The making of Iron Hide - Tau’formers - Player's Choice 2022
In 2021 I started work on an Army for Arc40k that would mash Transformers with Tau to create the Tau’formers. A major part of the project was to make a large centre piece model.
The largest plastic kit in the Tau range is the Stormsurge but unlike the other Battlesuits it had no arms. And arms are an essential component in transforming the model into one of the largest Autobots - without armies then there would be no Ironhide.
I’d seen some people trying to convert their Stormsurges to look like larger versions of Broadside Battle Suits with arms linked into the main gun or with arms loaded up to hold the big missile pods. None of them spoke Iron Hide to me...
The only path forward was to mash a few things up and find my own way forward.
A key part of this hobby project was to base everything on the Tau models that they would be representing on the tabletop.
So my hope was that it would take only a few components to turn them into Transformers. As well a Most importantly I would have to 3-D print the heads of all the characters that would be represented in each and every conversion.
So having scoured the internet for ideas and options I found several key components that would help kick the conversion on its way.
I found a digital sculptor who had created Arms and was selling them on Cults3d - they had also created pieces for the Missile pods to be placed on the models shoulders. So having found the .stl files I paid for and downloaded them, and then began printing. The design had hands rather than connectors. So there was potential and hopefully not too much work to modify the components.
The cover plate which conceiles the crew compartment I could only find on sourced from Shapeways. Unfortunately, they only offer a print service, not .stls. So I bit the bullet and paid more for the shipping than the item.
With the cover plate ordered and on it’s way it was time to print some stuff. So I loaded up all the parts into chitubox and set to slicing and printing the pieces. The missile mounts came as four parts, and five parts for each arm. So 18 pieces to print - a quick 3D project right.
Once I got everything together I wasn’t happy. Nothing quite joined up. Worste still there was not a lot of detail. Let alone transformerness!
Luckily, the files for each part weren’t large so I loaded them up into Tinkercad - a free online 3D drawing program. In Tinkercad I set about modifying and putting together some of the smaller pieces.
So I added some more details, joined and reinforced parts then printed a new set of shoulder mounts.
The arms were a little bit more work because left and right had twists at the elbows to accommodate the holding of the gun in the low slung position. I didn’t want that. Plus the shoulders lacked details.
Having found an Autobot logo i sized it to fit in the circular Tau sept logo space on the shoulder. Plus I added some extra details with rivets to the top of the pads. The forearms ended in flat square spaces for the hands to but up to. So these were all loaded up into Tinkercad and details and wrist sockets were added.
I found some hands on Thingyverse - all sorts of options. I eventually chose to have the left hand in a flat cupping position. I wanted to have the Gun held in a modified Right Shoulder Arms position.
And for Iron Hide the big she’ll be right thumbs up was the chosen option.
I tried to go first generation for Iron Hide… I found a head as part of a full kit really quickly, downloaded it and it printed up fine. Except it looked terrible when I glued it together. Classic Iron Hide didn’t suit the flowing rounded edges of the Stormsurge design.
So it then became a search to find a Movies Iron Hide Head.
Trialling head sizes and designs was a big part of every Transformer Build for this army. None so more than Iron Hide. But as his source design was a 3d graphic rather than a model .stl meant that there were missing, floating and misaligned pieces. Once again I loaded the files into tinkercad and after making some crazy shapes and mirroring others I managed to create a head that worked.
Iron Hide would only be a Transformer if he looked like he could transform. Plus to be bigger and more badass than the other models in the force he needed big truck wheels. So once again thingyverse gave up some mighty rims and off-road tyres which were once again loaded into tinkercad to be matched and sized.
Ten wheels printed and mounted along the model's legs and Iron Hide was made.
The final step - paint this sucker. And the only way to approach this was to create several sub assemblies. There were seven sections in total: Legs, body, gun and right shoulder arm, missile pods and head.
On an Chaos Black primer as base the finish was achieved by airbrushing Corvus Black, Dawn Stone and Administratum Grey, before moving to hard edge brush highlight with Ulthaun Grey. Some stronger highlights were straight white.
The Purple is based on Phoenician Purple. Mixed with Geenstealer Purple and then Pale Blue Grey and white to create the highlights.
The base on which he stands fits the theme of the eternal war on Arc’atron. Spare and leftover pieces from other Tau Kits were scattered across the ground. Gravel and sand were glued down with PVA glue. Then an undercoat of Grey Seer spray, before airbrushing white ink over the debris. All the edges were black lined using a permanent marker and the sand covered with Skeleton Hoard Contrast paint before a light dry brush of Plaid Wych Flesh.
So, there you have him. A truely unique Warhammer 40,000 model that is the result of fusing 3D printed parts to a Tau Stormsurge plastic kit to create Iron Hide - a great centerpiece model for my Tau’formers.
Hopefully you can use some of the tips and explanations to start planning your own massive conversion or centerpiece for your next army.