The Malcador Heavy Tank, Pt I

As I mentioned back at the start, this whole 40K-on-the-cheap phase started for me because of a financial crunch. Of course, one of the big downsides to any such crunch isn't just that you can't do anything for yourself--you can't do anything for friends and family, either. Last Christmas, I was feeling that aspect of the crunch most of all.

My best friend is also a 40K player, and I happened to know he'd had his eye on the Forge World Malcador heavy tank. Fortunately, there was an existing template for the Malcador, and it's a great one by a guy named Jeff Vaughan. I asked my friend if he'd be open to a Paperhammer tank, he said yes, and I threw myself into it.

Alas, I don't have some of the early stages of construction documented because my camera was on the fritz. Vaughan's templates are pretty much perfect, though, so there's very little I need to say about the bulk of the construction. In fact, there's only a few points I want to address.

One is on the first two pages, marked DWGMAL 302 and 303. On each page are three layers that need to get cut out and stacked to form a very detailed side. You're also going to need two copies of that top panel. The second one is the inside of the tread, the part that butts up against the hull. Check out the picture at the bottom and you'll see.

Helpful Hint--When you have to cut out a thin frame (like that third one), start with the inside details. Most people (myself included) have an immediate instinct to cut the whole shape out of the sheet of cardboard and then try to cut the details out of that smaller, more delicate piece. Don't do that! Do the exact opposite-- cut out the details first (while it's still a big sheet of cardboard) and then cut out the shape as a whole (so you're cutting it out of a big sheet of cardboard). This was a random inspiration and I was stunned how easy it made this part of construction.

These three layers got glued together very slowly so I could make sure nothing was going to slip and mess up an edge. Once they were together, I folded them into a piece of wax paper and stacked a few hardcover books onto them. Again, very slowly. I didn't want the weight making anything slide, even just an eighth of an inch or so. After about an hour under the books these tread sections were very straight and solid.

Helpful Hint--Okay, back when I made the SkullHamma I talked a lot about using plastic rod to make rivet details. With Paperhammer, there's an even easier thing to use-- a hole punch. Yep, a 99-cent hole punch will cut through cereal-box card with no problem and make perfect 1/4" disks you can use for detailing. Like that oversized wheel hub at the back of the Malcador.

I went out to my local hobby store, splurged a bit, and got a 1/8" punch, too. That made the smaller hubs along the base of the treads (and the ones all over the Mk I Land Raider). Probably going to grab a 1/16" as well because it'll make for great rivets. The smaller ones cost around eight or nine dollars, but they help give an amazing level of detail to a cardboard model.

Assembling the hull is pretty straightforward, too. Again, Vaughan designed a fantastic model. However...

This Is Important-- There is one small mistake in the templates. If you look at DWGMAL 304 you'll see the major section of the hull. At the bottom of it are two short "legs" which become the rear of the tank. These must be reversed. You need to cut them off and rotate the pair of them 180 degrees so they are short at the bottom and tall at the top (the wings should stay on the outside). Once you do this the hull will go together perfectly, and those wings will force everything to line up at the correct angle. If you don't reverse them, your Malcador will look oddly skewed and chisel-nosed in the front. I just snipped them off and used two extra pieces of card as scabs to hold them together.

(This my have been fixed in later versions of the templates. I'm using the ones from the Golden Bolter website)

It's also worth noting that you need to cut your own tabs onto the hull. I just made half inch strips all along the edges and cut a wide diagonal notch at each fold. When you have to cut your own tabs always check them first to make sure they don't overlap. You want all the tabs to be able sit perfectly flat against whatever surface you're gluing them to. Just spend a minute, fold them down, and trim the angles a little more where you need to.

After that I put the upper hull together. Because I was making a lascannon variant, I didn't cut out the side ports and put a sloped edge to the front ones. Eventually that front-center strut will get cut out so the lascannons can pan back and forth, but for now I left it to give a little more structural support to the upper hull while I was assembling parts.

One other thing. Before I glued the upper hull to the main hull, I went from corner to corner of that top panel and found its exact center. On the underside of that point, inside the model, I glued a rare earth magnet. Yes, I use them, too, although nowhere near as much as some crazy people...

The point of putting one here was it would give me a pivot point. The main cannon could go on a magnet itself, and now it would be held in place but still be able to turn inside the upper hull. Plus it could be pulled out for painting or upgrades.

I also added the front demolisher cannon at this point. It's just two pieces of plastic tubing, one inside the other. The smaller piece I already had, the larger one I had to buy (bringing my expenses for this specific model up to a stunning $4.25 at this point). I filed them nice and smooth on the edges (cutting a clean edge is tough at that size), glued them together, and fastened that piece to a little cardboard wedge I'd made. Then I took some doubled up card, traced a dime on them, and cut a pair of "pivot guides" to go on either side of the cannon.

With all this, it would seem like the Malcador was just about ready to assemble. Alas, it was not to be. There was one troublesome element left, as I shall detail next time...

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