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The Expanse - MMC APC Scratchbuild


Uncle Monty

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Hi All

This is my first group build - thanks to all for putting it together :). When I came up with this idea I got nervous that perhaps it might not qualify because it wasn't a spaceship/rocket etc, then I RTFM and calmed down a bit.

Anyway, this is going to be a Martian Marine Corps APC, inspired by The Expanse tv show (again, as per the Freighter build).
I don't actually remember seeing an MMC APC  or anything similar on the show, and I watched every single episode because I am an anorak. If there was such a thing, feel free to let me know. I wanted to do it mainly because the MMC logo is very, very cool and I wanted to put it on something, also I had an urge to build something with wheels.

Not having anything to copy I was forced to improvise a good deal, all the while trying to think how such a vehicle might look, bearing in mind the relatively low gravity and thin atmosphere on Mars. This is my sketch:

 

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I did a  more detailed sketch which you can see in the pics, I also put the whole thing into LibreOffice Draw which turned out to be a smart move as I changed the design quite a lot:

 

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It has six wheels rather than tracks because I have 6 wheels in my stash which my brother had knocked up for me ages ago on his 3d printer. That project never happened, but I knew I would find a use for the wheels some day. I don't know whether to add a gun turret or not. That decision can wait for a while until more of it is built and I can see if it would work or not.

This build will have lights, so I bought this:

 

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I'm not sure what's going on here. Something to do with maybe Lego and a VW Camper. I don't understand why anyone would want to combine those things. Anyway, it was fairly cheap and it does what I want.

 

This is where I've got to. I've used square section drainpipe as the starting point for the hull. Onto that I glued some layers of 5mm plastic sheet to give me the rough outline which I will fill and sand into the correct shape. I'm using more 5mm sheet to make the cabin and engine compartment which go on top, they will also need a lot of filler and a lot of sanding, which I have started as you can see. Martin Bower said that the key to scratch building is being able to carve. Personally I think the key is the ability to put up with the dreary monotony of endless sanding.

 

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Hopefully this will all come together and end up looking like something that really could bounce over the rocks of Mars (and those Martian ruins in the Cydonia region which no one wants to talk about).

cheers for now
Monty

 

 



 

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The sketch looks great and promises a cool project. Additionally, builds from scratch always arouses my interest.

I'm also a big fan of this series and to be honest, I don't remember any APC in it. However, I think that there were a lot of them riding outside the frame, and they looked exactly like in this sketch 😉

 

21 hours ago, Uncle Monty said:

Personally I think the key is the ability to put up with the dreary monotony of endless sanding

 

Fortunately, it's an activity that doesn't require thinking, so you can listen to podcasts, audiobooks, etc. To pass the time, I think about the next steps. It works both ways: sometimes when I come across a big problem and I think hard about it, I find myself starting to sanding something pointlessly 😝

 

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Many thanks for all the comments :)

17 hours ago, voozet said:

The sketch looks great and promises a cool project. Additionally, builds from scratch always arouses my interest.

I'm also a big fan of this series and to be honest, I don't remember any APC in it. However, I think that there were a lot of them riding outside the frame, and they looked exactly like in this sketch 😉

If that turns out to be true then I would be genuinely scared.

 

17 hours ago, voozet said:

 

Fortunately, it's an activity that doesn't require thinking, so you can listen to podcasts, audiobooks, etc. To pass the time, I think about the next steps. It works both ways: sometimes when I come across a big problem and I think hard about it, I find myself starting to sanding something pointlessly 😝

 

I guess modelling is very relaxing when it works out ok, probably not so relaxing when things go wrong, like the other day when I attempted to glue part A to part B and ended up breaking part C, while A and B fell off. I like the idea of listening to music while sanding, I think some Led Zeppelin would help with the tougher jobs !

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  • 2 weeks later...

Despite quite a few hours of laborious sanding and filling, progress has been slow although I think it is generally moving moving in roughly the right direction.

The hull was plastered with car filler and sanded into a rough sort of oval cross-section, then I added layers of Humbrol model filler to finish off. The Humbrol stuff is easier to work with than the 2-pack stuff because it doesn't stink anywhere near as badly :)

 

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On top of the hull there are two modules; the crew cabin at the front and the engine compartment at the rear. Both of these needed extensive filling and sanding. The cabin needed to be chopped about to make an internal space for the lights, this also needed yet more filler and a sheet of styrene to create a smooth 'ceiling'. I won't add any detail to the cabin as the interior won't be seen anyway, it's only there to take the lights. The engine compartment needed deep troughs or gouges cut into each side to take some 'cooling vents'. These actually are cooling vents; I hacked them off the case from an old desktop PC that I put to one side a year ago, thinking that that it might come in useful.

 

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The hull, having been lovingly sanded smooth, then needed to be ruthlessly chopped about to make some holes in it. One hole in the top deck to give access into the cabin for the lights, more holes in the underside to give me access to the interior, again because of the lights.

 

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Speaking of lights, here they are all powered up and not ready to go, mainly because the LEDs have been glued into fake Lego pieces, which need to be cut away to various degrees. I also needed to make rear lamp covers as I had nothing in the spares box that would do, so I ended up using some acrylic rod and turning up some lamp covers, inspired by pics I found of the tail lights on a vintage Landrover.

 

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Finally I got to work on the nose which is a rounded shape like the rest of it. My logical thinking (such as it is) says that as Mars has a very thin atmosphere, everything would have to be pressurized and the best shape to contain pressure is a curve, hence all the curved parts. The triangular cut-outs are for the headlamps, you can see the hole on each side in the bulkhead which will have the LED glued into it.

 

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Next step is finish the final sanding and smoothing, then apply undercoat - and then probably sand some more. When I'm happy that all the rough edges, dents and dings have been removed, then I can start on the wheels and suspension details. Lucky for me the wheels need only a little work to tidy them up, although the real challenge will be working out how to attach the suspension wishbones to the hull in such a way that they a) don't snap off and b) look realistic-ish. NB I'm not planning on making the suspension or axles 'move' - this model is for display only :)

That's all for now, cheers everyone
Monty

 







 

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It's all looking good so far, Monty :) Are you planning any other lights on the front? I ask because having the lights up high & inset like that would leave a considerable dark spot ahead of the vehicle. With the earlier photos I though they were recessed on the bottom of the nose, which would deal with that dark spot and looked to flow a bit better to me. It's your model though, so feel free to tell me to sod off and mind my own business :) 

 

James

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34 minutes ago, 81-er said:

It's all looking good so far, Monty :) Are you planning any other lights on the front? I ask because having the lights up high & inset like that would leave a considerable dark spot ahead of the vehicle. With the earlier photos I though they were recessed on the bottom of the nose, which would deal with that dark spot and looked to flow a bit better to me. It's your model though, so feel free to tell me to sod off and mind my own business :) 

 

James

 

Hi, no, all comments welcome :)

This is a good point and I could add more spots as I have spare LEDs in the kit. I would need to drill holes in the nose to get the LEDs through. Alternatively, I could make fake spots and simply glue them on the front, but I think that would be cheating...

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This is super cool - great work so far.

 

On the lights, i wonder if you can have like downlights - for coming in to land? Might be too hard to make them pop out but they could be wide dispersion downlights in little bubble shapes, perhaps. 

 

Nothing like a spacecraft build with real lights - so cool.

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2 hours ago, bianfuxia said:

This is super cool - great work so far.

 

On the lights, i wonder if you can have like downlights - for coming in to land? Might be too hard to make them pop out but they could be wide dispersion downlights in little bubble shapes, perhaps. 

 

Nothing like a spacecraft build with real lights - so cool.

 

You've lost me there - it's a truck :)

 

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Time for another update on the progress of the Martian Marine Corps Armoured Personnel Carrier which didn't actually appear in The Expanse but which might have done if the budget had been just a teeny bit bigger.

Firstly, I finally got to put some undercoat on the hull which, as expected, revealed more scratches and dings that needed filling.

 

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So while that was going on, I attacked the crew cabin and got that properly painted in a fetching gun metal colour, as per the rattle can shown here.

It is a bit silvery in its raw state but I intend to dirty it down a bit.
I made a start on the windshield which is acrylic sheet, bent into shape with my fingers, trimming and sanding as I went.  A bit laborious but after a couple of false starts I got the hang of it. I added some tiny pieces of styrene into the window aperture to support the screen, then super-glued it into place; next job there is to add the little side windows.

 

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Now came a job I was dreading; the suspension. This thing has six wheels and each will need its own suspension assembly. These will be on display so they need to look sort-of realistic. They also need to be quite chunky as they will have to support the weight of the APC plus batteries for the lights. As previously mentioned, the suspension will not be 'movable' as that would probably add a month to the build and do strange things to my blood pressure so that can wait for another time.
Even so, I still had to spend a while sketching suspension set-ups before deciding on something comprising upper and lower wishbones and a coil-over shock absorber. Strictly speaking, the spring is the shock absorber. The piston thing should really be called 'the damper'. Alright, off with the anorak and back to the build.
Here we have a wheel, with lower wishbone, upper wishbone, tower and damper. The lower wishbone needs to be longer as it will sit further under the hull and the wheels need to be vertical. The tower will be glued to the hull and will support wishbones and damper. The rectangle was going to be a vertical mount to be glued to the wheel hub but after several trial fittings I decided it was too small, so having made six of them, they all got binned. Oh well.

 

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This is my production line.

 

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This pic shows some of the towers with wishbones glued on.

 

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Here you can see my 'springs'. I wound some copper wire around the dampers and super-glued it into place. They sort of look like springs. If you don't look too closely.

 

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Underneath the lower wishbone is the driveshaft which in reality would have several universal joints to allow everything to bounce up and down. I didn't bother with this sort of detail as it really wouldn't be seen, so you will have to imagine that they're there.


Here we have all of the assemblies upside down. Still a lot of work to do there. Each needs a large plate to be added so they can be glued onto the wheel hubs. They also need some detailing so they look just a little bit more realistic. Each one will need 'adjusting' to ensure each wheel ends up in the right place at the right angle, so that will involve a lot of trial and error. Basically, making your own suspension assemblies from scratch is about as sensible as removing your spleen using a kitchen knife and Wikipedia.

 

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Finally I started on the rear airlock hatch which, by comparison to the aforementioned stuff, has been a piece of cake. I'll add details and then glue it all onto the hull.

 

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Well, that's about it for now. In terms of where I am with this build, it's quite difficult to say. Maybe 40%? I'm assuming that everything works as expected of course :) because if not, then probs 20% with a slight chance of swearing.

cheers all and happy modelling
Monty

 

 

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Many thanks @bianfuxia and @Bandsaw Steve for the comments :)

 

8 hours ago, Bandsaw Steve said:

Just read the whole thread to date. Very entertaining and informative, good work and best of luck with the next steps! 👍

 

Thank you and I'll probably need it as now I have to get the wheels on and square in all directions which is basically one of those situations where you need three hands and a lot of patience and at least one of those attributes I do not possess....

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A kitchen knife? I thought the appropriate utensil for removing a spleen was a spoon, served with a nice Chianti? 

 

Nice progress on the build, I really like the suspension

 

James

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Greetings Fellow Modellers

I managed to get more work done on the APC over the last few days, so it must be time for an update.

I had to take a moment and draw up a hit list of Things That Need Doing, because I am now at that stage where it's important to do Things in the right order, and as I have a limited memory capacity it's important to write this stuff down. I did this on paper, initially, then got fed up with constantly rubbing out and re-writing as new Things occurred to me so I moved it into a file on the laptop.

One of the first jobs in the list of Things that Need Doing was sorting out the wheels so, having finished the suspension assemblies, I took a moment to nail down exactly where on the body they would attach. Each of the 6 assemblies will need some individual firkling to get it to fit so that the wheel is parallel to the body and vertical.

 

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Then I decided to go for it and apply some undercoat, then paint tyres and suspension, then mask up and paint the wheel hubs with gun metal topcoat from the rattle can.
Tyres and suspension were brush painted with acrylics, using a mix of white and black. The tyres had a dollop of burnt sienna added to the mix to create that reddish look that some tyres have. Unfortunately none of that can be seen in the pics so everything looks the same shade of grey. Anyway, the suspension will need extra paint, especially on the drive shafts which need to be a slightly different colour to bring them out a bit.

 

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While the wheels were drying I started thinking about detailing the body. Mainly I was thinking 'what the hell can I do with a shape that is mostly compound curves'. I did some googling and found a few pics of trucks, APCs and various other big 'n' butch vehicles and got some ideas from them. One of the features I liked was 'bull bars' on the nose, to protect the APC from those big Martian rocks. This won't take long, I thought, foolishly.

Little did I know that just a little way into assembling the bull bars I was to suffer a CSE (Catastrophic Superglue Event) which caused me no end of flaming grief. Basically, my superglue bottle decided to stop dispensing glue in easy-to-manage dots and instead suddenly blobbed it out with an enthusiasm and vigour that left me with the bull bars glued to the work mat and my fingers glued to the bull bars.
I had to cut the bars off the mat (after freeing my fingers) and virtually start again. I didn't take any pictures of this. Some things are best left unrecorded.

 

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I did manage to start adding some panels and greeblies to the sides and the engine compartment at the rear. I don't want to go too far with this as given the size of the real thing it doesn't need a huge amount of detail.

 

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That's about it for now. It's slowly coming together in a sort of chaotic fashion. More updates soon :)
cheers
Monty

 

 

 

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18 hours ago, bianfuxia said:

Great update and those wheel assemblies look awesome. A nice new technical term you've coined there - CSE - I've had a few of those too! 

 

Superglue is a necessary evil :) Sticks when it shouldn't and doesn't stick when it should....

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Thanks @Thom216 :)

Thanks to all for the likes as well, much appreciated.

I've been working on the wheels for a bit, trying to decide if it's feasible to add mudguards. This would be tricky as I would have to find a way to mount them to the body or the suspension towers, but I do love a challenge....

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Greetings Fellow Modellers

More progress over the last week as the grind of fill-sand-undercoat-fill etc has finally ended which means proper modelling can commence in earnest.

First off, I finished the initial build of the body and got it undercoated and top coated.


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I also knocked up a winch device to go on the bull bars, using styrene and some thick thread. After a lot of googling tanks and AFVs and similar it seems that a winch is a must-have accessory and, of course, the Marines might need a winch to extricate something from a martian gully or 'ditch' as we say in Essex. In fact in Essex a winch is essential on the front of one's 4x4 in case one gets stuck up a kerb on the school run.


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I started to make a small ladder to go on the rear which I thought would be a nice detail. In reality, the rear hatch would be a long way off the ground so the ladder would be useful - I envisage it dropping down on motors when needed. The hatch is supposed to open upwards, leaving maximum space for a marine to clamber inside.


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Finally I made some mudguards which needed some proper firkling to get into the right shape. The black plastic was cut from some old drainpipe, but tragically the diameter was too short to accommodate the wheels. Never mind, The Wife isn't looking, pinch her hair dryer and set to turbo mode. One minute of heating and the plastic was soft enough to bend to splay it out a bit. The supports were made from more of the 5mm plastic sheet previously mentioned. It would be fair to say that most of this build is made from that stuff, so it's the gift that keeps on giving.


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The mudguard supports will be glued onto the top of the suspension mounts, which will mean much firkling as nothing is absolutely square but the mudguards definitely must be square to the wheels - which must be square to the body. So wheels on first, then mudguards.

I hope all this makes sense :)

 

That's it for now, thanks to all for looking and liking!
cheers
Monty

 

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Awesome winch! 

 

Funny story about the wife's hairdryer - I was recently on a biz trip, very early flight. She called me at about 8am after I'd landed and as soon as I picked up I tried to warn her:

 

Hi sweetie I'm in a cab with four colleagues

 

But before I could stop her she goes, nice and loud so everyone heard even though it wasn't even on speaker ..

 

WHERES THE HAIR DRYER?

 

And as all my colleagues cracked up I was like, sotto voce, um, dunno baby, I never use it. 

 

It was pretty funny, luckily those colleagues and I had a great dynamic so it wasn't actually embarrassing, but they don't let me forget it either haha 

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