Wednesday 9 May 2018

Tantalus Scratch Build

Tantalus Scratch Build

Today I wanted to share the progress I've made with my Drukhari Tantalus scratch build.  Although it's not the most complex or ground-breaking project I've ever started, the sweeping curves and unusual shapes have made this a unique challenge!

Previously on Kaiju Country...

In a previous post, I showed a picture of my Tantalus in its infancy.  Here's the picture again just in case you missed it!

Tantalus early WIP

Dark Eldar Cadillac

The Tantalus has now moved on considerably and is starting to look (in my opinion!) like it deserves to stand next to the excellent Forge World kit.

You'd be surprised how hard it is to get a decent top down shot of a Tantalus for reference...

Every Drukhari Caddy needs a formidable thruster array...

1. The cost of doing business

Although price is not the main driver for me when it comes to scratch building, I do like to keep my costs low as I'm not a crazy person with more money than hair follicles.

Always cost up the build in advance, taking into account the components you'll need and buying full kits rather than getting everything from a bits store as this normally works out more expensive.

You have to factor in the added value of extra leftover components as well!  I do use bits stores, but very sparingly...

2. Eyeballing Sprues

This is such an important stage for me in any new build project; one which I believe is vastly underrated!  It's now even easier to view components in isolation via the official GW site or a bits vendor.  I'd seriously consider it, especially if you think you'll need several kits.

With this build in particular, I took a lot of time over reviewing components before I settled on the parts I'd use to construct this beast.  This allowed me to paint a picture in my mind of how the finished piece might fit together with existing components and potentially cut out a lot of time consuming styrene and sculpting work.

If you're a complete nerd like me, you can even compare component sizes which tend to be on one of a few standard sprue sizes in order to ensure that the parts will match up when you start the build.

Examining sprues may sound dull, but there are several benefits.  For starters, it will give you ideas and if you look outside of your immediate range, you may also find some 'bridging' parts which remove annoying logistical problems in a tight build like this one.

You have to look past what the sprue components are, to what they could be.  Like when Simba looks up into the clouds and instead of rolling cumulonimbus, he actually sees the departed relative which he effectively led to his death.  (I suppose it's not really like that at all...)

For instance, the keen eyed hobby beavers amongst you will have noticed that I used some of the Dark Elf Cauldron of Blood components in this build.  Although they required a lot of modification, I knew from viewing the sprues in advance that the fit would be 'about right'.

Keen Eyed Hobby Beaver.  So much more terrifying than anyone expected...

3. Dry fitting

Endless dry fitting is often key to getting a coherent result when planning a big conversion.

I like to snip all of the key components from their sprues after sniffing up all of the 'new model' smell from the freshly opened box.  It's so much better than pencil case, but not quite as good as book.  What?  Nobody else compares new thing smells?!  Moving swiftly on...

Tacking things together with putty, small clamps, rubber bands or simply propping things up together then taking a few pictures for reference helps immensely once you're knife and glue deep into the build phase...

I feel like the beaver is watching me now.

4. Measure twice, cut once...

As you can see from the above pictures, the Tantalus is constructed around a few core kits; the step section, platform and struts from the Cauldron of Blood and two complete Raider kits (I did also purchase a couple of extra Raider engine nozzles and boarding planks).

In order to construct the extremely long hull, I knew I'd need to dissect the Raiders in a couple of key places in order to cater for the hull extension that I'd need to build.

It's an obvious point, but one that's worth mentioning; measure out what you're going to do before you cut components so that you can make sure it's the right cut to make.  A wise man once said; "It's easier to double check something than have to stick the bloody kit back together!"  I think it was Socrates or something...

In order to make the most economical use of the kits (and save work later) I made sure that the hull cuts I made did not sacrifice anything in terms of wastage.  The way to do this is... take your time and be careful.  I learned this while nursing bloody stumps.

In order to ensure I had the right dimensions, I made the Raider cuts then used graph paper to measure out a template for the hull extension - I measured the parts and laid them over the graph paper to ensure an exact fit.

I used two different styrene depths so that I could dictate the thickness of the skeleton and match up the height of the deck with the raiders.  It also allowed me to select the correct thickness and shape to slot into both ends of the Raider hulls to provide linear strength to this very lengthy model!

His eyes... and the teeth... *shiver*

5. Improvise

Improvising is not for everyone, but it is a key ingredient for most scratch builds.  Don't wing it on the measurements, but do keep a nice tray of bits next to you so that you can have a rifle around for something to fill in a gap or add a little flare to the project.  The Kurnoth Hunter scythe blades were a good example of this as they made awesome banister ends for the intricate stair case!

If I were to build this all over again (WHICH I WON'T!), I would probably have thought better of adding spikey parts like the scythe blades until the detailing stage (which I haven't quite arrived at yet...) as they can be equal parts delicate and very adept at causing impromptu puncture wounds.

Anyway, that's it for now - I'll post an update once I've completed the main hull build and sail assembly, which is proving to be a real head scratcher!

Just remember the golden rule of scratch building...




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