Monday, 28 January 2013

UCS AT-AT : Heady Days

Can it really be two months since I last posted about the UCS AT-AT ? Amazing how times flies. Anyway, having been distracted by a bunch of stuff, not least the small matter of Christmas, it was time to dust off the AT-AT and dive back in.

Those who've been following along will hopefully recall that last time I posted an update (here) I was already well into the build. I'd finished building the legs, body and neck of the beast, and had embarked upon the head, which I'd rather rashly assumed would be pretty straightforward. The head is made up of a number of sub-assemblies (LDD screen grab below - click to enlarge) which are knitted together at the end.


I'd got as far as completing the left side of the head prior to taking my vacation from the Kuat Drive Yards, and I was soon back into the swing of things, quickly polishing off the right side of the head, complete with lateral cannon. Externally, the left and right sides of the head are mirror images of each other (picture below - click to enlarge), but there are some differences on their inner surfaces; I initially assumed that the differences were deliberate, but having checked with AT-AT designer Pete it appears that there are a few pieces missed off the LDD rendition of the left side of the head. Furthermore, it turns out that some of the omissions are more than just cosmetic - their absence causes problems when it's time to join up all the sections to complete the head - so if you're building your own AT-AT (and I know that a few of you are) then you'll need to bear this in mind. It's thankfully pretty obvious which parts you need, but if you're having trouble figuring it out then get in touch and I'll provide the details.


Once the sides of the head were complete it was time to build the floor section (picture below). The sides of the head attach to this structure via a pair of heavy-duty brick-built brackets which pivot by way of a combination of axles and hinges in order to produce the correct angles. In addition, the two main forward-facing guns and a bunch of interesting greebled sections (more of which later) are slung underneath; the front and roof also attach to this section, as eventually will the AT-AT's previously-completed neck section, so this really is a key part of the build.


The last piece of the jigsaw is the front and roof section (below - click to enlarge). The front is deceptively complex and quite fragile; the AT-AT's windscreen is comprised of seven trans red cheese slopes mounted on hinges and sandwiched above and below by tiled sections which are themselves also mounted on hinges. Quite a bit of tweaking is required to get all the angles right, and God forbid you press too hard on the structures while adjusting them or else the whole windscreen section has a tendency to collapse on you and it's back to the start....


Combining the various sub-assemblies to create the AT-AT's head was a lot more challenging than I had expected, and it required some texts to Pete plus a bunch of coaxing, tweaking and adjusting to get it right. At the most basic level, all you have to do is attach the left and right sides to the brick-built brackets, adjust the brackets so that the sides are angled correctly to recreate the AT-AT head's geometry, drop in the front and roof section, and finally join the sides together inside the head by way of an elastic band which helps to ensure that the sides don't sag outwards under their own weight. It sounds fairly straightforward, but the job of positioning the sides, front and roof correctly to avoid leaving gaping gaps between the sections while simultaneously trying not to dislodge or destroy anything had me cursing in frustration. All that having been said, you can see the final result below (click to enlarge) and I reckon it was well worth the effort....


You can take a peek inside the AT-AT's head below; of note, you can see the attachment of the elastic band mentioned previously which runs inside the head from one side to the other and firmly holds the sides at the correct angle. It's not an official LEGO elastic band, but should I have an attack of guilt at some point and feel an irresistible urge to use only 100% official LEGO parts in the model I believe that there's a suitable LEGO-manufactured alternative available...


The underside of the head (below) is definitely worth a closer look. I think it's almost insectile in appearance with its multitude of striations, projections and structures, and I love the way that parts are used in unusual ways to create the desired effects; the main guns, for instance, are made up of a mish-mash of Technic gears and connectors, cones, barrels and the like. It's testament to Pete's attention to detail that what you can see in the picture below is in fact almost hidden from view in the finished AT-AT unless you're willing to lie on your back, shimmy underneath the model and stare upwards....


You can see the head from above in the picture below. The front and roof section attaches to the rest of the head via just four studs right at the front which means it needs careful handling once installed or else it can become detached quite easily; the roof simply rests on the upper surfaces of the sides of the head. One of the most impressive aspects is how snugly the different sections fit together, leaving minimal gaps between them.


So that's the head done, then, meaning that I'm now a total of 4,429 pieces into the build and have less than 1,800 to go. All I've got left to do now is put some skin over the bare bones of the AT-AT's body, so the end is definitely in sight. I'll crack on with the final sections and post an update when I've made further progress.

< -- Building the AT-AT : Part 6                                       Building the AT-AT : Part 8 -->

16 comments:

  1. Anonymous28/1/13

    I'm thinking that it may not be a bad idea to try to compose an 'errata' list of tweaks, changes, fixes and the like that Pete can add to his instructions, and so the there is a record of the inconsistencies in the LDD files.

    Beyond that - keep up the good work! It is quite fun watching this thing come together. I cannot wait until I get some spare time to start on my own copy of this beast.

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  2. Pete has been updating the ldd over time as problems have been uncovered.the latest version should be pretty accurate at this stage.

    Good luck with the shell build Dave, frustrated the hell out of me but looks great. Before you attach it the front of the frame needs to me moved back by one stud. Also, the protruding plates on the side of the frame need repositioned. Both alterations are in the latest ldd from Pete.

    I,ve not been near the build since Dec so little progress to report. This post may well inspire me to reatart!

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  3. I am amazed at the detail even on the underside, very impressive. Fitting the armour plating on the body may be a challenge, it looks rather fragile until it is all attached at every point.

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  4. Amazing build and a real challenge with (or even without) all the little adjustments.
    Is there any way I can get my (digital) hands on those LDD files? My emailadres is ingmarz@hotmail.com.
    Thanks in advance!

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    Replies
    1. No problem - I've forwarded your e-mail address to Pete, the designer of the AT-AT, and he'll be in touch.

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  5. If possible could I get these files im a huge star wars fan,my email address is qcc244@yahoo.com,also i love the at-at the most

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    Replies
    1. Sure - I've forwarded your details to the guy who designed the AT-AT and he'll be in touch about the LDD files.

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    2. I could'nt find it can you label it AT-AT UCS please i may have deleted it

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    3. I sent Pete a reminder....

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    4. Hello!

      Great job!
      I would also be very interested in the LDD - can I have this please?
      n3t3rb@gmail.com

      Thank you!

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  6. I replied Halogen4321,

    If you didn't get it email me on

    Peterpdale(at)btinternet.com

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  7. Hi Dave
    Fantastic jounal Read it from beginning to end. Very entertaining and I've recognized the problems you met in your building quest.
    Congratulations
    Paul

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  8. Hi Dave
    First message was I try out. Ldd works well but sometimes the guide is very unlogical. Building smaler parts and put them later together can help. Easier to work with , faster to create the building guide and lesser use of the hide tool. Currently I'm building the instructions for the large Venetor of Erik Varzegi or S. Ballivet who made the same one with improvements. It looked quiet challenging to do so i have done lots of work but i'm not halfway. So if you are interested in those files let me know. You can look at my structures google lego paul yperman or go to www moc pages / paul yperman.com or just google Paul yperman droid control ship and see. Can you tell me how/if it is possible to get the instructions you have made? It would do me a great pleasure to have them. I don't use the ldd files for commercial use as Lego does not allow it. I've tried working with ML Cad but it was even more difficult especially if you are used working with Ldd. Thanks for the reply and once more congratulations for the build and journal (my english is not that good but I keep trying. :)
    Paul

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    Replies
    1. Hi Paul,

      I can't take any credit for the AT-AT - it's all cavegod's work. I'll ask him to e-mail you regarding the instructions.

      Regards,

      David.

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  9. I just found this thread and I'm floored by the impressive nature of this model! Congratulations to you Dave on the build, and Pete on the architecture. Well done! I've reached out to you and Pete to get connected to the LDD files as I simply must give this a try myself!

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    Replies
    1. Cheers, Wes ! Not sure from your message whether you've already been in touch with Pete; if not then ping me your e-mail address and I'll ask him to contact you.

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