Iconic Issues: Mean Machines Issue Zero 1
Image: Damien McFerran / Time Extension

Mean Machines is a magazine that is near and dear to many 40-something UK gamers, and evolved out of a section within the pages of Computer & Video Games which was focused solely on console gaming.

However, despite the amazing success the magazine would have, its publisher EMAP had to be convinced that the concept had commercial merit – hence the creation of a 'dummy' issue which could be shown to prospective advertisers to gauge interest.

This was the legendary Mean Machines "issue zero" – a short sample of the magazine that gave a flavour of what the eventual publication would look like.

Put together by editor Julian Rignall, designer Gary Harrod and publisher Graham Taylor, Mean Machines issue zero is just 16 pages long, but it's easy to see why it was so convincing when it came to selling the magazine's appeal.

From Harrod's stunning bespoke Ninja Gaiden cover artwork to the equally well-designed tips spread for the PC Engine title Gunhed (known as Blazing Lazers in the West), the sample magazine still looks fresh and interesting, even after all this time.

Mean Machines would evolve when issue one eventually appeared at the close of 1990, sporting a new logo and more colourful page design, but it retained the signature 'super-deformed' avatars for the staff and the short bursts of Japanese text on each page.

While it was never sold in newsagents, issue zero was reprinted in issue 15 of Mean Machines, offering fans the chance to see the magazine's true genesis.