So, this is one of those Star Wars vehicles that make you think… wait, where was that? But at least this time, unlike with the First Order Snowspeeder, it was actually in the movie. The treadspeeder is the vehicle that the storm troopers were riding in the chase scene once the team was spotted in the alien color run festival. I fondly remember it as the vehicles that threw the “Wait, they fly now?” “They fly now…” storm troopers into the air.
But once you see all the amazing details and look of this model, you can see why Fascinations decided to make a model from this vehicle. It may not have a big part in the movie, but it’s got a lot of character. Keeping true to the asymmetric style of Star Wars (asymmetric in the details, but generally balanced on the whole), there is a lot to unpack in this crazy model.
Now, it’s no Y-Wing, but it’s still stuffed full of complicated and tiny details. And they are much more spread out than they were on the Y. You’ve got double-layers to the treads, which is really not something you can see in the pictures. You’ve got those many-segmented pop-out guns. You’ve got engine parts, and cooling fins, thrust nozzles, exhaust pipes, fuel lines, bits, bobs, and greeblies aplenty. It was much more detailed than I realized (given that many details are partially “under the hood”), and so much more to appreciate, now that I’ve built it.
Now, it’s probably not surprising that a high challenge level comes along with all that detail. And while I would not put the overall difficulty of this model as being harder then the Y-Wing, there were a couple of parts in this build that stretched my skills farther than I’ve done before. Enough that it reminded me of when AnimateOrange and I were chatting, and discussing whether we would be able to keep up if Metal Earth models got more complicated than the Y-Wing. At the time, I was somewhat confident that I would survive a little longer. But some of the teeny-tiny multi-faceted all-in-one parts in this model had me questioning that. Because if they get much smaller and complicated at the same time, I may not be up to the challenge. I’ll call out those parts as I get to them, so you can know what I’m talking about.
Once again, though, I don’t want to scare you away from this model. It’s tough, but it’s not impossible. And if you are not a perfectionist, then these parts are not as scary. If you can say “good enough” fairly easily, then go for it. I just punish myself with my own expectations, and would never hold anyone else’s builds to the standard I hold my own. Not because I’m better or anything like that. I’m just stubborn and want to “get it right.” But that’s me, and I’m a bit insane, so I don’t expect other people to be quite as insane as I am. Anyways, I should probably move on from discussions of my sanity, shouldn’t I?
So, having said that, I think they decided to try to scare you with the size of the second part in the model. This thing is tiny, but has ten folds in it. Ten teeny, tiny folds. Make sure to look ahead and see how it’s attached to part 1, as the smaller of the rectangular segments sits on a different surface than the larger one, at roughly a 45 degree angle. I tried forming it following the steps in the directions, but the tight spaces made it hard. Luckily, this is part of the side of what I like to call the treadbody, and so I figured out an easier way to do it when forming it for the mirrored side. Basically, I formed the innermost folds first, get the angle approximately right, and then forming the rectangular solids after that.
Alright, so one cool thing that I got as a result of this build is a new forming technique. I figured it out while building the second side-panel of the tread body, but it applies to the first, too. Anyways, the technique I figured out was for part 4, which is used for both sides. In this part, you have to fold a squared-off U shape, but it’s a really narrow U. So narrow that my tweezers are too thick to complete the second fold at a proper 90 degrees. On top of that, it’s formed across several strips with gaps in-between, so it’s was hard to get consistent when finishing the folds by hand (fingernail). Which is what I did the first time around.
However, when I came across the part again, an epiphany struck me. Okay, it’s probably not quite to the level worth using that term. But that’s a fun term to use, so I used it. Anyways, to finish it this time, I folded the U over the back (not-sharpened) edge of my hobby knife. Turns out that it was just about the right size for the gap I needed. I even pulled out the side-panel that I’d already completed and found a way to do it to the part 4 that was already attached to that one. It left all those strips / fins nice and even with each other. This technique became useful in other places during the build as well.
So, before I move on, I’d like to say that the scale of this folded U is rather a good introduction to this model and it’s challenges. Most of the challenges to this model are a result of the scale of the details. Some of these part segments (surfaces between folds) are just so darn tiny. It’s almost as if these Star Wars models were designed at ICONX size, and then scaled down to fit on classic Metal Earth sheets. The other side of the complexity in these builds is a tendency to use a single part with a lot of folds rather than multiple parts joined by tabs and slots. Which makes for some complicated folding.
Moving along, the next frustration for me was with part 6 (mirrored as part 18 on the other side). Fascinations was rather clever with this part, having it insert through a slot in part 3 (and part 16, respectively), giving the idea that more is going on inside this assembly than appears. To accomplish this, though, you must add a curve along the slotted portion, which is rather difficult to estimate, and the picture doesn’t help. It looks like a nice even curve along the entire length of the slotted section, but I found that it fit better (the second time around) if I left a bit of the end of the slotted section straight, and used a tighter curve. BUT, before you even get to that part, make sure to notice the initial folds indicated in these steps. It’s hard, because it’s so small, but there are a couple of 90 degree folds between the slotted section and the base used to attach it to the rest of the assembly. It’s really easy to miss. I did, at first. And it was a lot harder to fold those after having folded up the base. So, yeah, fold those first, then curve the segment, then fold up the base – that’s the order I used for the second side.
Now we come to the final beastie of the side-panels on the treadbody, the guns (parts 10 and 20). Oh man, the guns. Each of these mirrored parts has eighteen folds in the forming. Noticing a pattern yet? At least that makes for less tabs to deal with, I guess. Anyways, like before, I tried the fold order as indicated in the instructions on my first attempt (part 10) and then used my own approach on the second attempt (part 20). I found that it was difficult to assemble the “square tubes” in the order suggested, as the handling became difficult as I went. Of course, the handling is somewhat of an issue no matter how you approach it, but I found the order shown in the graphic below to work better for me.
The rest of assembling the treadbody side-panels seemed fairly straight-forward. Lots and lots of folds, and I never could get the gun assemblies to be mounted perfectly straight, but it wasn’t really that confusing, other than estimating the fold angles at times. It seemed like approximately 45 degrees was a pretty common angle, though. If I’m remembering correctly.
The next section to build is the pilots seat and center body of the speeder. Which is pretty straight forward again, with the exception of a couple of areas. The first one is the part that had me revisiting my conversation with AnimateOrange. I don’t really even know what this part (27) is supposed to be. But it’s tiny, it’s complicated, and it’s another all-in-one part. It was so crazy, to me, that I stopped and took a photo of it, which you can see below (size compare to the tip of the stock ICONX tweezers). That thing is all one piece, octagonal in body, with an octagonal cone on one end (with a tip pointing out of the middle) and two flaps that close on the other end, but with a little T-shaped piece sticking out of the middle. And it’s freak’n tiny! I can’t believe it turned out the way it did, I was expecting it to be so much worse.
The next frustration were these two tiny little nubs (part 38) with ends that are supposed to be rounded. Except that the sections to be rounded are so small that I couldn’t actually do much rounding at all. They look like crap on my build, and I’ve just decided that I’m okay with that. Also, they ended up getting knocked out of straight and are kinda loose. But again, I’ve decided that I’m okay with that. Because this is a tough build, and I’m proud to have finished it, even with the glaring mistakes. Don’t get me wrong, I make mistakes all the time. I just usually try to fix them. Not this time, though.
The next section of the build I like to think of as the thruster assembly, and it’s got a few surprises in store for you, and some of the parts are rather thin and easy to mangle while handling the model (I’m looking at you, parts 39 and 42). That being said, the most intriguing part to me is the fact that the very intricate thrust nozzle, which has several parts all by itself, is barely visible when the model is fully assembled. In fact, I ended up forgetting to get a good shot of it for the gallery above, because I forgot it was there. But fear not! For I took a photo of it at work, with poor lighting and a cubicle wall background!
Anyways, I am glad to report that, while that thrust nozzle is rather complicated and multi-layered, they did something in this section that I greatly appreciate – they used long slots in the cylinder (48) that you have to wrap around the rings (46/47) in the nozzle. It made fitting everything in place so much easier. Unfortunately, one thing they didn’t seem to take into account was closing up the cylinder with the tab on the inside (by preference for aesthetics), where it ends up colliding with one of those rings, due to the location of the slots. So you are probably better off folding the tab over on the outside of this particular cylinder. But I really do dig the layered approach to this thruster, which gives it a very nice look. Just wish it wasn’t so hidden in the end.
And the last bit of this section is mainly forming what I think of as an exhaust pipe, as well as either a radiator or just a thruster protection plate or something. For the exhaust pipe, it’s not that difficult of a process (compared to some of the challenges in this build) if you choose to follow what’s shown in the instructions. If, however, you are insane (like me, for instance) you might notice that the “front” end of this exhaust pipe appears to have tapered flaps all around it, and decide to do something with that. Because it just so happens that you can bend all those flaps in a little, and then the smaller cylinder at the far front can be centered relative to the larger cylinder that is the main body of this exhaust pipe thingy. It’s a bit of a challenge to get all those folded just right, but it results in a great appearance.
Unfortunately, that great appearance was somewhat detracted from by the way this part is attached to the radiator / base plate, which attaches to the bottom of the main thruster. Once again, we have the situation where there are two tabs that come off different edges of a part, but the slots they connect to are lined up together. In this case, it’s theoretically possible to bend the tabs in such a way that this will line up correctly. I just was unable to put that theory into practice, which made the exhaust pipe sit crooked, and then when the two parts are attached to the main thruster, the crookedness of the exhaust pipe is pressed up against the thruster side, and the result is that the plate / radiator / whatever thing ends up wonky looking. And it’s frustrating. But oh well.
And then there is attaching that whole assembly to the pilots seat section we already completed. This seems like it should be fairly straight-forward, but I had some trouble with clearance between the exhaust pipe and the thin bar thing that runs across the bottom (part 38, I believe). As in, they both wanted to occupy the same physical space. I was able to bend part 38 out of the way a little, and twist the exhaust pipe a little to the side, and wedge them in against each other. After that, I tried to straighten everything back out as best I could. And now that I think about it, this collision is probably contributing to the wonkyness of the radiator / base plate thingy. Oh well, it is what it is.
The next stop in this build is a bit of “body work” as you form the cover that goes over the thrust assembly, as well as the passenger seat that sits atop it. The body work itself is fairly easy, at least in comparison. I do really dig how they have the two flaps on either side fold under and create a depth layer without using any tabs, that was pretty creative on the model designer’s part. The only real challenge in this part is the seat, of all things. In particular, I found it hard to form the seat with a semi-circle on one end, and a rounded-end rectangle on the other end. The transition between the two ends is rather difficult to accomplish.
Guess what? I forgot, there is one really easy section of this model! No, really, there is! It’s assembling the tread body by joining the side panels with the tread itself. And what’s really cool (and I’ve mentioned already) is that there are two layers to the tread. There a narrow inner layer that is set like a millimeter or two inside the wider outer layer. I’m not sure exactly why they did this, and it’s near impossible to get a photo of (enough that I just didn’t include one), but it sure makes that treadbody solid. Amazingly, they still painted the inner tread, too.
After that, you attach the rear assembly to the treadbody assembly, and then add a couple of body panel strips that also serve to stabilize the connection between the two assemblies even more. And keeping with the lovely asymmetry of the Star Wars universe, the two side-panels are not identical here. Nothing challenging to note here, really, I just wanted to call out some appreciation for the way the side-panels were used to stabilize and strengthen the model. Go Fascinations!
Entering into the final stretch, you begin the last assembly of the treadspeeder itself – a hood for what I imagine to be the engine that drives the treads, and the instrument panel / steering console. There’s quite a bit of greeblies attached to this section, and the form of the hood itself is a bit confusing in form. But the weirdest part to me is the double-lever control set at an odd angle on the right side of the control panel. It just looks weird, and seems wrong somehow. I mean, I guess that’s what was there in the movie, but it just confuses me. Anyways, I’ll try to share a few of the things I did here to make assembling this a little easier, at least in theory. It appears that I did not execute the shape of the hood correctly, as you can see from the head-on photo in the gallery, it’s a bit wonky.
My first tip is to give the lengthwise folds on the hood just a slight fold before you start attaching all the greeblies (including the center line). I kinda think of this like breaking in a new pair of shoes. You break in the fold lines by getting them started, and when it comes time to do the real fold, they’re primed and ready to go. You may have seen me mention adding slight pre-folds before, but I don’t think I ever explained why, so… that’s why.
As for the greeblies, be prepared for some tiny parts with many folds. This was one place where my new “fold over the back side of the hobby blade” technique was very useful. Other than that, the only advice or comment I can make is that I know that I’m bad about mangling stuff while handling the model, so I deferred attaching parts 74 and 75 until after I’d folded down the sides of the hood. And when you do fold down the sides of the hood, make sure to note that the front tabs/slots are not secured at this point, but only later. That’s important.
The instrument panel / steering console is mostly a bunch of greeblies stuck on a flat sheet, so it’s pretty easy. It’s also pretty easy to bend some of it out of sorts, so be careful when handling. And, as a bonus, I can tell you that the only time I really disagreed with the fold vs. twist direction on the tabs was here, on part 82. It’s a bit tight to use a twist, and I would suggest that you either twist and then fold, or just fold.
And that brings us to the final part of the vehicle assembly… attaching that hood section to the rest of the model. This is where it’s critical that you didn’t close up that front-section of the hood, because you need to spread the hood out over the tabs sticking out from those odd rectangular protrusions on the top of the treadbody. After doing that and securing those tabs, you need to close up the front. Which I had a lot of trouble with, because it seems like the front of that rectangular section of the tread is a smidge too wide. Seems like maybe it should have been sloped in towards the front. And so the hood has some gaps, is a little crooked, and I wish it looked better. Also, I don’t know if that was my fault, or a flaw in the model. But it’s a small thing, alongside and amazing looking model. I mean, really, your eyes are not drawn to that hood, they’re looking at that awesome tread and pop-out guns, right?
Now, technically, you’re not done with the model at this point, because you have to form the base, but this has to be one of the simplest bases ever. It is designed, like the other vehicle stands in the EP9 series, so that the vehicle rests on it. And like the other stands I’ve done like this recently, I augmented it with magnets, to help keep the model secure. One big one under the base (below where the treads sit) and a couple inside the triangular section that the back section rests upon.
Oh, and I almost completely forgot! I would like to thank Fascinations, again, for sending me this model to review! I find myself blessed to have received several review models close together and am trying to catch up with both my own backlog, and the ones I’ve gotten to review (though I probably would have added them to my backlog on my own, to be honest). Anyways, this insanely detailed treadspeeder took me roughly 6 hours to build, spread across 5 build sessions, which you can see in the embedded YouTube playlist below: