Let Me At 'Em!

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.