Well, I was finally able to get it for a good price. I don’t often get Tenyo models, because the price + shipping from Japan makes them rather expensive (I still want to get the Buzz Lightyear model someday). But I came across this model for not a terrible price, and since it’s both Star Wars and discontinued / retired, I decided to bite the bullet.
Of course, I couldn’t leave well enough alone and just build the model as is. Because I’m just that crazy, I decided I had to attempt my first color-add modification. Why? Because the AT-ACT model was just begging for it. The only full-size walker design that has ever really had a significant color feature… I just really wanted to see if I could make it happen. And I sorta did? The color is way darker than I would have preferred, but it was what I was able to pull off.
And, to be honest, I’m really glad to have this model in my collection. I have no idea why Fascinations didn’t include this model in the Rogue One release set, but now I have the full walker catalog of models! Of course, now that means that I also need to get the Tenyo version of the ICONX Millenium Falcon, which has the unique option to build with the landing gear extended / no stand. Someday, right?
Anyways, this build is fairly similar to the stock AT-AT, but has more differences than you might think at first (beyond the cargo module). First off, I’m loving the fact that the head of the AT-ACT is intentionally modeled to be attached at an angle, looking to the left a bit, and slightly up. But there’s even more. The shape of the head is bulkier, the leg positions are different, and there are stabilizers for the feet, just to name a few. Definitely enough differences to make it worth it to add this one to your collection.
Before I get into the build review itself, I should probably give you more details on the way I modded this build, especially since I did it before I began building it. I’ve long been looking for a good way to color models, and I finally found a halfway decent one. Coloring metal isn’t easy on the cheap, as it turns out. And I probably could have done a better job than this if I had an airbrush system, but I don’t. However, I was able to get this result with one simple resource: alcohol inks. I bought a set of alcohol inks that are used for resin dying, but can also be used to stain metal. Usually this is done in a psychedelic way with random swirls of various colors (and most often on metal tumbler-style water containers, for some reason). Anyways, I decided to see if a single color could stain metal evenly. I tried it on a test spare part, and it went alright.
On parts 34 and 35 of this model, it didn’t go nearly as swimmingly. That’s because I did my test run on a smaller part, and didn’t cross over folds. The big part made it hard to cover the surface in ink drops, and when they got to the perforated folds, the dye got sucked through onto the back of the parts. I ended up having to use my fingers to rub the dye across the surface in multiple “coats”, as well as flip the parts and rub them around in the pooled dye that had built up under the parts. It was an interesting and messy process. The result being the uneven, somewhat splotchy look that you see in the photos above. Both my wife and son asked me if I had done it to make the part look rusted. Not really, but… oh well. At least it gives the impression of being orange, right?
One more bit of pre-build commentary (and really, I should probably just make a post specifically about this). The instructions on this model are in Japanese. And there are a lot of little notes alongside particular steps. I’ve encountered this a lot in Piececool and other Chinese model brands, and there is a surprisingly easy solution for this. Take a picture of the foreign text in the instructions with your phone (as close as possible, while still in focus), and then import it into Google Translate. The phone app makes this easy, but I believe it can be done on the website as well. The live translation mode within Google Translate doesn’t always work very well for me, but photo import works excellently.
Now, on to the build. As I said before, it’s fairly similar to the standard AT-AT build, so it’s neither super-challenging or super-easy. There are curved surfaces and odd angles to keep it interesting, but a lot of similar sequences and basic folds as well. The biggest change in difficulty comes from the little foot-braces that the regular AT-AT doesn’t have. Of course, that could just be an issue that I added for myself, but I’ll explain that in a bit.
One thing I wish Metal Earth model instructions did more is showing some the etching pattern when a part can be attached more than one way, so I know the “correct” way to attach it. I’m happy to say that Tenyo didn’t leave me hanging on this build, especially since some of the parts are hard to see in the 360-view. The psuedo-cylinders underneath the body of the AT-ACT are a great example, and they are also right at the beginning of the build. I was all excited about this fact, and then completely got the first one attached backwards because I picked up the main body part backwards. Yeah. Silly me. Check the orientation of both parts.
Moving along, the head is pretty standard far for an AT-AT, except for the neck part which is designed to intentionally tilt the head to the side. There’s a nice callout (in Japanese, of course) to direct you to pay attention to how you line it up, but the circle on the assembly diagram was so small I almost completely missed it. So, if you get this, pay close attention. The curvy side of the thicker part of the neck cylinder get’s attached to the one slot that is on the right side of the back of the head. Wow, that is a tangled sentence to weave. Here’s a picture.
And then there is the bottom segment of the head. Again, nothing too complex, I had no problem putting it together, or attaching it. I do advise holding off on folding all the sides down more than halfway until you are ready to slot the bottom in place, because if you fold them down completely, you’ll have to unfold them a little to get the bottom in place, since it’s tabs secure through the sides (and front and back). However, I had to unfold them after all, but only after I had completed the build. Why? Because the instructions are wrong. They show the assembly of parts 13 and 14 being attached to part 15 in the incorrect orientation. Turn that puppy around 180 degrees. Also, you’ll need to partially form part 13 to properly attach part 14, but the big issue is making sure you align that correctly.
I only noticed because both the product photo and the 360-view had it attached the other way. It bothered me enough that I ended up googling images of the AT-ACT from the movie, and what do you know, that little juked-out greeblie (part 14) faces the front, not the back. Should have checked that earlier. So I had to go and take it out, reverse it, and put it back together. Such is life. Oh, and one more note on the head: those stinking fragile guns will get mangled over and over again throughout the build. You’re just going to have to live with it.
Next up is the assembly line of legs. Make sure you get the right parts and don’t mix and match! Take your time, and be careful. I’ve build enough walkers to know this beforehand, so I went ahead and built the last 3 legs at the same time, after finishing the first all the way through (not including the feet). It’s very easy to get mixed up and start folding bits the wrong way, or attaching things to the wrong side, so make sure to double-check the instructions for proper alignment and direction before you commit to anything. Use the top of the leg as your key alignment identifier, the part where it looks like a long pear. I can’t stress this enough… go slow, be patient, and double-check yourself. I’ve rushed this part before, and it never goes well. There is etching on both sides of the core leg part, so it’s easy to get confused and get things backwards.
Now for the most interesting part of this build: the feet. Well, interesting to me, because they add a feature that I’ve wished was present in the classic AT-AT builds. Horizontal stabilizer pistons for the massive feet. But, before you get to installing them, you need to assemble all 4 feet. Make sure that you pay attention to the alignment of part 29 to part 30! Make sure that neither cutout in the cone of part 29 is aligned with that stabilizer piston on part 30. They should both be at a position 90 degrees rotated from that piston (in either direction). And enjoy the repetition. Get Zen with it, and try not to get too mad at part 29 when it doesn’t want to make an evenly curved truncated cone.
I strongly suggest ignoring the instructions, and attaching all the feet to the legs before attaching the legs to the body. It’s a fair bit of a challenge to find the right way to hold the leg while aligning the tabs that pass through the feet and the tab on the end of the piston into the leg all at once, much less with all the legs being joined together. That being said, there’s another way you can make this step interesting – deciding that you don’t like the fact that the instructions actually specifically tell you not to secure the tab at the end of the piston. That’s right, in the callout bubble, it says to just insert that tab into the slot, no need to secure it. The basic gist of those steps is: (1) Fold the piston straight up; (2) twist the piston 90 degrees; (3) only insert the tab; and (4) twist tabs underneath the foot.
I was not satisfied with that. I wanted them to be secure! So I made my own plan. I was going to pre-fold the tabs to 90 degrees, leaving a little room at the base of the tab. Then I could use my pliers to insert the tab with the piston sideways, and then rotate the piston while continuing to pass the tab through the slot. I have no idea if that makes any sense, but I can’t think of a better way to explain it. However, I don’t necessarily advise trying this. For one big reason: the pistons angle in towards the legs, but the tab sticks out from a 90-degree angle segment. Thus it can’t sit flush without twisting the piston all up funny. I’ve tried to flatten and straighten them all back out, but they’re still a bit janky. That’s on me, though. Not the model design.
Finally, we come to the last big section of the build. Forming the main bulk of the body. This time around, it’s a little odd, since it’s not all one piece, but instead three separate pieces. This makes some of it easier, but also makes it easy to get the basic form slightly off. I did as much, but once you attach it all to the rest of the model, it kinda works itself into the correct shape. I stress the kinda in that sentence, because I think there were some miscalculations. The bottom of the cargo module is forced open a bit, which I think is a result of the bottom of the body not having the sides trimmed in to account for the way that part cuts back in more than in other walkers. But also, the placement of the rear slots for the cargo module parts seems to be too far forward, because the rear side flap folds inwards at a crazy sharp angle (once you’ve managed to secure all the tabs).
The instructions suggest twisting the two tabs that come out of the top of the AT-ACT body. I don’t recommend that as a long term solution, because it looks a little messy, but I do recommend doing a light twist on those two tabs first, then securing all the other tabs with folds. After that, you can come back and remove the light twist, and fold those tabs down flat. Having them twisted helps keep the part in place while you manhandle it’s form into the right shape to get all the other tabs slotted and secured. Oh, and at the end, squeeze the top a little to get those flaps above the cargo module to look right. If you built it like me, they weren’t folded down enough.
And that’s it! I built this bad boy in a little over two hours (not including the time it took to dye the cargo module or fix the head). You can watch the silent, full-length video below if you need it for reference. Or are REALLY bored.
So I bopped over to eBay and searched for the Tenyo Buzz Lightyear and there are couple for about $25 w/free shipping. I dunno if you’re still looking or what your budget is, but I thought I’d check for ya. 🙂
Oh so tempting… but I’ve spent my budget for the month. I appreciate it! Maybe Metal Earth will release it in the US someday, lol.
It’s just a couple days till August. 😉
BTW, on you Getting Started post, you have an entry for how you budget your ME obsession, but there’s no link. Is it something you still need to write up or is it just waiting to be linked?
Yeah… it’s kinda become a gag to me. I meant to write it up, but then got caught up in builds, and now I’m just… well, is there any way to not go broke on these models? Can I actually write that article? Hahhahaha. But, seriously, I should go back and revisit the idea, and share some of the strategies I use.
I’m not always smart about money and I just keep telling myself to chill out. I do well with it for a while, then find something I want and wind up down the rabbit hole again. Lately it seems like I’m just searching for and buying models, tools, and supplies more than actually building anything. Is it Jeff who says part of the fun is the chase? I think I have to agree. 😉
I am interested in any strategies you use. I have a pretty crappy job for now, so I need to rein in my spending.