1.23.2010

The Skullhamma, pt. B

When we left off, I'd taken the first big steps in converting a 1/35 scale T 74 tank into an Ork Skullhamma I could use in Apocalypse games. Continuing on...

With a lot of that big stuff done, I moved onto the treads. The T 74 model had some beautifully detailed tread links. Lots more than you got on the old Chimera or Leman Russ sets. A bit of a shame, because I knew I'd be hiding a lot of that detail with big Orky plates and rivets. Of course, it'd be more of a shame if this had been a $100 Baneblade model. This is also where I hit the first real headache. If you remember last time, I mentioned...

Helpful Hint--When you're putting together any model, even one you're kitbashing like this, make sure everything gets assembled correctly. Like those toothed rear wheels. Because if you mess those up, it'll come back to haunt you.

This was that haunting time. Turns out the toothed wheels had a bit of play in them when they're assembled, so they hadn't dried with the teeth lining up on either side. So when I went to put the treads on they wouldn't sit right or line up with each other. There was much clipping and cutting and filing to get them more or less where they were supposed to be. At least it was mostly in the back and would get hidden by more Orkiness.

Once I had the treads on, I started adding a series of "Mek's improovments" on top of them. These were just strips of plastic, and the bolt heads are just thinner strips cut into squares. Putting these along the bottom also raised the model another 1/16 of an inch or so. Not much, but every little bit makes it bigger, especially in 40K scale. And in the back they helped hide the mess the treads were around the toothed wheels.

While these were drying I started assembling some more detail bits. One of the most distinctive things about the Skullhamma is its gigantic engine and the forest of exhaust pipes it has-- smokestacks, really. The model came with two barrels, and I had some spare ones from Warhammer 40K Battlefield Accessory packs. Using them as the bases, I made four exhaust pipes. One's a spare Leman Russ battle cannon I found in the bitz bins (it's amazing what some people throw out). Another one was marked and drilled out with the pin vise the same way I made the kannon (mentioned in the last post). The bent one was cut at a slight angle and then the pieces were rotated 180 degrees to each other--a perfect match. If you try this, remember the bend angle's going to double when you rotate the parts, so make it a small angle when you cut.

I also used this time to put together two big armor plates for the side skirts. The model has a groove under the hull where its own side skirts were supposed to go, so I left a little space at the top of these when I was adding on rivets for detail. The rivets are just a thin plastic rod that I cut into discs. It takes a few tries to get the thickness down, but then you can make piles of rivets for everything you're working on. I also tossed in a few of the same square bolts I used on the treads for variety.

Next up was a challenge. The sponsons. I knew I wanted them to be able to pivot, so I poked around for a bit on this one. Turned out (no pun intended) the solution was right in front of me. I had two leftover wheels from the treads because I'd used Ork wheels at points. Even better, unlike the sharp, angled sprue GW models come on, the sprue for the T 74 model was round and smooth. I had an axle for my wheel. For the twin-linked big shootas I just used a pair of shoota barrels from the regular Ork Boyz set.

It's also worth noting that when the sponsons are all together they've got the same lip I left on the armor plates. This way they'll fit snug in the above-mentioned groove and the glue will have more to bite. Then I added on more rivets, some old goblin sprues, and some small armor plates that were from... heck, I'm not even sure. I think they might be from Gorkamorka. You used to be able to buy a sprue of ten or twelve of them.

One other thing. The Skullhamma has the option of arming itself with a few supa-rokkits. I knew right where I'd put them (along the back port edge) but I had no parts at the moment to built a little gantry/ missile rack for them. I fell back on that geekiest of things, the rare earth magnet. I ran a few tests to make sure one would be strong enough, then glued it to the underside of the hull right about where I wanted a gantry. Now somewhere down the line I can build the supa-rokkits as a separate piece (and with their own magnet) and add or remove it as I like.

With all those details done (and checked repeatedly), I glued the top hull to the bottom hull/ treads. While this was drying I tossed on a few more rivets and expanded the platform bit. It is kind of the joy of modeling Orks that more rivets can make anything look better. Even so I debated putting them on the big skull. There's a point where you can go too far with almost anything, and at this point I didn't want to cross that line.

I spun the model around and built up an "engine" of sorts. A few extra boxes, bottles, and tanks from various models, linked with some more of that great rounded sprue from the tank model. Before it was an axle, now it's pipes and hoses. One easy detail was the service hatch. It's just a rectangle of plasticard with two pieces of rod for hinges (the same rod I use to make rivets). Then I used the legs from a Warhammer Fantasy goblin. The goblin set comes with--or came with, maybe--walking legs and wolf-riding legs for every model. I've used them on several models to show grots diving in to make repairs, which can either be a fun detail or you can use it to represent the Grot Riggers vehicle upgrade.

Then back to the turret. The Skullhamma Kannon just wasn't imposing enough. I added some more rods and bits along the length, and also wrapped it with about four inches of chain from a set of cheap necklaces (all those accessory stores in shopping malls can be a great place for chains, jewels, and the like). I also added a box behind the blast plate and some more pieces all around the turret to help make it look repaired and/ or armored in a very patchwork way. And rivets, of course. Lots of rivets.

One last post for assembling all these parts and putting on some final details.

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