Dan's AT-AT (WIP)

3DImpact

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Some time last year I started collecting donor kits to build up a studio-scale AT-AT. The idea was to 3D model much of the structure and then fit in a combination of modeled/printed and actual donor kit greeblies. My donor kit stash grew nicely during that time!

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Then, about half-way through the process Merlin Models announced their plans for a kit of pretty much what I had in mind anyway.

Merlin Models AT-AT

With the hard work already done for me it made sense to just buy that fantastic kit. The kit arrived in early May and I started in on the build in between painting sessions on my escape pod.

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It's a fantastic kit, full of very sharp detail. Nice and big!

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Fully functionally articulated!

I decided to add some pilots to my cockpit, so off to modo for 3D modeling and my Mono X for printing:

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Not too worried about every little detail there because the cockpit isn't lit and for usual display is pretty dark in there. So you don't actually see much detail inside - it's just to hint that it's not just completely empty.

Assembly went very fast, just shy of two weeks I think.

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Time to start painting!

Dan
 

3DImpact

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Today was priming day for the bulk of the model. All done and ready for the main coat. The one piece left to prepare for painting is the flexible silicone rubber neck. That's going to take a special mix of oil-based paint and clear silicone sealant, all mixed and then properly thinned for airbrush application. That'll produce a flexible paint that will adhere well to the silicone. Once that's on and the head is attached in the position I'll want for display I can then base coat with my usual paint and then get on to weathering. I think this one ought to go rather fast compared to the other studio-scale models I've done so far. For those I've spent a lot of time trying to match every little scratch and dent whereas here I'm not trying to match any one particular AT-AT. I'll just want to capture the 'essence' of what the AT-ATs looked like in ESB so I can free form the process a little more I think...

Dan
 

Gort

Well-Known Member
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Today was priming day for the bulk of the model. All done and ready for the main coat. The one piece left to prepare for painting is the flexible silicone rubber neck. That's going to take a special mix of oil-based paint and clear silicone sealant, all mixed and then properly thinned for airbrush application. That'll produce a flexible paint that will adhere well to the silicone. Once that's on and the head is attached in the position I'll want for display I can then base coat with my usual paint and then get on to weathering. I think this one ought to go rather fast compared to the other studio-scale models I've done so far. For those I've spent a lot of time trying to match every little scratch and dent whereas here I'm not trying to match any one particular AT-AT. I'll just want to capture the 'essence' of what the AT-ATs looked like in ESB so I can free form the process a little more I think...

Dan
Looking good. Out of curiosity have you done a size comparison between your original kit donor parts, and what's on the Merlin AT-AT? - when I get my kit stash available again once we've finished moving house, I was going to replace some of their details with original parts on my walker, but I wonder how close in scale they actually are?
 

3DImpact

Sr Member
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Looking good. Out of curiosity have you done a size comparison between your original kit donor parts, and what's on the Merlin AT-AT? - when I get my kit stash available again once we've finished moving house, I was going to replace some of their details with original parts on my walker, but I wonder how close in scale they actually are?

Ah, good thought. I just now pulled out a random sample and took some digital caliper measurements of key features.

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The matches for size are all better in person by eye than they may appear in these fast iPhone pics. Measured sizes are all within +/- a couple/few percent, so really good I think overall...

Dan
 

Gort

Well-Known Member
Thanks for checking. Good to see the basic proportions are on the money. Was starting to think it may have been a bit undersized, but looks like swapping out a few parts for original donors will work. I look forward to seeing the rest of your build.
 

3DImpact

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The casting detail on this kit is phenomenal - you might want to save those original donor parts for some lesser quality model that could better use it.

The only cast, part-of-the-model-kit part I will swap out on this one will be one of the small styrene chip details somewhere. I have a space-flown greeblie on every one of my models (I flew a bag of parts on a suborbital space flight not long ago) and to cover the bases for future models I flew a long strip of 0.02" styrene so I'd at least be able to chip every model going forward.

Dan
 

3DImpact

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Painting the silicone rubber neck takes a bit of attention. You need a paint/silicone mix as mentioned above to get the paint to stick to the silicone and not fleck off when flexed. Ethan at Merlin Models recommends a 3:1 paint:clear silicone mix, thinned with mineral spirits as needed to fit your method of painting. I airbrushed mine on, using the same Tamiya gray primer as for the rest of the model. Make sure to allow plenty of time for it all to dry - between coats I noticed that even though apparently dry to the touch with handling it wanted to rub off. I let mine sit overnight before installing and it held much better (although with vigorous handling I found mine to still scuff off in places).

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Also, even though this model is fully posable, I think you'll find that once you get that neck and head attached to the main body you're not ever going to want to have to endure that process again. I managed to do it myself, but if you have a second person available to help hold and steady things you'll find the extra hands... handy.

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I'm hoping to get the base coat airbrushed over the primer coat today. You can see my color chips here. I'm not obsessing over using Archive X paints on it - with weathering going on after the base coat all that gets washed over a bit anyway and I'm just for myself looking to capture the 'feel' of what they looked like on screen. After a bit of playing around with my test color chips here I've decided on a 2:1 mix of Model Master Camouflage Gray:Light Gull Gray (the barely visible middle chip in the top row). That turns out to be about the same albedo as the Tamiya gray primer but just a tad warmer in tone. Of course, that's just my eyeball take on it - Merlin Models is going with the Archive X recommendation of 80:20 DS Surface Gray:SP Lettering Gray...

Dan
 

3DImpact

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Base coat done...

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I know these all look the same after a while - gray is gray in low-quality pics like this. But it looks just right to me in person and I guess that's all that really matters. I'm off on travel for the next week, but upon return it'll be the usual mists and washes and details that'll wrap it all together...

Dan
 

3DImpact

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The beginnings of weathering:

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A little light airbrushing of some of the vertical streaks. Using reference images as a 'style guide' but not trying to match any single AT-AT model.

And then today beginning to add in more of the fine streak details:

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I like to use a combination here of more airbrush, some washing, and then smeared No. 2 pencil for fine control.

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Lots more to go...

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Dan
 

3DImpact

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Lovely weathering (y) (y) Are you going to add the snow or leave it as is?

Thanks! Leaning toward no snow, but if I do I'll be sure to find a method that'll allow it to be easily removed if I want to change it. I'll admit they do look nice with the snow!

Dan
 

3DImpact

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Closing in on it (sorry - iPhone pics)...

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And, yes, the more I look at this now the more I'm thinking the snow would really make it snap. Going to have to find a way to make good snow that is easily completely removable. I've looked online for different approaches to snow - if anyone has done that and can share some good tips on the better methods I'll give it an evaluation try on the non-hero/display side.

Dan
 

3DImpact

Sr Member
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"Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow."

So, yeah - this thing needs snow! It's how we all remember or imagine that we remember it. Many of the actual shots in ESB didn't show much snow on them (wide shots), just hints. Hero shots of the feet showed a lot more. I'll go with something in between. Some web searching suggested foamy shaving cream and baking soda mixed to a workable consistency:

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It does work really nicely - sticky enough to apply and stay where you want it but it dries to a rather powdery texture that brushes right off if you want. I don't know how it'll look/behave in the long term (e.g., will it yellow in a year, stick hard or degrade into something bad for the model surface, etc.) but for now it seems just fine.

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Just getting the feel for it for now and will have to stare at all the foot spots to decide where snow would stick to actual structure like this while stepping/plowing through the snow. But pleased so far. I'll look at on-screen reference for style guides to capture the feel that we remember...

Ugh, so much more to do! :)

Dan
 

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