Thursday, 18 April 2013

UCS AT-AT : Raising the Roof

Having struggled through the construction of the AT-AT's left side last time out, I couldn't bear the thought of building the right side quite yet, so I decided to skip it for now and build the roof next instead. The roof will eventually be suspended above the internal skeleton and body of the AT-AT. On the basis of the LDD file, the roof, which is made up of just 346 pieces, looked like it'd be fairly simple to build, and would thus provide some welcome light relief.

You can see a screenshot of the LDD file for the roof above (click to enlarge). Shortly before loading up the LDD file I was delighted to finally figure out how to reactivate the "Outlines on bricks" option on LDD which had mysteriously disappeared after I upgraded to the latest version of the Mac OS a while back. If anyone else has been struggling with this issue, the fix involves going into the 'Preferences' menu in LDD and checking both the "High-quality rendering..." boxes, whereupon the greyed-out "Outlines on bricks" option will be magically available for you to select. Thanks are due to Eurobricks member vynsane for this invaluable tip.

LDD quickly generated the building guide (sample page above - click to enlarge) which consisted of 118 steps. Brick outlines were thankfully also visible on the building guide which made following along significantly easier. That having been said, the sample page above illustrates that LDD hasn't lost its ability to frustrate - a significant irritation during the construction of previous sections has been the software's propensity for generating building guides which bizarrely and totally unnecessarily leave multiple pieces floating in mid air until a later stage of the build, and that tendency is still very much in evidence here.

The roof of the AT-AT consists of 3 sections. The section at the front (picture below - click to enlarge) is the smallest and simplest part of the roof. It's just 2 plates thick, and aside from its mix of tiled and studded sections it has minimal detailing. Construction of this section takes just 15 steps of the building guide to accomplish, so it was done and dusted in a matter of minutes.

The mid-section of the roof (picture below) is the biggest component; while it's again just 2 plates thick over most of its area, it has various elements stuck on the surface or embedded within it; these are purely cosmetic, but add a welcome organic, random feel to a surface that might otherwise have been rather plain. I can't vouch for the accuracy of these details as movie stills which clearly show the top of an AT-AT from above are surprisingly hard to find, but knowing cavegod he'll have done his homework. Certainly the dark grey vent-like structures that you can see in the picture below extending downwards from the front of the mid-section are movie accurate, at least.

The rear-most section of the roof (below) was definitely the trickiest to build and has the most surface detailing. The hinged section at the very back, which consists of a number of 1 x 6 tiles that wrap around the back edge of the roof, is quite fragile and needs to be handled with care. The darker grey greebled section that you can see on the right side of the picture corresponds to the sample page of the building guide that I showed earlier, and it's those greebles that are supposed to be just left suspended in mid-air for a period if the building guide is to be followed religiously. LDD bashing aside, however, the greebling looks excellent and is certainly worth the effort.

You can see the three sections of the roof laid out in the pictures below (click to enlarge). The first picture shows the sections laid out from front to back as you move from the left side of the picture to the right, while the picture below it shows the sections from back to front. The roof sections aren't directly connected to each other; I'm guessing that each section will end up suspended between the upper edges of the left and right sides of the body, held in the correct position relative to the others by gravity alone. We shall see....

As expected, building the roof did indeed turn out to be pretty straightforward, nothwithstanding LDD's absurd sequencing of building steps. With another 346 pieces used up, by my reckoning I'm now almost 5,500 pieces into this massive build, and it's starting to sink in that with barely 700 pieces left to go I'm finally on the home straight. Next up I have the small matter of the right side of the AT-AT to assemble, and then it's crunch time (probably literally as well as metaphorically) as I take my life in my hands and try to put all the completed sections together......

 < -- Building the AT-AT : Part 8                               Building the AT-AT : Part 10 -- >


  1. well this is very nice!
    not only a new post here, but a new post about the UCS AT-AT!
    also, this is the first time i've ever been first on any blog post :3

  2. Anonymous18/4/13

    You should video record when you put the final sections together, so if it falls apart (though hopefully not!!) you'll have a cool Lego avalanche on film. Just seeing it put together in video would be cool to.

  3. Anonymous19/4/13

    Great update, Doctor! I've really enjoyed seeing this project come together. It looks like a fantastic build, a lot of fun. I also can't help but think to cavegod and the process he used to create such a masterpiece.


  4. Kevin23/4/13

    Hi Dr. Dave - It's great to see your progress on this. I was building along with you up until I got to one of the side sections a few months ago. After the section kept falling apart in my hands, I got frustrated and gave up for a while. Now I have to box the unfinished beast up for a while to make room for our new baby, but I plan to get back at it sometime in the near future. In the meantime, I think I need to contact Cavegod for the most current version of the LXF files.

    I can't wait to see you finish this. I too hope to see some video.