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Building the Nut - A scratch building odyssey

By David Coombes - images & text © 2003

I built this model after getting a digital camera. Having the camera along the way made the process really enjoyable. I was inspired to try scratch building by the works of Kow Yokoyama and the excellent Scratchbuilding Demystified article by Mark Yungblut from elsewhere on this site.

The Plan

The first thing I did was make a rough sketch of what I wanted to build. I knew I was going to work at 1/35th scale so the first sketches were actually based around a 1/35th scale tank commander to get the scale and proportions correct.


The main construction material used was styrene section from the hobby store. This typically only comes in sizes up to around 1/4 inch square, so one of the first jobs was to glue sections together to make larger sections.

[The Nut]

[The plan]

^ The rough plan

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^ Early body and finished legs

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^ Early Test, The General doesn't look too happy right now!

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^ Getting there ....

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^ Finished but before paint - the General looks a bit happier.

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^ Just a few little tweaks and this sucker is ready

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^Hero of the revolution!
In the second picture (left), you can clearly see the joints between sections on the fronts of the shins.

All of the cutting was done with a razor saw in a miter box. The components were then cleaned up using sanding pads to get them ready for paint. The joints were made by drilling holes in the solid parts and using short lengths of thin wire. This made the joints flexible which was key because I had no idea what the final stance would be. Also the legs probably aren't exactly the same length.

The body was built in pretty much the same way as the legs, except that the body is a hollow box. Yes the lid can come off and there are a few details inside including the driver. Note that I was constantly the checking the parts to see if they looked cool. In the "Early Test" image you can see the legs look a bit too wimpy and tall.

The arms were built in exactly the same fashion as the legs. I couldn't find a hand that looked good in my spares box so I ended up carving one out of styrene using a knife and files, which isn't as hard as it might sound. I wasn't brave enough to do two hands though, so it got a gun arm for the other one, just like Yokoyama-san's stuff.

Construction ended with adding a bunch of little greeblies to make it all look cool. The shoulder pads are made from plastic spoons. I wouldn't bother again, the plastic was really brittle. The lights and guards over the shoulder pads are kit parts. I drilled the lights out before painting. I did some filling with Testors red putty. This is great stuff for contours and stuff as long as you don't care about getting a hard smooth surface, which I didn't because I wanted this thing to look like it was cast from steel.

Paint and finishing

All the paints are Tamiya. Firstly I painted on a nice thick coat of flat black to unify the surface. Then I used a greenish grey color for the base. I swirled it around and tried to do a bit of pre-shading. Then I added some white and again kind of pre-shaded. Then I added decals. All the decals are rub down, from the train section at the hobby store. I blew a tiny amount of the original color over them with the airbrush to tone them down.

Nearly all of the weathering on this model was down with pastel chalks, applied dry with a brush. I finished off the weathering with some paint chips done with a tiny brush and thin black paint.

Finally I filled the lights with clear epoxy glue to make them look realistic. I was done.


The final shot was taken against a back drop picture of a sky scraper with the "Nut' standing on a shipping container again from the model railway section of the hobby store. I did some Photoshop hackery to make it look vintage.


I'm pretty happy with what I've done. It's the most ambitious thing I've made to date, but its also really only a bunch of simple steps linked together so I think anyone could do this.

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This page copyright © 2003 Starship Modeler™. Last updated on 14 April 2003.