By popular choice on Instagram (and Facebook, accidentally), the Terminator Rev.9 was selected as my “next” build a couple of weeks ago. And so I set out to build this beast. After the brief butterfly interruption, that is. And holy cow, that took a while. At only 3.75 ICONX-scale sheets, it still took me roughly 15 hours to complete this build.
And hopefully, you can see why. This thing is chock full of cylinders, compound curves, bits, bobs, and layers upon layers of detail. Also, a lot of empty space, too. Not to mention freaking tall. Or just freaky, if you ask my wife (technically, she said creepy, but freaky fit in there much better as a play on words, so excuse my artistic license). She also said it was impressive. And I have to agree with her, especially when you get a close up look at those eyes.
I have to say, though, I am seriously impressed with the layering in this model. I have not seen the movie yet (apparently not very many people have, from what I’ve heard) , so I don’t know how close it is to the movie character, but this thing has a lot of depth to it. You’ve got this crazy open chest cavity around this spine with a mix of curved vertebrae and exposed bolts. You’ve got pistons and gears, but also fibrous muscles and odd joints. In some places you’ve got what looks like an exoskeleton, and bare machinery in other areas. And for some reason, a good chunk of the skull / brain cavity is missing. I did confirm, from the trailers, that this is accurate to the movie, so I think that might come into the plot somehow. But I don’t know.
I suppose you will not be surprised if I tell you that this build is a challenging one. But you may be surprised when I tell you that it’s probably not as tough as some of the new Star Wars models from Metal Earth. It’s more exhausting, and takes a lot longer, but there aren’t very many super-small or super-complex formations. Excepting the complex curvatures, of course. It’s entirely possible that I’ve gotten so used to the challenge of various curves that they don’t seem as difficult anymore, so much as time-consuming. And, to be fair, it’s probably true that this model took as long as it did because of all the curves. And some mistakes. Because I almost always make mistakes (for instance, you may have noticed that my build have a definite tendency to lean a little. Don’t know why, and can’t get it to not lean, but as long as I set it up to be viewed from an angle instead of straight-on, it looks good!).
Unfortunately, with as long as this build has taken, I’m not sure I can give a full accounting of what to watch out for, and where I struggled. I probably should have been writing this review as I built it, but I wasn’t. So I’ll just have to hit the highlights (or lowlights, in some cases), and I’ll hope you will forgive me. And some may appreciate this not being a two-hour-long read like it probably would have been if I had gone full-detail. Of course, there is another thing that will shorten up a lot of this review – the model is fairly symmetric, so that cuts the reviewable build process nearly in half! I will, however, break this review into groupings to match the 14 build sessions / videos, to make it easier to find information (also noting the steps each session covers).
Build Sessions 1 & 2, Steps 1 – 6
During my first two build sessions I completed two assemblies that are mirrors of each other, and make up what might be considered the core of the pelvis and the sides of the spine of this robot. Since they mirrored, I will just talk to the first “side,” and you can assume that the comments apply to the other side as well. These session numbers also correspond to the video Parts in the YouTube playlist that you can find at the end of this post.
And this model started off (in Step 1) with me doubting myself, double- and triple-checking the instructions, and finally a feeling of “I hope I did this right!” Because the process of forming and joining the first two pieces in this model are, in my opinion, rendered incorrectly in the instructions. The instructions make it look as if Part 1 ends up with a different angle on the top and bottom ends of it after rolling, and that Part 2 is attached with a tilt outwards (to the right). However, when you form Part 1, you get a tilt in the same direction at both top and bottom. So when you attach Part 2, it tilts back inwards (to the left), as shown below.
In Step 2, I find that I disagree with the instructions that direct you to twist the tabs to secure the parts, both for cosmetic reasons, and because they can get in the way as you proceed into Step 3. This assembly of cylinders is hard enough to navigate another minor assembly around it without twisted tabs sticking out of it.
Speaking of folding tabs, I do want to give a general statement about the strategy I came to on this build for folding tabs. Normally, I prefer to fold tabs flat to the surface when I do fold, away from the edge of the surface I’m folding to. At least anytime it’s possible. However, with this model, I found that, despite the difficulty of rounding tabs over the edge after folding flat, I preferred to fold towards the edge. For one basic reason: it was more secure. Now, sometimes, in simple areas like the tabs of Part 7 passing through Part 10, I did fold them flat and away from the edge. But more often, much more often than usual, I found myself choosing to fold over the edge, instead of away from it.
For most all of the tabs passing through Part 11 in Step 3, I found that twisting the tabs was acceptable, as this entire area ends up enclosed, though I did choose to fold the two tabs near the edge for Part 19. Also, speaking of Part 19, the way it’s rendered does not seem to match the way it actually looks when attached. And the lack of 360 view online (man, Fascinations, you have spoiled me!) made it just a guessing game. I’m pretty sure that the square pipe is supposed to angle down and forward (towards the viewer in the perspective of the instructions render).
Again, I want to reiterate that the above remarks apply to both Steps 1-3 and 4-6. Just mirror the left/right comments, and reference the Part numbers from Steps 1-3 and find the matching Parts in Steps 4-6.
Build Session 3, Steps 7 – 9a
In this build session, I completed what I think of as the two outer parts of the pelvis (Steps 7 and 8), and then started to put together the core of the torso, doing much of the prep-work for attaching the “vertebrae” (Step 9). I didn’t really find myself having much trouble with Steps 7 and 8, they are pretty straight forward.
On Step 9, I accidentally stopped the build session before I completed the entire step. But what I did complete was fairly simple, though I did change things up a little. I pre-curved the long strips (parts 41 and 42), using the results of steps 1-3 and 4-6 as a guide, before I started attaching all those squares (part 40) to them. I figured that it would be easier to establish a smooth curve without those attached, especially if one plans to twist the tabs on the back side. For all those squares, I folded the tabs away from the edge, like I normally do. However, attaching the strips to the other assemblies was where I ended up deciding to roll back over the edge. When I tried folding flat away from the edge, it seemed to leave things too loose.
Build Session 4, Steps 9b & 10
This build session was quite monotonous and somewhat frustrating as I finished out the spine / vertebrae / torso core. It started with finishing Step 9, attaching the first series of flat vertebrae surfaces. Then you move on to Step 10, where you form the rest of those, and form about a million round vertebrae and attach them to a strip and join that to torso. I might be exaggerating a bit. But this all felt like a big batch of lather-rinse-repeat.
When it comes to attaching all the rectangular vertebrae toppers (Parts 43, 44 and 45) to those square risers, I got really annoyed. Because there is not a good way to do this. I didn’t want to fold the tabs flat over the designs on the surface, so I tried to fold them outwards. But that has it’s own problems, as some of them come pretty close together and tabs get in the way of tabs. And that’s on top of trying to get everything aligned and in place while not mangling the underlying assembly. It’s just annoying, frustrating, and made me wish that I had attached all those before attaching the strip of squares. But I think that might make it hard to secure that strip. It’s a lose-lose.
The rounded vertebrae on the strip that goes on the back are a lot easier to attach, but take a lot longer to form, given that you need to form two curves on each one. But perseverance gets it done. And a bit of a cramp. But when you are done, it looks great! Well, until you bump one and it gets a bit crooked, and you have to straighten it, and then straighten another, etc, etc. I spent so much time straightening all these vertebrae (rectangular or rounded) during, between and after the build sessions. And still, some ended up wonky during the photo shoot above. Oh well.
Build Session 5, Steps 11 – 13
In this session, I attached the last bits of the spine and attached the outer pelvic assemblies (Step 11) and then assembled the head. It wasn’t that terribly hard of a session, but also not easy. It’s just kinda par for the course with this model.
Attaching the pelvic section is made complicated by the angles and the tight spaces. Getting the tabs on part 52 to agree to pass through the slots on the ends of the pelvic assemblies is quite a struggle, as the tabs don’t seem to be at the same angle as the slots. But with some convincing, it can be done.
When building out the head, be sure to fold parts 56, 57, 64 and 65 correctly with respect to which side is engraved. I goofed it up on one of them and had to reverse it. It always seems awkward to fold edge flaps up on the side with etching. And I really like the fact that the eyes are rounded parts set inside the eye sockets, though I had some trouble getting the parts they are attached to secured properly to the cranium. Oh, and I totally goofed up another thing on this section. In particular, I completely glossed over the part where it shows that you are supposed to curve the vertical half of the “brain-pan” (part 62). It can sorta be done after fitting everything together, but it’s not as nice. Oh, and fitting the brain pan into place is quite an experience. Not a fun one.
Build Session 6, Steps 14 – 16
This may have been the most frustrating session of the whole build. It’s also the build session that made me aware of how spoiled I am by the 360-views that Metal Earth provides. Because that sort of thing would have really helped out a lot in these steps, where there was a lot of “I can’t tell how this would look in 3D from the 2D diagram” problems.
This biggest struggle I had with figuring out how things were supposed to align was with several of the little strips that are attached along the edges of the curved body pieces. Some are pretty clearly at 90 degree angles, and those aren’t bad. But there are others where it’s less clear, and/or there aren’t really indications of folding / shaping of the strip. And yet, to get them attached, some forming is required, and the angle affects it. I don’t know if I got them right, but I hope that the 360 video at the beginning of the post might be of use. Oh, and those little flaps on Parts 69/70, the directions didn’t make much sense and I found myself folding them in such a way that they pointed out of the back, which didn’t make sense. So I changed it up, and tried to match them to the flaps in the back-piece above them (folding inwards).
After that, the next big struggle in this session was the neck (part 80). I really like the mechanical muscle style they use here, but it’s quite a struggle to figure out how this is supposed to be shaped, and even when you think you’ve got it right, the edges/tabs don’t line up very well to the chest-plate where it’s supposed to attach. Of course, that could just be me not doing it right. And, frustratingly, when I did get it to an acceptable state, one of the strips that doesn’t secure was on the outside when it should have been on the inside of the collar. So frustrating, but I was able to convince it into place.
And my final word on this build session is a disagreement with the order laid out in the instructions for attaching the chest/back plate and neck assembly to the torso core assembly. In the instructions, it suggests inserting the core through the chest/back plates and securing the tabs at the bottom of the rib cage, then attaching part 81, at the neck, to both assemblies. I was struggling to follow this, getting everything to line up first for the rib cage tabs. So I secured part 81 to both assemblies at the neck, first. Then I secured the tabs at the bottom of the rib cage. The stabilization at the neck made it easier to align the tabs at the ribs.
Build Session 7, Steps 17, 18, 26 & 27
At this point in the build, I really started building out of order with the instructions. I tend to like to build matching things together, so I stuck with my pattern. In this case, that means I started doing a lot of later steps at the same time as their matching steps as I encountered them in the normal flow. So hopefully that explains why the steps for each build session get all weird starting at this point.
The feet, while not simple, are also not really that hard to form. I will say that the instructions leave out a bit of details about some of the folds that are needed, but as you place the parts together, it becomes self-evident how the folds should end up.
The calves, too, are not that challenging, but there are a couple of things I would like to point out. For the shin (part 90), I couldn’t tell from the instructions, but the fold down the length of it works out as pretty much a 90 degree angle. And don’t be a goober like me – attach the cylinder (part 91) to the correct end of the square tube that it attaches to. It’s never fun to have to correct something like that.
And finally, when it comes time to put all the little assemblies together, I chose to interpret the model a little differently than the instructions do. The instructions seem to indicate that the top of the muscle group just hangs out in the void just slightly behind the cylinder. But once I put it all together, it seemed to me like the top of the muscle group seemed just the right size to fit snugly around the square tube of the leg. And it also fits snugly just up under that cylinder rather tightly. So… I don’t know if that’s how it’s actually supposed to be, but it’s how I did it.
Build Session 8, Steps 19 – 21, 28 – 30
I really have to wonder at the way that Piececool breaks down their steps on these builds sometimes. These six steps all together took less time than some single steps from elsewhere in the build. And they definitely don’t make a very big result (basically just the knee joints). But hey, if you just go numerically, it makes it look like I made a lot of progress in short order!
It’s also a blessedly short segment in this review, as I don’t really think there is much to note about completing these steps. They are fairly straight-forward and almost even simple. If you don’t mind curves.
Build Session 9, Steps 22 & 31
And, in direct opposition to the last session, these two steps took a lot longer than I was expecting. Forming the core part of these steps (parts X and Y) is crazy confusing. At least for me. The rest isn’t really easy, either, but attempting to shape part 102 was my personal nightmare.
Why was is a nightmare? Because the shape of the metal fights you the whole way. It tries to curve up, and against the way you need it to go. It doesn’t want to match up with part 103 in any way close to what it shows in the instructions. And getting the little strap at the end/bottom to meet up and slot the tab is infuriating (the edges don’t really meet in a parallel fashion, no matter how I curved the part). In the end, I just had to start putting it together, even though I was not pleased with the shape, and parts 104 and 105 help cinch in the correct form. Though I did struggle with getting all the tabs in part 104 secured on the first calf. The second went much better. Not completely cooperative, of course, but better.
Build Session 10, Steps 23, 24, 32, & 33a
Flipping my expectations, after the experience with the outer shell of the calves, the outer shell of the thighs were not that hard to form. Nor was the inner section, though the muscle bands are a little frustrating to fold, as they have long and narrow triangle sections that don’t want to fold all at once.
It is important to pay attention during these steps, though. For instance, I almost didn’t notice that the outer shell is not closed up at the end of Step 23. It remains open so it’s easier to attach it around the inner section. But the part that requires a lot of attention is the beginning of Step 24. In this step, it’s very easy to get confused about how to attach the parts (109 and 111) on either end of the square tube (part 110). Making this even more difficult is the fact that the assembled section changes rotational orientation for the two renders in the middle, compared to the two renders before them and the two after. So… be careful to keep the parts in the correct orientation – I used the orientation of the curved cutouts in part 109.
Build Session 11, Steps 25, 33b, & 34
This build session might have been the most exciting, other than the final one, of course. Completing the legs and attaching them to the rest of the assembly, you get to see the full scale of this beast. And it’s a lot taller than you would expect from a 3.75-sheet model, even at ICONX sheet scale. Exciting, but also a little terrifying.
But it’s not as bad as it looks. The outer shell of the thighs goes on quite easily. And attaching the legs to the torso requires a little bit of effort in finding a way to access the tabs to secure them well, but it’s also a lot easier than most of the humanoid shaped models I’ve built. The most frustrating part of this section, though, is that the instructions seem to imply that when you attach the legs, the right leg will angle forward and the left back a little. This was not at all the case for me; they attached perfectly even with each other. Which makes aligning the feet up to their placement in the base plate quite a stretch. Literally.
Build Session 12, Steps 35 & 37
And now, beginning the final stretch, this session starts the arms with the upper arm section, which has some really confusing forms and some frustrating order of operations and hard-to-reach tabs. I ended up changing up the order (versus the instructions) on the second one and found it much easier.
So why did I change things up? So that I could wait as long as possible to close up the sides of part 127, the big central part of the upper arm. Because there are a lot of things being attached to that part, and it was hard to get something inside it to reach some of the tabs once I’d closed up the sides. But that means you need to get a little creative, because some of those tabs for securing the sides of part 127 end up behind some of the parts that are attached. That’s not to say I skipped that entirely – I did pre-crease those edges just a little so I could break the fold in (something like 15 degrees).
The surprising reality, though is that you can attach almost every part before closing it up. You just have to leave some of them a little incomplete in the forming department. Parts 129 and 130, can be attached without any special handling (note: I’m not advising attaching them first). For parts 128 and 132, you can form these up most of the way, but don’t bend the ends down – fold them back a little instead. This allows you to fold the tabs that hide under those points over when closing up Part 127, as well as the tabs in Part 134 used to complete the closing of Part 127, and then fold the ends down flush. Oh, and on part 132, wait to fold over the little extension on the other end until after you’ve secured the tabs on Part 134. Unfortunately, the same trick can’t be used on Part 133, though, because the hidden tab is behind the center section of that part, which is secured by tabs and can’t be easily moved out of the way to access the hidden tab for folding. That leaves Part 131, which you can either wait until 127 is closed to attach, or flip up the small rounded flap after attaching to have access to secure the tabs that it can cover up. Oh, and I really don’t like Part 131. I couldn’t even get it close to resembling the shape that the instructions suggest it forms to. I ended up with some large gaps around that oval in the middle.
Build Session 13, Steps 36a & 38
Unsurprisingly, this penultimate build session is focused on forming the lower arms and hands. And while I expected it to be complicated, there was only one section that really threw me for a loop. The rest was not simple, of course, but not as hard as I expected. The part that threw me, though… if I had followed my own advice and read ahead, I might have avoided it – though I can blame some of it on the instructions.
It all comes down to forming and attaching the last side of the fore-arm. The instructions clearly indicate that you should completely form and attach two of Part 144 to Part 145. And I did notice that there were some tab slots that would be covered up by these parts. See, I at least thought ahead. I prepared to handle them like I did the similar parts in the last build session – I bent the lower ends outwards so that I would be able to access the slots. I was prepared!
However, when I moved on to attach that to the rest of the forearm, I noticed something I didn’t consider – the lower end of the assembly of parts 144 and 145 gets tucked in behind the side of the hand. Which, would block me from folding down those sections after securing. I was baffled. Then I looked back at the instructions. Guess what it shows when it comes time to attach that assembly to the rest of the forearm? It shows the outer triangle flaps on the sides of the lower ends as being open, instead of folded in! Magic! So yeah, that part where it indicates to completely form the muscley parts 144… that’s not right. But at the same time, I think it would be hard to get that end of the 144/145 assembly slotted in place with them completely open.
My solution was to fold those ends back down and pry the upper corners of the triangle flaps open a little bit. Then I could fold the tabs over when attaching the assembly, and then squeeze the triangle flaps shut again. I ended up doing something similar on the second forearm – I just left the triangle flaps a little wide – folding them over like 75/80 degrees. Then I used my hobby knife to reach in the crack, fold over the tab, then squeeze the flaps shut with my tweezers. Viola!
Build Session 14, Steps 36b, 39, & 40
Ahhhh… the final session. The big payout. Putting the arms together, and attaching them; Seeing this giant killer robot in it’s full glory. Oh, and missing a little detail in the instructions and having to take the arms apart a little to fix something I forgot to do. Because that’s how I roll.
So what was the ridiculously silly thing I missed that required me to disassemble the arms and reassemble them? I forgot to add the curve to parts 148 and 149. The sad part is that I even thought, as I was adding them, that they would look good with a curve. In my defense, I think I focused on the bubble for 149 and not the one for 148, which has the blue curve line. Still, though. I should have seen it.
So… ummmm… it appears that I am not very good at writing a less-detailed build review on a build of this size. Oh well. Here’s the playlist, the longest yet, I think. All 14 parts, totaling over 15 hours. All silent. All unedited.