Sunday, 26 March 2017

Construction: AT-AT, part 1

Some months ago I came across designs for a papercraft Star Wars AT-AT on the 'net. Being me, my immediate reaction was the thought that it wouldn't be too hard for these plans to be increased in size somewhat. In fact, since papercraft is usually a bit on the fiddly side, it'd probably be easier to make if I below it up to stupid proportions!

So how big exactly? My excuse for making the AT-AT (I need an excuse to give to my wife about why, eventually, such a thing will be living in our house) is the annual school comic con I organise, therefore the AT-AT had to be able to fit through the school hall doors. Assuming the legs and head were detachable, this meant a maximum width for the body of 118cm and an eventual AT-AT height of a little over 4m.

Time and much thought passed...

And it resulted in a size decrease. Firstly, making it 118cm would mean it'd only just fit through the doors and since there was bound to be a number of approximations along the way, it may end up wider than initially though. Which would be a problem. Secondly, it'd be a hell of a lot easier and sturdier if the 'base' section to the body was a single piece of wood. Turns out that the widest wooden boards Homebase (which is 2mins down the road and therefore the best place to buy it from) sell are 60cm wide. This would lead to an eventual AT-AT height of around 2.25m. Not the giant I'd hoped for, but still a lot bigger than the children and a lot more manageable.

Where to start?

I have no idea whether I'll finish the entire build by the con on the 1st July, therefore it seems sensible to start on the head as, if I don't get any further, at least that's a displayable piece on it's own.  As much as I'd love to make the entire structure wooden, it would end up being expensive, complicated, time-consuming and heavy. While, for balance reasons, I'll probably make the leg framework and a couple of other bits of wood, mostly it's going to be good 'ol cardboard.

By 'scaling up the papercraft plans', what I'll be doing is measuring each piece with a ruler from a printout, then multiplying by 13.86 to get my enlarged measurements. Potential for huge margin for error? You betcha! But, hopefully, it'd should end up vaguely right once there's been a bit of fudging (another reason for using cardboard).

I've had a massive box sat about, getting in the way, since October/November-ish, when a classroom at school got a new interactive whiteboard (I had to build two trees for Reception in order to claim the box), plus another couple which came from the new table in the staff room (school is very useful for large boxes). Deciding where to use these precious limited resources was a Big Decision, but I got there in the end...

Now while this looks like quite an easy thing to make - hey, it's only 6 pieces of cardboard! - it took all afternoon to do. Why? Well, cutting out the pieces was simple enough, but sticking them together... Not so easy. Cardboard, especially big pieces, tends to warp, so none of the bits met up exactly as they should have. A big plus of making a Star Wars vehicle, as opposed to, say, a Trek one, is that all the machinery and vehicles is well-worn, so (hopefully!) it shouldn't matter too much that things are a bit off in the final build.

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