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Project: Desert Astra Militarum #1

It's been a case of all-hobby, no-bloggy for the last few months. The new edition of 40k has reinvigorated my motivation to build a...

Sunday, 14 June 2015

Showcase: Astra Militarum Taurox Conversion

It's take five long months, two paint strippings, and one rebuild, but I've finally finished my first Astra Militarum Taurox!!! Enjoy some pics!

Here is a summary of the steps I took since my last update way back in April:

  • I sprayed a matte, lacquer-based varnish (Testors Dullcote) all over the model to protect the acrylic base colours
  • I applied two coats of a very thin brown oil paint (MIG Filter Brown for Dark Green) all over the model to add tonal depth to the base colours
  • I sprayed a gloss, lacquer-based varnish (Testors Glosscote) all over the model to protect the filter layers and provide a base for decals and oil washing
  • I applied decals using a setting solution (Micro Set) and softening solution (Micro Sol)
  • I applied a very thin dark brown oil paint (MIG Dark Brown Wash for Green Vehicles) to all the recesses on the model to provide shading
  • I cleaned up all the overflows and 'tide-marks' left by the wash using a detail brush and mineral spirits
  • I sprayed Dullcote all over the model once more to take off the gloss finish—especially around the decals—and to protect the oil wash
  • I painted all the 'glass' details—viewports, lenses, headlights and taillights—using acrylic paints and washes (various GW and Army Painter colours)
  • I brushed a sand-coloured pigment powder (Vallejo Light Yellow Ochre) onto the wheels, undercarriage and stepladders to represent sand and dust build-up from driving through the desert
It took me a long time to get through all of this, since it was the first time I have attempted most of these techniques. But I think the result makes it all worthwhile!

I used the Zinge Industries 'APC Conversion Kit' to replace the weird track-pods of the stock GW kit with some rugged wheels and suspension, and glass to cover all the viewport holes in the hull. The Taurox now looks like a proper Protected Mobility Vehicle instead of something looted back from the Orks! This really is an excellent conversion kit that I highly recommend, although it is quite expensive (£15). I tried a cheaper kit first and it was very difficult to assemble and did not look as nice in my opinion, so I would go for the Zinge kit if you can afford it.

I added plenty of stowage to detail this kit; a combination of bitz from various Astra Militarum vehicle kits, the Zinge conversion kit, and also some scale modelling aftermarket kits. I think all the extra detail helps to make the model interesting even though it's just painted a single armour colour.

The decals on the rear hatch represent 'II Company' and the army campaign badge. I figured that the rear hatch was a good place to put identifying marks, so my Guardsmen would know that they were embarking a friendly vehicle!

You can see more of the stowage on this side of the Taurox; it is painted in the same sand colour used on my infantry, to provide a coherent aesthetic to the army—and also to help camouflage Imperial standard green armour in the desert!

I think dusting the wheels with a sand-coloured pigment adds a nice subtle touch to the finished model; clean black rubber tyres just did not look right.

The weapon on this Taurox is a Howitzer from Anvil Industries. I emailed them and requested just the gun from their 'Republic Taurus Gun Tractor' kit, and they very quickly arranged a custom order for me—great customer service! Since then they've added an option to their webstore to allow individual weapon purchase. I'm using this weapon to represent the default twin-linked Autocannon option for the Taurox; yes, I know it's just a single weapon, but it has no less than three targeters so that justifies the reroll To Hit in my book! The scale of this weapon is very appropriate for the Taurox, since the massive Autocannon in the stock kit look ridiculous on a small PMV.

The decals on the front panels represent the army campaign badge and '2 Squad'. The latter decal is actually two layered decals—a white diamond and a black numeral—both taken from the old Cadian infantry and vehicle transfer sheets. On the roof, just forward of the weapon, is a decal representing a kill marking added by the crew, but this one decal shows quite bad bubbling—very frustrating! I don't know why this one bubbled and the others all turned out perfectly, given I applied all the decals in one sitting using a consistent process. I guess it only looks bad when directly illuminated, so it won't be too noticeable on the table.

Here is view of the Taurox undercarriage, showing off the Zinge wheel and suspension kit. The suspension comes in just three pieces (front, rear, and skidplate) and is very well cast with crisp detail. The wheels are also very well cast, but did require a bit more cleanup to get flash out of the tread pattern. Note that the hubcaps are sold separately to the rest of the conversion kit, so don't forget to buy those too! Hopefully this picture shows the lighter colour of the undercarriage compared to the topside of the Taurox, since I gave it a good dusting of ochre pigment powder.

It's been a long journey, but I am really pleased with how this guy has turned out. Hopefully I can production-line paint several more vehicles now to join this lonely Taurox on the display shelf!


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