Heinrich Trop, Dust Wars!!!
Heinrich Trop, Dust Wars!!!

by Valerio “RoboGoat” Capra

The approach to this walker from Dust 1947 was a new challenge for a gunpla and Star Wars vehicles fan like me

Right from the start I liked the piece both for the line and for the details, and a diorama with more elements linked to each other was immediately materialized in my head, with the intention of creating a small war scene.

As a first step on the walker I decided to close the cockpit with a self-made plasticard armor enriched with details like rivets, hatches and plates. For the rivets I used round drawn plasticard glued in special holes, previously drilled with a hand drill; for details such as hatches, handles and other small details, I used the option parts produced by the Japanese company Kotobukiya MSG. A few more changes for this section: a small rear mounted platform, made from an old Valkyrie (Macross series model aircraft), and two saddlebags of an old Tamyia military set attached to the sides.

The area of the pelvis, where the mechanical movement of the legs is housed, is the part that has undergone several structural changes: I have enlarged the hips with parts from other kits, consequently also its point of attachment for the legs, inserting small spherical joints (typical of gunpla) to obtain greater versatility in laying. Satisfied with the result, I used the same technique for the ankle joints.

As for the walker’s legs and feet, I decided not to make any changes, as I consider these parts to be very characteristic for the model, thanks to their structure and their design.

I will now describe the work carried out on his armament: on the left of the bipod I left the original machine gun, changing only the barrels and inserting a pair with a wider section; the weapon on the right instead has been replaced with missile launchers from a Bandai kit, adding a homemade radar using pieces of plasticard and MSG.

After setting the first changes I tried to mount everything, also to evaluate the installation of this bipod machine: thanks to the changes I made I had more alternatives to choose the final position. Personally I noticed that the piece has thus gained a more aggressive character.

As usual, I continued with a first coat of primer on the cabin, useful to be able to see the result of the changes more clearly; then by means of a spherical drill I created a texturing with battle damage on the whole vehicle. I judged, however, that the pelvis section still looked a little too unguarded for my taste, so I fitted it with two rear exhaust pipes, a sled on my stomach and an air intake on the front, below the cockpit.

After the milling work for battle damage, I applied the primer to the rest of the walker: pelvis, legs and relative protective panels.

At this point the vehicle was ready to pass to the coloring phase: I started with a light coat of Tamyia opaque gray on all surfaces, and then continued first with acrylic colors (of different brands), then with oil paints and enamels for weathering. As far as I am concerned, this step is always longer than the previous ones: the acrylic chiaroscuro must be placed with awareness, lights and shadows must reflect reality as much as possible.

This is only a basic color, which must then be tied to all the other pieces; after which in fact I continued with the editing and painting of the two Speeder Bikes of the Star Wars Legion, but not having yet clear in mind how to shape the diorama in its dynamism, after having colored the Speeder Bikes I left them aside for a while , thus beginning to dedicate myself to the diorama!

I must say that this was perhaps the most creative part: I studied the scene and imagined the dynamics between the various pieces. As can be seen, the clash is set in a marshy area characterized by putrid water channels, mud and marsh grasses. The walker is located on the left, with his feet planted in the soaked ground of water, almost as if he were also watching the scene with us, standing in front of a marsh from which mud remains the remains of the first downed Speeder Bike, and of the Stormtrooper torn to pieces. The second Speeder Bike instead, coming from the right, darts in the act of escaping from the Dust machine, already ready for engagement.

To realize this scenography, first of all I have outlined and applied on a MDF panel some areas of surfacing of the ground (modeled with DAS synthetic paste) marking in a very long way the footprints of the walker; subsequently I covered these clods with mud (product of the Mig) and placed the vegetation, derived from various types of plants and mosses typical of dioramas for model railways. It can be seen that in the area of passage of the Speeder Bike the vegetation is slightly open through a gap, this is because I wanted to simulate the displacement of air for the transit of the small vehicle.

The marsh vegetation, after having been so distributed, was also airbrushed and retouched with a brush: I started from a basic black, to then reach the lightest greens in the upper part of the rushes, leaving instead a dark base corresponding to the area low of muddy ground.

Small touch-ups and brush modulations finish the coloring of the vegetation and the long-awaited moment arrives: the water of the marsh. It was not my first time grappling with water reproduction products in modeling, but in this case I had to “dirty” the result! To give life to the marsh, I used a two-component resin from Prochima to which I added pure pigments (so as not to have unexpected chemical reactions), and I loaded the compound to obtain a rotten green color and the right degree of opacity, to reach the muddy effect.

But let’s get to the “splatter” phase of the work! Because before proceeding to the casting, I dismembered one of the two Speeder Bikes, ditto for the Stormtrooper, parts that I scattered and fixed at various points inside the canals. With strips of acetate I delimited the edges of my diorama where the channels end and I cast the “marshy resin”. I had to wait a few days for the catalysis and stabilization, then I created slight movements on the surface of the water with AK’s water gel; instead in the areas adjacent to the ground and around the floating remains, I made a foam with another type of water gel of the same brand.

Finally, I lodged the bipod and the Speeder Bike with its Stormtrooper still in the saddle in the areas intended for them, and applied the final touches of the case with a brush, to bind all the elements together.

To top off the work, the diorama was encased in a wooden base designed and built ad hoc; and I assure you that a beautiful base always makes the difference, from the simplest jobs to the most complex ones, as in this case.

I am quite satisfied with the final result, taking into account the fact that it is the first time I put myself to the test in the reconstruction of a marshy environment. Surely the most difficult part was to connect all the elements together, depending on the type of scenario.

It is a duty and a real pleasure for me to thank Dust 1947 and Ammo Drop in the figure of Luca Garlaschi for having followed the “work in progress” of this work of mine, and no less for the request to write this article that tells the creation and processing phases.

To the next challenge!

This post is also available in: Italiano (Italian)