Concluding the build of the ICONX Western Star 4900 Log Truck and Trailer, I present to you… the Trailer (and logs)! Now, you can build this puppy without the Trailer, from the Metal Earth classic-scale line, but the Trailer really completes the picture, so I suggest you go for the ICONX version. And you don’t need to get both (unless you really want to), because the Truck is identical between the two.
Apologies on the weird yellowishness of the video above, I don’t know how I managed to get that odd coloration, but if I try to take it away, it alters the colors of the logs and the tail lights. Anyways, this part of the build appears to be quite a bit simpler than the Truck, and in many ways it is. But it’s still full of details. It’s just that quite a bit of the detail is actually hidden by the logs on the truck. Luckily, the logs are loose, so you can remove them and admire all the details. Unfortunately, the logs are loose, so they slide around really easily. Still, I prefer them being loose. And though I kinda wish they were thinner logs, with tapering and not all the same size, I understand why they went this route. And their size doesn’t seem so huge in person.
Now, before I get into the review of the building process itself, I want to touch on something I forgot to include in my last post. My least favorite thing about this build, and other large builds like it, really. It’s locating and clipping out multiple-use parts that are colored with almost-the-same color (with the slightest variations in shade and/or hue) as other parts on the parts map that are near-identical in shape and size. I understand that, with models this complex, you quickly run out of highly diverse color options, and end up needing to use close shades and hues. And I really appreciate Metal Earth’s use of colors to help identify multiple instances of a specific part, so don’t get me wrong there (of course, I’m sure some of you who are color blind might disagree with me on that). And I can also see the line of reasoning where you might like the organizational idea of having like parts (such as all tire treads) use the same base color, just with variations. I do.
But when it comes to trying to find the right part for a given step, I don’t want to have to decide if the part I’m looking at that is colored lightish green, is a long strip, with two tabs sticking out on each side is the right part, because there is another part that is colored lightish green, is a long strip, and has two tabs sticking out on each side, but smaller in each dimension by less than a millimeter (see parts 80 and 85 above). I would much prefer that, when similar colors need to be used in the parts diagram, they be used on parts with very dissimilar outlines, so I don’t end up second-guessing myself.
Anyways, back to this particular half of the build. It’s quite a bit easier than the Log Truck half, but still not a simple build. The frame of the trailer appears fairly basic, but it’s more complicated than you realize. and while the logs are just really long cylinders, they are really long cylinders that connect together in the middle. And you have more of those crazy-detailed tires, which I didn’t really talk much about in the previous post (though I should have).
So, what makes that frame so complicated? Well, other than it being rather a lot of narrow bits of metal joined together in many joints, making it rather flimsy-flopsy until you get it all together, the initial shock-challenge is in the little cross-bars that hold the core together. Those are some tiny parts. And they all have flared out sections on either end. Getting that stuff shaped right is somewhat challenging, but very exacting/exhausting. And I had to give up on my general “no twisted tabs on the outside” policy for the one at the very front, because the area you are working with is just too small to fold the tabs anywhere, really.
After that, you get to return to the process of creating the four sets of double-wheels. This is very similar to the process you go through in building the Log Truck, but with slightly different sizes / colors. And, for some reason, they designed these wheels so that you can actually line up the gap in the strip that joins the two tires with the join in the tire treads. I really like that foresight, and am a little surprised they didn’t implement it the same on the tires of the Truck. But here’s a key thing not to do: fold the tabs on the inside faces of the tires outwards. By inside, I mean the side where you are going to join the two tires together with that thin strip that joins the two tires together. If you fold them in / flat against the tire, they will get in the way of that strip, and you won’t be able to join the tires together very well. Trust me. I realized that ahead of time for the Truck, and somehow forgot when building this Trailer. So I had to flip all 16 folded tabs, cause I pre-formed that section in assembly line style.
Once you have all that properly assembled, you get to return to forming the frame, and part of that is mounting the wheels to a part that attaches to the trailer frame. This part has some really narrow edges to fold over, which can be tricky, but the real challenge is folding the tabs of the rectangular wheel “axles.” Thankfully, they are clearly called out in the instructions as tabs that must be folded. Unfortunately, the tabs come in groups of three that are very close together, and two out of each set are very close to those thin edges that need to be folded over. I ended up folding the two parallel tabs the same direction (away from the outer edge of the part), and then folding the one leftover tab down over one of those tabs. It’s a little janky, but it sorta works. Unfortunately, it’s not a tight fit, so the wheels don’t stay perfectly straight. But that’s okay with me. Or at least I won’t let it bother me. Too much.
The final parts of the trailer itself are the top of the frame, the uprights that hold the logs in, and the “tailgate.” None of these are very hard, though the tailgate section does present another section of near-microscopic-edges that need to be folded over, along with a little bit of curving of those super-thin edges. Also, lining all the tabs up when attaching the the top of the trailer frame is a bit of a challenge, especially with the sections that fold-down to create a surface detail for the sides of the frame.
Which brings us to the final part of this build, or technically, the final three parts of this build: the Logs! If you don’t like forming cylinders, then you probably shouldn’t have built this model, cause you’ve already done a tone of them with the wheels. But these cylinders are super-long. Some of the longest cylinders I’ve encountered when building Metal Earth models. Of course, being logs, it’s okay if they aren’t perfectly cylindrical, so that’s a bonus!
I took on an extra challenge with these, having decided that I would rather have all the tabs on the inside, rather than on the outside, as the instructions suggest. This required a little bit more “not following the instructions,” but it worked out. Of course, it helped that I had a bevy of useful tools to pull it off. So how did I pull it off? Well, I think I’m going to list it out as steps, so it’s easier to follow:
- I started off by rounding / curving both halves of each log using a large drill bit. I did NOT close them up along the seem at this time.
- Then I folded the tabs at the end of one piece inwards, as opposed to outwards, as shown in the instructions.
- I then, carefully, inserted the tabs through the slots in the end of the other half, opening up the curve a little to have room to insert the slots. I then folded all 3 tabs.
- I then folded all 4 tabs along the seams inward, a bit past 90 degrees.
- I used my blunted hobby knife to tilt the slots inwards a little too. This makes it easy to seat the tabs.
- I aligned and inserted the center two tabs through their slots, then used a long metal tool to reach in and fold the tabs over enough to get it to stay.
- I repeated the process with the outer two tabs and slots.
- I inserted a slightly smaller drill bit into each end of the log and used it to press the tabs flat.
- Finally, I used the largest size drill bit I could fit inside (and past the folded tabs) to finish shaping the cylinder and flattening out the seam.
- And, of course, I almost forgot… fold the ends of the logs flat to cap the cylinders.
Sounds like a lot of work, right? Well, you don’t really need to do all that, I realized when I had the finished model. Why? Well, because you can (and probably will) hide the seams of the logs by pointing them all in towards the middle or bottom of the stack of logs. In which case, the tabs being on the outside doesn’t matter. Though it would still be nice to get the tabs that join the two halves together folded inwards. Which saves a lot of that effort.
All told, the build of the Trailer took around three and a half hours, just a little shy of half the build time of the Log Truck. Unfortunately, I don’t have all the video of the build, as I forgot to start recording until about half-an-hour into my second build session. Then again, I’m not sure if anyone actually watches these, so no biggy. Here’s the YouTube playlist: