This is a full, mild restoration I did on an AT-AT that was given to me years ago. It was a fun project, and I think the process is good to watch step by step. I hope you get some good ideas out of it!
Welcome to the AT-AT restoration project. In this project, and hopefully others, I will be restoring vintage vehicles in different stages of abuse, and bringing them back to their original “luster.”
I have decided to make my first project the AT-AT. I chose this because it is a vehicle that EVERY collector has, and everyone wants. Plus, a mint loose one will run you up to $100, plus shipping!
As you can see, the AT-AT I am starting with is not in terrible shape:
BUT, it does have the typical “flea market find” damage to it. Most importantly, it is missing its chin guns.. That will be fixed last 🙂
At a glimpse, not much seems wrong with this.. but if you look close you start seeing stuff ALL OVER it, like this:
It is covered with that crusty brown film that seems to get all over unprotected vehicles. Very gross. This stuff covers at least 40% of this vehicle. Second, you will notice the sticker wear and lack:
Once again, typical for a played with vehicle.
The first thing I did was remove all the easy parts, like the hood, the side door, the battery cover, and the 2 side head guns. I decided to use my favorite vehicle cleaning solution, mild soap and warm water. My cleaning utensil,….. a soft bristled tooth brush.
I cleaned off the removed pieces in the sink, and set them aside. That was easy.. Next, I had to clean the fairly large body.
Here is a picture of me cleaning the neck:
You can see the tooth brush next to it 🙂 After that, I stood the AT-AT up on the counter, and once-overed the WHOLE thing with soapy water, getting it all nice and sudsy. YOu may ask, what about the stickers? Well, YES, I washed over them too… If you are careful, you wont hurt them.
The problem next it, What do you do with a sudsy AT-AT that wont fit in the sink… SIMPLE:
You wash it in the shower. I can hear you all gasping. “THE STICKERS!!” But I assure you, all the stickers were fine…..
Here is the AT-AT now, apart, drying. I dried it a bit, very gently over the stickers…. YOu may not be able to see a difference in the picture.. But it is MUCH cleaner…
NEXT STEP: CHIN GUNS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
This AT-AT is missing the most often missing, and hard to replace parts.. the CHIN GUNS. Buying originals, if you could find them, could cost 40 dollars or so… This will NOT do for our project. So, my first thought was to buy reproductions. However, even repros cost 20 dollars or more. Then I figured, Heck.. As long as they are going to be repro anyway, I might as well make them myself!
The first thing I did was go to my local plastics store, and bought a 1/4 inch diameter clear plastic rod for $1.13. It was about 3 feet long.. WAY more than we will need.
Below is a picture of everything I used to recreate these guns: The rod, a dremel tool, a candle, and a match.
The first thing I did was light the candle, and slowly turn the plastic piece over it. Don’t bring it too close to the flame, or you will burn it. It will catch on fire, or it will start bubbling. It may take a few tries to get this down!
Once the rod is soft, bend it slowly to 90 degrees:
Once you get a good bend, you can run it quickly under cold water to harden it. I also decided to get kind of artistic, and I added a “bead” at the tip of each gun, to make it more like the originals. Just play around with it, and you’ll figure out how to do this!
Next, I took my dremel tool, and cut off the excess plastic:
And here is the finished product. You can see the bend in the plastic and the bead well here!
And here it is on the AT-AT. Some of you may not like the repros, but I think it looks great! Plus, you can’t beat the price!
COST: $1:13 total
TIME: Under 20 min., including experimentation.
FINAL STEP: STICKER REPAIR
Originally, I was going to replace all of the damaged stickers. But, I decided to keep them and just re-sticky those I could. To do this, all I did was take a thin paint brush, dip it in basic elmers glue, and apply it to the back of the stickers that were pealing off. This only took a few seconds, and it was kind of nice keeping the original stuff.
Next, I had to replace the sticker that goes on the nose of the AT-AT. This sticker is quite simple, so I recreated it in PhotoShop. The first thing I did was get the measurements off of the AT-AT itself… you can see them below:
If you are at all familiar with photoshop, you can create this sticker easily. It is just a redish orange shape, with a yellow diamond in the middle that has some blur on it… OR….. you can just use the one I created (It’s 300 dpi resolution.) Just right click and save:
Next, I printed it out on Epson Ultra White printer paper. This paper is nice because it is as thick as regular paper, but it is smooth and very white:
Next, I cut the sticker out with a ruler and razor, used some “spray Glue” on the back, and applied it to the nose. Be sure to clean off all old sticker residue before applying the new one.
Finally, the project AT-AT is done:
There are a lot of great things about a project like this. For one, this AT-AT would have most likely been either thrown away, or parted out. Now it will survive in my, or someone elses collection.
Also, this AT-AT, in entirety, cost me under 2 dollars in parts and under 60 min. in time. I know that some of you might not like the repro decals and chin guns, but I think it looks great finished. This would also be great for a big hoth diorama!
I hope you enjoyed this project!