Wednesday, June 3

Clayton builds Bandai's AT-ST - "Don't Call Me Chicken!"

Ever since the new Star Wars AT-ST kit from Bandai came out Clayton has wanted to build it. We recently reviewed it here and now we hand the kit over to our man to see how it builds up – a few surprises were in store along the way…

Build Review: Bandai 1/48th Star Wars AT-ST 
Brand: Bandai
Vehicle: AT-ST
Scale: 1:48th
Item Number: 948694
6 injection moulded sprues plus decals and a sticker.
Price: ¥1,920 / USD $16.08; / €14.18
Available from HobbyLink Japan at this link
Model by Clayton Ockerby.

Review: Bandai 1/48th Star Wars AT-ST

Yes, it’s true, I am a self-confessed nerd. Not a 'dress up and go to conventions' nerd, but definitely a sucker for just about anything with a Star Wars logo on it.  Being a child of the 70's pretty much guaranteed i. The Star Wars reach was impossible to avoid.

I have always been a massive fan of the Fine Molds Star Wars kits and was devastated when I heard they wouldn't be making them any longer.  I guess when one door closes the next opens and along come Bandai with their Star Wars offerings.
After having a sneak peak in the early days at pictures on the Internet I was a little concerned regarding the target market for these kits. They looked to be angled more towards the quick build / toy market rather that to the serious modeller. That said, being the Star Wars sucker I am I still had to indulge in the new line and check them out for myself.

So the AT-ST in 1/48 scale arrives on my workbench. 

The moulding is clean and crisp and the level of detail is very good. Far better than I was expecting.

The cockpit has a lovely level of detail (although most of it will be lost) and the set comes with a couple of pilot figures as well as a Chewbacca figure. I am really keen to get stuck into this build.

The model comes across 6 injection-moulded sprues. You also receive a decal sheet and the same thing but supplied as a self-adhesive sticker.

Quite honestly, this kit just about falls together out of the box. The body and leg joints were quite literally snapped together over an hour in from on the television. I am yet to use a drop of glue and everything is tight but still has some movement in the joints.
The moulding and the detail on the interior is just beautiful. Each side is moulded as a single piece. Simple, uncomplicated modeling at its’ best.
Although I knew essentially this interior will never see the light of day, I couldn’t help but paint it up. An overall coat of Dark Sea Grey went down and was then lightened in parts to add some interest.  A black oil wash then helped lift the detail and the buttons and elements were then picked out with a fine brush and Vallejo acrylic paints.

For the Star Wars purists out there, forgive me if I have painted some of the details incorrectly…I don’t care, it was just an exercise I have to go through and was a really enjoyable thing to do.  Now it’s time to hide it all….
The freshly painted cockpit sits nicely within the pieces of the turret. A further 20 minutes was all it took to essentially complete the major construction of the kit. I did get a little thrill seeing everything coming together, and I have to confess, I possibly made a few ‘pew pew noises out loud….
A coat of Alclad white micro filler over the model. I don’t always prime my models, but decided to start from a white base on this one.
I did toy with working on an Imperial camouflage scheme for this fellow but decided to stick with the stock standard light grey.  Whilst I used pictures from ROTJ as a loose reference, I didn’t want to replicate the specific vehicle that Chewbacca captured.  I just wanted to make a stock standard chicken walker that could have served on just about any planet.
With a highly thinned mix of NATO black from the Vallejo paint range I set about pre-shading the model.  These black areas would help create some visual interest once the colours started getting laid down.
For the overall colour of the model I used Light Ghost Grey from the Vallejo range of paints. I sprayed a thinned mix of the colour a number of times over the model. Light coats were employed to ensure I wouldn’t lose too much of the pre-shading I had done in the previous step.

Lighter tones of the grey were created by simply mixing in a little white.
You can see the subtle effect of the pre-shading and the highlights. I would build on this in later steps.  A gloss acrylic varnish was then set in place to protect our paintwork.

Tiny dots of oil paint were touched on the model in a random fashion. White, blue, grey and even buff was added.
A brush moistened with white spirit was then dragged through the oils in a downward motion.  Slowly and carefully drag the brush through the paint until all that is left is a subtle effect on the colouring of your base layer.
Finished result of the dot rendering. This technique is particularly useful when trying to add interest to a monotone colour palette. The key is subtlety.
An oil wash using a heavily thinned dark grey oil paint is now applied.  Attention was paint to all of the details over the model. Overflow and messy parts are easily cleaned up with a brush moistened with white spirit.
But it was here we encountered some real challenges with this kit. Here’s a very important piece of advice for anyone thinking about building this kit. BANDAI plastic does not like WHITE SPIRIT.
The white spirit used to thin my oil paints reacted poorly with the plastic and made it as brittle as chalk.  The first thing to go was one of the leg joints. It literally just shattered in my hand. The next thing to go was the armourment on the right hand side of the turret. It literally just split open in front of my eyes.
I had read about something similar happening to someone else, but they put it down to stress on the joints. I can 99.9% tell you though, the Bandai plastic just doesn’t like white spirit - so be very careful! 
....Back to water based washes for the next build I would think.

It is really the oddest thing ever. I have never seen anything like it before.  I tried to find as many of the shattered parts as I could and rebuild it with super glue and plastic filler. It wasn’t perfect, but the joins will be hidden and it will be very hard to detect useless you were looking for the faults. I’m putting it down to a lesson learned. As long as you avoid white spirit you have no problems with Bandai plastic - a lesson back on track....

Superficial chipping and scratches were added using a small piece of sponge with some white enamel paint. Most of the paint is removed from the sponge before it is applied to the model.  I kept the chipping to a minimum because I didn’t want to over weather the model.
No painting awards here. Just a farewell to my little mate who will never be seen again… in the cabin he went.
I think there is potential here to add a few small LED’s in the cabin. That would be a good way to at least be able to sneak a peek inside through the vision ports and the entry hatch.

Using a product from TRUE EARTH – Neutral Aging, I carefully added to the darker tones in the paint.  Again this effect is very subtle but is set in place to help sell the look of an aged Imperial Walker.  I have found this product can really get away from you if you are not careful. It needs very light layers, built up very gradually.
The base was then covered in a PVA glue and sprinkled with vegetation. I used a ready-made mix – ‘Nature in a Pot’. The landscape then received a paint treatment helping to add to the texture, tones and natural look.
A deep brown oil wash and some scattered pigment and grass tufts would later finish the base.
As luck would have it, I stumbled on some little figures from a Star Wars role playing game that were actually 1/48 scale.  A perfect match for the walker! The come pre-painted, but I decided to repaint it. This picture shows the figure before I repainted it. I actually liked the idea of the blue patches on the figure and would use a more basic version of that on my figure.  I thought that would be a good idea to help distance the model from the AT-ST seen on Endor.
The figure was primed with Alclad white micro filler and was hand painted with Vallejo acrylics.  The figure was made from a soft, flexible plastic, so I was conscious to not hit it too hard with washes and solvents.

As a final step, Earthy toned pigments were lightly dusted around the feet of the walker and on the landscaped base.

I had been on the look out of the old MPC kit of this subject. I used to own it as a kid and I have been wanting to revisit it as an adult.  Thank goodness my search had gone unrewarded because this kit leaves the old MPC kit for dead.

Bandai have managed to find the perfect middle ground with this kit. It will appeal to a first time builder, right up to the seasoned modeler.

If is uncomplicated but detailed. Parts fit. Parts fit so well that in fact, I didn’t need one drop of glue on this model (except to repair the damaged joints and cracks from the solvent). It really is amazing. 

 A walk around to see some of the details of the completed kit
Bandai have resisted the urge to up their part count on this kit and have done all the work for you.  Sure, you could pick on some of the join lines where parts fit together and you could get at them with filler. You could super detail the interior or add your own plumbing, but why bother. It has all been done so well and so simply as it is. It would be a shame to over-complicate this build and it should be enjoyed for what it is.

With the base and the stormtrooper figure also in 48th scale included "Walkiiees"
I really hope that the issue with the plastic and the white spirit isn’t an ongoing issue for these kits. I suspect that an agent in the plastic to keep it soft in order for the snap assembly to be effective is the issue. It is a problem and it will catch out a lot of people.

To be forewarned is to be forearmed, so make sure you use water based washes and I believe this issue will be avoided.

 And here it is all together
Unfortunately for me, building this kit is going to cost me a lot of money... What I mean by that is that I am now going to have to buy all of the other Star Wars kits Bandai are planning to bring out. A snow speeder, a Y-Wing, Star Destroyer and even potentially an AT-AT!   
I better start clearing the bench, because Bandai have just found themselves a groupie.

Clayton Ockerby

Thanks to HobbyLink Japan who sent us this kit to review and make. This kit is now in stock.
See more of Clayton’s modelling on his website or his Facebook page