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Scratchbuilt Uziel Battlemech

By Nick Austin © 2003
Images courtesy Alan Austin © 2003

I made this Uziel for my brother's Christmas present. I allowed myself two weeks to make it - but still - after several days of going to bed at 2am it took until after December the 25th to finish. The recipient was still pretty happy with it, though.

The first thing I decided was roughly how much detail to have on the model. I wanted a detailed cockpit and some kind of weapon bays. This Uziel was going to be the standard version armed with one Particle Projection Cannon in each arm, a Machine gun array in each side torso and one SRM6 in the middle. I also felt like putting some lighting into it, deciding on lit PPC barrels using funky blue LEDs. I was fairly sure it would be a pain to make the legs posable on what would be a heavy model so the lighting would be to make up for the lack of that.

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[Click to enlarge]

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I drew some rough plans for the shape and size of the different parts to see how they would best fit, and then just dove in. >The major subassemblies are: head, torso sides, central torso, arms, hips and legs and I made it in pretty much that order..


I started with the cockpit. That let me see how to fit the Uziel's distinictve head assembly around it. The seat and pilot came from a 1/48th Apache helicopter (although the 'Mech is more like 1/35th) I made the head in four main sections shaped from soft balsa wood with sheet styrene formers. The central section was made from more styrene with detailed greeblies from the Apache kit the pilot came from.

Torso Sides

These were made from the usual balsa wood and sheet styrene. I decided that this was the best place for the weapon bays. The machine gun arrays were made from the 25mm guns found in Bandai's Gasaraki model kits. These are pretty cheap kits with alot of good parts including some nice ammo feed bits. I glued two feeds together for each side and routed them alongside a length of wide plastic tube to look like a hopper. I cut the barrel off each 25mm gun and replaced it with a set of three barrels made from more plastic tube - now it looked more like a rapid fire array. The guns were glued to harpoints swiped from an AH-1Z Viper kit, those in turn being glued to the plastic of the torso side. I built up the shape with balsa wood and plated it with more plastic. The doors were made in the same way but with more Gasaraki bits to make the hinges. I thought the doors would look better with support pistons so I made some with more evergreen tube (I use alot) for the cylinders and metal sliders for the pistons. The doors work perfectly and look great, the 'Mech can look as though its being reloaded. I knocked up some shoulder plugs with thick plastic tube (from adding machine reels) and 1mm sheet styrene. Other thicknesses of evergreen tube were used to make the arm supports.

Center Torso

This was pretty simple, although it supports the rest of the 'Mech and needed to be strong. It also held the battery pack and switch for the LEDs. It's a rectangular box a few mm narrower than the width of the head. It was made of thick balsa and was only plated on the top, bottom and back - superglue would hold the torso parts onto wood well enough. I made a torso twist ring using the amazing hole-cutting compass (I love that thing) and drilled a hole to support the hip's twist axle. The SRM6's body was a pepper container with a new fascia cut out of plasticard. Six holes and Six 48th scale hellfires later and it had a shiny new missile pod.


These were simple blocks of wood with two holes bored into them and more tubing to make the barrels. The LEDs had wires routed through the torso sides and through the arm supports. I used RC gear plugs to make the LEDs removable when they inevitably burned out (no wimpy resistors for me). True enough, one did fry but didn't let me know until I was home racing to get the thing done for Christmas Day! But wait! This could be a blessing in disguise - I discarded the bad LED and used a red one - the right arm would have a Large laser! My brother liked customising his mechs and was fond of flamers so I used some tamiya 88mm Flak gun parts to make a laser arm with an underslung flamer. He was particularly pleased with that. I made a thin section of plastic rod into an igniter and the flamer looked just right. This also gave me free reign to go nuts on detail for the PPC arm without having to worry about where to find mirror image parts or dupicates. The curved casing was made by using quite thin plastic laminated and clamped whilst setting to make it keep the shape.

The arms and torso looked like nothing other than a hard-bitten, custom Uziel ready to cause trouble......

Legs and Hips

The hips were carved from balsa blocks using the hip axle to line them up. I experimented with Humbrol filler and Plastic Weld to fill the grain this time. The searchlight housing was cut from the bottom other pepper container (also used for the SRM6) and glued into a groove made by the hole-cutter.

I started making the legs from thick balsa cores and styrene armour as usual but they just didn't look right. Most Uziel pics give the legs a distinctive armoured look with a few bits of internal structure visible. I started again using 1mm plastic cut into the basic 2D shapes that made the leg. I used more soft balsa carved into shape and sanded down to give some body to the sections. I raided a Tamiya Flakpanzer Gephard's cannon parts to give the legs some definition. The joints are made of Gephard road wheels with extra tubing to disguise them. I used more 88mm parts and some Gephard hull bits to make the joint "mudguards".

The feet were done the same way, using 1mm plastic to set the basic 3D shape and wood to fill the bulk in. Seeing as the wood would be showing I applied a thin layer of 5-minute epoxy resin to hide the grain. The toes were quite hard to make, having few 90 degree angles. They ended up okay although they weren't all the right size - again, time was running out and the recipient was quite happy anyway so it wasn't a big problem.


I masked off the cockpit and did the urban camouflage scheme you see it in. It wasn't too difficult. I made jagged, square patterns of masking tape and went over them with a darker coat of grey. MGAs were done in gunmetal and semi-gloss black. The pilot has a white helmet and gloss black visor with a grey jumpsuit. I picked out some suit fittings in orange to make him stand out.

When the dark grey was dry off came the masks and there it is, the field modified Uziel of an urban combat unit, ready to go downtown.....

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This page copyright © 2003 Starship Modeler™. Last updated on 27 August 2003.