While the hobby publishing industry continues to exist in a state of flux, there’s good news in the form of two magazines – one rescued from oblivion, the other brand new.
I’ve now had a chance to do a couple of read-throughs of the January, 2015 issue of Railroad Model Craftsman magazine. And in general, I like what I see.
There’s no question that the design is superior to the old magazine, with: larger, glossy pages; cleaner layout; more readable fonts; better graphics; and improved colour.
As for content, the first issue of the “new” RMC has four features – which may sound light, but they’re all fairly long. For example, editor Stephen Priest has devoted nine pages for a diesel painting and weathering article (by Efram Ellenbogen). Even with the more relaxed text, that’s a meaty article.
I like that: I would frankly prefer to see fewer articles in each issu, with more depth to each article, instead of a larger number of shorter features (as some other popular magazines have done). Over time, consistent presentation of meatier features will create a powerful title for craftsman modellers.
I’m also encouraged by Stephen’s first editorial, in which he lays out his plans for the magazine. Stephen’s saying the right things, to my mind. For example:
“Our focus will be on the craftsman: a person who makes beautiful objects by hand: a person who is very skilled at doing something.”
“RMC will concentrate on articles and features that support learning and sharing myriad model-building skills.”
At my stage in the hobby, exposure to new techniques and skills is exactly what I want – and need – from a hobby publication.
Finally (and this relates to yesterday’s post about focus), I’ve heard privately from a few friends and fellow RMC authors who have reported that the new owners are once again paying for features – and paying promptly. I’m also told that problems with subscriptions purchased from the previous owners but never fulfilled are now being resolved.
Fulfilling subscriptions and paying the authors (if payment has been promised as part of the author-magazine relationship) are two essential steps for running a successful publication. I know for a fact that the previous publisher’s reluctance to pay made it difficult for the editorial team to attract and retain contributors.
Some big names and accomplished modellers in the hobby – exactly the types that RMC needed to provide content – were burned and refused to write for RMC under the former publisher. Others, hearing the tales of non-payment, shied away from submitting their work.
Resolving this issue was critical – and it appears to be fixed. Hopefully, former authors and those who considered it but did not contribute will give the new RMC a chance. I know I will, as soon as I have a project worthy of print.
I’ve also had a chance to read not one, but two issues of Finescale Railway Modelling Review – the new craftsman magazine out of the UK. This magazine was announced back in September, and I immediately took a one-year trial subscription. I’m very glad I did.
(I should mention that my first issue did not show up in a timely manner. I emailed the publisher and learned that my subscription had fallen into a computer-glick black hole. That said, the publisher apologized and extended my subscription by one issue to compensate me for my inconvenience: a class act!)
FSMR appears to fall somewhere between the very high-end craftsmanship typically presented in Model Railway Journal, and the bog-standard ready-to-run layouts and simple projects often featured in more general interest UK magazines.
And that’s a neat place to be. For example, in the first two issues I’ve read articles about: retrofitting finer-scale wheels to an RTR steam locomotive; working with white metal kits, including soldering techniques; weathering locomotives and rolling stock; scratch-building brick structures; scratch-building gas pipe fittings; and more.
The content is UK-focused, but techniques tend to be universal and as a Canadian who has been exposed to British railway modelling all his life I’m well-versed in terms like “splashers” and “tumblehome”.
The design of this magazine is exquisite, which is no surprise since the presentation is done by Roy C. Link. I have several of the books designed and published by Roy – including the now out-of-print book on the Leek and Manifold Valley Light Railway – and they are, to my mind, the gold standard of railway publishing.
With these two publications to look forward to, 2015 is looking like a great year to be in the hobby.