Improving the AMT AT/ST kit from Star Wars

By:-Mark Powely

If you have ever heard some of my comments regarding AMT/Ertl's Star Wars kits, then you would know that I have something of a Love/Hate relationship with them. They did a whole range of unique and interesting kits from the Star Wars universe but the quality of those kits is somewhat less than great. each time I build one I swear I'm never going to build another one but somehow or another I end up building and cursing at an AMT kit that has appeared on my workbench. Just like this kit. I had just finished the X-Wing when just a month later I saw the AT-St Walker at Hobby Habit and somehow ended up taking it home. A week after that it appeared on my workbench.

I started this kit with the intention of just building it out of the box but a detailed look at the parts and a look at the Star Wars Incredible Cross Sections book led me to realise that some improvements would be in order. However I set myself a limit of doing basic improvements only. Accuracy-wise the kit isn't too bad but suffers from oversimplified and heavy detailing and that is mostly due to the fact that the kit is a snap together kit. Surprisingly the fit is pretty good with no need for huge amounts of filler.

Let's start with the main body first. The worst problems are partly molded hip joint, no exhausts on the rear panel and some open panels that need filling. For some reason AMT only molded half of the right hip joint. This was a simple fix using a short piece of matching plastic rod and sheet and some filler. There are some open panels on the underside of the body that need to be covered over to prevent a see through effect and this was done using thin plastic card. Easy stuff so far. The rear exhausts are another matter. There are two hexagonal ports on the rear panel with a simple exhaust hole on the panel below them. After several attempts at making the hexagonal shapes I gave up and used some rectangular brass tube and a strip of plastic card instead. The exhaust hole was simply drilled out. The sides of the legs had some pieces of plasic strip to replace some missing detail.



Next are the legs. These are pretty good items with just the rear tensioning springs being overscale. These were cut off and replaced with some suitable plastic card strips. The armour plates for the hip joints are overscale and were replaced with plastic card and rod. After that it was a case of using a punch and die set to make some rivets and bolt heads and small bits of plastic strip for all the missing minor details. The feet are next and these also need rivets and bolt heads added. The only major corrections needed are to the toe mounted wire cutters. They are molded in place and need improving. The cutters were removed and the rams trimmed off. Any holes were filled and sanded and a hole for the new ram drilled. A new ram made from plastic rod was added to the cutter and this was then glued into place.

Most of the work is required on the head/turret. Both sets of blasters are poorly done, the roof mounted guard rail is missing and the side armour plates are wrong. Annoyingly the front shutters are molded closed. The main blasters are easily fixed. The two barrels were cut off and replaced with brass tube of the same diameter but correct shape. The side blasters take a bit more work. The kit supplied item is a single piece but this has led to them being oversimplified and conical rather than cylindrical. Again brass rod, plastic rod and sheet to the rescue. I wanted the front shutters open and it was an easy task to cut them off, tidy up the viewing ports and make replacement shutters from plastic card. The roof mounted guard rail was easily added with one made from wire bent to shape and mounted onto four mounting posts. The side armour plate is the hardest task. Examining my references showed that the armour plates are actually spaced away from the turret, where as the kit has them moulded directly onto the turret and the wrong shape as well. Out came the Dremel to grind them off in no time flat. New armour plates were made from the ever reliable plastic card as well as the spacers. The armour plates should curve over the roof (the kit parts are correct there) but I couldn't be bothered and let them as flat plates.

The paint scheme is a simple Panzer Grey. I followed this with a very light drybrushing with a pale grey and then added some paint chipping with silver. Again this was kept very light with most chipping being done on the feet and legs and also around the top hatch and guard rail. Finally I applied a wash of Jo Sonja's Raw Umber gouache with the airbrush.

To display the Walker properly I felt I needed a simple diorama base for it. The base is a mdf plaque I picked up at Bunnings for a couple of dollars and given a coat of teak stain. The ground work is Polyfilla coloured with the Raw Umber gouache. Once that was dry I painted it with Aquadhere and covered it with a thick layer of dry tea leaves. Once the glue was dry I shook of any loose teal leaves and airbrushed the lot with a medium brown acrylic paint. I added a log made from a tree branch from my garden next. To break up the brown colour of the groundwork I added a heavy wash of the Raw Umber gouache randomly with some areas getting an even heavier wash (under the log in particular). The leaves were then given a light drybrush with a light brown to make them look like dry leaves. Green shrubs were added next from lichen. This is the bagged lichen used by railroad modellers to make trees but is good for other types of plants as well. The log looked a bit bare so I added some patches of moss using static grass. The Melalucea tree that supplied the log has very small leaves on thin twigs and odd shaped seed pods that were used as ground work as well. With all the groundwork done, the Walker was then glued onto the base and all was complete.

The whole project was actually a lot of fun and I really enjoyed doing it. I think this is due to the fact that even though the kit has errors they aren't too hard to fix and the size makes adding detail easy but not tedious. A fun AMT kit. Who'd of thought I'd ever say that?