Just remember George's famous words : 'Don't make it real, make it believable' ... here's an upgraded Vista-Vision shot of the AT-AT model on the tabletop Hoth landscape :
I don't know how much help I'd be, but I'm happy to share what little I know about the AT-AT that we restored.
Don't hold this as gospel, but I believe there were at least 6 walkers made for Empire, and they likely all had slightly different details.
A picture has already been posted of the one I worked on:
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This picture is pre-restoration. We tried to not do more than was necessary. Loose parts were re-glued, the forward lean was brought more centered. The corrugated neck tube was crumbling to dust, since it was originally cast from foam. We made a new pattern and cast a new neck that isn't as flexible, but we hope will be more archival. We tried to keep paint touch-ups as minimal as possible. Baking soda had been used to simulate snow; but it is a salt, and had attacked the paint and some metal parts. We replaced the baking soda with "snow" used for model train sets.
Fun fact: My avatar is a picture of the tiny AT-AT in this display.
Timely area of focus. I was just looking at those exact differences on my MPC kit last night. Comparing them to the Bandai 144 and the Studio models. MPC is missing the right mid plate and top plate completely. Interestingly Bandai still got the oval upside down but did get the top and mid armor plates in there pretty well. Bandai also added some lower plates.Usually work Saturdays but took one off so had some time for modelling. Time for the rear of the kit.
So here's the back as per Revell. No upper plating, the mid plating is molded in and sits in too far and that oval area down the bottom has actually pretty good detail BUT go figure it is upside down compared to the studio reference.
The kit back and the studio back:
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So all this took me maybe only an hour, hour and a half so I feel was well worth the time spent.
I took a scribe around the inner part of the oval and effectively cut it out.
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From here I sanded the edges, turned it around and glued it back in the correct way up.
I made the top plating and a new mid plate section which simply covers the Revell plating and you would never know that molding is there underneath and here are the results:
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I'm actually quite happy with how this turned out. It was fun using the scribe to make the raised rivets in the mid plating and I felt overall this was a good representation of the studio model.
I feel confident to move forward onto the drive motor attachment and legs now.
Thank you for your input! It must have been a blast getting to work on a studio piece.
I notice the streaking down the side seems to match the same style as on the 32" falcon.
It sounds like you went through a very clever restoration, as minimal as possible. We go through similar mindset on high end cars to try retain the factory integrity and originality.
I knew they'd used baking soda for snow but never had it occured to me the soda would attack the parts but it makes sense... I have a large tub of woodland scenics snow here to suit my build... left over from a snowspeeder I put together years ago.
In reference to the paint.... if you recall.... seems the armoured plates are painted in a texture? Was this the case or is that deterioration?
Was the tiny AT-AT one of the studio models used for those 'in the distance' shots?
Timely area of focus. I was just looking at those exact differences on my MPC kit last night. Comparing them to the Bandai 144 and the Studio models. MPC is missing the right mid plate and top plate completely. Interestingly Bandai still got the oval upside down but did get the top and mid armor plates in there pretty well. Bandai also added some lower plates.
Makes me wonder if there is a picture out there with the oval upside down that was used for the Bandai reference since they are normally pretty good at capturing details properly. Is that part removable on the AT-AT SS models? My thought was it might be a similar situation as the upside down servo hub on the back of X-Wings that has been molded into some kits as taken from a SS model pics where the insert had spun around in the mounting hole or was put back in wrong. Never showed up in the film that way.
MPC back. No upper armor plate and missing the right side mid armor.
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Really nice job on the new armor plates and oval direction!
What I'm building a set now?
Well Starks, here is what I have found.
From the picture above I concluded the same thing about the oval orientation. Hard to tell for certain but it looks to me to be vent at the top. Hmmm, a possible contradiction in prop shots. Knowing that what's left of the filming models are quite battered I can see reason for the missing armor panels that would explain the MPC kit details which seem to be quite accurate to that particular example of the filming models if only reversed in places.
So, I was thinking what did get filmed? As for an on screen filmed example the only time I could remember that showed a studio filming model from the rear was the time that Luke tossed a grenade into the belly of one on Hoth and then watched as it blew up... from behind. Did that shot happen to show enough detail to confirm anything? Went back and took a close look frame by frame. The video of that sequence was actually posted in this thread earlier so it is easy to find. I found the filmed shots you were looking for. Sure enough, the vent on the rear is at the top and there are two small armor plates on either side of it. Looks like Bandi got it right from that one after all. Faith restored.
As to what the story is behind the reference you are using I have no idea. Whatever the case it does not seem that particular area of that particular model ever made it on screen taht I'm aware of. At least not with enough detail to be confirmed as a valid filmed orientation and offer an alternative to the scene I mentioned above. Just a prop build continuity error maybe? Not the first time those have caused rampant confusion and essays of discussion. Such things do provide ample fodder for deep detail dives and all kinds of focus. I actually find that part fun.
Which by the way another detail that Bandi captured is the deep vent triangle shaped blocks on the inside surface of the bottom belly armor with the three vent slots covering the body to leg pivots. They show up nicely in your contradicting oval orientation image posted above. I'll be adding those to my MPC build.
At any rate I think you have evidence for either oval orientation.
I took the liberty to grab these pictures from that youtube feature I posted earlier. Perhaps someone can get these same images from a 4K resolution source?
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Now it's very likely and possible this was the largest AT-AT which the ILM folks had build, so it may differ slightly from the smaller ones made ... perhaps someone can enlighten us?
This is all really good research background. As was alluded to, another bit of variation between model props is captured in the screen shots Chaïm posted above. The first one with the speeder flashing by has different hatch and panel details than the next one down that Luke blew up. The second image shows two slightly tapered rectangular panels on the rearward section just aft of the big mid body access panel. This is the only time I have noticed them on a Walker and I do not believe I have ever seen them included on a kit. Both are screen accurate depending on which you choose to replicate.