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The Imperial Obsidian Tank

Imperial Obsidian Tank (2)
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7 March 2000converted to new format
15 June 1999page first published

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For those not familiar with the background, this is a fighting vehicle for the main human side - the Empire. The other sides are the AI-controlled Cybrids and the ill-equipped Martian (human) Rebels. Also note that, even though it's called a tank, it has no treads... this is a hovertank.

parts right out of the pack

The model is made up of four pieces:

  • main hull
  • engine nacelles (right and left)
  • gun barrel

The three small pieces are attached to a sprue. Now, your normal instinct might be to try to cut the parts free with snippers or a flush cutter. Don't do it! These parts are connected to the sprue by triangular pieces, so that all you have to do it gently rock the piece in order to separate it (nice engineering!). Since the sprue connections fit up inside the engine openings, trying to cut the engines off the sprue won't work very well. So in this case - break the pieces off, don't cut them off.

After looking the pieces over, I decided to paint first and glue later, as it seemed like the engines would get in the way of some of the hull detail, and it would be hard to paint the gun barrel when it was attached.

Before priming, I wanted to "clean up" the parts - that is, cut off or file away imperfections and seams, then actually wash in sudsy water to remove any dust or oils that might interfere with the paint. The gun barrel posed no problem. The nacelles had slight seams that I did a little work on, but I didn't think it was worth the effort to eliminate them. The hull kept me a bit busier, as there were a number of metal lumps in the "channel" that runs down the side of the hull. These would stand out when I painted the model, so I tried to remove all of these minor flubs. Also, several of the models had a minor flaw in the middle of the "bumper" (front corner), which required some quick filework to restore a smooth curve. All in all, nothing major, and you could skip this step if you aren't particular...

primed white

Painting was simple. I primed using inexpensive spray paint, and choose white as the base since I wanted to use a light tan as the final color and white would make the color brighter. I then painted the parts tan, added a brown wash to highlight the recesses, and followed up with some drybrushing of a light tan.

Next came detailing. I used some black ink to darken the engine openings, then when that was well dry, I glued them in place. A pin-and-hole combination show where to place the nacelles. However, one nacelle is a bit too oval and has some fiddle room - I just made sure it was flush to the "hoses" at the top of the hull, and everything came out fine.

Meanwhile, I found a picture in the rules manual which indicated that the "bumpers" on the front corners were actually headlights. Not an easy thing to paint. I decided to just paint them silver...

I also used a drop of black ink to make the gun barrel openings seem darker and deeper.

partially painted and assembled

I decided I need to give the tanks some kind of unit identification marking. Fortunately, there was something that looked conveniently like a nameplate just opposite the cockpit, and some raised bands on the engine nacelles. I painted these yellow, then used a technical pen to hand-letter the individual vehicle numbers (easy at this scale!).

I wanted the hover skirts to look different from the rest of the vehicle, so I painted these medium grey, then washed them heavily with black ink. I also went back to the cockpit windows and used some ink to further darken the "windows."

magnified picture of the final vehicle

All that was left was to seal the model with a clear matte spray, then come back with some hand-brushed gloss for the engine outlets (to make them look deeper) and the cockpit windows (to simulate glass). An easy project, but it turns out nice.

an Obsidian unit