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Reviewing and Comparing Airsoft Action and Airsoft International Magazines

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The State of Airsoft Magazines

 

- Reviewing Airsoft Action and Airsoft International -

 

Disclaimer: 

i) I've been a subscriber to Airsoft Action since March of this year after recently discovering it.

ii) I've been reading Airsoft International since 2005, and my father was a subscriber for a number of years. I have been buying it again since March of this year.

 

I have wanted to review and compare the two main printed airsoft publications for a while now. After a couple of years with very little skirmishing being played (my daughter was born being a main reason) it was the trying out of a closer airsoft site (Ace Combat) and reading an issue of Airsoft Action that Nigel Streeter (editor) posted to me after a cheeky emailed request, that has reignited my passion in the game.

 

I am basing this joint review of the two publications on their most recent editions:

 

Airsoft Action, October 2015, 98 pages, of which 23 are whole page devoted to advertisments - 23%. Price - £4.50.

 

Listed staff - two: Nigel Streeter and Gareth 'Gadge' Harvey. Although, Jerry Noone, Les Lee, Kelly Hardwick, Paul Yelland and Dan Mills have regular and often multiple features in each issue.

 

Airsoft International, Volume 11, issue 5. 90 pages, of which 32 are whole page devoted to advertisments - 36%. Price - £4.25.

 

Listed staff - Eight: Paul Monaf, Ben Webb, Ben Dickie, Jonathan Wade, James Kenton, 'Frenchie', Connor James (Monaf) and Craig Atkin. This magazine is very much a family publication, as Sharon Monaf is listed as the Administrative Director.

 

First impressions. AI's cover is the slicker looking cover. AA's also enticing but focuses more on words over pictures. AI is more advertisment heavy and this is noticable when skimming through.

 

AA has a wider range of articles, from reviews of gear/weapons/books/stores/sites/

events, to survival tactics in the 'real world', history (WWI) and 'Practical Shooting'. In depth feature on the Entebbe Airfield raid and 'Namsoft. AA has recently in issues had a lot of space dedicated to Viper's new range of gear, as well as Helikon's range. AA has recently had more reader competitions to win some very nice pieces of kit.

 

AI has reviews on weapons/gear/events/sites, as well as in depth, serialised pieces on a DMR build and Carl Gustav build. Recently, AI have dedicated a lot of magazine space to gear reviews, last issue was 5.11 Gear, this issue (+ a seperate mini booklet enclosed) is heavy on Military1st/Helikon kit. A bug bear of mine when reading AI from 2005 onwards was the frequent grammar, punctuation and spelling mistakes (homophones etc.) - this issue has clearly had a higher standard of editing/checking, and it reads much better. What is hard to ascertain in AI, but not in AA, is which staff member has written which feature. Both publications have first hand reviews on products the team own and have brought themselves. Both have a distinct feel; I feel AA flows better if reading cover to cover due to the layout of articles and spacing of advertorials. Even AI's feature pages have adverts squeezed onto them. Both have clear contents pages, subscription information (although neither have attractive subscription incentive 'freebies'), and AA dedicates 4 pages to a UK-wide site directory.

 

It is hard for magazines to 'stay ahead of the curve' in terms of news, new weapons and gear if compared to the forums, but certainly both magazines have reviewed kit that I'd not seen in the airsoft forums I frequent. This is a definate positive.

 

Product reviews are well written and detailed. As I've been a longer AI reader, what annoyed me was the phrase 'available from all good airsoft retailers' after a review. AA is more defined; where said product came from and for how much. This I find far more helpful.

 

After reading both, I feel vindicated in subscribing to Airsoft Action and casually buying Airsoft International. Both are great reference material and both serve a purpose. The editing in AI has vastly improved of late, which, as mentioned before, helps a lot when reading (must be the lecturer in me...). I like the range of articles on offer in AA; most are light in page colour and well presented around clear, well-lit pictures, in AI this issue, many of the features are dark in page colour and fitted around large, atmospherically dark photos. All of this, for me, changes how easily I can 'flow' through an article. From the cover designs, you'd assume the opposite from each magazine.

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What does, however, annoy me, is how AI dedicate a lot of their reviews to the history of the product, rather than how the product performs.

 

For example, on the front cover of AI - 'Semapo Gear DCU 3D Combat Pants on test!'

 

In reality, inside, we the reader get a third of the article about the history of DCU, and then the remainder on how Semapo make it. If these pants were tested and evaluated, this information was not included in this 'tried and tested' feature. In fact, it is written like someone has evaluated a picture of said pants...

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How the two magazines could be improved:

 

Airsoft Action - I'd like to see retro or older style airsoft guns reviewed, like a throw-back section. Overall, it is a very good magazine, with the contents well presented and easy to read.

 

Airsoft International - Attribute staff to the features. Harsher editing for punctuation, grammar and spellings. Reviews of products rather than reams of history and background information - that is what Wikipedia is for, guys - and more "this is how we found these trousers/gloves etc., to be like. It does have some in-depth 'how to do...' articles and plenty of up-and-coming events and products.

 

 

Both could have more freebies for subscribers and AI hasn't gotten near to AA's competitions recently.

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