Yeah, I built two of them! What you see here is the classic silver AT-AT model, and the Disney Parks Exclusive colored version. And while this is the first time I’ve built the colored one, the silver is a replacement for a model that got heavily damaged a while back when I had the unfortunate incident with poorly designed shelving supports… my poorly designed shelf. I didn’t feel like it was feasible to do a good job repairing that AT-AT (and I had other ideas for it… more on that later), so I got a replacement set for it… and it’s just been sitting in my backlog forever. Until I decided to build the colored one, and it seemed appropriate to build both at the same time!
The paint job on the AT-AT is rather subtle, and I’m not sure if the photographs do it justice. It’s got a very textured feeling, and is quite matte, rather than the glossier paint they’ve used on other models. I rather like the way they did it. I found the paint to be quite resilient, and didn’t have any problem with scratching. However, other than the paint, this Disney Exclusive model does not actually differ from the classic silver version. Which leads to one little surprise that I wasn’t expecting… there’s a part (used 4 times) that ends up with some of the silver side facing out. The horizontal rounded triangle thing at the top / behind each leg, actually has it’s silver side facing out from the body, as a result of the much larger section of that part below it needing paint on the other side to be on the outside of the model. It’s kinda hard to explain, but it’s there.
Of course, this identical model design, and pretty much identical instructions, means that the build process is pretty much the same: identical. Of course, that doesn’t mean I built them both the same exact way… I made unique mistakes on each one. Because that’s how I roll. Now, this is one of the few Star Wars models that I would say are potential starter models, but only for the more ambitious. For the most part it’s straight folds, with a few cylinders, and a few partial cylinders. With some patience, I believe a new builder could tackle this model. The toughest part might be, as it was for me the first time I built it, shaping the main body / torso correctly. All the folds and angles on this section are a bit of guess-work, as they aren’t simple 90 degree right-angles. And, because I’m me, I put that section together a bit differently than the instructions suggest. But I’ll get to that later. In general, though, this is a nice, easy, and relaxing build.
Before I get into the details of this build and any pointers or tips, I do want to give a brief warning to anyone that knolls out their parts beforehand. There are a LOT of similar parts in this build, specifically when it comes to the legs. Similar, but not identical. And it’s very easy to get them mixed up. Unfortunately, if you do, it just won’t go together correctly. Trust me, I know. So take great care in making sure that you are using the right parts. I guess that actually is good advice whether you are knolling ahead or clipping it out as you go.
So, don’t be scared by the next graphic, the cockpit (or head) is not really that hard to build. I just have a few pointers to make it even easier. First off, don’t fold the four sides of the head (part 3) down completely at the beginning like it says. Why? Because you’ll have to spread these sides back out to insert the tabs from the bottom of the cockpit (part 8) through the slots, and one thing you don’t want to do with Metal Earth models is fold an edge more than you have to, lest you weaken it and/or break it. In this same area, I would suggest that the bottom of the two tabs on each of the side-mounted cannons (parts 2 and 4) should be folded instead of twisted. And specifically, it should be folded upwards, towards the other tab. If you twist it or fold it down, it can get in the way of connecting the bottom section (part 8) of the cockpit.
Now when you do get to the point where you are attaching the bottom section of the cockpit, you’re life can be made much easier by angling the tabs on this part upwards just a bit (maybe 10 to 15 degrees). All four sides of the rest of the cockpit fold down with slots for these tabs, and having the tabs angled up makes it easier for them to slide through the slots as they arc down, especially as the sides don’t meet the bottom at a 90 degree angle.
Next up, while building the legs, you encounter some trim / edge-strips that need to be curved to follow the contours of the leg, which is actually a design style that is fairly common in Metal Earth models. Often, the instructions will indicate that you should fold the trim over, and then curve the bits that are curvy to match the contour. I’ve found that it’s usually easier for me to get a basic, best-guess curve applied to these trim sections before folding it over, and then fine-tuning it after the fact. For one thing, this allows me to use a drill-bit or other object to help form the curve, whereas it’s much harder to use that kind of tool once the trim / edge is folded over.
The next bit of advice I have for you is for building the feet. I really wish the instructions had one of those Pay Attention pointy fingers that they use when there’s an important detail that you might miss. Because there’s an important detail on this step that is really easy to miss. Sorry, couldn’t help myself. Anyways, when you are securing the top collar (part 27) to the top of the foot (part 28), you need to make sure to align the gaps (in the top of the collar) correctly with the two slots that end up inside the collar. The correct alignment is such that if you imagine those two inner slot were lengthened a lot, then they would pass under those gaps. Because what happens is the sem-circle sections of the ankle joints do exactly that, and they have the tabs that go in those slots. Also, make sure you don’t accidentally flip part 28 over.
Finally, we come to what I found to be the most frustrating part of this build the first time around… building that main cargo section of this beast. It seems like such a simple shape that it couldn’t be that confusing. And yet it was. My biggest problem was figuring out how to fold those thin strips along the side-flaps and align the tab and slot at the same time. Because my approach was to fold the sides down, and then fold those strips in and slot the tabs. I was fairly new to building, and I just had to wing it, because the instructions just show the before and after of that part, with none of the steps for forming it.
So, with much more experience with these models under my belt, I figured out a much better way to form this section than what I tried the first time around. You see, the key was to fold those edge strips down first. All of them… the ones attached to the center side-flaps, and the ones that are between the three “top” sections along the middle. For those latter three, I folded the strips down, and then folded the front and back sections back up a bit. As for how much to fold, take a look at the 360 view on the Metal Earth website, and look at how much the top strip is folded down. The side strips are folded over just as much.
Now, my next bit of explanation is going to differ a little from how I did this in the video of my build. Because I did things a little differently, but only because I was somewhat confident in my estimates on the folds, and I hate spreading assemblies apart to fit over a part with tabs that need to go through slots in either side of the assembly. I really don’t like it. Enough to accept that some of the tabs in my finished model would not actually be fully secured. But I’ll get to the specifics of that in a bit. First I want to continue with how to form the part as if you were following the instructions as they are…
So, anyways, the next step is to fold down the side-flaps on the front and back sections. It’s not quite a full 90 degree fold-over, if I recall correctly, but it’s not critical to get this perfect at this point. once you’ve done that, you can fold the tabs on the thin strips on the center side-flaps. You’ll want to fold these tabs downwards so they point straight down (90 degrees to the surface of the side flaps. Having done this, you should be able to now fold this center side-flaps down, and slot the tabs through the slots in the front and back side-flaps, fine tuning the angles and alignment as needed. When you are done there, you can fold the forward-flap down a little and attach the cockpit & neck assembly. And don’t forget to fold down the tiny little flap at the back.
With that, you are ready to complete the assembly. At this point, you need to take the body and marry it to the legs and butt assembly. Start by aligning the tab on the butt through the back slot, then spread the sides open so the tabs in the base can fit inside (this is the part I hate doing). Once you get all three tabs on each side aligned, you should be able to fold down the forward-flap the rest of the way and align that tab and slot. Finish by folding and securing all the tabs (if you haven’t done so along the way) and you are the proud owner of an awesome little AT-AT model. In all likeliness, it won’t want to stand perfectly on those feet, but I found that you can angle some of the “toes” of the feet back down a little to help make it stand in a balanced fashion.
Now, if you haven’t already figured out what I did differently, it’s fairly simple. I basically waiting until the very end to fold down those center side-flaps. I secured the tabs on the butt, forward-flap, and front and back side-flaps to the leg/butt assembly while those middle side flaps were still up. I then folded the tabs on those center side-flaps to just past a 90-degree right angle to the surface of the flap, where both tabs lean in a little. Then I folded the flaps down and slotted those tabs. I couldn’t secure those tabs, because there was no way to access them (well, I could have secured the tabs on one side, but for consistency, I left both sides unsecured). However, by having those tabs angled in a little, they kinda hold it tightly closed. And I don’t really think much will cause it to open back up spontaneously.
Wow, that last section about forming part 30 was really hard to try to explain well. I hope that maybe my color diagram for identifying which parts I was talking about with my made-up terminology helped! Anyways, this is still one of my favorite Metal Earth models, thanks to it’s simplicity and iconic results. AT-ATs are just so distinctive, and Fascinations did a good job capturing them. My build of the exclusive colored version took me roughly 2 hours and can be viewed in the video below. I didn’t record the build of the silver version, so I don’t know the exact build time. Oh, and I did notice that the colored version seems to be a hair smaller, but that could just be a result of slight differences in how I folded things during the builds.