accompanying photos (including an A3-sized print as an insert). The relatively brief article text was a bit disappointing for such an appealing and well detailed layout. However, more is to be revealed in the May issue. Myself, I'd prefer a detailed description of the layout account in the one issue, with perhaps features on specific critical elements (such as buildings, for example) in subsequent issues. I suppose the editor feels that such a wonderful layout is a useful selling point for the magazine in more than one issue. The rest of the magazine was standard fare and included some beginner-type articles and a prototype report on the class 37 diesel. The layout design plan for Otley was pretty interesting, but again, short on text.
The May issue of Hornby Magazine featured Saffron Street in 4mm scale, a layout I saw last year in the UK at the Warley Exhibition in Birmingham. Some nice photos to showcase this layout but the text was a little brief for my liking. Here's my photo of a scene in Saffron Street - note the black side of the building facing out. Not sure what that's about but the Hornby Magazine photographer sure put this layout in a very positive light.
A couple of other layout articles, a beginner's guide to terminus stations, and the usual product information made up much of the rest of the magazine. However, the feature for me was the "building the garage" article that included a paper-based pre-cut building for assembly around a card superstructure.
Card structure modelling fascinates me and I wonder why it is that the Brits seem to use this material much more than here in Australia. I do remember though a wonderful presentation on card modelling (a dairy or abattoir was the subject, from memory) by the late Fred Gill at an SCMRA modelling seminar a few years back. I think Fred used shellac on the card to give it some strength and to prevent warping. Most Australian modellers I know tend to favour styrene instead of card, although noted Australian modeller David Low uses AMRI card sheet for corrugated iron rooves on his buildings. Gavin Thrum also uses card for buildings, often featured at the Modelling the Railways of South Australia Convention in Adelaide, and always superb.
Now, back to a couple more model railway magazines still sitting by my desk...