Some builds go well. Some builds do not. My build of the Monster Truck was one of the latter. I think the result turned out fairly well, but I have only myself to blame for the parts that didn’t. And the one thing that I was most worried about before starting the build? Yeah, it’s the part that looks the best! Anyways, here’s my ode to the truth that everyone screws something up at some point. And the fact that I abuse that truth (I’m just usually better at hiding the results / recovering from it).
Now, before I get into how I screwed up in several different ways, let me say that I do think this model looks good, and it’s got some crazy-cool details in it. I mean, look at the layered suspension on this thing! And those treads on those tires… that’s some aggressive treads. It’s fun, it’s eye-catching, and it looks like it means business. And it’s also pretty big for a classic sized Metal Earth model.
So, now on to the fun stuff. How did I screw up, you ask? Well, I want to reiterate, it was almost entirely my own fault. And it was because I did some things that I knew I shouldn’t. Things I warn new builders not to do. I didn’t pay close attention to the instructions. And I made assumptions about how things were going to go, without checking the instructions. And I didn’t reference the 360 when the instructions were ambiguous. Unfortunately, not all at the same time. This resulted in two rather frustrating struggles near the end of the build, and one still-present-mistake-that-I-haven’t-fixed-because-I-just-can’t-even-but-maybe-another-day.
But before all that, I had troubles because of my stupid, fat, fingers. You see, the build starts out with that impressively detailed suspension / undercarriage. And while it’s layered, and detailed, and awesome, it’s also delicate and fragile-like (it’s easy to get all bent out of shape). It can also be a nightmare of balancing acts, if you insist on folding tabs, rather than twisting them (again, that’s on me). And those things are not very compatible with someone who’s fingers are comparable with sausages. Anyways, on to the individual call-outs!
When it comes to starting the work on the undercarriage, I deviated from the instructions in a few different ways. First of all, I formed part 5, the first part, with the Not-Engraved side up, despite the instructions labeling in a way that suggests the Engraved side should be up (though the shading seems to be consistent with the way I approached it). I did this because I didn’t think any of the engravings were cosmetic, and folds are easier when folding with the etched line on the “outside” of the fold. Similarly, I handled parts 6 the same way, despite the suggestion in the instructions. And on parts 7, I rolled them smooth side out, and I secured them to parts 6 before securing parts 6 to part 5. I changed that order up because I prefer not to form cones around existing parts when possible, and there was enough room to insert the tab-laden ends of part 5 through part 7 and into the slots of part 6. Oh, and for the long strips with tabs on the ends on the outside of part 5… I didn’t straighten out the ends to the folded over flaps on part 6. I didn’t want to create a twist in the metal, so I just left them angled through the slots when securing.
When you come to the part where you are supposed to form the sides of the undercarriage, you’ve come to where I got good and confused by some ambiguity, and I did not go check the 360 like I should. So as it stands, my build still has this part wrong. You see, the horizontal bars at the bottom of each side appear to bend differently on each of the two sides. On part 11, they appear to bend at a slight angle upwards in the second part of that step, while Part 14 appears to have them bend at a slight angle down. I made the incorrect assumption that the first one was correct, and that they were both supposed to have a slight bend upwards. In fact it’s the opposite. In addition to this, the diagram appears to suggest there is a cut in the vertical part of these bars adjacent to where they attach to the whole assembly. This cut is not present, and so getting that bend in there is somewhat challenging. However, I believe it was my mistake with which direction they bend that caused me the most headache, as I constantly had to attempt to straighten them out in the lateral direction throughout the rest of the build.
Attaching those sides to the rest of the undercarriage is a bit crazy, especially if you accidentally secure one of the tabs to the wrong slot. Not that I did that. I totally did not do that. And I totally did not distort the rest of the undercarriage to get the middle tab aligned before realizing that I had done that. Also, I’m lying to you right now. But it is still somewhat difficult getting things aligned correctly. And when you do get it all attached, the result is not very sturdy… it kinda flops about, because there’s nothing to establish strong right angles at this point. I kinda wish I had jumped ahead right here and attached the cab interior to the tabs on the top, and then come back to secure the parts 9/10 subassemblies and parts 15. Because it’s fun trying to hold all that together while lining up all the slots and tabs for those. Of course, I didn’t do that, so I don’t know if that approach would have it’s own drawbacks.
Another, though decidedly minor, place where I disagree with the instructions comes when forming the smaller of the inside cylinders of the wheels. It says that you can twist the tabs in parts 16 that pass through parts 17. And you might be able to do that, I don’t really know. But I’ve been bitten by colliding twisted tabs when I followed that direction while forming similar wheels before, because the two inner cylinders of the wheels come very close together once the halves of the wheel are joined together. So my advice is to fold these tabs, just to be on the safe side.
The next thing I want to call out is regarding the steps where you pre-form the most striking feature of the model: the super-tready tires/wheels. These steps take a while. And they are repetitive. And monotonous. And the instructions appear to leave out any indicator of and additional feature that takes up a lot of your time during these steps: curving the sides of the treads after folding them down. See, the treads are slightly curved. And they account for this in the way the side flaps are attached. But after folding those flaps over, you need to curve the middle in on one side of each tread, and the ends on the other side. It’s meticulous and monotonous work. And while it does give a cool looking result, I would rather them have put the slight curve in along the “vertical” plane of the treads, so they wouldn’t end up poking out/away from the tire surface in the middle of the tire. But that’s just me nitpicking.
Speaking of the final position of those treads, I was dreading that part of the build. I was expecting it to be the most frustrating thing. Because I had a lot of trouble with the treads on the Farm Tractor model’s tires colliding and blocking each other. I was not looking forward to four giant tires worth of treads. But it turns out that it was a lot easier this time (at least for me). And that’s entirely because those treads do not fold down perpendicular to the sides of the tire, instead the fold down and lay on the tire at an angle. That angle allows you some leeway to push the treads to the side to get them flat, and then pull them back to the middle. Unfortunately, I have a friend who reportedly had a lot of trouble in this area because they didn’t realize the treads laid down at an angle.
Of course, that’s not to say that it was easy. It was just easier than the treads on the tractor. I will give you a few pointers to make some of this part go more smoothly. Pointers I figured out as I went. First, I would suggest double-checking the tread pattern on the cylinder of the tire before you begin. It sucks to realize that you put that on backwards on one of the tires after you start folding down the treads. I think you might be able to guess how I know that. In addition, I would suggest starting the bends, just slightly, on the half of the tires that is attached to the rest of the model before you attach it. This makes it easier when dealing with the treads that are beside the framework of the rest of the model, as it can be some tight quarters.
Then when you do begin folding over the treads, pick a starting point and fold two opposing/adjacent treads to the middle and lining them up with the pattern on the tire’s cylindrical base. Then proceed to fold down treads from both sides in alternating fashion, moving “away” from the “direction” the two treads are pointing. My first instinct was to go with the treads, but it’s hard to align the treads you’re pushing down when all the treads around that area are still sticking up. You end up with much more elbow room (or would that be knuckle room?) when you proceed in the other direction.
Finally, we come to the part of the instructions where I didn’t pay attention, and I assumed how things were going to be attached. Not exactly at the same time, but in close proximity, nonetheless. And it all has to do with building and attaching the body of the monster truck. The first of the two big mistakes was with the sides. I completely missed the fact that the very back section of these panels is supposed to be curved. And in my defense, it’s kinda easy to miss. However, that curve is kinda important when it comes to attaching the bed cover/tailgate section. And I didn’t notice it until that point, and I had to try to introduce that curve with the body sides already secured to the model. They ended up kinda janky.
My second mistake in this area was all me. You see, I decided to go ahead and assemble all the body subassemblies before attaching them to the model. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. What was a bad thing was that I assumed that they were attached to the model in the order that they are assembled. So that had me putting on the sides, then the hood, followed by the bed cover/tailgate and finishing with the top of the cab. And guess what? You can’t attach the cab top last, because the rails on the bed cover/tailgate section block you from doing so. Trust me. I really, really tried. Ended up having to partially remove the bed cover, attach the cab top, and then reattaching the bed cover.
And that concludes my recount of how I borked up a whole bunch on this model. I still think it turned out pretty well, except for those curves on the side body panels. And of course, the undercarriage mistake. I’m not feeling like fixing it at this time, but may come back later and correct it (might even do a “case-study” post about fixing it). However, as of right now, it’s done enough. The build took me a little over 4 and a half hours, including all the mistakes, spread across 4 build sessions, which you can see in the YouTube playlist below: