Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Leviathan Crusader Complete (sort of)

Whoo, Hoo!  The Leviathan Crusader is done!  Well almost done.  I still need to complete the base and the gothic style exhaust stacks.  But those are minor details and I have the major components together, painted and weathered.  Here are some shots in all its glory.



Now that I've got the project to this stage, I would like to share some of my thoughts on how the Leviathan shaped up, the completed result and tips on things I would do differently if I built another one.


The first issue is the leg joints.  As you can see, my model squats down a little further than the shots of the factory plastic kit from DreamForge.  This is because, despite my earlier assessment, the knee and ankle joints weren't as tight as they should have been.  I thought I had them tight before painting, but they must have loosened up a bit somewhere during construction.  I do not know if I could have tightened the screws any further without stripping them out, so it was just guesswork.  I could try to use a little super glue to stiffen the joints (without completely locking them in place) with capillary action, but with the armor and pistons in place there really isn't a good spot to apply the glue.  It's not a huge deal as there is some realism to the lower stance, but I have to worry a little bit about keeping the torso and arms in the right place to keep the center of gravity firmly over the feet.  I have a comparison between the legs in my desired upright position and the spot they eventually sag to with the weight of the body and arms on them.

I also had an issue with the joint where the torso meets the spine.  Again before painting this joint seemed sturdy enough, but now that I have the cannon arm in place the torso tends to sag a little to the right (as the cannon is significantly heavier than the sword arm.  I don’t think this is so much of an issue as the joints because I have more room to get in and tighten up the ball joint.

My last issue is the range of motion for the sword arm.  It seems a little silly to be contemplating the relative merits of a totally impractical weapon, but the fact is that the sword arm is very restricted in its movements.  The shoulder guard up tops keeps it from being able to raise it any more than waist height, so it would never be able to lift it for a power blow.  Second, there is no rotation at the wrist to use it to parry other swords.  The best the leviathan would be able to do with the weapon as designed would be to flap its arm like a chicken.  


The joint and sword arm issues aside, the final result of the build is still magnificent.  The kit was a true joy to build.  While there were a few rough patches here and there, most of the kit went together without issue.  I would like to reiterate that only modelers with some experience should attempt this kit.  If you are an inexperienced modeler, or someone only familiar with smaller war gaming kits, I believe this kit could cause you no end of cursing and frustration. 

From an aesthetic point of view, I’m still not a huge fan of the gothic, faux-40K look that the kit sports.  It certainly makes sense from a certain point of view.  DreamForge is a smaller company and having cross-over appeal with Warhammer fans almost certainly boosted the Kickstarter pledges and post Kickstarter sales.  I prefer a more traditional “blocky” style similar to the Battletech universe, but I don’t see the Leviathan design as obnoxiously pointy and fortunately there are no skulls to be seen anywhere, so it will do.


So where does the project go from here?  Well, I need to take a little brake from the Leviathan for a while and I will be out of the hobby for most of July, so the short answer is that not much will happen before August.  When I do come back to the kit I will have a couple of priorities.  First, I need to take a few tweaks here and there, like stiffening up the joints and cleaning up some of the flubs on my weathering.  I also need to paint the original exhaust stacks as well.  Then I’ll tackle the base.  I have plans to go with a rubble strewn battlefield theme, so it will require quite a bit of Epoxy-Sculpt and parts from the bits box to trick it out. 

In the longer term, I need to find a storage solution.  Hopefully, the next Kickstarter wave (with alternate arms and weapons) will come to retail this fall.  I will probably wait until then to build the left cannon arm.

All in all this has been quite a rewarding project and I can’t wait to see where DreamForge goes from here.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

I Can See The End From Here

It's been a slow slog with the holiday and my kids getting out of school for the summer, but I've continued with progress on my Leviathan Crusader.  I now have the torso and left arm complete.


If you read my last post, I was still dithering about weather or not t build in a cockpit.  I decided not to do that now, but I've left the cockpit cover unglued in case I want to give it a go in the future.  Right now it's just held on with sticky tack.

I must not have tightened the leg joints as much as I thought.  I assembled the figure in an upright pose, but after a couple of days, it settled down into somewhat of a squat.  I'll have to keep an eye on that to see if it sags farther.

I also added some markings to the kit.  I wasn't a big fan of the over the top heraldry I'd seen on other Leviathan's posted around the net.  It reminded me too much of the Warhammer look.  I decided to go simpler with a little more utilitarian look.  Fortunately, after building model kits for almost two decades, I have a whole file drawer full of half used decal sheets from other projects.  I had a look through then and dug out some markings that I thought would work.  My first goal was to avoid anything  Nazi related.  From a fluff perspective the Eisenkern left earth before the rise of the Nazi party, but more importantly, it avoids any need to censor the pictures.  (for more information on that see HERE).

I decided to go back to the Prussian Iron Cross prominent with German forces during the first world war.  Unfortunately I've never built any WWI subjects and didn't have any left over decals.  However I did manage to find find a set of modern iron cross decals from an old 1/35 MLRS kit meant to depict a Bundesweher vehicle.  As the model doesn't have a proper "chest" I decided to put one on the right side of the face and another on the left arm shield.  For a squad or unit marking, I found the "415" decal from an old 1/48 Messerschmidt sheet.  

German war machines have never really been known for sporting much fun nose art, so I added a subdued sword and shield crest to the left side of the face.  I have no idea where that came from.  Unfortunately this decal was too old and after it dried the backing "silvered" a little around the edges.  I tried to get it to settle down some with Microsol, but this is the best I could get.

I also found some nice "caution" decals from an old SF3D Raccoon kit to each side of the face, the arm armor and the exhaust stacks.  Here's a picture with the upgraded vent stacks in place.  I don't have the Gothic ones painted so a comparison picture will have to wait.


As part of a kickstarter reward, I received not only the standard sword arm (shown above), but also a more traditional looking sword labeled as Excalibur.  I wanted to be able to mount both and magnets seemed the way to go, but this looked substantially more complicated than than the modification on the exhaust stacks.  I searched around the net and found a wonderful tutorial from a blogger named Wazza:

I followed his process exactly, so I won't bother duplicating it here, but It was reasonably easy and now I can swap between both blades:

Well that's it for now.  It's down to the home stretch, I just have the cannon arm, shoulder pads and base left to go.  I've got the cannon arm assembled and primed, but the rotating barrel is making it a pain in the butt to paint.  Hopefully I'll have something more to show next week.