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  • Battle of Hoth

  • Impérial AT-AT

The context

Star Wars Episode V
The Empire strikes back

Rebels are stuck ! The evil galactic empire ruled by Darth Vader and his Death squadron is on the edge of landing on the small planet Hoth and crush the rebel alliance with hundreds of Tie fighters, hundreds of imperial AT-AT and tens of thousands snowtroopers. The rebels won’t stand a chance with a few dozens starfighters…

In fact, no. The Empire is landing with 5 (not 4, not 3, but 5) imperial AT-AT which are moving toward the battle field at the incredible speed of… 10 mph and are firing only to the front. The rebels, only too happy to see this strategical failure hurry up to their X-Wings and Y-Wings and go to a strong bombing using protons torpedoes and concussion missiles. The few imperial AT-AT are quickly annihilated.

Well, er, no. The rebels use small tugs equiped with shitty lasers and laboriously manage to drop down an imperial AT-AT using a tow cable. AT-AT whose commander, full of compassion when seeing the rebels’ incompetence, engage the self-destruct of the machine. Fortunately, the commander Luke Skywalker, knew a weakness under the AT-AT’s body and tought rebel commandos how to easily destroy the machine with only one concussion grenade.

Errr… no. He’s just showing off, trying to make forget that he was shot like a duck (killing his co-pilote) when he only had to attack the AT-AT’s from the rear to be chilled out.

Anyway, even if the battle of Hoth is not really an example of good military strategy, it an absolutly epic moment of the Star Wars saga with mythical machines like the imperial AT-AT’s (All Terrain Armored Transport). The fragile rebel snowspeeders do what they can but are finally decimated. Bravura pieces, tension, frantic escapes, “good guys” being smashed… This sequence id beutiful and well deserved a diorama.

Le projet

  • Length : : 30 cm
  • Width : : 35cm
  • Height : : 38 cm
  • Materials : : Bois, plastique, bicarbonate de sodium
  • Scale : : 1/48

Well we must face reality, I filed this project into the “diorama” category but it is mainly one model : the imperial AT-AT. If you want to highlight an AT-AT using a Star Wars movie scene, there is less choice than for a X-Wing or a Y-Wing : there is the battle of Hoth or the platform on Endor. By the way this one on my mind but that’s another story.

So I chose the battle of Hoth, one of the finest moments of the all saga.

That lefts two possibilities :

  • snowspeeder tying up the AT-AT’s legs
  • snowspeeder being crushed by an AT-AT

And you must think a lot because the scale won’t be the same. Let me explain…

What is the height of an imperial AT-AT used during the battle of Hoth ?

Differing opinions exist. Since a fee years it is recongnised that an AT-AT is 22,50 m in height (sorry I don’t know how many feet it is, and I don’t want to know, please my US friends, use the metric system, it is so useful !). But for many years, this height was given 15,50 m. Why such a difference ? It depends on the scene we’re watching.

When Wedges Antilles’ snowspeeder T-47 hobbles the legs of the AT-AT, it semmes very tiny but when the same snowspeeder is being crushed, the foot gives aniother idea of the scale, the snowspeeder seems bigger. We can figure out on the screenshots below :

So it may be acceptable to choose one or another scale depending on what we want to show. I chose the first scene because it fitted better with the Finemolds snowspeeder and the revell AT-AT I had. The scale is 1:48 and the height of the AT-AT is 15,50 m.

Detailing the Revell AT-AT

When I made this model, more than ten years ago, Bandaï hadn’t bought the Star Wars license and Fine Molds hardly produced one kit every two years. I had only two choices to get an AT-AT model :

  • the old AMT kit, no scale pointed out, too small and panel lines embossed
  • the new Revell kit, brand-new and awful and far far away from the original model in details but big enough to consider a nice detailing work.

Of course I chose the second one but the detailing work promised to be huge. i won’t show averything in this article but at least the three major modifications.


I already reviewed this technic in the A-Wing post. First, you have to sand the all surface :

then engrave to get realistic manel-lines :

The technic is explained here.

2. The gribblies : kitbash

What we call “gribblies” are small model parts we use without purpose other than detailing. ILM modelers practically invented the concept. the models used in the Star Wars movies were usually big metallic or wooden structures covered with gribblies got from real model kits.

Here is an example of what we can do with a little bit of patience. The underside of the AT-AT was almost without details on the original kit.

I gathered teh parts from tanks, planes or whatever kits, as long as it “works”.

Hard to say when it “works”, that’s a mater of feeling. Movie screenshots can help but we can not find always the exact same part.

Here is below a picture of the rear. It is interesting because for once, I was able to find the exact part used by ILM, the shield of a WW2 american artillery gun :

The picture is blurred, sorry about that, I can’ do anything about it, the picture is old.

At last, a picture fo the hankle of the machine. I had to dig and recreate the cog that alows the hankle to slide.

Cheville du quadripode impérial

3. Full scratch

When the global shape is acurate, gribblies detailing is enough. That was the case with the AT-AT’s body but not the head. it was irrestrievable, I had to re-make almost the all thing. Inclufing the neck :

The “ears” of the machine ar well-known lego parts : radar dishes. I only sanded and filled them with putty.

Luke’s T-47 snowspeeder

Luke Skywalker's T-47 snowspeeder durant la bataille de Hoth

The snowspeeder was properly assembled “out of the box” and then meticulously destroyed to simulate the crash consequences.

The snow is made from bicarbonate of soda as on the rest of the diorama. By the way, that’s exactly what did the guys from ILM when the shot the scene.

The decor

At last, a little word about the decor. Quite simple , the snow is made from bicarbonate of soda, sold almost everywhere. You must think of stabilize it. The easiest way to do that is to spray a white glue dilution with a random vaporizer. Two or three days of drying and it’s done.

Battle of Hoth exhibitions

Tgis was on my first “serious” diorama. it is ten years old now. i exposed it two times :

by petersteven