Those who have been following along will hopefully recall that when I last posted about the AT-AT here I had just completed the body of the beast. That was by far the toughest part of the build so far, but having had a break I was suitably refreshed and raring to dive back in. Next up : the neck and head.
You can see a screengrab of the LDD file of the AT-AT neck above (click to enlarge). The LDD building guide generator broke this section down into 112 building steps involving just 314 pieces, which compared to some of the other sections I've attempted thus far is veritably miniscule.... You can see a sample page of the building guide below.
Predictably given its design, construction of the neck was somewhat repetitive, but at least it was relatively uneventful; thinking back to the difficulties I've had with previous sections of the AT-AT, notably the body, this was a bit of a relief.... At its core are multiple overlapping Technic liftarms meshed together by a multitude of pins and axles; it's consequently extremely strong, which it will need to be to support the head in the correct position.
You can see a photograph of the front of the completed neck section above, and of the back below (click to enlarge). The red 3 x 5 liftarm with quarter ellipse is black in the latest version of the parts list, in case any fellow AT-AT builders are starting to panic... The Technic structure emerging from the dark bley neck section in the picture immediately above helps to support the head and enables it to move from side to side, or at least it will do when the head is eventually attached.
For those of you building your own AT-ATs (Tristan and others) I have another little tip; see that 6L axle with 2 smooth half bushes at either end floating in space beneath the neck section on the LDD screengrab at the top of the page ? It's not actually needed, so you can ignore it ! The four light bley Technic half pins floating just below and behind it are used in the build, however - they fit into two of the 4 x 4 quarter circle bricks at the base of the neck (you can just about see them in the picture immediately above). According to Pete, once the neck is attached to the body they help to prevent it from sagging under the weight of the head.
Once I'd completed the neck I made a start on the head. As you can see from the screengrab of the LDD file below (click to enlarge) this is made up of a number of discrete sections which need to be knitted together at the end of the build. Despite its relatively modest size, the head is made up of a surprising 713 pieces which is testament to the level of detail.
Construction of the AT-AT head was divided into 281 steps by the LDD-generated building guide. The AT-AT has two lateral guns which are mounted on either side of the head - you can see these in the lower left quadrant of the screengrab above. These are first to be built, followed by the left side of the head, which can be seen in the lower right quadrant of the LDD screengrab. Construction time for these sections was longer than I expected, which is I think a reflection of the fact that finding the correct pieces is starting to take longer and longer as the build progresses; when you start out, many of the pieces are present in abundance, but as you use more and more of them up you're increasingly left needing the last one or two of a particular part so searching time is definitely getting longer. The lateral guns are quite fiddly, and it took a couple of minutes of scrutinising and zooming pictures of the completed AT-AT, plus a text to Pete, to figure out how all the parts come together and attach to the side of the head....
Above you can see some pictures of the left side of the head, complete with lateral gun turret. It's only possible to rotate the gun barrel up and down; lateral aiming will eventually be provided via side to side movements of the whole AT-AT head at the neck as described earlier.
And that's it for now. Despite progress being slower than anticipated, by my calculation I've now used up 3,881 of the parts, so only around 2,300 to go. That's about as many as one of the bigger modular buildings, so I'm hoping I can get this monster finished by Christmas....
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