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Battletech Tower

Battletech TowerAndy (Anmatr) Nelson won our forum's August 2004 competition with this superb Battletech tower.

I started by drawing some sketches of what I wanted the thing to look like. I imagined a converted water tower structure fitted with an armoured building holding four main cannons.

Battletech Tower

My plans for the tower (below) were drawn using Macromedia Freehand (an illustration/layout program for graphic arts, but I mostly use it as a drafting program). The side view helped to work out exactly where each strut and cross-brace would go. The broad, grey, horizontal lines on the first drawing are for my reference to show how many stories the tower is tall. It's eight stories tall in Battletech scale, or about six inches high.

Battletech Tower

Battletech TowerI duplicated and stretched the plans to account for the inward-slant of the structure and then printed them off so that the tower could be assembled as a paper prototype. While it had looked good on the plans, the first prototype showed that the top was too large and hid a lot of the tower structure when seen from above. Since this would be most common viewing angle on the gaming table, I re-designed the station to be smaller with less of a slope to the roof.

Once satisfied with the paper model, I printed the plans again and used them as a template to assemble the plastic tower. I laid down two 1/8" Plastruct angles for the legs. 1/16" square rod was cut and cemented to make one complete side. I made two of these and then connected them with square rod to complete the tower structure which was then primered.

Battletech TowerThe paper patterns were used to cut out the station from scrap mattboard. The parts were glued together to create the floor and roof. A short styrene I-beam was glued into each corner to resemble a structural support for the roof, though the roof is held from inside by a mattboard box.

Before the roof was glued down I painted the interior with light grey and gave a wash of reddish brown. Then I attached the four cannon. The guns were scratchbuilt from Plastruct tubing and strips. They're supposed to be generic-looking, so they can be lasers, PPCs, or autocannon. The guns were primered, painted with acrylic craft paint, then adhered with Tacky glue. The roof is glued with a minimum amount of glue in case I decide to install lights inside.

Battletech TowerThe base is also scrap mattboard, painted on both sides to reduce curling. The concrete foundation and ground were made from textured "snow" paint.

The exterior of the station was painted a light grey similar to the tower's primer color before being was weathered with drybrushing and washes to resemble rusted exposed metal, rust streaks, bird dropings, and repainted sections. (Click here for a more detailed explanation of Andy's rusting/weathering technique.)

Armour plating was part of the original design not only to make it appear more survivable but also to increase the strength of the plastic framework. The plating was made by painting both sides of cereal packet type cardboard and then cutting out random shapes. The plates were glued to the tower in a way that looked good without concealing too much of the structure. They were then weathered with rust streaks, grime, and more bird droppings.

Battletech TowerThe surrounding lot was designed to be large enough for a Battletech miniature to stand between the tower and the fence.

The fence was made by drilling straight through the base and inserting styrene tubing. Vinyl window screen was super-glued to the posts to complete the fence.

Extra fence material and armour plates were arranged in poorly-organized piles and glued down.

Battletech Tower

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