A Tale of Two Doomwheels (Part 2)

Yesterday, I wrote about my love for these Evil Hamster Wheels of Death, and gabbed about the project at large. Today We’ll get started on assembling the Doomwheels, complete with pictures!

Before going too far into this project, let’s take a look at what we’re dealing with…

Zaphod is standing watch because being a cat, he is all too aware of the treachery of vermin, and will pounce the bejeezus out of the bastards if they look at either of us funny. The one on the left is the newer version. Both are painted by professionals, and while the older model may not look as good, bear in mind that I bought that thing in 1999. A lot has changed with both the manufacture and painting of miniatures in the past twelve years.

(As I say that, I just realizes I’m a year short of an auspicious anniversary. Thirteen is a sacred number among the Skaven.)

Now, I realize my skills with the brush are nowhere near the professional level, but that’s not going to stop me from doing my best with these things. They’re going to be a major part of the army and need to look their best…or worst depending on your point of view.

Let’s crack open these boxes and get a better look at the bits. First the original Doomwheel:

It doesn’t look all that complex. Only 16 parts in this kit, two of them actually plastic (they’re the back wheels, by the way). However, the only instructions consist of a single diagram on the back of the box, along with a warning that this is “expert kit.” I’d agree with that — it’s going to take some work to make sure all the parts fit, and superglue alone doesn’t work well with metal on metal. The driveshaft (that bit in the lower left compartment that is neither wheel nor rat) is the central most piece with everything extending outward. It raises a question, which I’ll get to a little later.

Now let’s look at the new model:

Okay, this one’s a bit more involved. Sixty eight parts all plastic, with a fifteen-step building guide. Two of those parts are optional, as we have two heads for the pilot and two different flag icons to choose from. (66 parts. If this were for Rolemaster, I’d really be worried) There’s even a point in the guide at step four advising that you pause in the assembly and paint the pilot. Make no mistake about it, there’s a lot going on with this figure.

Let’s get back to my question, as it seems valid with both items. Is it better just to clean, assemble, prime and paint in that order, or do we break this down further into a more detailed method? I’m inclined to do the latter. I want both models to look good, despite the obvious differences in structure. With either model, once pieces start coming together there’ll be places where a brush can’t reach.

With the metal figure, it’ll be easier to clean and prime the pieces first, painting the few bits that need painted prior to assembly, and then polish off the rest like I would with anything else. For the plastic, I’m going to primer everything while it’s on the sprue, then clip, glue and paint where needed before stuff gets in the way. If I have any bare spots on the plastic, I can touch them up with some black paint and then carry on.

So while the primer dries on the plastic sprues, I’ll clean the other Doomwheel up and get that ready. Then whilst the primer dries on the metal;

I’ll start construction on the plastic:

The first phase is installing the pilot:

Back when I had to walk uphill both ways to and from school in 20 feet of snow, Citadel used to number the parts on a plastic kit and the instructions would include those numbers. Now it’s just graphics with a short description of what the stage is, assuming you can recognize the parts on the sprue (even if you have to spend a minute finding the damn fiddly bits). When you’re dealing with bits that are similar but not identical, it can get annoying.

Fitting the head to a model is rarely easy. This one was.

These two pictures (along with the two where I installed a decapitated Skaven into the pilot seat) are a prime example of why you should do a dry test joining parts before using glue. The arm and the control lever are two separate parts that need to join together, so it was important to see how they fit when attached to the main body. Once I did the dry run, I decided against gluing the arm and lever together. If I had, I’d have a very short window to add glue to the sockets for the two parts and fit things together. Instead, I glued the arm to the shoulder and the rod to its mount, making sure the contact between the two was solid. It’s also less messy on both plastic and primer.

This is the point when, according to the destructions (yes, I did say that) I should paint up the pilot before continuing. Wise advice, so I’m going to primer the backside of the lead parts on the other wheel, pour a glass of wine and pick up some brushes.

I might have gone a little over on the detailing for something that’s going to be inside the Wheel, but it’s still going to be visible. Might as well spend the extra time adding the right colors and details now before stuff gets slapped together. That’s when you realize, “Oh, there’s a spot I should have gotten. Crap, the glue cured.”

By now, the primer has dried on the metal figure, so I’m going to go paint the drive shaft and the rats since they’ll be in the center as well.

I decided to attach the drive train to front blade/lightning projector and the rear wheel hitch so I could paint all the necessaries at once. As I said before, super glue doesn’t work all that well with metal on metal. It can hold but the bond might not stand up well, especially for larger figures — the weight of the metal works against it. There’s more than one way to strengthen a join. In this case I used a combination of two part epoxy on one side and super glue on the other. Epoxy can take a long time to cure — even JB Kwik takes about five minutes — but this combo takes about 20-30 seconds. That’s about the same time for using super glue on a plastic join. Believe me, once it hardens, it’s done.

The paint job here is much less intricate, but still detailed. Since the lightning is created using warpstone, I wanted to keep that look consistent with the projectors and the warpstone in the newer Wheel. This is a four color job: Grass Green, Jade Green, Fluorescent Green (Vallejo), and Sun Yellow for the final highlight. By the way, unless I say otherwise I use Reaper Master Series Paints.

While I was at it, I also painted the inside of the wheels and the rats and glued that all together. They fit well with no adjustments, which is surprising. Usually when dealing with pewter figures, there some sort of pressing/bending/begging/cursing going on during assembly. The rats were a simple two color job for the body and two colors for the tails. They’re difficult to see from the other side, so this is a case where exacting attention to detail isn’t necessary.

Since I was on a roll, I glued the wheels to the drive shaft. This join is a bit trickier because the weight of the pieces is becoming an issue. At this point, the best thing to do is to let the glue & epoxy take a hold. In the next entry we’ll get back to work on the plastic Doomwheel, and finish off the other one.


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