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Ban Dai 1/48 AT-ST Scout Walker - Review / WIP

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  • Member since
    January, 2016
Ban Dai 1/48 AT-ST Scout Walker - Review / WIP
Posted by suomi39 on Thursday, March 14, 2019 11:55 AM

As a kid I built several Star Wars models, including that AMT-Ertl Hoth diorama scene that came with paints and figures. Once assembled and badly painted, they generally became toys for myself and my younger brothers, and destroyed/lost in short order.

I returned to modeling a few years back, with the patience of an adult and the internet as my guide, and built a few WWII birds with skills and techniques learned here on the FSM forums. Browsing around here I noticed that Ban Dai has an enormous line of SW models that blow the old ones out of the water in terms of film accuracy, detail, scale, and overall engineering/kit quality. So I grabbed a couple (this one, a matching 1/48 T-47 snowspeeder, and a couple smaller "vehicle models") and they've been unopened in the stash until now.

As I'm wrapping up an Airfix Hawker Hurricane, I needed another kit to get started on as progress slows near the end of a build. The AT-ST called to me from the shelf as a nice break from WWII a/c, and with Star Wars Celebration coming up next month -- and a Episode IX this Christmas -- it seemed like the right time.

As a child of the 80s/90s, Star Wars is so much more than a movie series to me, and in a weird way, the AT-ST and other SW vehicles are more real to me than, say a Hawker Hurricane or other WWII aircraft. Of course I'm a WWII history buff with an undergrad degree in history, so that's probably not a good thing... but then again, in today's uncertain world a little fantasy with clearly-drawn good/evil lines is a welcome escape.

Anyway -- the kit. There are several very good builds of this kit documented out there on the web, but I didn't see any recent ones here on FSM so I figured I'd share my build here. 

First: sprue shot. This thing has A LOT of parts. If you wonder why Ban Dai kits cost ~$30-40, open one up and you won't wonder any more. Multiple colors (on the same sprue!), tiny gates, literally no molding flash and no injection marks. There's two small decal sheets, one with peel-off stickers and one with water slide decals.

Looking around the web for reference photos led me down a mynock-hole of Industrial Light & Magic documentaries, which didn't help much but was highly inspiring. These things were of course entirely practical effects, and were essentially kit-bashed from random model kits. There are folks out there that have analyzed photos of the original models and identified all the parts and what kits they were bashed from -- and in at least once case, ILM used that data when rebuilding digital versions of the original models (now lost) for Rogue One! 

Notice the egg beneath the big model in that pic! Chicken walker indeed. 

There were, really, two and a half versions of the AT-ST in the original trilogy. The first appeared in The Empire Strikes Back in the background on Hoth.

 

The second version has a redesigned shape, and looks more "ILM" than "McQuarrie." It's also far more famous from the battle on Endor in Return of the Jedi. In that movie, there are sort of two versions -- a "studio" model and a "pyro" model (that they blew up). They're obviously supposed to be the same, but any of the minor differences can be explained in-universe as version changes at Kuat Drive Yards or field updates.

The Ban Dai kit (definitely a ROtJ walker) seems to be modeled most closely after the larger studio model. In fact, it's modeled after the one that Chewie captures, and the kit includes a 1/48 Chewie figure. One other detail: the studio models had a side-opening crew hatch, but the full-size set piece used in a few non-walking shots has a rear-opening crew hatch. The Ban Dai kit is designed to allow either configuration, and can be fit either open or closed. 

The obvious choice for primary reference is this gorgeous digital render by Hugo Lamarre, which itself is based on the movie models. 

 

 

 

Tags: AT-ST , Ban Dai , Review , Star Wars , WIP

  • Member since
    January, 2016
Posted by suomi39 on Thursday, March 14, 2019 12:23 PM

The first steps of assembly are the chassis. Having recently worked on an old Revell-Monogram, with brittle, shiny styrene, and a new-tool Airfix, with soft styrine, this Ban Dai plastic seems to fit perfectly in the middle. It's hard enough to not scratch or deform but soft enough to cut cleanly. Most of the cuts with the sprue cutters were clean enough to build with; the rest take just a swipe or two of a flat file to clean up. 

The directions are cluttered, but thorough. The thing that takes the most time is hunting for the part on the sprue.

The parts fit together like legos. They press together smoothly -- no "snap-tite" effect. There's really no need to use cement, as even without, the seam lines essentially disappear -- or are cleverly hidden behind other parts. I did use Tamiya extra-thin just for extra strength, and in a few places where the fit was a little tight and needed some extra hold. But be careful: most bits fit together so tightly that even extra-thin won't wick between them, and instead just pools on the surface and threatens to mar the otherwise-perfect seam line. Best to leave the parts separated a tiny bit, apply the cement, and then finish pressing them together. 

The one downfall of this assembly style is that there's really no way to dry-fit the peices, as they're very difficult to get back apart without damaging them, especially if you've pre-painted. Luckily, though, I've found very few parts that didn't fit flawlessly and the ones that do have trouble are pretty minor. 

The first evening, I got the chassis assembled and primed with Tamiya flat black. I left off the assortment of hoses/pipes, as I want to have them contrast in color with the grey of the armor, so I'll add them at the end. 

Next are the legs, which they suggest you build one at a time. I decided to do both at once but foud it a bit confusing as many of the parts are mirrored, and it's easy to get them mixed up. Here are the major sub-assemblies of the leg parts, ready for priming. One is gently dry-fit together. 

Next up is the cockpit, which will take a little bit of research and some color decisions. I hope to make the top panel removable so it can be seen; if a person chose, they could skip coloring the cockpit at all since it can be closed up entirely, like any armor model, and still look the part. 

  • Member since
    January, 2016
Posted by suomi39 on Friday, March 15, 2019 9:26 AM

The cockpit on the AT-ST is well-detailed and fits together -- big surprise -- perfectly.  After doing some reading, and seeing how some other builders super-detailed theirs, and looking at stills from RotJ and model shots, I decided to make mine as close to film-accurate as I reasonably could. Partly this is because I think the "Imperial" aesthetic of the films just works. Clean lines, repeating patterns of colors, basic grey. But also, the film look, matches the kit, and I'm still new at doing tiny work like this and didn't want to get bogged down in "scratching greeblies" to make a fantasy hyper-real AT-ST.   

With that said, the studio model doesn't offer much in the way of inspiration here. 

Stills from the film and production offer more detail. 

The best photo I've found showing the rear panel of the AT-ST cockpit, including a cameo from the father of Star Wars: 

The kit pilots themselves are a little odd. They are amazingly molded, and look great from the front. Actually more detailed than the movie actors' uniforms. But from above, how they'll be seen in the model, they look weird. Arms are too long, not detailed, and the legs and boots are oddly big, out of scale. Mittens and moon boots. Confused

I haven't put pilots in any of my aircraft either, preferring the "parked, action ready" look, so I opted to omit them. That meant removing the attachment points on the seats meant for the pilots (not pictured. Also, a down side of the "press fit" nature of this kit -- pegs and sockets everywhere). Careful work with the No. 11 knife did the job.

The cockpit interior was primed with Tamiya flat black, and then painted with Tamiya XF-66 Light Grey, using the black base to highlight panel joints. Sharpened toothpicks were used to add color details. Black, white and red switches, red dots and green display screens. A few silver highlights. Then several drops of Future were applied to give the "glass" panels some shine. 

I used painted Tamiya tape to create "seat pads" to cover the difficult-to-sand area where I cut away the pilot posts. There's another slot behind the seats (not pictured) that's designed dor the Chewbacca figure to press into for the classic movie pose. Otherwise that area is totally empty (just like the studio model). I added a small panel of styrene painted black as a non-skid plate for the pilots to step on when entering/exiting the top hatch. (It really needs a ladder. Not sure how those guys were supposed to climb in and out of this thing.)

Then of course I had to add the harnesses shown in the photos. Again, Tamiya tape painted and superglued into place. They looked great to my naked eye but a macro photo makes them look pretty messy. Confused

The finished parts before weathering and buttoning up:

Used some pastels to add dirt/dust where I thought the crew would be likely to step. Also a silver Prismacolor pencil to add wear to corners in high-traffic areas. 

Then I assembled the cockpit/turret. This took a bit of care as there's some flex to the front "shell." The assembly when completed is actually quite heavy. There's a lot of styrene in there. 

Next step is to begin painting the major components. Still deciding what color grey to use. Thanks for checking in!

  • Member since
    November, 2009
  • From: SW Virginia
Posted by Gamera on Friday, March 15, 2019 11:35 AM

Oh wow the interior looks fantastic! 

Looking forward to more!!! 

 

PS Yeah, those figures do have some odd proportions... Hmm

"I dream in fire but work in clay." -Arthur Machen

 

  • Member since
    August, 2012
  • From: Parker City, IN.
Posted by Rambo on Friday, March 15, 2019 11:50 AM
This is a great kit I've built it a bit over a year ago my build log is on here. Your build is looking great so far. Then figures are awful odd looking aren't they.

Clint

  • Member since
    September, 2006
  • From: Central Texas
Posted by NucMedTech on Sunday, March 17, 2019 9:14 AM

This is looking nice. Welcome to the world of Bandai star wars kits, this was also my first intro kit. If you have a Hobby Lobby around they have a small selection of kits and the 40% coupon helps.

Stephen

Most barriers to your successes are man made. And most often you are the man who made them. -Frank Tyger

  • Member since
    December, 2002
  • From: Fort Knox
Posted by Rob Gronovius on Sunday, March 17, 2019 5:18 PM

Looks great, I got one myself but have not tackled it yet. As a tanker, these armored ground vehicles were always my favorites from the movies. In the 1980s, I bought every Star Wars kit of a walker, either AT-AT or AT-ST and all of the similar Revell Robotech kits.

  • Member since
    January, 2016
Posted by suomi39 on Friday, April 26, 2019 5:53 PM

Hey guys -- back with an update. Rambo, I did find your WIP thread the other day and it looks like I'm on about the same track as you. Really nice finish on yours -- something for me to aim for. 

With all the sub assemblies complete, it was time for a full black-basing prime job. Which meant a lot of supergluing toothpics to small parts. Probably not needed in retrospect -- this is my first time with such a complex kit (compared to aircraft) so I was worried about not getting into all the nooks and crannies. Turns out it's not that hard. But this way's thorough, at least. 

Handling the parts afterward proved tricky because the Tamiya acrylic paint doesn't stick to the unprimed Ban Dai plastic all that well. On the other hand, one thing I really like about Tamiya acrylics is that they dry to the touch almost instantly, so I was able to get the base color coat of Medium Sea Gray on right away.

I think I tend to over-cover my shade coats, and having all the parts separate made it hard to visualize what was shaded/hidden and what should have been lighter. Oh well. Something to fix with post-shading. 

A quick blast of Future then, of course, and a quick mock-up. 

I forgot to take photos of the side turret gun beforehand, but I did chop the barrels and replace with brass rod to give them a bore. Not much other detail to add on this kit, to be honest.

And now, experimenting with some oils. VERY CAREFULLY, as the word is that mineral spirits and enamel thinners can weaken or even dissolve this Ban Dai plastic. I stuck some sprue bits in a cup of the MS and didn't notice anything, and I'm using a barely-damp brush with odorless MS on a well-sealed (with Future) model, so I'm hoping I'm safe. 

 

 

  • Member since
    December, 2002
  • From: Fort Knox
Posted by Rob Gronovius on Saturday, April 27, 2019 10:29 AM

Are the legs articulated and posable or must they be built in a frozen pose like the old MPC kit?

  • Member since
    January, 2016
Posted by suomi39 on Saturday, April 27, 2019 1:36 PM

Rob Gronovius

Are the legs articulated and posable or must they be built in a frozen pose like the old MPC kit?

 

 

As designed they do articulate to a degree, allowing for a variety of poses. Trimming a few small tabs would allow more hip/knee articulation at the expense of strength, though that wouldn’t matter if you were going to fix it in a final position.

One of the studio models used in RotJ had a different kind of articulation that allowed the legs to angle in toward each other at the feet, with the feet pivoting to match, and the kit doesn’t allow for that, though I’ve seen some other builds that customized the kit to allow for it. 

  • Member since
    August, 2012
  • From: Parker City, IN.
Posted by Rambo on Saturday, April 27, 2019 5:32 PM
Looking great! I had the plastic crack in a few places due to my clear coat, I just painted it up as battle damage think it improved it myself lol

Clint

  • Member since
    November, 2009
  • From: SW Virginia
Posted by Gamera on Monday, April 29, 2019 11:55 AM

Wow! I have to assemble parts before painting. If I did it your way I'd lose half of them!

"I dream in fire but work in clay." -Arthur Machen

 

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