Playing with Star Wars toys was one of my favorite things growing up. After the iconic movie’s release in 1977, I tried to get every toy I could lay hands on. At the time, it was quite a struggle to decide the fate of the occassional $5 or $10 bill from my grandmother, or from mowing a yard.
Star Wars toys were of course always in my sights, but so were plastic models. I spent quite a bit of time wandering between aisles, trying to decide how to best mix and match what my meager budget could afford. Mom was always a bit more patient, as she’d go off to another part of the store and do her own shopping. Dad was the tough customer. He’d stand at the end of the aisle, arms folded, waiting for me to finish my perusal of the plastic offerings.
Eventually I’d trip whatever timer he had going internally, and he’d declare “pick something. We need to get going.” Generally I would go through a few seconds of panic, not sure what to get… and then grab whatever was closest on the aisle I happened to be on.
Tanks, But No Tanks
The one item that I always missed was a tank. My dad had been a tanker in his Army days, so he frequently treated me to tales of his days commanding a multi-ton treaded best. (An M48 Patton, to be precise…) My plastic army man collection had loads of tanks. Everything from the very same Patton my dad drove (the old mass produced, green plastic ones), to more familiar World War II subjects were present in my formations.
But when I played Star Wars… no tanks.
Not that I wasn’t happy with X-Wing Fighters and Land Speeders and Aluminum Falcons 😉 of course. But when I arrayed my Star Wars toys up for mass battles, I really needed something to lead them into the fray. And adding the odd green Patton tank into the mix just didn’t fit.
Even after decades had passed, and my old Star Wars toys lay in a box tucked away under my bed, I occasionally thought “Wouldn’t a Star Wars tank be cool?”
A New Hope… Or Kit, Really
I thought I finally saw the fruition of my hopes when my friend Chris Williams of Gross Models built a Bandai 1/144 scale Combat Assault Tank, featured on his Youtube channel. I thought the tank looked really cool… but the size… so tiny. At 1/144 scale, my poor vision would make painting and detailing quite difficult. So while I was tempted, I had to pass. Even with the trusty Optivisor on, I couldn’t see me making it work.
Happily, a few months later, Fantasy Flight Games released an addition to their Star Wars Legion tabletop game – another Combat Assault Tank. But this one was big enough to see. Faster than you can say “Add TO Cart”, one was grinding its way too me.
The model itself is, well… a model of simplicity. The hull comes pre-assembled, with only the turret hatches, crew various guns, and the orange “lunch containers” 😉 separate. The commander figure has armo parts to allow for him to be standing in the open hatch, or firing one of the two supplied light guns.
Test fitting showed that adding the gun mounting pintle would crowd into the drivers head if he was shown looking out the open hatch, so I decided to close that hatch up. I decided to have a bit of fun with the commander’s pose, using one arm from each “set” to create a pose that looks as if he’s looking and pointing at something. Almost as though he’d spotted some droids that were being looked for.
I left the guns, hatches, and figure off of the model to make painting and weathering easier, adding them on at the very end. I do recommend if you try this method, get the commander’s arms positioned early in the process, so adjustments can be made ensuring a good fit.
Though the hull was pre-assembled, I did need to smooth out a few gaps, primarily along the forward and aft edges where the upper and lower hull meets. The gaps weren’t egregious by any means – a bit of Mr. Surfacer 500, applied heavily and allowed to dry, was enough. Sanded down and painted over, all looked good.
A Bit of Paint
The kit leaves the paint color choice up to the modeler, so I turned to the webs of the internet for inspiration. Things generally appeared to be in a darker gray, which fits the whole aesthetic of the Empire. Dark and dreary. Shades of gray. Whether it is Storm Trooper white, or Darth Vader black, the Empire has all the grays you want! (Except for those guards around the Emperor in their snazzy red. Fashion rebels, I suppose… 😉 )
I opted for a dark gray paint color, giving the entire model a solid coat. I then lightened up the color a bit with white, and did some “semi-modulation” by spraying around the model from about a 45 degree angle. More white was added to the color cup, and a few more bits were highlighted, as well as some surfaces mottled. I wasn’t so much trying to get a proper modulated finish going, but rather to simply break up the monotony of the darker gray in a way that I hoped would enhance the weathering steps to come.
On To The Weatherings
Typically, I’d spend some time writing about how I weathered the model at this point. However, I decided this time I’d present it as part of my “Scale Modeling How-To” video series. My purpose here is two-fold.
First, sometimes the old saying “a picture is worth a thousand words” hold true. Seeing something done is often more helpful than reading a description of it. (Thought that too has some strengths!) Thus this video is my attempt to show a simple weathering method that can be use to both the tabletop gamer and the scale modeler.
Second, I wanted to give a bit of a peak at the kind of videos available for the Patreon subscribers at the “Monkey Enthusiast” and “Monkey Fanatic” levels ($5 and $10 monthly, respectively.) I realize this may be a bit of a “shameless plug”, but modeling is part of my income as well as a hobby. In any event, please do check out what is offered over on Patreon.
And even if you don’t opt for Patreon, I’d be most grateful for a like and subscribe on my Youtube channel.
Anyway… here’s how I weathered my Star Wars tank.
The Other Bits
Once the weathering of the tank itself was finished, I moved on to the few ancillary parts.
The large containers that the tank carried were painted orange, based on the web screenshots I’d seen. I’m not sure what they were supposed to be, but I assume it is the stormtrooper’s lunch containers. They needed a lot of food, because they were always hungry. “Why were they always hungry?” you may be asking yourself. Go on, ask yourself.
They were always hungry because… they kept missing their meals.
Anyway… I painted them orange, and did some sponge chipping with beige. A gloss coat was added and an oil wash applied. Once dry, various acrylic washes in earth tones were applied, giving them a dirty look. I tried not to make them all look the same, with each one having just a bit more weathering than the next.
The commander was painted white, then various black details picked out. A bit of sky gray highlighted those details, and then an oil wash was applied, with the excess being cleaned with a small brush damped in odorless thinner. The movie screenshots showed the figure having upper armor colored black, but I wanted a splash of color to draw the eye to the figure, so I opted for a red stripe on the left shoulder.
With everything painted and weathered, all the parts were glued on, and the model was declared finished.
Fun Kits For Anyone
This is the second Fantasy Flight Games kit I’ve built from the Star Wars Legion tabletop game. My introduction to the series was the AT-RT kit, a really enjoyable little model. Both it and this Occupier tank are worth a look by any modeler, as they’re great kits. Playing the game is not a requirement by any stretch. I’m not a player myself, but I do enjoy the models.
If you’re looking for something different to build, take a look at the Occupier tank. Assembly is a breeze, and while there is a “canon” look, the fact that it’s science fiction means there are really no limits to how it can be painted and weathered. It could even be a great parent/child project, allowing both craft skills and fun gaming to be shared.
I spent a bit of time upon completion of the model just imagining myself as a kid planning my battles. I’d have placed Luke, Leia, and Han upfront to lead the charge across the sandy battlefield that was off the side of our driveway. X-Wings fighters would have been overheard for close air support. But on either flank of the heroes I would have placed my assault tanks. (Never mind they were Empire tanks… they could have been captured! 😉 ) They’d have been ready to charge ahead, turning inward to push through my line of stormtroopers, or outward to “roll up the flanks”.
It would have been a grand scene.
Maybe I’ll just pull that old, dusty box out from under the bed. Just to test the validity of the theory.