Warhound Titan WIP – Part 1
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How to build a Black Templar’s Warhound Titan
Well, almost 2 weeks ago a client offered me a commission to build and paint a Forge World Warhound Scout Titan for him. Since the Chaos Daemon Army was finished and in the hands of that customer, I decided to give it a go.
I’ve done 2 of these FW titan kits before and they are a lot of fun. This will be a bit of a thematic challenge. The client wants the titan to be part of his crusading Black Templars force. Knowing that Marine chapters don’t officially have titan components organic to them, I took a few days to work on the theme and ask around the forums to see what kind of fluff reasoning we could come up with (check out the discussion here).
There are already some good videos on YouTube that cover the Forge World titan models. Many of them do a good job of showing off the details and giving you a sense of scale. I am going to cover here my process for assembly as well as the customization. When I say that there a lot of fiddly bits to this kit – I mean it. There are several ways to screw up large investment and leave you with a passable (yet still scary) superheavy when the piece can and should be the centerpiece of your army when on display or at war.
Well, talking aside, let’s get started.
First things first… this is a complex kit. No joking here. I have been building and painting GW figs and models since the 80’s and I have been working with Forge World resin since the year they came out. Take your time, plan your process, think things through twice, and apply every lesson you’ve learned. The value of preparation with this kind of model cannot be overstated.
So, here’s how it comes… titan in a box.
Take a step back and have a few deep breaths. I know you can’t resist so… when you take the pieces out to fondle them, do it one bag at a time. You’ll thank me later if you can manage to keep the pieces with the relevent subassemblies. If you can get past the “where will I start” panic, touch every piece and inventory as you go. It’s better to know that you have a bad or missing piece now instead of right in the middle of construction. Forge World is great about fixing deficiencies so don’t be afraid to e-mail them if you have a question or issue.
I’ll skip the tedious part about washing the entire model. I’ll just mention that every piece gets washed in luke-warm water with mild dish soap and scrubbed with a soft to medium tooth brush. Mould release and slippage are not nearly as big a problem as they were a few years ago. However, skin oils, releasing agent, and accumulated resin dust will play hell on your painting efforts. Save yourself the hassle of trying to degrease a piece in an assembly surrounded by other bits. That always sucks.
For the curious, here are scans of the instruction pages from the kit. Click on the individual scans for full-sized, printable pics.
Despite these being the “official” instructions. I disagree with the order in which they do their assembly. Also, IMHO, they don’t really give adequate guidance or direction for a kit with this level of complexity. It is better than the original set though.
Foundation and Feet
Just like any major construction, the titan model will need a good foundation. With the wide range of dynamic poses offered by this kit, and the extremely top-heavy nature of the model itself, a solid base is crucial. Don’t even consider having the model go on the tabletop “bare-footed”. You’ll hate yourself – been there, done that.
Generally I would cut out an oval or “rounded hour-glass” shaped piece of 1/4″ thick medium density fiberboard (MDF, hardiboard). This way the space between the feet gives you additional opportunities to add weights (as needed) and to add some thematic basing. Unfortunately, this client wants as low profile basing as possible. So, what we are going to do is build snowshoes. These are individual bases that will go under each foot. As the feet alone consist of over 50 pieces, they need the support.
So, instead of going to my scroll saw, I decided to use an old standby material for basing largish kits – old compact discs. To get the proper thickness, I will laminate 3 of them together using super glue (CA, cyano-acrilate). 3 will give you a thickness not too far off from that of a standard GW base while being rigid enough to give good support. If the discs have labels on them, be sure that they are removed before gluing them together or the edge of your base will have unsightly gaps.
After the assembles have dried, use coarse sandpaper (I used 100 grit) to rough up both faces of each base. The surfaces are too slick for your basing material to adhere to. Also, the slick underside will make the model more prone to accidental shifting or tipping. Be sure to wear a mask while sanding. See the pic below and you will see why.
Here is a foot laid out on one of the bases for size comparison. The pile of bits on the left in the second photo is for just one foot.
So, I spent several productive hours finishing the foot assemblies for the Warhound. There is one step you get to take before the planning kicks in. You need to collect all of the toe joints that connect directly to the foot arch. They have a large plug that will need shortened by about half so that the pieces fit flush. Once you trim the length, you need to drill holes for pins in each socket and plug.
All of these will be glued into the arch piece. I fitted mine squarely in each socket because the pose on this titan will be a straight forward motion pose. If yours will be turning or standing on irregular rubble or a wreck, only the central and rear sockets will seat squarely. The others will need to be rotated slightly to accommodate the positioning of the toe. Hold off on gluing these until your base is ready if you want the most realistic pose.
Posing the Feet
Your first decision is how to pose each foot. The foot pose will determine whether the model appears to be running, walking, or standing… unless you want it to run with walking feet – think about a duck. To make sure that the pieces line up for your pose, find something the hold the arch in place as you connect the toe sections. I used pieces of scrap MDF and some of the resin “gates” that had come off of the bigger pieces. Some poster adhesive can also be useful for posing.
Once you have decided on your pose, you can begin to assemble each foot. Start with the center toe and with the pieces closest to the arc. I completed that front center toe and the rear toe and then let the assembly cure. If you have accelerator for your CA glue, this will speed up your process – just don’t get accelerator onto the sockets still to be posed. The stuff has a nasty habit of staying active for a while and goofing up the next step. When those toes are nice and secure. Go ahead and do the outer ones. Remember to start close to the arch and move outward. Your shims from earlier will help to hold your pose. Here are my feet glued into their final poses.
Pinning the Toes and Feet
I know, I didn’t put any pins into the toes. That’s because each one would have to be individually aligned and getting the pose exactly right is HARD. So, a couple of titans ago I came up with a different method for reinforcement. Once the foot assemblies are cured – but before you start on the toe pistons – I drill up through the bottom of each toe joint. In the photo below I have circled the location of the holes I drilled. The direction of drilling is at a fairly shallow angle from arch towards toe tip – follow the arrows. Using these locations allows you to drill from one piece into the next after the toes are perfectly posed. Each joint gets reinforced with a metal pin that I cut to be flush with the surface and then superglue (CA) into place. Once the glue is dry, I smooth over the holes with a small plug of greenstuff. I only do this if there is a possibility of the underside of the foot being seen.
Make sure you do not install the toe pistons before completing the pinning. If you drill too deep and come out the top, inserting the pins later will cover the hole. Also, the superglue can migrate if it is thin and could goop up the piston detail. That is hard to correct.
Quick word of caution. The gate as it comes off of the rear toe is poorly placed. When removing the gate with clippers or even a saw, be sure to leave some extra flash. You can easily trim the flash down with a hobby knife or file. I cut the gap a little close and the resin decided where it wanted to part despite my wishes. This resulted in a flattened toe tip that you will see in the photo below. Greenstuff will fix it. It’s just annoying that I have to do it at all.
Toe Detail – aka Piston Madness
In addition to the great look of the model and incredible level of detail, one of my favorite things is how poseable it is. When Simon Egan designed the kit, he left each builder the ability to assemble this beast in many, many ways – from standing tall to an all-out run. To accomplish this, the kit does not included multiple copies in different lengths of parts that might be needed for the individual poses. Instead, these pieces were cast so that the builder would cut them to the length actually needed once the pose was established. This method gives the greatest level of detail and realism while unfortunately adding much to the overall complexity. As the kit doesn’t come with extras, you want to get these parts right the first time. I recommend you read all the way through before you start on this portion of the build.
From my earlier posts, you can see that I left the toe pistons off until now. Part of the reason was to avoid damaging them or glue migrating to foul them. Besides, if I’m going to have to repeat a process 18 times, I find it best to be systematic. Because each toe articulates independently, you have to cut each piston for its specific slot in each toe… not just one generic length per foot.
I began by cutting all of the pistons for the feet off of their sprues leaving them as long as possible. You really want to leave all the length you can. you’ll be trimming soon enough. I then removed any mould lines. This isn’t super imperative because the seams are on the sides of the piston where they would be almost impossible to see. I’m just too a%$# retentive to leave it to chance though.
Each of the smaller toe pistons – there are 2 per forward toe for 12 total – consists of a head and a rod. To get the proper length, I slotted the head into its socket and then lay the rod over the receiving socket (look for green arrow). This will give you a way to gauge the length to cut. In the picture below, I show where I determined to make the cut. The place to make the cut is one-half the depth of the socket (see the red line). As long as the socket cast clean, you will be able to place the piston rod-end first into its socket and then swing the head into its slot. I dry fit each piece, remove it, apply CA glue win the slot and socket using a toothpick or paperclip, and then seat the piston rod-first into place.
The larger 2-part piston closer to the toe is measured in a similar fashion. Only this time, you put the 2 pieces together before seating the head to get the length. Once the assembly is in place, I use a small steel ruler to measure from the toe-end of the piston back to just short of halfway down the socket (green arrow). It is better to be slightly long and have to shave off a touch than to try to reattach what you cut off – or worse – rebuild with plastic rod. Now remove the assembly and take the two pieces apart. Transfer your measurement to the rod-end of the smaller piece and then trim (see red line). Put the assembly back together and dry-fit it into position. If it is still too long, just scrape a little off the end of the rod-end of the short piece and test again. If you try to force the assembly into place when it is too long, it WILL BREAK. Gluing is just like the smaller toe pistons. But, you also need to smear some CA glue into the socket where the two pieces fit together.
Now sit back, breathe a sigh of relief, and enjoy the fact that you only have 5 more toes to go…
Here is a picture of one completed toe.
Now for the feet with all the pistons in place. That’s the first 48 pieces (and 22 pins) of the model set. In my experience, this is the second hardest, most tedious part of the build. Doing it right makes all the difference though.
(NOTE: FW has started including 4 extra of the small,single-piece toe pistons in each kit. This helps if you make a mistake and is a nice afterthought. However, if you are cautious and thoughtful, you’ll not need them. Measure twice. Cut once. Eh?)
Warhound Leg And Hip Assemblies
Well, here is the pic that Forge World doesn’t put in the instruction packet. What you see below are the leg and hip pieces all laid out so you can see how they go together. On the left is a leg and hip joint dryfitted together as seen from the back. In the center is the pelvis piece with the rear toward the viewer… just as it would be positioned when that leg on the left is fitted into the joint. On the right is an exploded layout of all the leg and hip pieces as they would appear from the side. Hope this reference helps out.
So, it’s time to start going vertical with this beast. When looking to position the legs in relation to the feet, it helps to lay the pieces out for a dry fit. Place the feet where you think they will look best and then place the ankle, shin, and thigh pieces accordingly. Check out my previous post on how the legs come together.
Once you have the angle determined for the first (lowest) leg segment, draw or scribe small marks onto the ankle ball so that you can keep the correct alignment during the pinning process. You will want to pin the ball into the socket with at least two pins so that the pieces can’t rotate and become loose. Because the bottom is easiest to repair – and hide – I drilled up from below. Once the pins are glued into place, I will fill the holes with greenstuff to repair the finish. Make sure that you get glue on the ball, socket, and into the holes for the pins. I still use CA glue for this joint but I know some people prefer JBWeld or Liquid Nails to be thorough. I find that with good pinning, any of these glues will do the trick.
More Piston Action – Ankles This Time
So, at the end of the week I took a break from cutting sprue and gates off of dozens more pieces to take the next step on the feet. This is pretty straight forward assembly once the feet/ankle/toes are all together. On the model, they look like they reinforce the structure and help it move. However, these pieces are not structural. The carry no weight so no pinning is required.
Connecting each foot to ane ankle are 5, 2-part pistons. These have to be positioned, measured, and cut just like the 2-part pistons on the toe joints.
Because it is easy to knock one of the piston assemblies loose while the CA glue dries, I alternated putting a piston assembly on one foot/ankle and then went to the next foot. By the time you get done with that one, the first should be safe to work with again.
*** Warning *** I strongly suggest that you only cut one piston assembly to length at a time. If the pieces get mixed up after cutting, you’ll have a nightmare getting the proper pairs back together. Beware marauding felines.
Here are the reinforced and completed ankles.
Working Your Way Up
As I have been working on the legs, I have worked on bot that the same time to keep a smooth, assembly line process going. Now is when the dynamism of the Warhound’s poseability really starts to come into play. The ankles coming off the feet were posed in such a way that I now know which leg will be the forward and which will be the trailing. For this Warhound, I want the model to appear ro be striding or stalking forward at a good pace. This means that the trailing leg will be the longer of the two. Consequently, the trailing leg should be built first. If you were to build the shorter of the legs first, it is possible that you might make it so tall that the longer leg wouldn’t be able to be made long enough for the pose you want.
I am drilling 2 pins into each of the next 2 joints while making sure that they are not lined up with each other – you get a stronger joint this way. I’ll drill from the outside piece into the inside one and then fill the hole with green stuff when the pins are set. After dry fitting the pieces together into the appropriate pose, I put alignment marks on the pieces to make sure I can get the holes lined up when I glue and pin them. Also, there are 2 piston assemblies that must be cut to length BEFORE you assemble the leg joins. Trust me, there isn’t enough play to allow you to add them after the fact.
Here are the joint pieces with the pistons to be added. Hole are drilled for pin placement.
Pieces dryfit together once more with pins in place. When the leg is assembled, pinned, and glued, it even stays balanced on its toes like I planned. You can also see the alignment lines I drew on the pieces.
If you have questions on pinning, see this earlier post.
Now it has 2 legs
Main structural assembly on both the leading and trailing legs is complete. Also, I took some tome to fill pin holes, a couple of small bubbles, and the uneven mould seam along the top of the legs. Easier to get this finish work done now when access is easy.
The only things remaining for the leg assemblies is
- thigh armor plate (add after adding some BT detail)
- ball section of the hip joint
- armored shin guard (one of the last things to add – wait till after painting for easier access)
The legs will take some preliminary painting before they are mated to the pelvis and the final 6 piston assemblies that motivate the joints
Ball-joints for hips
Adding the hip ball to the legs it easy but you want to take a moment to ensure that the attachment points for the pistons are aligned correctly. You should make sure that these points are at the 2-6-10 o’clock positions in relation to the tabletop if you want the torso/body of the titan level to the floor. A slight rotation (a half-an-hour or so) will give the model a sense of a little more forward motion without unbalancing the Warhound too much.
Even though the leg-to-ball socket is deep, get a pin in there anyway. Glue the socket and the plug as well as the pin and hole. Align the pieces and assemble.
Leg assembly is complete for now. You will want to get some preliminary painting done before you look at attaching the legs and pistons to the pelvis. Next we will start work on the torso and head assemblies.
Go to Part 2.
Go to Part 3.