Vince Hoffman's Award winning scratchbuilt Star Wars AT-ST.

Starship Modeler - The complete information source for modelers who build sci-fi, 
 fantasy and real space subjects

Starship Modeler: Scratchbuilt AT-ST

By Vince Hoffman © 1998

The model is completely scratchbuilt from mostly card and strip plastic with a few kit pieces here and there. The kit pieces I used are parts that are not recognizable - you can see a few colored pieces on the engine photo which are from models. I also built a much smaller 4" tall scout walker model (see photo) to study the shapes and work out potential construction problems.

The engine core is made from blocks of balsa wood, with detail added on the outside. The two top 'fenders' on the front of the engine are curved pieces with heat molded edges to give it a square look. A lot of the detail on the engine is generic, the main goal in mind is to make the shapes and larger details as similar as possible, and fill in the blanks with techno junk. The engine shown is the second attempt to build a decent looking assembly, the original was much too small and I ended up using the same balsa wood cores for the second engine, this time adding more beef to the front and bottom to make it stick out more all around.

The legs were completely formed from strips and blocks of plastic, long boxes were formed to give strength then glued together to make several very strong structures to hold up the heavy engine and turret. All of the joints were built solid with brass pins so the model will bounce and flex a little bit but won't break. The most stress occurs at the point where the thigh assemblies join with long skinny connectors to the rear of the engine. A (bad) photo of one whole leg assembly shows the foot parts (glued solid), the lower leg, upper leg, and engine connector. The hollow ring on the foot assembly was later made solid after it proved to be a seriously weak point. The legs and feet are nearly identicle to the movie models and help make up for lost detail and accuracy on the engine.

The feet also took 2 tries to get right. My first attempt was to glue formers to a properly shaped 'sole' then fill all the gaps with model putty. Although a good idea, the putty took forever to dry and melted holes through the plastic soles. The second try at the feet were created using plastic formers glued to a plastic 'sole' with solid blocks in the back to support the hinge point. Lightweight foam filler was used between the formers to get the basic shape of the foot. After sanding, shaping and adding the front toe pieces, the foot was covered with much harder model putty and sanded to it's final shape. This gave a nice, lightweight and sturdy foot. The photo shows the black undercoating I used on all the parts before final grey paint, unfortunately... this also ruined any attempt to get good detail pictures... oh well.

The turret is built primarily of card plastic. The entire cockpit area is finished but cannot be seen with any clarity from the top hatch or windows. Seats are modified F-16 ejection seats with the headrest replaced and new bottom rails and grab handles added in back, I put little yellow grab handles all over the interior for the unlucky 3rd person who finds himself without a seat to strap into. The front instrument panel is as close to the one in the movie as I could get. Only 8 parts from models were used on the turret, 2 seats, 2 tank wheel sprockets, and 4 misc parts on the top deck. The gun blisters are leggs eggs. The grenade launcher on the right side is all built up, and the gun assembly on the right side is a conglomerate of technical drafting pen points. These were perfect for the job since they are the right size and have nice little holes in the tips (I hate drilling out gun barrels).

The main gun assembly was about as difficult as the engine when it came to finding reference photos. After creating the gun and cradle assembly, I realized that it fit too far up into the hull so extenders and triangle shaped shims (see photo) were fitted to the the gun support arms to give it the right angle and placement.

When the dust settled, nearly 15 months had been put into the construction (and re-construction) of the model and the diorama base. It now resides in my display case in Hayward California.

Front View

Front view of completed model on diorama base. This model took first in the sci-fi category at the 1998 IPMS Nationals

Rear View

Rear View


Engine Assembly

Crew Compartment and Gun

Crew compartment (outside) and main gun




Interior of the crew compartment


The miniature "test" model.

Go back up | Starship Modeler Home | Site Map | Feedback

This page made possible by The Lester Press - copyright © 1997-8. Last updated on 31 August 1998