Monday, 8 July 2013

UCS AT-AT : They think it's all over...

When I last wrote, the various AT-AT sections had finally been completed, so it should simply have been a case of putting them all together and the AT-AT would be done. As I'm sure you've gathered by now, however, nothing about this project has been simple, and there were actually a couple of things I'd need to do before I could embark upon final assembly....

Firstly, as I've mentioned a number of times during this seemingly interminable journey, the LDD files I've been following were in very much 'first draft' status when I received them, and predictably enough a number of issues have been identified. Cavegod (Pete), the AT-AT's designer, has dutifully revised the LDD files along the way, but there was consequently always going to be a need for me to make a few tweaks to the various completed sections prior to final assembly of the model. Much of the last week or so has therefore been spent making these modifications, some of which necessitated a wait for a couple of Bricklink orders to arrive.


The biggest issue to remedy involved the internal skeleton of the body (above) which thanks to a mistake in the LDD file ended up one stud too long and therefore needed chopping down to size. This sounds potentially quite involved, but in practice it wasn't too big a deal, particularly as Pete has now revised the offending LDD file so I could closely study the necessary modifications and implement them. A further issue concerned the dark bley platforms which project out from the sides of the body, one on each side (you can see one of them in the picture above); these structures were unfinished and slightly out of position on the original LDD file. Once again the LDD file has now been corrected, and thankfully the necessary modifications were straightforward, although they did require a few additional parts.


Lastly, I decided to make a couple of tweaks to increase the stability of the legs as I was nervous about their ability to support the weight of the AT-AT's body. The joint between the foot and the lower part of the leg (above) isn't very strong, and as a consequence, when the leg pivots at the ankle and the weight of the body is applied there's a risk of the leg giving way. This is guaranteed to bring 6000+ pieces crashing down so is to be avoided if at all possible.... Following some discussion, Pete suggested a simple modification to help support the leg when it's in a flexed position, and in addition to this I made a couple of further tweaks to increase the strength of the ankle joint and offer additional support and stability. Only when these had been completed did I feel sufficiently confident to proceed with final assembly of the AT-AT.

So here we go, then.... Step 1 : Attach neck to body. A couple of Technic pins protruding forward from the front of the body act as a guide to ensure that the neck is in position, after which the neck can be firmly bolted on by threading a bley Technic axle down through a series of interlocking, overlapping Technic liftarms sticking out from the neck and body. You can see the results below - click the pictures to enlarge them.



Step 2 : Attach the legs. Before I even attempted this came the realisation that with the legs attached, the AT-AT would be too big for my rudimentary photographic layout.... So where to build and photograph it ? Well, I didn't want to assemble it on my floor on the basis that the carpet wouldn't provide a firm base for the AT-AT to stand on. That, and I really didn't fancy its chances of surviving for long on the floor in the middle of my study. A solution was found in the form of the tables which support my work-in-progress LEGO City layout; thanks to my glacial rate of progress (yes, yes - I know I promised to provide an update on that project about a year ago, but I've been busy....) there's still a huge empty space in the middle of it. A space big enough for a colossal AT-AT, in fact. The downside is that there's no nice plain backdrop there to photograph the AT-AT against, so apologies for that - you'll just have to live with the distracting background until I can find a way of properly photographing it....

OK, adequate space located, it was time to figure out how on earth to go about precariously perching the body on top of the legs. Having tried to lift the body with one hand a few months back with catastrophic results (my hand-hold came away from the body, which proceeded to plummet to the floor and distintegrate on hitting the floor....) I decided to call for help. Pete tells me he's built a handle for the body of his AT-AT to allow him to attach the legs single-handedly, but I've yet to do this, and so it was that my reluctant wife was called into action and asked to hold the body of the AT-AT at just the right height for me to attach the legs. Attaching the legs involved threading a single Technic axle through the top of each leg and into the lower part of the body; the outer end of each axle also holds in place the large printed dishes that you can see at the top of each leg. Once each leg was attached, there came a point when I had to tell my wife to carefully let go of the body to see whether the legs would support the weight without collapsing. I don't mind admitting that this was incredibly nerve-wracking - if I hadn't seen Pete's AT-AT in the flesh I would have doubted that the legs could hold the weight. We both held our breath, but thankfully the legs held firm, and with a huge sigh of relief I stepped back and recorded the moment for posterity below (click to enlarge).
























Step 3 : Attach the sides of the body. Here the concern was less about actually attaching the sides to the body and more about the fear that all the pushing and pulling involved in getting the sides into the right position and bolting them to the Technic frame would destabilise the legs, causing them to give way and bring everything crashing down. The other potential problem I faced was the fragility of the sides themselves - as previously described they're not very robust and have a tendency to break apart at the slightest excuse. In the event, attaching the sides turned out to be reasonably straightforward and didn't even require the help of my glamorous assistant. The sides are suspended from the top of the body's Technic frame by a couple of Technic pins with stop bush, and they rest at the correct angle relative to the body as a result of being pushed outwards by the platforms projecting from the sides of the body. The only complication did in fact turn out to be the fragility of the sides themselves - they broke apart a couple of times while I was trying to manipulate them into the correct position for attachment, setting me back a few minutes on each occasion while I effected a repair. Eventually it was done, and you can see the AT-AT with one and then both sides attached below (click pictures to enlarge).


Step 4 : Attach the head. This somewhat unexpectedly turned out to be one of the trickiest jobs. As you can see in the pictures above, projecting forwards from the front of the neck is a black rectangular structure with a couple of bley tiles on top and a bley Technic pin sticking out of the front. This structure slides into a slot inside the AT-AT's head, and the pin anchors it when it's in the correct position. Sounds simple. Lining up the head, getting the structure into the slot and getting the pin to click into place took a number of attempts, though, and all the while I was sweating that all the pushing and pulling would make the whole thing collapse. The head is quite fragile, and with all the pressure I was applying I managed to break the windscreen and roof section off the head. This however turned out to be a blessing in disguise as it ended up being easier to slide the head on to the neck without the roof being attached as I could better see what I was doing. Once the head was locked into position I carefully replaced the roof and windscreen and took the picture below (click to enlarge); the gap between the side of the head and the roof is a little wider than it should be as a result of all the pushing and pulling but this should be easy enough to fix with a bit of careful manipulation...


Step 5 : Cover the body. The roof which covers the body of the AT-AT consists of 3 distinct sections which are dropped into place one at a time. Fitting the roof sections was pretty straightforward - all sit on top of the upper edges of the sides of the body - and the fit was mostly pretty good although a little final tweaking is still needed in a couple of places. Also, the rear section has a tendency to slide backwards, and I'm going to need to add a stop to the underside to prevent this. The completed AT-AT with the roof sections fitted can be seen below.



And the finishing touch ? Well, no Star Wars UCS model is complete without a display plaque to go with it, and fellow AT-AT builder Morten has designed a suitable display sticker (below) which I now have a copy of, so thanks, Morten !


And so more than 11 months after I published my first post about building a copy of Pete's AT-AT it's finally finished ! Although I've seen Pete's original on a number of occasions I have to admit that I was still taken aback by the sheer size of the thing when I'd finished building my own - it's absolutely huge ! The scale is somewhat hard to convey, but the rebel pilot minifigure that I've posed on the top of the AT-AT's body in the picture below (click to enlarge) should hopefully give you a sense of how massive it is....


Regarding the final piece count, it was around 6,220, give or take; I can't offer an exact figure as it's calculated from the first draft of the LDD files which contain a few errors as previously mentioned, plus I've made a few minor modifications along the way to improve stability. So let's say 6,250 for the sake of argument. And the cost ? Well, I had around a third of the pieces already, and I estimate that the rest cost me about £600 including shipping, although I'm certain I could have done it cheaper if I'd shopped around more; I believe that fellow AFOL Rocao recently managed to source the necessary parts for around $600 excluding shipping, and Pete reckons that the whole lot only cost him £250...(!)

And lastly, was it worth the effort and the cost ? Well, on the one hand I can safely say that it's been quite the most frustrating build I've ever experienced, by a country mile. Admittedly this was in part because I was to some extent a guinea pig. working with the first draft of Pete's LDD files, but mostly it's just because it's a mighty tricky build at times. It's also nerve-wracking to put all the sections together, wildy impractical to display, and can't be moved when constructed.... But despite all of that, just look at the thing ! As a huge Star Wars fan, and indeed someone for whom the AT-AT is perhaps my favourite vehicle from the Star Wars universe, it's definitely been worth all the expense and pain to see this monster standing proudly in my house. Massive kudos to Pete for designing the thing and putting together a set of LDD files for it, and if anyone wants to get hold of a copy of the most recent version of the LDD files and have a go at building one yourself then please get in touch and I'll forward your details to Pete.

So what now ? Well, plans are afoot to show the AT-AT later this year at a public event where it'll be part of a display featuring a number of big Star Wars MOCs - I'll share more details in due course. Until then I think I'll just stare at the finished model with a huge grin on my face while I decide what to build next....

 < -- Building the AT-AT : Part 10

74 comments:

  1. Anonymous8/7/13

    Hi Dave - Congratulations on finishing the beast! My own attempt at building this has been put on hold due to our new baby boy, with all of the finished sub-assemblies and remaining pieces boxed up in the garage for now. Some day I will be able to finish, but not for a while. It should be a good father/son project when he is old enough. Thanks to you for letting us follow along with this wonderful project, and of course thanks to Cavegod for designing such an amazing MOC!

    -Kevin

    ReplyDelete
  2. Anonymous8/7/13

    I'm going to have to dig up Pete's email to see if I have the latest updated version. I'm not looking forward to the rebuilding needed if I have on earlier version... =)

    As for costs, go take a look at the some of the parts on BL. The 8x8 dishes are to be hand from exactly one seller, who knows he has them all. The 2x Large wheels are absolutely insanely priced (and rare, rare, RARE). Some of those slopes have the same problem too. I'm glad I was able to snag all those before the prices went totally absurd. ;-)

    ReplyDelete
  3. I love it when your long suffering WOAFOL makes a guest appearance. Congratulations Dave! Such a fine beastie. Glad you didn't need to pull your City layout apart or anything :0)

    ReplyDelete
  4. I think it's testament to how many people are attempting to build the AT-AT that some of the parts are in such short supply; the large bley wheels are a case in point. They were available from a number of sellers, and at a reasonable price, when I started out, but that's certainly no longer the case. I'll have to ask Pete how many sets of LDD files he's shifted....

    I'll have to add WOAFOL to the glossary, Tim - thanks for the reminder ! I vaguely recall that she might even have coined the term in the first place. Although SOOAFOL might be more PC....

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. She did! I think someone said WAFOL and she took it that extra, critical step :0)

      Delete
  5. I've really enjoyed checking in on your progress on this over the past year, and I am delighted to see you finally got this beast finished. Congratulations!

    ReplyDelete
  6. Anonymous15/7/13

    Congratulations on finishing, Dr. I've been reading your blog for about a year and a half and I always enjoyed seeing your progress on this MOC.

    I would love to build one myself, as the AT-AT is right up there in my favorite SW vehicles, but I have other projects to complete first.

    Do you have a place set aside to display this magnificent creation?

    -Chills

    ReplyDelete
  7. Its so great! dont belive it! greets Kristi

    ReplyDelete
  8. Anonymous26/1/15

    This creation is fabulous and I am very interested in building it. I don't know if you still look at this site. But if I could get the LDD files and get a parts list it would be great.
    Email is RogerThornhill1965@Yahoo.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. No problem, Roger - I've forwarded your details to the guy who designed the AT-AT and he'll be in touch about the LDD files and parts list.

      Delete
    2. Anonymous7/1/17

      Hi Dave, i too am very interested in this build. Would it also be possible to have them issued to me? Email- allanstonehouse@live.co.uk. Many thanks

      Delete
  9. Anonymous25/2/15

    I've been following Cavegods UCS All Terrain Armoured Transport on the Lego Ideas section and seriously hoped that the guys and gals approved the build, only to be shattered when it didn't. So sad. It would have been awesome, especially with the new movies coming out.

    I've now decided to head down the frustrating route of trying to follow your year long path. If you would be so kind to pass my details on, it would be very much appreciated.

    Thanks and good luck in the future.

    philip_orr@hotmail.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Philip,

      I share your disappointment that the AT-AT didn't get the green light via LEGO Ideas, although in truth I wasn't surprised.

      Anyway, I've forwarded your request to Cavegod and he'll be in touch regarding the LDD files.

      Delete
  10. This build is absolutely fantastic. I don't know if you still look at this site, but if you could pass the details on to me I would be very appreciative.

    My email is jddeknatel@gmail.com.
    Thanks a bunch!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. No problem - I've forwarded your details to Cavegod and he'll be in touch about the files.

      Delete
  11. This is amazing!

    I'm totally inspired to get my box of bricks out and build!

    I need one in display in my shop! I'd really appreciate it if you could pass my details on to the designer so I can set to work on my own build.

    Congratulations on completion.

    My email is:

    Info@brickboxselby.co.uk

    Many thanks
    Ewan :-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. No problem - I've forwarded your details.

      Delete
  12. Hi, the model is astonishing, can you publish the LDD files or send them to me?

    Thanks,
    skratxa@gmail.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I've sent your details to the designer of the AT-AT and he should be in touch with you soon.

      Delete
  13. Anonymous15/7/15

    Impressed. In awe. And am walking around now all day with a smile

    ReplyDelete
  14. Hi this is a great design and build, can you forward my contact info to Pete for copies of the LDD files?
    Thank you,
    Landy

    ReplyDelete
  15. My email is vlglavach@gmail.com. Thanks

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. No problem - I've forwarded your details to Pete and he'll be in touch about the files.

      Delete
  16. This is my dream build!! Thanks for the wonderful blog documenting your trials and tribulations. Would you kindly pass my contact info on to Pete for copies of the files?
    Thank you
    John
    ufjt78@gmail.com

    ReplyDelete
  17. Carlos O15/10/15

    Thank you Dave for the guidance throughout this process. A year later and mine is finally complete and standing!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Congratulations, Carlos - well done!

      Delete
  18. Great build. Can you also forward my request for a copy of the files. Thanks!

    Tjarvis1@comcast.net

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. No problem - I've forwarded your details to Cavegod and he'll be in touch about the file.

      Delete
  19. I would be really happy if I could have a copy of the file to build this INCREDIBLE AT-AT!
    Please! ioriofilippo@gmail.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I've forwarded your request to the designer of the AT-AT and he'll be in contact.

      Delete
  20. Anonymous14/12/15

    Just finished piecing together Millenium falcon....THIS ONE IS NEXT!!!! Please please please forward a copy of the build files ehmann33@msn.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. No problem - I've forwarded your details to the designer of the AT-AT and he'll be in touch about the build files.

      Delete
  21. Amazing build! I'm dying to make one myself. Please forward my email on to the appropriate person for acquiring the instructions. Also, thank you for documenting and sharing your thoughts and updates as you progressed through the whole build.

    - John
    intvlan1shut@gmail.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sure - I've contacted the designer of the AT-AT and asked him to get in touch with you about the files.

      Delete
  22. Fantastic build. Also would be very happy to get the latest ldd files and parts list to build my own ucs at-at

    - Christian
    llcoolchristianf@aol.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I've forwarded your details to the designer of the AT-AT and he'll be in touch about the files.

      Delete
  23. I would like to build it as well! May I kindly get the LDD files?

    Thanks in advance
    - Lorenzo
    lorenzoyuan@yahoo.it

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. No problem - I've forwarded your details to the designer of the AT-AT and he'll be in touch about the files.

      Delete
  24. Anonymous29/12/15

    I'm hoping you still follow this blog but would you be so kindly to pass along my information as well? I would like to try this build as well!

    legoBuilder1980@gmail.com

    Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. No problem - I've passed along your information as requested.

      Delete
  25. Hi! It's incredible, I would like to build this beast too! Please forward my email address to the designer for the manual.

    Happy New Year!

    Thanks in advance,
    - Csaba
    martonosi.csaba@gmail.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. No problem - I've forwarded your details to the designer and he'll be in touch.

      Delete
  26. That's amazing!
    May I kindly get a copy of the file to build this AT-AT!
    Thanks in advance
    -Edoardo
    edo.daros@gmail.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Edoardo, I've forwarded your details to the designer of the AT-AT and he'll be in touch about the files.

      Delete
  27. Hi there!

    Awesome work! Could you please forward my details to Pete/Cavegod so i can get a copy of the files off him

    Thanks!
    Kind Regards,

    Maxim

    maxim.cooperonline@gmail.com

    Thanks,

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. No problem - I've forwarded your details to Pete and he'll be in touch about the files.

      Delete
  28. Anonymous14/1/16

    That's a AWESOME WORK!!!!!!!!!!!
    May I kindly get a copy of the file to build this AT-AT!
    Thanks a lot in advance
    Greets from Germany-Stephan
    stephan.rose@seltra.de

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I've asked the designer of the AT-AT to get in touch with you regarding getting hold of the necessary files.

      Delete
  29. Sehr schöne Arbeit ;) tolle Leistung.
    Speedy875@gmx.de please send LDD File
    Gruß Stefan form Germany

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Lea, I've forwarded your request to the designer of the AT-AT and he'll contact you about the LDD files.

      Delete
  30. I love it so much!!!! May i have the LDD files or a pdf instruction with parts list that i can build this masterpieces ucs at-at ?! Here is my email!! Do you know how can i contact the designer? Afraid that he change the contact, then i cant contact him/_\ and get the file.

    E-mail: jeffrey_1191990@hotmail.com

    many thanks Dave!!!!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. No problem - I've forwarded your details to the designer of the AT-AT and he'll be in touch about the LDD files.

      Delete
  31. This build is phenomenal! Having grown up with Star Wars and Lego alike this just blew my mind! could I ask you very kindly to forward on my request for the LDD files?
    Glad to see theres others as mad as me to undergo building such a monolith!

    E-mail: snowmonkey4@hotmail.co.uk

    Cheers Dave and may the force be with you!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sure - I've forwarded your details to Pete and he'll contact you about the files.

      Delete
  32. Anonymous2/2/16

    Hi Dave,

    a fantastic, big monster :)

    I would like to build this AT-AT, so can you please send me a copy of the LDD-files.

    E-Mail: necrom1981@gmx.net

    Thanks Dave
    "Möge die Macht mit dir sein"

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I've passed your details on to the designer of the AT-AT and he'll be in touch about the LDD files.

      Delete
  33. Fantastic reading your blog on a truly epic build.

    Please pass on my details. I'd love to build this with my Son.

    rumseyrumsey@gmail.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Mark, I've forwarded your contact details to the designer of the AT-AT and he'll be in touch about the LDD files.

      Delete
  34. Anonymous18/2/16

    Hi Dave,

    I would love to try to build this. Could you pass on my email address:

    ming.mah@gmail.com

    Thank you.

    Have fun.
    Ming

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Ming, I've forwarded your details to the designer of the AT-AT and he'll be in contact with you about the LDD files.

      Delete
  35. Anonymous23/2/16

    Amazing work, may I ask for the LDD file or instructions of this masterpiece ?

    Here is my email address: geekcultureph@gmail.com

    Thank you !

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. No problem - I've forwarded your details to the designer of the AT-AT and he'll be in touch with you about the LDD files. Apologies for the delay.

      Delete
  36. Its the best Giant I've ever seen.
    Please contact me and send me the LDD files.

    regstar@freemail.hu
    Many Many thanks Dave !!!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sure - the designer of the AT-AT will contact you about the LDD files.

      Delete
  37. Hello Dave,

    I stumbled across your blog here and was amazed at your dedication and completion of this AT-AT. If at all possible, would like to try my hand at this. If you can please forward my email to the designer so that I may try this myself. It's Bobafettuccine@gmail.com Thank you very much!!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I forwarded your message on to the designer a while back so hopefully he should have been in touch by now.

      Delete
  38. I would love to build this. May I kindly get a copy of the LDD files?
    Here is my email: junep656@gmail.com
    Thanks

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sure - the designer will contact you about the LDD files.

      Delete
  39. Anonymous19/12/16

    Amazing MOC, I would be grateful if I build this masterpiece. Is it possible to get the LDD files or perhaps an instruction? Also, I was wondering, if I need to make a financial transaction to receive the files with the creator?

    My email is: numnum066@gmail.com

    Thanks

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I've forwarded your message to Cavegod and he'll be in touch about the files.

      Delete
  40. Anonymous12/1/17

    I would love to try this build! What an awesome project (and possibly a chance to lose the rest of my hair :-). Please forward my email to Cavegod.

    ljlexpeditions@gmail.com

    Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
  41. Fantastic post Dave, I would love to give this one a go myself - could you forward my email address on please. Its matt_marsden@hotmail.com

    Thanks very much.

    ReplyDelete
  42. That's amazing!
    May I kindly get a copy of the file to build this AT-AT!
    My email address is: petrivelli@gmail.com

    Thank you very very much...

    ReplyDelete