Legion Combat Assault Tank
Modifications to the TX-225 GAVw Occupier tabletop miniature
For my next model, I'm building and modifying the Legion Combat Assault Tank, aka the TX-225 GAVw Occupier tabletop miniature. What a mouthful. I'll stick with Combat Assault Tank. For this tracked tank, Lucasfilm actually bought an Alvis Stormer flatbed and converted it into what you see on-screen. So, I found a lot of pictures of the Alvis Stormer to use as reference, as well as pics of the Assault Tank from various sites.
Now, I already built the Bandai version, but 1/144 is just really small. This new one from Fantasy Flight is larger at 1/44 scale, has exceptional detail, and it uses a plastic that works with styrene cement. Also, this is the tracked version, not the hovering version form Rebels.
With all that said, I don't want to do too much (hahaha). Mostly, I want to replace the soft detail (like the molded grab-handles) with better parts and photo-etch. Also, I'd like to add a Bandai AT-ST head to the cargo area like I did with the Jedha Satue - Imperial Escalation diorama. Lastly, I may add another figure in the cargo area.
OK, here's what you get in from the Legion Combat Assault Tank: 3 containers, 2 front detail cylinder things, forward hatch, top hatch, hatch ring, gun attachment, 2 heads, 4 arms, small body for forward hatch, complete torso for top hatch, 2 mounted guns, 6 track pieces, 2 side gun mounts, 2 side guns, central lower gun. And of course, you get the big tank body itself. You also get the gaming cards, but I sold those.
These parts have great detail. The 2 hatch-mounted guns have hollowed gun barrel tips. And the containers have multiple parts pre-glued with excellent detail.
Here, you can see more details on the individual cargo containers.
So, the top section of the tank is very nice. You can see they molded the grab-handles/tie-downs to the body. Sadly, the grill detail isn't all the great. But, you can see nearly everything from the movie is there.
So, on the front, you can see the seam lines from the two hull halves. Most of this I think I can deal with using a little putty.
Now, this is really neat. The tracks come in 3 pieces per side. And, they are designed so you cannot mix up where they fit. The tracks only attach in one direction. However, they can be swapped from side to side.
Fantasy Flight lists the Legion miniatures at 1/44 scale, which I can confirm. The pilot is kinda chunky (far right), but match the 1/47-ish scale figures from the Wizards of the Coast line (middle). Bandai's 1/48 figures seam a little undersized (left). However, the AT-ST driver isn't wearing armor, so the scales should match up fairly well.
One more comparison pic.
Now, I started by chiseling off several things, such as the grab-handles as shown in red. There's a few more things I may remove later and replace.
I used Tamiya putty to fill the seams, which I may have to go back and touch up later. Also, I drilled out 2 little things on either side to match the reference photos (see red arrow).
So, the model seams to be glued with super-glue. I was able to pry up the top hatch and modify it so that it lines up better. You could take some time to add some interior if you wanted.
Using a .5mm drill bit, I carefully drilled out the gun barrels. If you do this, you must use a pin or something pointy to indent the area where you want to drill.
OK, now we're getting going. I had some old brass mesh that I cut glued over the 7 grills. I tried to rotate the lower 4 grills so that the mesh would appear to be in a different direction. To glue this, I used a small Glue Looper and extra thin super glue. You have to be careful not to flood the mesh. Finally, you can see a few other photo-etch pieces I found and added.
I finally finished making all the little grab-handle things. For this, I used .3mm brass wire wrapped around the Grab-Handler from Mission Models. Then I had to carefully bend and insert it into pre-drilled styrene rods. In the end, I made 17 but only needed 16. I will glue them down later, but for now they are completely movable.
This is just an update picture of the details so far. I've added a lot to the top hatch. And yes, I'm still planning more.
So, something I never thought I'd be doing would be soldering photo-etch, especially not this small. But there were a few details on the real tank that I really wanted to get right. Ergo, that meant soldering. I have a neat silicone mat that is impervious to heat and makes a great workplace for soldering. First off, with something this small, it's easiest to coat one side with solder before anything else. Then, I would hold that part with my soldering iron and maneuver the second part with tweezers. Once you lift the iron off, everything hardens. For multiple parts though, you really have to be careful not to bump something already in place. Yes, it's a lot of work, but the parts look FANTASTIC now.
Here are the soldered parts in place. One is a triangle shaped piece that hangs over the recessed area. The other is an upside-down T shape consisting of 4 brass pieces. Also, I glued the grab-handles in place, as they do not rotate. Finally, I cut off the 6 star-shaped parts. I sanded them, and added spacers to recreate the look of the real tank. I believe these large knobs acted as bolts to hold the hatches in place.
Yes, I made a working hatch. Of course, it will be open once I finish the figure. But the effect is impressive nonetheless.
To do this, I used a brass rod that ran through the plastic parts, which allowed the movement. I inserted a miniature spring (found on ebay) to the hatch to add detail. Lastly, I glued on a stop that prevents the hatch from over-extending and recreates the reference image.
About the same time I started messing with the Combat Assault Pilot, I discovered that Fantasy Flight released a set of Shoretroopers. So, I combined the lower torso of a Shoretrooper with the upper pilot's body. They used practically the same outfits in Rogue One, so this worked well.
As I started to modify the figure, I also build a custom gun on top. The included blasters seemed a bit large compared to the side cannons. I wanted something a bit smaller. So, I kit-bashed this one, and then modeled the Pilot to seem like he's leaning on the gun and hatch. After all, I like a relaxed gunner.
For priming, I put a layer of Mr. Surfacer on both the tank and the AT-ST. I found a few areas I needed to fill, but overall it came out nicely.
Now for the figures, I sprayed 2 layers of primer. The first layer acted as the shadows. For the pilot, I used grey, but for the Imperial Tactician, I used black. Then, I airbrushed lighter colors from above to act as highlights. Again, for the pilot, I had to go lighter using MRP Insignia White. This technique will help when I start actually painting the figures. By the way, this wasn't my idea. I stole it from Sorastro.