Modelling and painting tips: Tau Battlesuit Legs

When you start playing Tau, you are immediately drawn to battlesuits. They are one of the centerpieces of each army, they are highly flexible with their special movement and have extraordinary firepower. But after a few games you might notice a weak spot in these otherwise wondefull models: The legs, or to be more precise, the feet. They tend to break, especially when they are carrying a heavy broadside with lots of metal parts.

So far I've been carefull enough with my battlesuits for this not to happen, but I was worried about my broadsides, so I started looking for sollutions. One is to add extra bits (e.g. from burst cannons) to the legs for extra stability. While I've seen some good looking conversions of this (the big plus being that they further bulk up the broadsides in comparison to crisis suits), it was not an option for me as I had already finished my first broadside model. Thus I decided to use solution number two: Pinning.

What you need:

- one Tau crisis battlesuit or broadside
- your modelling tools (clip, knife and drill)
- plastic cement and super glue
- one paper clip

Getting started:

The obvious first step is to clip all the parts from the sprue and clean them of mold lines, but you will also need a short pin. Just use your clippers to make one out of the paper clip (see the three step picture on the left). Don't worry about the pin being too long, you can always shorten it later. It's actually recommendable to leave it too long at this stage, as you can then shorten it to the exact lenght needed later.

Pinning the Battlesuit legs

Pinning is a pretty basic technique, where you drill wholes into two parts you want to glue together and add a small pin (hence the name) for extra hold. This is extremely usefull when adding heavy metal parts to models, like powerklaws for ork nobs and I usually use small nails for it. For the battlesuits I used a pin made from a paper clip, as nails were too large.

If you take a close look, you will see that the small ball that will eventually hold the battlesuit's foot is attached to the leg by only a very thin bit of plastic. This is what breakes so easily and what you want to strengthen.
In order to do so you have to drill a whole into the small ball that goes far up into the battlesuit leg. Make sure to use a very thin pin vice for this! I used the smalles one that comes with the Games Workshop pin vice, but a slightly smaller one would be even better.

You have to be very, very carefull when doing this, or you might wreck the leg. Keep checking you are aiming in the right direction. Also check the depth of the whole at times to make sure it's deep enough, but you don't exit on the other side of the leg either. Take your time for this.

Once you've done this, the hardest part is over. All that's left to do is to super-glue the pin into the whole, clip it to size and assemble the model. There's a picture of a drilled leg and one with a pin that has not yet been shortened on the right.

Adding extra hold to Broadsides

For my broadsides I took the pinning method a step further by including the metal feet and the base: I drilled a small whole into the middle of the metal foot as well as in the base right underneath the whole in the foot. I then assembled the model onto the base, put the pin through the foot and the base and then finally cut the pin to size

While assembling the model this way requires some patience, it adds further hold to the broadsides legs and it doesn't show on the outside at all. Just make sure the pin is long enough to reach all through the foot and the base.

The finished model

Nothing is showing on the outside of the model. In fact, only one of these two broadsides got enhanced - can you tell which? At least I can only tell them apart by the placement of the railguns.

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