Book Review
Merkava Mk 3D
Merkava Mk 3D Special Issue
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by: Damon [ DIDGEBOY ]

I recently purchased the AFV Modeller Magazine special issue on the Merkava Mk 3D and figured that I would do a little review since I have nothing else to do (right!). The magazine was purchased directly from the AFV Modeller web site and cost about $30 or so, shipping included in the price. Having seen the advertisement for this I was very excited to get my hands on it, since I had just finished the review for the Meng kit and I plan on getting this one built soon.

the book
The Merkava 3 D Special edition is the standard size as all of the AFV Modeller publications and same high quality paper and layout with the emphasis on the eye candy. This one runs about 84 pages in total, so just slightly more than their standard monthly mag. The magazine/book is nicely laid out with some great full color photos (what else would you expect from these guys?) and “glamour” shots of the vehicle both, 1/35 and 1/1 scale. The photos of the actual “field” vehicles really show you where the wear and tear on these machines happens. And it also shows that Israel is not just sand and these things get quite muddy sometimes. The 1/35 shots deal mostly with the vehicle post-paint, although there are some pre-paint that show where all of the PE, resin and scratch bits go.

Like almost all of the stuff that AFV Modeller puts out it come with the nice cover and enticing photos. The magazine is laid out as sort of a “how to” of getting the Meng kit detailed and up to that next level. Which I like. What I was expecting was an in depth guide of how the kit goes together as well as some really great “in the field” photos of the real deal. And, so it is to some extent.

The main premise of this magazine seems to be how one particular modeler details out the kit with the use of the Legends and Blast Models detail sets, one of which (the Blast Models) seems to be no longer available - not sure why. There are plenty of photos of the completed kit, both with and without paint. The steps on painting are a bit exhaustive and really I would have liked to see that much detail put into how the parts fit together and where the problems are.

There are some great field photos of the real deal and some great detail shots that show various areas of the vehicle in sharp detail, complete with wear and tear. The last part of the magazine is all about one modeler’s diorama and his handling of the Meng hilux as a casualty of war. Again there are parts here that could have been elaborated on instead of others, but what are you gonna do?

Here are the pluses and minuses of this mag. On the plus side you have some great photo references that show actual vehicles in the field covered with dirt and plenty of wear and tear. There are some nice detail shots of the vehicle during construction specifically showing some wiring that can be added as well as the never-ending amount of aftermarket PE and detail resin. There is also a nice bit of coverage on the anti-slip texture (which seems to be all the rage with the kids nowadays) but the modeler uses cast-a-coat, which is no longer available, and mentions that this will be reissued under another name, but fails to mention what that name is or where to obtain it. The useful part here is the detailed shots on where the texture goes and where it does not, this alone should be helpful to many.

The item that is missing to me is the bit about how this kit actually builds up OOB. The introduction states that “We were so impressed with the new Meng Models kit that we have put together this guide to modeling the Meng Merkava Mk 3D to show how to get the best from the kit and make comparison between a model built strictly out of the box or super detailed. This book will show you how to improve the level of detail on your kit, correct any errors and show how we went about finishing our models. . . . “ but there is no comparison for an out of box kit; just the coverage on the super detailed one. There are no mentions of how the kit goes together or any of the problems that might exist. Even a comparison between the Meng and the Hobbyboss kits would have been welcomed just as a matter of fact. Imagine if you had a detailed guide that extolled the virtues of two kits of the same subject from different manufacturers, kinda like the recent feature they did on the M51 Super Sherman Tamiya vs. Dragon, highlighting the best of both kits and the issues with both too.

I think this book/magazine is a good offering, but I also think that it could have been SO much more for the community if a few items had been added. For $30 I would hope that it covered every base, but alas, no. This is not to say that it is not useful and or not worthwhile, it is. But with the price tag this commands it is not going to be for everyone.

Final thoughts
A solid offering for those that are not the die hard “IDF or Nothing!” fans. If you are the kind of person that keeps paint chips from the Sinai, Golan and other areas you probably already know enough, so skip this one. The book/magazine offers some great photos of the real vehicles in the field and some thoughts on how to super detail your Meng Mk3D with all of that extra cash you have burning a hole in your pocket right now. There are some nice suggestions for how to scratch build some parts that the kit lacks, but nothing too crazy or unobvious. The diorama bit in the back is nice too, although suffering from the same issue as the front part, which is the step by step for those that are looking for something to help them along. Again this would not be for the diehard IDF guys in the crowd but those that like the subject and want to build a better kit. If you have the extra cash to spend and it’s at your local, go for it. There are some useful bits that you will find a great “leg up” when you build the kit.

What this whole thing lacks is the step by step for those that would really benefit from this book, the noobies that are just getting into armor or the IDF subjects. Had they included the step by step of how the Meng kit goes together and/or a side by side comparison of the Meng and the Hobbyboss kits THAT would have been AWESOME!! But, it was not to be, sadly.

All in all I would give this a solid “B”. Good effort but lacks the attention to detail that we have come to expect and does not live up to its potential. So, we’ll call it an 85%. I think it’s good, but know that it could have been better with a bit more effort.

Highs: Good reference pictures of the real vehicle in the field and good detail shots of real vehicles. Nicely laid out and photographed, a high quality magazine/book.
Lows: No actual information on how the kit fits together or comparison between other offerings of the same subject, and focuses on specific detail sets.
Verdict: This is a "good" reference magazine for those not terribly familiar and maybe not too good with using google images search. It is also a bit spendy for the size and content. Worth your time but wait till it goes on sale or you find a good second-hand copy
Percentage Rating
  Scale: 1:1
  Suggested Retail: $30.00
  Related Link: Vendor Website
  PUBLISHED: Oct 21, 2012

About Damon (didgeboy)

I have been "building" models, collecting and starting mostly, since I was a kid and really started getting into it in my teens. The Tamiya kits if the 80's were what did it for me. I actually became a tanker in the US Army just to get a chance to study the Abrams up close (and drink German beer). I...

Copyright ©2021 text by Damon [ DIDGEBOY ]. All rights reserved.


With regard to the comment about "Cast-a-Coat", there's a thread here talking about that; various suggestions are Rustoleum, Mr. Surfacer 500, and Vallejo #26232 Sandy Paste.
OCT 22, 2012 - 07:56 AM
Yep, Sean I actually started that thread. The book, however, mentions that the actual cast a coat product is going to be reissued under a different brand sometime soon, but fails to give any other info on it. While there are some great substitutes out there I understand that cast a coat was the best and worked really well and with little fuss. I myself have Mr surfacer, embossing powder, Citadel texture paint, Tamiya texture paint, rustoleum, find RR sand, and I am sure at least one or two more, but still haven't found the perfect solution that both looks to scale and is easy to get and KEEP on the model. So I am hopeful that whoever is doing the cast a coat remake gets it out soon. Cheers.
OCT 22, 2012 - 11:12 AM

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